Georgia didn’t do everything right today. But they didn’t do nearly enough wrong to give the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets even a whisper of a chance to win in Athens.
Behind 447 yards of total offense that could have just as easily been a thousand, and a defense that never looked out of place against the vaunted triple option, the Red and Black exterminated the Gnats 45-21 on their way to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game.
The Bulldogs scored touchdowns on their first five possessions, running around and through an anemic Georgia Tech defense essentially at will. Then, when that became boring, Jake Fromm threw touchdown passes. In fact, Fromm has four scoring throws on the day, despite surrendering the reins to Justin Fields for much of the second half. The Man in Khaki ended the day 13 of 16 passing for 175 yards.
D’Andre Swift once again led all ‘Dawgs with 105 yards on 14 carries. But he was far from the only Athenian who had success on the ground. Elijah Holyfield churned out 79 yards on 9 carries, and James Cook went for 44 on 7 runs (albeit with a fumble for Georgia’s only turnover of the day).
The Bulldog backups gave up a couple of late touchdowns that made the final score look a little more respectable than it really was. The truth is that TaQuon Marshall and the Jackets offense, which came into the day as the top ranked rushing attack in America, couldn’t do a thing, gaining 66 yards on the ground in the first half and only 128 on the day. It was a fantastic demonstration of assignment football.
Coach Smart lauded the seniors who were honored before the game. “They came in under a different head coach, but they bought in”, Smart noted. Those seniors will leave Athens as one of the winningest groups in UGA history, regardless of what happens from here on out.
“Here on out” starts next week in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in a rematch of last year’s national championship game against Alabama, what is essentially a College Football Playoff quarterfinal. Asked how one moves on to the Tide, Smart was succinct: “Just turn on the tape” Smart said.
The Crimson Tide have been one of the most dominant teams in recent college football memory this season. Stopping them will be a tough order. But the Bulldog offense appears to be peaking at the right time, and the defense has started to show signs of gelling. It’s simple for the Red and Black: win and you’re in.