Up – The Defense Still Looked Strong (and got to rotate a lot as well)
Georgia’s defense had another strong showing on Saturday as they limited the Skyhawks to just 260 yards of offense and 7 points (more on that later). Georgia also got to rotate a lot on defense with a lot of young players seeing game action (which is always a key piece in a player’s development).
UT-Martin had a few solid drives, but for the most part they could not get going. Georgia limited the Skyhawks to just four plays of 15 or more yards, and the Dawgs forced 9 punts (while forcing five 3 & outs (there would have been a sixth at the end of the game if time had not expired)). Malaki Starks had another impressive showing with 8 tackles and a pass break-up. Tykee Smith also had 6 tackles and a TFL as he looks to re-establish himself at the STAR position.
According to Dawgs247,18 freshmen overall played for Georgia on Saturday with 12 of those coming on the defensive side of the ball. Joenel Aguero, CJ Allen, Troy Bowles, Jordan Hall, AJ Harris, Daniel Harris, Gabe Harris, Jamal Jarrett, Kyron Jones, Samuel M’Pemba, Justin Rhett, and Damon Wilson all saw action on Saturday. CJ Allen led the way among the defensive freshmen with 33 snaps played. AJ Harris (29 snaps), Joenel Aguero (25), Jordan Hall (18), and Gabe Harris (18) all also saw the field a lot as well. Kyron Jones also had a pick-six in the 4th quarter. (Remember that while not all of these FreshmEn will red-shirt, a player can play in four games and still red-shirt (so no red-shirts were burned on Saturday)).
Again, while the level of competition wasn’t great and it was not as dominant of a performance as we’ve seen in the past, it was another strong showing from the Georgia defense. Also, the Dawgs defense has scored as many touchdowns (1) as they’ve allowed (1) through the first week.
Down – Slow Start Offensively
For whatever reason (there’s probably a couple), Georgia was a little slow getting out of the gates offensively in Week 1. Part of the problem was unavailability of key skill position players. Daijun Edwards was out and Kendall Milton (9 carries) was limited at the running back position. Then at receiver, Ladd McConkey, Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint, and Jackson Meeks were all out, while a few others were limited.
Another aspect of the slow start was likely nerves and rust from Carson Beck. It’s easy to forget that this was Beck’s first career start, and he was doing it in front of a sold-out Sanford Stadium. Beck missed on a few throws early, although he eventually settled down. He also had a few passes dropped by receivers that would have helped his overall numbers. Nevertheless, even Beck would tell you that he needs to play better than he did in the 1st half against UT-Martin.
The play-calling also felt bland at times, but that could just be chalked up to Georgia easing Beck into things, the missing starters/key contributors at the skill positions, and it being the opening game of the season against an FCS program and the staff not wanting to reveal too much on tape. One notable situation where the play-calling was off a little was the goal-to-go situation late in the 1st half where Georgia ran a draw on 1st & goal with under 30 seconds remaining in the half which caused Georgia to lose valuable time AND a loss of down because Beck had to spike the ball. All of a sudden it was 3rd & goal, and Georgia ended up having to eventually settle for a field goal. It didn’t cost Georgia here, but it could have in a bigger game.
As with the offensive line, while I’m not worried yet about the offense (some things should get ironed out this week at practice and as film gets dissected), Georgia fans would probably like to see a better 1st half performance in Week 2 against Ball State before Georgia heads into SEC play against South Carolina in Week 3.