A chorus of boos rained down on Dooley Field as Georgia’s offense walked to the sidelines after its first three-and-out of the night. A frustrated fan yelled for the Bulldogs to “stop running the ball,” a command hardly anyone would expect to hear under the Sanford Stadium lights.
Georgia was tied at 24 with Mississippi State, pinned at its own 20-yard line and in desperate need to pull ahead of an opponent with just two wins on its resume.
Yet Georgia, sitting at 6 rushing yards through nearly three quarters, decided to run the ball on first down. No gain for Zamir White. Georgia ran again on second down. No gain for Kenny McIntosh.
That’s when the crowd grew frustrated.
Georgia ended up winning 31-24 behind an impressive passing attack led by first-time Georgia starter and Southern California transfer quarterback JT Daniels, who put up his career-best totals with 401 passing yards and four touchdowns.
By the end of the game, Georgia was held to 8 run yards against Mississippi State. Daniels was sacked three times for a loss of 21 yards. White led the rushers with just 21 yards on 11 attempts. James Cook followed with 7 yards on four rushes, and McIntosh finished with 5 yards on three attempts.
These aren hardly the numbers you’d expect to read from a school that’s been heralded in the past as “Running Back University.”
It’s not that Georgia has been electric on the ground this season. The Bulldogs have eclipsed 200 yards rushing twice this season, posting 202 against Auburn and 215 against Kentucky. It’s not that Mississippi State is an elite defensive team, either. In their last three games, the Bulldogs from Starkville allowed 142 rush yards to winless Vanderbilt, 208 to No. 1 Alabama and 186 to No. 5 Texas A&M.
Though the game wasn’t pretty, and it raised plenty of questions, Georgia escaped with a win and a clear direction at quarterback.
But there’s now a new question on the offensive side of the ball: What’s up with the running backs?