That wasn’t a whole lot of fun. In the end it was effective. But it wasn’t a ton of fun.
Beating Georgia Tech rarely is, of course. I maintain that Florida is the game I perennially most enjoy winning and Georgia Tech is the game I most dread losing. There’s no upside to beating a hapless Jacket squad that circles this game on its collective calendars every year, and none more than in years like this one when they have absolutely nothing to lose.
Georgia finished this game with a solid lead in time of possession, a commanding lead in offensive yardage, and a double digit lead on the scoreboard. But for most of the afternoon it was ponderous and painful. Georgia had some real lowlights. Stetson Bennett wasn’t his sharpest, finishing the game 10 of 18 for 140 yards. The Bulldog offense totaled 407 yards of offense, 128 of them coming from Kenny McIntosh, who had both Georgia’s longest running play and reception of the day. Over half of Bennett’s passing production came on a single long wheel route to KMac in the fourth quarter. Prior to that he was on pace to throw for under 100 yards for the first time since the 2021 Arkansas game.
Still, combined with his stats from the Kentucky game the past two weeks have seen the lowest two week passing production of the Mailman’s career as a starter. A lot of that has felt like Kirby Smart and Todd Monken throttling the offense down to an absolute bare minimum. That’s fine, so long as you can throttle it back up when necessary. Having seen the Tennessee game I believe they can, but it still makes me a bit nervous.
Not as nerve-wracking today was the performance of the Bulldog special teams. For much of the year it’s felt as if the kicking game was an afterthought for a Red and Black squad that rarely needed to punt and less frequently needed to make a true game-changing special teams play. Ladd McConkey in particular had a pair of solid punt returns, even though the best of them was wasted when the Bulldog offense couldn’t get anything going.
However when the ‘Dawgs smothered Tech punter David Shanahan in the third to set the offense up for a touchdown drive to go up 20-7, it felt like a genuine momentum shift.
Defensively the Bulldogs did a solid job against a Yellow Jacket offense that ran for only 40 yards on the day. That’s a little misleading given that the Jackets weirdly had 56 yards rushing at halftime. However in the second half the UGA defense locked down and forced the Trade School to go to the air, resulting in four second half sacks that made the numbers look a good bit gaudier than they were.
Still, 255 yards of total offense is a serviceable day. And after allowing the visitors to convert 43% of 3rd and 4th downs in the first half Georgia allowed conversions on only 2 of 10 attempts after the half.
It’s hard to get up for every game. And over the course of this undefeated regular season we can’t decidedly say that Georgia hasn’t been up for every one. In fact, one could make the argument that Georgia’s underwhelmed more than overwhelmed in terms of pure execution. But the thing is, they’ve still only allowed one team within single digits all season (thanks to that late Kentucky touchdown). The Red and Black have been dominant without playing dominating football. The Tennessee game showed us glimpses of what this Bulldog team can do, and next week in Atlanta they’ll have to play at a level way closer to that than what we saw today or last week in Lexington. I have no doubt the ‘Dawgs can beat the Bayou Bengals. But I’m also not without concern that some of the bad habits on display these last couple of weeks could creep in at the wrong time.
I don’t say that to sound ungrateful. This has been a momentous season. A thrilling year, no matter what happens from here on out. It’s worth remembering that in August we were concerned that an immature defense would get picked apart by the likes of Bo Nix and Hendon Hooker and Spencer Rattler. That all seems a little silly now.
And believe me, I enjoy beating the Yellow Jackets. I will definitely savor it on this chilly evening. But in the natural order of things a three touchdown win over the Nerds is merely an affirmation of the natural order. A win over LSU would reaffirm of a whole new order in the SEC.