LEXINGTON, Ky. — No. 5 Georgia defeated Kentucky 14-3 in Lexington, Kentucky, in its first game back since losing to Alabama 41-24 on Oct. 17. Here are some observations from The Red & Black:
Quarterback questions linger
Head coach Kirby Smart said before Saturday that Stetson Bennett would start as Georgia’s quarterback. One main concern for Georgia coming into Kentucky was Bennett, and concerns still exist after his showing in Lexington.
While Bennett had some positive moments like his two-yard carry that gave the Bulldogs their first score of the game, his height issue appeared once again against the Wildcats. Bennett’s pass was complete to tailback James Cook for 46 yards to Kentucky’s 29-yard line to set up a scoring opportunity for Georgia with a little over two minutes remaining in the second quarter. Quickly after, Bennett’s pass was intercepted off a batted ball. That makes for two interceptions in Georgia’s last two games due to batted balls.
Bennett’s second interception came in the third quarter at Kentucky’s 18-yard line, leading to yet another missed scoring opportunity by the Bulldogs. Bennett is showing glimpses of success, but glimpses cannot be enough to sustain a competitive offense all season.
Still finding identity through the air
Georgia’s offense has been searching for its identity all season. The running game finally met expectations today as the Bulldogs averaged 5 yards per carry, but Georgia hasn’t figured out its game through the air.
The first completion of the game for Georgia didn’t come until the second quarter when Stetson Bennett completed a pass to James Cook for 7 yards to Georgia’s 39-yard line. Cook was Georgia’s leading receiver with four receptions for 62 yards and no pass catcher was targeted more than four times. With Georgia’s completion rate sitting at 55.6% this season, the passing game has not been reliable enough.
Although the Bulldogs pulled off the win today without needing a passing threat, Georgia will need to secure options through the air moving forward, especially when facing No. 10 Florida in Jacksonville, Florida, next weekend.
Riddled with injuries
In a season where player health is of top priority, Georgia certainly faced an issue with six players sidelined against Kentucky. While Georgia has been fortunate four games into this season not to see a significant amount of positive COVID-19 tests, injuries were prominent for the Bulldogs on both sides of the ball today.
Sophomore wide receiver George Pickens didn’t even make the trip to Kentucky, and Kenny McIntosh’s injury suffered during the first half of the Alabama game kept him out against the Wildcats. Senior linebacker Monty Rice had two tackles despite not playing at full strength. Throughout today’s game, more Bulldogs limped to the sideline: Julian Rochester, Lewis Cine, Jordan Davis, Quay Walker and Tyrique Stevenson.
Although the Bulldogs cruised to the finish against Kentucky, they’ll need to be at full strength against a prolific Florida offense next week. Georgia’s defense is its calling card and it’ll be tough to put a damper on Kyle Trask and company without their big-bodied defensive lineman and some crucial members of the defensive front and secondary.