SEC wins don’t just happen. Even the ugly ones happen because somebody made them happen. And the somebodies who made it happen in Georgia’s 21-0 win over Kentucky are our MVDs: Most Valuable ‘Dawgs.
Offense: D’Andre Swift. Perhaps the easiest choice of the season. Swift’s 21 carries for 179 yards and two touchdowns essentially were the Bulldog offense. Georgia brings back some solid talent in the backfield in 2020, and should add some solid pieces in recruiting as well. But Swift is about as reliably versatile a back as you can have when you absolutely, positively need to run the dang ball.
Defense: Richard LeCounte. This one was a little tougher. After all, when you pitch a shutout and give up only 177 yards of total offense, a lot has probably gone right for you on the defensive side of the ball. I gave strong consideration to freshman linebacker Nakobe Dean, whose 6 tackles tied for the team lead. Dean also forced a pivotal fumble for the game’s only turnover (an incredible anomaly given the weather).
But I decided to go with LeCounte precisely because this was the kind of game in which LeCounte should have worried me. I was fully prepared for Lynn Bowden to sneak one RPO pass over LeCounte’s outstretched arms, and for him to miss a tackle or two to allow a first down. It never happened. LeCounte finished with 6 tackles as well, 2 of them solid solo stops. He got to the ball all night and avoided penalties and other unforced errors. While not flashy, this may have been LeCounte’s best game of the season.
Special teams: Jake Camarda and Steven Nixon. Collectively dethroning our reigning begoggled superstar, Jake Camarda and Steven Nixon didn’t win this game. But they didn’t lose it either, despite being put in positions where it would have been very easy over and over again. Camarda’s 6 punts for an average of 52.8 yards apiece is pretty impressive standing alone. Admittedly none of those were downed inside the 20.
But if you didn’t hold your breath just a little bit every time Camarda trotted out there thinking we were only one botched punt away from disaster you’re a better fan than I. Camarda and Bulldog long snapper Steven Nixon (as well as the rest of the UGA punt team) both deserve immense credit for making Kentucky be the team whose special teams made the game harder.
Who gets your nod as player of the game from this one? Until later . . .