Going into Saturday, there were multiple things that Georgia needed to win the battle in in order to walk away from Lexington with the win and SEC East title.
By and large, Georgia did that. For the second game in a row, this team looked closer and closer to the team that was expected as the season began and less like the one that slogged its way to wins against Tennessee, Vandy and MTSU.
As for the three keys to a Georgia win?
Here’s how Georgia met, if not exceeded them.
Win the run
This one goes on both sides of the ball.
Georgia needs to do put the ball firmly in the hands of Kentucky’s passing game. If the Wildcats bruising running game is slowed to a halt, it’s chances of winning are better than if Benny Snell grinds out and overpowers Georgia up front.
Conversely, Swift and Holyfield will need to have a big day. If Georgia can eat up clock, it’ll go a long way in quelling a rabid crowd in Lexington and more critically, keeping the Wildcats best offensive weapon on the sideline.
Georgia was bound the determined to make Kentucky beat it with the passing game. That worked well - especially as Georgia’s lead put the Wildcats into needing to throw. Saturday also showed why three solid backs are better then one. You can ride a horse only so much - at some point, durability becomes an issue.
Overall, Georgia outrushed Kentucky 331 to 84. After a week a hearing about UK’s vaunted rushing attack, the Dawgs running game rose to the moment.
Instead, the fully healthy combo of Holyfield and Swift stole the big stage, each going past the century mark as Swift had 156 to Holyfield’s 115.
Lock down Allen
The timing could not be better for Georgia’s offensive line. Going up against one of the country’s best defensive ends, Josh Allen, the Bulldogs will welcome back Ben Cleveland is some way or form this week as he has been getting work in this week at practice.
He will not only give Georgia depth help inside that can allow someone to rotate to the tackle spot if needed, but his mere presence will be huge for a unit that has been good of late, but has seemed to be missing a bit of something with Cleveland on the mend. It obviously goes without saying that the durability of Andrew Thomas will be a major focus as the tackle continues to fight through a season in which he has been dinged by injury.
Georgia’s tight end depth could also play a factor here as they could be employed along with Luke Ford to help with blitz pickup to neutralize Allen.
Turns out, Ben Cleveland wasn’t needed, even if further injuries forced the offensive line to be held together like a wrecked racecar after being in a big wreck at Talladega.
Two more starters - Lamont Galliard and Cade Mays went down with an injury. Even still, taking away the two bad snaps by Trey Hill in the first half, this group did not miss much of a beat.
Other than when he recovered a fumble, Josh Allen was nearly a non-factor, held to three tackles. In fact, Kentucky’s defense that had made a name for itself in stopping opposing offenses had no sacks and just five tackles for a loss on Saturday.
Take advantage of the middle
With five defensive backs over six feet tall, the odds of Fromm executing as many fades or back-shoulder throws figures to go down. For that reason, it’ll be crucial for Georgia’s short passing game and over the middle to do well by way of the infamous quick slants. In all honesty, that could lay out chances for Holyfield and Swift to turn dump offs from Fromm to big gains.
Georgia set an early tone with its tight end, as Fromm hooked up for the short touchdown to Nauta for the game’s first score. As the game went on, Fromm’s ability to kept Kentucky’s defense off balance enough via short passes helped kept the Wildcats spread out defensively.