No. 10 Georgia defeated Kentucky 21-0 on Saturday. Here are some observations from The Red & Black:
A cold, rainy and sluggish Saturday
After a yawn-worthy first half, Georgia rallied in the second half to beat Kentucky for the 10th time in a row. The Bulldogs scored no points in the first two quarters and punted five times. The last time a Georgia game was scoreless by both teams after the first half was in 1991 at Alabama.
Georgia has been consistently slow to awaken offensively against conference opponents, and it took almost three quarters against Kentucky. Georgia’s first score of the game came in the middle of the third quarter off of a 39-yard run by D’Andre Swift. Kentucky’s punter Max Duffy shanked the punt to set up the scoring drive.
From this point forward, the Bulldogs poured on the points.
“I told the team they would have to be patient, resilient, and continue to chop wood throughout the game,” head coach Kirby Smart said. “It was a tough environment to play in. It takes a lot of psychological energy to focus throughout a game like that.”
Offensive play calling
Georgia kept the ball on the ground for almost the entirety of the game. The persistent rain had a major influence on play calling, but Kentucky’s defense forced Georgia into two three-and-outs after what looked to be run after run in the first half.
By the beginning of the third quarter, boos were ringing throughout the stadium after a Georgia three-and-out resulting from three run plays in a row. There was a gain of only four total yards on the drive.
“[The boos had] no effect for me, I mean I have headphones on,” Smart said. “We’re trying to make the best decision that gives us the best chance.”
Swift answered on the next drive. He used the extra carries to his advantage in the second half and found several holes in the Wildcat defense. Swift rushed for 179 yards and two touchdowns. His longest play of the night was the 39-yard touchdown run.
Brian Herrien returned to action against Kentucky after dealing with back spasms last weekend against South Carolina. Herrien’s presence was not felt in Saturday’s game until the end of the third quarter where he popped into the end zone on an 8-yard run. He rushed for 60 total yards.
Jake Fromm was 9-of-12 passing for 35 yards.
Strong defensive performance
Georgia’s defense kept the game alive and forced Kentucky to punt seven times. One of Georgia’s most crucial stops came at the beginning of the third quarter as Kentucky drove quickly into Georgia territory. The Wildcats picked up a penalty and were forced to punt after an incomplete pass. This stop kept Kentucky from putting a number on the scoreboard first.
Richard LeCounte led the defensive attack for the Bulldogs with six total tackles and a turnover after recovering a Kentucky fumble. This set up the offense deep inside Kentucky territory for its second rushing score.
“We pride ourselves on stopping the football,” LeCounte said.
Kentucky had no passing yards until near the end of the fourth quarter. The Wildcats finished with only 17 passing yards, and Georgia kept quarterback Lynn Bowden to just two completed passes.