Georgia captured its 12th consecutive win over the Wildcats of Kentucky in Sanford Stadium this afternoon, and what we might have learned is just how hard this UGA team is going to be to beat.
Kentucky played extremely well on the offensive line. They were helped by timely penalties, and the fact that this group of officials felt like calling holding on the Wildcats would somehow make the game less fair.
With UGA already up 14-0 and the Wildcats in their own territory, it appeared a strip sack of UK quarterback Will Levis was going to set the Dawgs up for a knockout punch. Upon review, Levis had thrown a forward pass.
With the game on the verge of getting out of hand, Kentucky Offensive Coordinator Liam Coen pulled out every trick in his bag. There were end-arounds, throwback passes, a variation of the old hook and ladder play, and again, the refusal of the referees to call holding. It culminated with a touchdown and cut the score to 14-7 shortly before the half, but what we really realized was this:
If you run all your trick plays perfectly, get saved by a review on a strip-sack, don’t get called for holding, and have a pass interference penalty go your way, then you too can score a touchdown on the 2021 Georgia Bulldogs defense.
That’s not an insult to Kentucky. This defense is just that hard to drive the field on.
Todd Monken and Stetson Bennett continue to be great at taking whatever they are given. When Kentucky blitzed or loaded the box with seven and eight defenders then Georgia let their deep group of TE’s and RB’s abuse Kentucky’s LB’s in man coverage. When Kentucky dropped into coverage the Bulldogs pounded the ball down the Wildcats throats.
Brock Bowers, Darnell Washington and John Fitzpatrick all had receptions over 20 yards in this game. That group combined for 8 receptions for 158 yards, and suddenly Georgia looks like Tight-End U. This blog has been calling for that since 2006, and we are happy to report that we feel both vindicated and giddy by that development.
Bowers continued to look like one of the most unique weapons in college football. On one down he’d clean up a linebacker while blocking in the run game. On the next, he’d sprint past a safety on a wheel route for a long TD. Bowers lead the Dawgs receivers with 5 catches for 101 yards and 2 TD’s on the day.
When Kentucky decided it was time to try and stop the passing game, UGA got it done on the ground. Georgia ran for 166 yards on 27 carries, which came out to a nice 6.1 yards per an attempt. Everyone who attempted a rush for Georgia on Saturday night had a carry of 15 yards or longer. That includes Stetson Bennett and Ladd McConkey.
Todd Monken continues to look like the most competent offensive coordinator that UGA has ever seen. 3rd & 4 with the game tied at zero and the offense looking shaky? He’s got an angle route to James Cook for that. A Kentucky defense starting to key on the run in the 2nd half? There’s a wheel route for a Brock Bowers TD to solve that problem.
Georgia's offense is starting to cook. pic.twitter.com/8xziPviTLj— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 16, 2021
It should be noted that the quarterback and pass catchers who are making all of this go are not the same guys we thought would be running this Georgia offense back in August. Thinking about what this unit might become with George Pickens and healthy versions of Arian Smith, Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint, and Jermaine Burton is enough to make you lightheaded if you’re a Dawg fan.
At times it feels like Monken has pages full of touchdown plays that he has saved for the moments he needs them, but those moments are few and far between with this UGA defense on the other side of the ball. This game felt like the closest one Georgia has played since meeting Clemson in Charlotte in week one, and yet it never felt in doubt.
It should also be mentioned that Stetson Bennett isn’t managing the game. He’s dropping dimes into the bucket on wheel routes to the sideline from the opposite hash. He’s getting Georgia into good plays at the line of scrimmage and he’s not putting the ball into danger. He looked a bit out of sorts to begin this game. Bennett had a couple throws that were a bit off target or late and Kentucky made him feel pressure in the pocket for the first time in a few weeks, but his influence remains a calming one on this Georgia offense. Monken got him moving around outside the pocket and let him use his legs and he quickly found a groove.
UGA got the ball at the half and went quickly down the field for a touchdown. One three-and-out by Kentucky later, and UGA had the ball again. It took three plays, and three Stetson Bennett passes before Georgia was back deep inside Kentucky’s territory. That drive ended with a FG, but it gave the Dawgs a three possession lead. When that happens against this defense you might as well be declared legally dead on the field.
The Dawgs forced another three-and-out before their own three-and-out and a Jake Camarda shank gave UK the ball at their own 45. They used some more gadget plays and throwback screens to drive to UGA’s 10 before Nakobe Dean shucked a Kentucky offensive lineman’s block in the open field and made a TD saving tackle. The next play was a five-yard loss, and then the Wildcats trotted out their FG kicker for what would be the moment I’ll remember about this game 30 years from now.
“Hey Kenneth Horsey, how you doing? Have you been lifting weights this summer? Is your pad level good? Can you squat a school bus? Have you ever been turned into a human blocking sled by two future NFL lineman?”
Kenneth Horsey is #68, and the turf mark from his cleat flying backwards will be left in Sanford Stadium for a long time. Horsey didn’t do anything wrong here. When you have a mountain, you deploy the mountain. When you have two mountains, you deploy the range. When it comes to mountain ranges, Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt are the Cascades. They will wash over you with the inevitability of a permanent glacier, and though you might travel safely amongst them for an hour or two, if you wander there too long you will find yourself lost in a crevasse with no hope of being rescued. On the off chance you avoid the crevasses then exposure and frostbite will likely get you. It comes in the form of Jalen Carter.
Kentucky did as good a job with this Georgia front as anyone has all year, and the Wildcats offensive line might be the best Georgia sees this season. Kentucky was able to do something that nobody has by mounting two touchdown drives on the Bulldogs. Doing so meant conceding the game and running 22 plays over 11:23 when there was 11:27 left on the clock. It meant calling a timeout down 23 with seven seconds left in the game, and it required the officials missing what looked like fumble on the goal line that was recovered by Latavious Brini.
Will Levis played a fantastic game. He completed 32 of his 42 pass attempts, and he kept the ball out of harm’s way. The problem is that he only got 192 yards for those 32 completions, and that came out to 4.6 yards an attempt. Wan’Dale Robinson had 12 catches on the night, but all that work only amounted to 39 yards. Has anyone in the history of football ever had 12 receptions for 39 yards? This defense will fight you for every single inch.
Want to score on Georgia? You might be required to accept losing the war in order to win that battle.
Even then, you might not make the extra point.