You don’t send a #1 ranked Tennessee team that had grown too big for its britches home with an L without a total team effort. But even then some Bulldogs are bound to stand head and shoulders above the rest. They are your MVDs: the Most Valuable ‘Dawgs from Georgia’s 27-13 victory over Tennessee.
Offense: Stetson Bennett. The Mailman delivered once again. His passing line (17 of 25 for 257 yards and two touchdowns) was good. But his 13 yard rushing touchdown to get the Bulldogs on the board was equally critical. Perhaps most important, “Bad Stet” didn’t make an appearance except for one ill-advised early throw that was dropped by Tennessee linebacker Jeremy Banks. As Kirby Smart said in the postgame presser, Bennett is (and I’m quoting here) “stubborn as hell sometimes, but he knows what he’s doing.”
Defense: The entire secondary. Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker had his worst game in two seasons as the Volunteers’ starter. Receiver Jalin Hyatt, who’d averaged 3 touchdowns and nearly 30 yards per catch in his last 3 games, had 6 catches for 68 yards and no scores. The Bulldog defense notched a career-high 6 sacks.
These facts are not unrelated. The common thread was a secondary led by Chris Smith, Kelee Ringo, Kamari Lassiter, and Malachi Starks which was in phase and in position all afternoon. Ringo’s endzone interception was perhaps the key highlight, but Javon Bullard added a pair of important sacks, and the entire unit tackled as well as they have all year. Just a bravura performance from the entire group.
Special teams: Brett Thorson.
oh my god puntzilla is real— BUM CHILLUPS AKA SPENCER HALL (@edsbs) November 5, 2022
Brett Thorson’s 75 yard first quarter punt flipped the field and shifted momentum heavily in favor of the Red and Black. Thorson hasn’t gotten a lot of work this year due to the Bulldog offense’s off-the-charts production. But he’s delivered when called upon, and long term looks like he may become a legitimate weapon the way Jake Camarda did.
As always, feel free to include your selections in the comments.