Cine

Desmond Ridder #9 of the Cincinnati Bearcats is tackled on a run play by Lewis Cine #16 of the Georgia Bulldogs during the 2020 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl NCAA football game between the Georgia Bulldogs and Cincinnati Bearcats, Jan. 1, 2021, in Atlanta. (Paul Abell via Abell Images for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl)

Following No. 9 Georgia’s 24-21 win over No. 9 Cincinnati in the Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, The Red & Black graded each position group’s performance.

Quarterback

In a matchup between two rushing powers, passing defined the Peach Bowl. JT Daniels looked sharp on short passes, and while his deep balls tended to be underthrown, he produced plenty of explosive gains throughout the afternoon. Daniels’ first big mistake arrived near the end of the first quarter. A feeble lob to George Pickens in the endzone floated to the inside, allowing Cincinnati cornerback Coby Bryant to come down with the ball. Luckily for Georgia, a quick defensive stop flipped the field, and Daniels made up for his pick with a laser to Pickens for Georgia’s first score. Cincinnati brought relentless pressure to open the second half, forcing Daniels’ second mistake inside the 25-yard line  a sack fumble in the middle of the third quarter. But Daniels hunkered down to lead three scoring drives in the fourth and lift Georgia to victory in his first bowl game appearance. He finished with 392 yards on 68.4% passing and the lone touchdown. — William Newlin 

Grade: B+ (Last game vs. Missouri: A)

Running backs

Georgia was not its ordinary self in the run game. The Bulldogs ran for just 45 total yards on 1.9 yards per carry. Zamir White led the backfield group with 11 carries for 39 yards, including Georgia’s only touchdown on the ground. The absence of James Cook cleared the way for Kenny McIntosh and Kendall Milton, but the duo combined for only 27 yards on nine carries. Georgia’s longest rush of the game was 12 yards. For a team that averaged 188.6 rushing yards per game in the regular season, this was certainly not its most efficient performance. McIntosh was a bright spot in the passing game, however, catching five balls for 43 yards. He finished as Georgia’s second-leading receiver. — Griffin Callaghan

Grade: C (Last game vs. Missouri: A+) 

Receivers

Its 392 yards through the air was one of Georgia’s more defining statistics in the Peach Bowl. Georgia Pickens was the most impactful Bulldog receiver, catching seven passes for 135 yards and a touchdown. Pickens was the most targeted receiver with nine passes thrown his way overall, including a 51-yard completion that ended as the Bulldogs’ second-longest reception. Georgia had ten different receivers catch passes in the game, including 2020 reception leader Kearis Jackson hauling in three passes for 47 yards. The longest reception for the Bulldogs came on a 55-yard pass to speedy freshman Arian Smith. Georgia’s receivers repeatedly found space in the stout Cincinnati defense, evidenced by their 27 total receptions. — Griffin Callaghan

Grade: A (Last game vs. Missouri: A)

Offensive line

The offensive line is one of many position groups negatively impacted by opt-outs and injuries. Without Ben Cleveland and Trey Hill, Georgia struggled to keep the Cincinnati defensive front at bay and open up holes for the running backs. The Bulldogs averaged below two yards per carry, and Daniels was constantly under pressure due to a collapsing pocket. The lack of protection for Daniels and the running backs led to three sacks, one lost fumble and five tackles for loss on the day. There were stints of solid play that allowed Georgia to crawl its way back into the game, but it was far from an encouraging performance from the front line. — Andy Walsh

Grade: D (Last game vs. Missouri: A-)

Front seven

Led by an active linebacker group, Georgia held the Bearcats to just 28 first half running yards on 13 attempts. Jordan Davis was Georgia’s only defensive lineman with a tackle for loss in the first half, and Cincy quarterback Desmond Ridder had little trouble evading the Bulldogs’ predominantly four-man rush. Two plays after halftime, the Bearcats’ run came alive with a 79-yard touchdown dash, but they couldn’t sustain the threat. Instead, Georgia’s front seven bore down, tacking on 10 more tackles for loss, including a pivotal sack-fumble from linebacker Azeez Ojulari at the top of the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs’ subsequent touchdown kept them in the game, and the momentum switch fueled their late rally. — William Newlin

Grade: A+ (Last game vs. Missouri: A)

Secondary  

Georgia’s secondary has been far from perfect all season. The group was gashed against Florida and Alabama, and it looked like it would be in for another long day after Ridder threw for 170 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Without Richard LeCounte, Mark Webb and interception-leader Eric Stokes, the Bulldogs were left with little depth in the secondary. Despite that, the second half performance was a reversal of the first half woes. Tyson Campbell, Latavious Brini and Tyrique Stevenson broke up passes and screens, feeding off the resurgence of the defensive front. Ridder went 9 of 15 for 36 yards and no touchdowns in the final 30 minutes. — Andy Walsh

Grade: B- (Last game vs. Missouri: B+)

Special teams

Despite a sub-par punting performance that included a first quarter shank from Jake Camarda and a successful fourth quarter fake-punt run from Cincinnati, Georgia’s special teams ultimately won the day. Lineman Jordan Davis blocked a second quarter field goal to maintain the game’s early 7-7 balance and limit Cincinnati’s lead to two points as the clock wound down. Kicker Jack Podlesny, a perfect 3-for-3 on field goals today, nailed a career-long 53-yarder to seal Georgia's win. — William Newlin

Grade: A (Last game vs Missouri: F)