Saturday, September 17, 2022

Post Game Notes

UGA Sports Communications

Offensive Numbers: Georgia tallied 547 yards of total offense in winning 48-7 on Saturday. Sophomore tight end Brock Bowers scored three touchdowns -- two on receptions and one rushing. That is the second time in his career (Vanderbilt 2021) that Bowers has scored three times and in that manner in the same game. Bowers ended up with five catches for 121 yards, including a 78-yarder, and the two touchdowns. Senior quarterback Stetson Bennett went 16-of-23 for 284 yards and two touchdowns in two-plus quarters of work. He also rushed for a touchdown to cap the Dawgs’ season-best drive of 88 yards on eight plays and was the leading rusher with 36 yards on three attempts. Senior kicker Jack Podlesny drilled a season-best 42-yard field goal.

Red Zone Review: The Dawgs were 5-for-5 in the Red Zone with four touchdowns and a field goal. For the season, Georgia improved to 19-for-20 in the Red Zone with 14 touchdowns and five field goals.

A Look At The Defense: The Dawgs have allowed 10 points this season, which is the program's lowest 3-game total since 1927. South Carolina finished the game with 306 yards of total offense. The leading tackler for the Dawgs was sophomore linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson with six stops. Freshman defensive back Malaki Starks, sophomore inside linebacker Trezmen Marshall and safety Dan Jackson picked off passes for the Dawgs. For Marshall, it was his first career interception. Collectively, the Dawgs had six tackles for loss.

Starters & Game Captains: Georgia had two first-time starters in freshman receiver Dillon Bell and senior defensive lineman Tramel Walthour. South Carolina won the toss and elected to receive. Senior Kearis Jackson (WR), junior Warren McClendon (OL), and sophomore Jamon Dumas-Johnson (ILB) were the captains.

Points Off Turnovers: Georgia picked up 14 points off three turnovers. The Dawgs moved to +6 for the year with 31 points off turnovers, while Georgia has not had any turnovers this year.

This and That: Freshman tight end Oscar Delp recorded the first touchdown of his career on his first collegiate catch … South Carolina’s successful fake punt was the first against Georgia since Cincinnati in the 2021 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl … The Gamecocks’ 46-yard pass play was the longest surrendered by the Dawgs this year.

Series History: Georgia improved to 54-19-2 in the series history with South Carolina, including 21-10 in SEC matchups. The Dawgs posted their largest margin of victory against the Gamecocks. Coach Kirby Smart is now 6-1 against the Gamecocks and 5-0 against former assistants (2-0 vs. Arkansas, 2-0 vs. South Carolina, 1-0 vs. Oregon).

Dawgs Feast On Chickens

UGA Sports Communications

Led by another blistering offensive performance, the top-ranked University of Georgia football team defeated South Carolina, 48-7, Saturday afternoon before 78,212 spectators at Williams-Brice Stadium and an ESPN national television audience.

Georgia (3-0, 1-0 SEC) amassed 547 yards of offense, including an average of 8.7 yards per play. Senior quarterback Stetson Bennett finished 16-of-23 passing for 284 yards and two touchdowns, while also leading the team in rushing with 36 yards and a score on three carries. Sophomore tight end Brock Bowers tallied 126 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns.

On the defensive end, Georgia held South Carolina (1-2, 0-2 SEC) to 306 yards of offense, with only 197 coming in the first three quarters. Sophomore linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson tied a career high six tackles, while the Dawgs notched three interceptions.

“We’ve got a young team and a lot of them haven’t played in or seen that type of environment,” coach Kirby Smart said following the game. “I thought we had some guys grow up today. The offense really executed efficiently and did a nice job. The defense was ‘bend, but don’t break’ again and they’ve been very opportunistic in terms of getting turnovers after big plays.”

After South Carolina’s first drive stalled near midfield, the Georgia offense quickly moved down the field for an opening score, set up by a 28-yard pass from Bennett to redshirt sophomore receiver Ladd McConkey on second-and-2. The drive concluded with a 5-yard touchdown run by Bowers, capping off a 10-play, 82-yard sequence.

On the ensuing Gamecock possession, quarterback Spencer Rattler found tight end Jaheim Bell for a 46-yard completion, but the momentum was short-lived as he was intercepted two plays later by freshman defensive back Malaki Starks, who returned the ball to the South Carolina 43-yard line. The Dawgs soon capitalized on the field position as Bennett scrambled to the 1-yard line, followed by junior tailback Kendall Milton punching it in to make the score, 14-0.

South Carolina extended its next drive with a fake punt as Kai Kroger completed a 20-yard pass over the middle to Traevon Kenion. The Gamecocks eventually reached the Dawg 37, but Rattler’s fourth down pass went incomplete to close the drive. Aided by a pass interference penalty, Georgia then extended the lead to 21-0 as Bowers made a tremendous tiptoe catch in the end zone.

Following a series of punts from both teams, Georgia reached the South Carolina 25-yard line via a pair of long passing plays, but three straight incompletions resulted in a 42-yard field goal by senior place kicker Jack Podlesny, bringing the halftime score to 24-0.

Georgia opened the second half with possession and wasted no time bolstering its advantage as Bennett connected with a wide-open Bowers, who ran away from the South Carolina defense for a 78-yard score, his third of the afternoon. The Dawgs continued the scoring on their next drive, moving 88 yards down the field before Bennett rushed up the middle for a touchdown.

On South Carolina’s next play from scrimmage, Rattler was again intercepted by junior defensive back Dan Jackson, who wrestled the ball away for his first career pick. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Carson Beck relieved Bennett and promptly hit freshman tight end Oscar Delp for his first career touchdown, leaving the score at 45-0 heading into the fourth quarter.

In the final period, the Georgia offense continued to roll down the field reaching the 5-yard line before redshirt sophomore place kicker Jared Zirkel made his first career field goal from 21 yards out, finishing up a 13-play, 88-yard possession.

South Carolina looked to finally score on the subsequent drive, reaching the 11-yard line before backup quarterback Luke Doty was intercepted by junior linebacker Trezmen Marshall following pressure from fellow linebacker Rian Davis. The Gamecocks eventually hit the scoreboard with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Doty to Kenion with 53 seconds remaining.

Georgia returns home next weekend to face Kent State on Saturday at noon in Sanford Stadium. The game will be streamed live on SEC Network+.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Post Game Notes

UGA Sports Communications

Another Shutout For The Defense: For the ninth time in the Kirby Smart era, the Dawgs registered a shutout in posting a 33-0 win over Samford today. Samford finished with 128 yards of total offense on 43 plays. The leading tackler for the Dawgs was Smael Mondon with four stops and 1.5 TFL. Samford finished the first half with only 59 yards of total offense on 23 plays. Late in the second quarter and trailing 23-0, they turned it over on downs at their own 44, which led to a TD. Georgia forced one turnover that led to three points. Last year, the Dawgs posted three shutouts (Vandebrilt, No. 8 Arkansas and Ga. Tech). 

Offense Puts Up 33 Points: Georgia posted a 33-0 victory, rolling up 479 yards of total offense on 75 plays. In the first half, the Dawgs were 6-for-6 in the Red Zone with three TDs and three field goals, tallying 329 yards of total offense on 47 plays in building a 30-0 lead. At the start of the 4th quarter with Georgia leading 30-0, it was announced that by mutual agreement of the coaches, the 4th quarter would be shortened to 12 minutes. The Dawgs would add one field goal in the second half and finish 7-fo-8 in the Red Zone.

Georgia’s first drive of the day resulted in a 27-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead with 7:52 left. Georgia converted a pair of third downs until stalling out at the Samford 4. It was a 12 play, 47-yard drive. Following a turnover, Georgia reached the Red Zone again and had to settle for a field goal on a five play, 34-yard drive. Georgia’s third possession resulted in a TD on a three-year rush by QB Stetson Bennett. It capped a 7 play, 71-yard drive in 3:44. It was Bennett’s second rushing TD and sixth of his career. Georgia extended its lead to 19-0 as Bennett directed another 71-yard drive on nine plays capped by a three-yard TD pass to freshman Dillon Bell. Kenny McIntosh had a one-yard run to finish the final scoring drive of the half and a 30-0 lead. It was the second of the year for McIntosh and eighth of his career. It was Bell’s first career TD catch.

Bennett finished the day 24-for-34 for 300 yards and 1 TD in three quarters of action. In the first half, he was 20-for-28 for 252 yards and one TD plus four rushing yards with one rushing TD. Redshirt sophomore QB Carson Beck (5-for-7, 52 yards) entered the game with 2:34 left in the 3rd quarter. Today’s leading receiver was senior TB Kenny McIntosh with five for 61 yards with junior Kendall Milton leading all rushers with 85 yards on 10 carries. A total of 15 different Dawgs caught a pass today.

Podlesny Tallies 15 Points: Senior PK Jack Podlesny scored a career-high 15 points today (4 FGs, 3 PATs) and that was the most by a placekicker since 2017 when Rodrigo Blankenship had 17 against Misouri. He connected from 27 yards out for his first field goal of the year and a 3-0 lead with 7:51 left in the first quarter. Later in the first quarter, he made a 25-yard field goal for a 6-0 lead. He made a 26-yarder with 5:01 left in the half to make it 23-0. He made three PATs. Podlesny had six touchbacks on seven kickoffs with one going out of bounds. In the second half, he attempted a career-long 54-yard field goal, and it was short. It was his first career miss from 50+ after going 3-for-3 in 2020 and did not attempt one from that distance last year. In the second half, Podlesny added a 25-yarder for a 33-0 lead with 11:11 left. In his career, he is now 16-for-16 in the 20-29-yard range.

For Starters & Game Captains: Georgia had one first-time starter today in freshman Malaki Starks (DB). Samford won the toss and elected to take the ball. Georgia forced the Bulldogs to punt. Senior Warren Ericson (OL), junior Zion Logue (DL), and junior Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint (WR) were the captains. Sophomore WR Adonai Mitchell injured his ankle in the 1st quarter and did not return.

Points Off Turnovers: Georgia got three points off one turnover today. In the first quarter, junior Dan Jackson caused a fumble that was recovered by redshirt freshman Xavian Sorey. The Dawgs are +3 for the year with 17 points off turnovers.

Uga Wins Battle Of Dawgs

UGA Sports Communications

The No. 2-ranked Dawgs cruised to an easy 33-0 win over Samford in the their home opener Saturday afternoon. Stetson Bennett threw for 300 yards, the defense was dominant throughout, and kicker Jack Podlesny connected on four field goals in front of a crowd of 92,746 at Sanford Stadium.

After scoring touchdowns on its first seven drives in last Saturday’s season-opening 49-3 rout of then-No. 11 Oregon in Atlanta, Georgia (2-0) didn’t get into the end zone as easily against Samford (1-1), an FCS squad from the Southern Conference. Podlesny, who was busy booting extra points last week, made field goals from 27, 25, 26 and 25 yards.

Georgia ended the game with 479 yards of offense, averaging 6.4 yards per play, while the defense held Samford to 128 total yards. It was Georgia’s third win in three meetings against Samford. The teams first played in 1943 when Samford was still Howard College. Georgia won that meeting 38-0 and beat Samford 42-14 in 2017.

After the Georgia defense forced a quick three-and-out from the Samford offense, Bennett and the Dawgs took the field and quickly moved into Samford territory. Ultimately, Georgia had a first down at the Samford 12-yard line but had to settle for a 27-yard Jack Podlesny field goal and a 3-0 advantage.

Safety Dan Jackson derailed Samford’s next possession, stripping the ball from quarterback Michael Hiers. Linebacker Xavian Sorey Jr. recovered the loose ball at the Samford 41, setting Georgia up with excellent field position. On the next play, Bennett dumped a screen off to McIntosh on the left side and the back scampered 30 yards up the sideline to the Samford 11.

Georgia was again in great position deep in Samford territory, and it again had to settle for a field goal, this time a 25-yarder that made it 6-0 with 5:34 to play in the opening quarter.

The defense again forced a Samford punt — Samford through three possessions had 26 total yards and one first down — and Bennett and the offense marched down the field. There was a 37-yard completion to Ladd McConkey deep downfield that got Georgia into Samford territory, and the drive ended with a 2-yard Bennett run to the right for a touchdown and a 13-0 lead with 22 seconds left in the first quarter.

In the second, Georgia’s defense got another quick stop and then the offense kept rolling. Bennett hit receiver Kearis Jackson for 16 yards to the 50, followed by two Kendell Milton runs to the left that netted a combined 14 yards. Two plays later, Bennett faked a handoff to McIntosh, and then dumped off a short screen to the running back, who cut up for an 11-yard gain.

Three plays later, Bennett faked a handoff to Daijun Edwards and found Dillon Bell in the end zone for a touchdown — the first of the freshman receiver’s career — and a 20-0 lead with 8:48 to play in the half. Following another defensive stop, McConkey helped give the offense great field position after a 21-yard punt return to the Samford 44.

Georgia started the ensuing drive with great field position and quickly got an 18-yard completion to tight end Brock Bowers, followed by a 5-yard completion to tight end Darnell Washington, plus a personal foul penalty. The drive later stalled inside the 20 and Podlesny pushed Georgia’s lead to 23-0 with a 26-yarder with 5:01 left in the half.

On the next drive, defensive back Javon Bullard reached in for a pass breakup on Samford’s fourth-down gamble, giving the offense the ball at the Samford 44 with 3:49 to play before halftime. Bennett hit Jackson for 17 yards on third-and-6, and later, he hit Bowers for 26 yards to the 2. Soon after, McIntosh ran the ball in untouched, pushing Georgia’s advantage to 30-0 with 55 seconds to play before halftime.

At the end of the half, Bennett tried a Hail Mary throw into the end zone that fell incomplete, snapping a streak of 14 straight scoring drives for the quarterback. Georgia had 329 yards of offense in the first half while holding Samford to 59.

In Georgia’s win last week, freshman punter Brett Thorsen didn’t deliver his first boot as a Dawg until the fourth quarter. On Saturday, he finally got on the field late in the third, with Georgia still up 30-0.

Bennett gave way to backup Carson Beck late in the third quarter and ended his day 24 of 34 passing for 300 yards, with a 3-yard touchdown run and a 3-yard TD pass to Bell. Through two games this season, Bennett is 49 of 65 for 668 yards, with three passing touchdowns and two rushing. Milton led the rushing attack with 85 yards on 10 carries, while McIntosh led the way receiving with five receptions for 61 yards.

Podlesny added to Georgia’s lead early in the fourth quarter, kicking a 25-yard field goal that make it 33-0. The defense got its first sack of the season in the fourth quarter, when freshman defensive end Mykel Williams tackled Samford backup QB Quincy Crittendon for a 9-yard loss.

The Dawgs hit the road next week for their Southeastern Conference opener at South Carolina. The Gamecocks dropped their SEC debut Saturday, falling 44-30 at No. 16 Arkansas.

Georgia returns to Sanford Stadium on September 24th, against Kent State.

Stegmania Returns

UGA Sports Communications

Following a two year hiatus due to Covid-19, Stegmania is back. Georgia Basketball will host its third-annual Stegmania presented by Bojangles' on Friday, October 7th, at 7:00 p.m. in Stegeman Coliseum, with both teams taking part.

Gates to Stegeman Coliseum will open at 6:00 p.m. The first 2,000 UGA students in attendance will receive both a commemorative Stegmania t-shirt and food. The first 2,000 fans in attendance also will receive a Stegmania t-shirt. Interactive activities for students, families and fans will be set up on the Stegeman concourses.

“Events like Stegmania are part of the college experience for our guys, and they’re part of the college experience for our students as well” head coach Mike White said. “ We’re excited that we’re able to host Stegmania again and are looking forward to introducing this year’s version of the Dawgs to our students and fans.”

“We are excited to meet the fans and for the fans to meet our team at Stegmania,” head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson said. “Our season is just around the corner, and it’s a great way for everyone to get to know the new faces on our roster. This will be a special night, and I look forward to seeing everyone there on October 7th.”

The program will begin at 7:00 with introductions of both teams and also will include a slam dunk event for the Dawgs and a 3-point shooting contest for the Lady Dawgs. There will also be a third contest that will feature three-person teams of a Dawg, Lady Dawg and selected UGA student in a lay-up, free throw and 3-point race.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Smith Named SEC Defensive Player Of The Week

UGA Sports Communications

Senior safety Christopher Smith has been named the Southeastern Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Week following his performance against No. 11 Oregon, according to an announcement Monday.

Smith, a native of Atlanta, shares this week’s accolade with Arkansas linebacker Bumper Pool. Smith was also named the league’s Defensive Player of the Week following Georgia’s season-opening win versus No. 3 Clemson last year.

As one of only three starters remaining from Georgia’s 2021 national championship defense, Smith demonstrated his leadership with six tackles, including a tackle for loss, and an interception during the 49-3 rout of the Ducks. This marked Smith’s second straight season opener with a pick. Anchored by Smith in the back, the Dawgs held Oregon without a touchdown for the first time in a game since 2017.

Monday Press Conference

Coach Kirby Smart and several student-athletes offered the following comments during Monday’s media session.

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Statement

“I’d be remised if I didn't wish Coach Dooley a Happy Birthday. I think they had a nice surprise for him the other day, certainly happy for him to celebrate his 90th. So that's a heck of a deal. I hope I can get there one day.

Looking back at the tape, I think it's never as good as it seems and it's never as bad as it seems. And that's kind of the mantra coaches use. To be honest, it's true. So it's never -- you know, you go to the tape to watch it and you think you played really good, and you see glaring mistakes and errors that you made that you got away with. It brings you back to reality really quick on Saturday night and Sunday morning when you watch that tape. But I was pleased with the way our players went about the connection piece. We challenged them to stay connected and be connected. There was a lot of examples of guys celebrating other guys' plays. So I thought that was awesome from our guys.

Now it's moving on to a guy I know a lot about and a program I have a lot of respect for. And he's done a tremendous job everywhere he's been. And it'll be a challenge for us getting ready for Samford at home on Saturday.”

On the performances of the freshmen against Oregon…

“They have a lot to improve on. The most obvious is there was a lot of mistakes. I mean, mistakes that even they'll tell you are, like -- we call them WTFs. There's, like, a lot of things that are, like, Why did you do that? You didn't do that all year. The largest growth for those guys is game one, two, three in terms of reaction to their mistakes. And, you know, what makes a guy -- I've always wondered, you know, who's going to sell the potion that allows a player not to make the most glaring mistake, things that you repped a lot. And you have those in the first game. I've come to accept them. It's more what's your response is to them. We'll get to find out what those young freshmen's responses are this week.”

On his praise of the coaching staff…

“The buy-in of those four coaches, the alignment, the understanding of this program's bigger than me and that I'll sacrifice for the program. They understand their role. They've done what they've been asked to do and they embrace it. And there's a lot of positive energy and enthusiasm at practice. And it works. So it's created a really good kind of connection among the staff.”

On Stetson Bennett serving as the holder on kicks…

“He's held ever since he's been here. I mean, he's held probably a thousand times. He was Camarda's backup holder. So it wasn't a new thing. It was we lost the guy that held before, so we go to the next best holder or the guy that's next up. And we're training a guy for when Stetson isn't here. So it's one of those things that I think it's important to the kicker to have who they're comfortable with. And those two guys get to spend time together, and they do. They take a lot of time after practice, pre-practice, pregame to make sure they're on the same page.”

On the growth of Ladd McConkey…

“Probably confidence. Ladd's always been a good player. That's not something new. He's always been an extremely hard worker. He's dependable. He's conscientious. It's important to him. He gives you everything he's got every day. And the biggest difference is, you know, he has confidence in himself to perform because he performed on big stages last year. And when you're one of these guys that has confidence, talent and you work really hard, then the sky's the limit for you. And he's worked really hard each and every day. And he knows the things he's still got to work on and he's got a lot of those things, too.”

On the current makeup of the offensive line and performance of Amarius Mims…

“Yeah, you're constantly in search of the best five guys, right? It's not on a marker where we say we've got the best five. It's a continuum. It's, like, what did they do today at practice? Because you're only as good as your last practice. So how are they going to perform today, how are they going to do tomorrow, how are they going to do the next day, how do they do the next matchup, how do they do when things get tight and pressure grows, when things don't go well. We didn't see that. You know, we didn't have a situation where there's a lot of adversity or required a lot of composure. So we'll figure out who those best guys are as we go along. Amarius did a good job in the game. He came in, I think, the third series. Played with some confidence. Those guys getting some experience, it's critical so they're ready to play when their opportunity comes every down. And I think early in the season, especially, those guys' conditioning level, it helps to have three guys playing at those positions.”

On the improvements of Ladd McConkey and AD Mitchell…

“Confidence. They're both much more confident. And in the system a second year. So, you know, there's -- every play you run, there's a reaction to what the defense does. They've seen what the defense does at a higher level. So the number of times they've run a play and had to react to something, it's almost infinite. And they now are starting to get where they can react faster.”

On the impact of a 12-team College Football Playoff on Georgia…

“I don't know how it affects Georgia personally. Yeah, and I think -- hesitant to say that just supported it. I wouldn't say that I've been clearly in one camp over the other. I think there's some good and bad to both. And I don't think we know the repercussions of going 12 over 4. There's been some good things about four. There's probably some good things about 12. It's just everybody loves change. It's on a continuum. So it's, like, there will be somebody complaining about something about 12. I don't really get into whether or not it's going to be beneficial for us or not, because I think it's year to year on what kind of team you have and how the other teams do in the country.”

On continuing to play FCS opponents…

“You know, I think it depends on where it goes. What they require you to do and where the FCS, some of those conferences end up with the realignment and some of those things, it's going to depend a lot on what you talked about; the scheduling, how many conference games you're playing. I do know it's critical for these programs to be able to survive. And, look, high schools are our feeder programs, just like we are for the NFL. And if you're going to have good high school programs, you got to have kids getting opportunities to play at all levels. Because there's a lot more kids playing at a non-Power 5 level than at the Power 5 level. So if you're a supplier of talent and the growth of the game comes from your youth sports and your high school sports, you're going to diminish that as these programs fade away. And some of these programs cannot, cannot survive without these games. That doesn't mean that I embrace them and love them. It just means that the programs can't survive without these kind of funding without these games.”

On working for Samford head coach Chris Hatcher at Valdosta State…

“You know, his charisma. He's always been one of the best recruiters in terms of his relationships with high school coaches. He was incredible, his disposition with the team, was always confident. And just believed that we could win every game. And he embodied that. He embraced that. His players loved playing for him because of the energy he exudes with the players.”

On Carson Beck’s performance against Oregon…

“Carson was very calm, cool, and collective. His disposition is such that the moment's not too big for him. Like he's done multiple times before, I thought he did a good job. He made some good decisions and had a couple poor decisions. And I think he'll be the first to tell you that he would like to improve on some of those. But the good thing is he got to come in and have an opportunity and run the offense just where it wasn't a run-oriented system just to end the game.”

On Mykel Williams’ performance against Oregon…

“Yeah, practices led to it, just like it'll lead to him not starting. If he doesn't practice well, it's not real hard for us -- you know, you base it on who practices the best, who gives you the best chance to win. And he's done that, really, since he's got here. His work ethic and his humility has been off the charts. And if he continues to do that, coupled with his ability, then he'll probably continue to start. But he's got to play well and he's got to play big for a guy that's 260, 265.”

On stopping Samford’s offense…

“Well, they do a lot of different things. They do a good job in the passing game. They have a lot of confidence in the passing game. Quarterback came in, played really well against Kennesaw State. They believe in throwing the ball. And they -- people mistake that they can run the ball, as well. They did a good job at the end of the game to be able to run the clock out and handle that. I think if you look and see what they did last year against Florida and throwing the ball all over the field and scoring points, they did an incredible job. For them, for their players, this is an opportunity to play on a really large stage. And Chris Hatcher does a great job of getting his team prepared for moments like this and confidence in throwing the ball.”

On getting Malaki Starks into the game early…

“We just talked about how to play the players. We had a plan all along. All depended on how he practiced in fall camp and how he grew.

And we have a plan on every player. We talk about every and where they are and what our plan is. And that plan can change in a game.

The plan was to get him in early and we did. And he made a few mistakes and he made a few plays. And we got to try to limit the mistakes.”

On the performances of the linebackers…

“Those guys had some WTFs and they have to improve on those. They can't have those in order to be elite players. But they played with confidence. And we call it, you know, being loud and wrong is better than quiet and right. And they had some moments where they were loud and wrong. But they were confident in what they called. You know, when you go with a team that plays some tempo and hurry up, it creates a little chaos. And I thought those guys managed that well. They managed the leadership position well. Physically, there's things we can improve on in terms of toughness, tackling. All the guys can. I mean, we didn't tackle the man with the ball real well.”

On Christopher Smith’s impact on the defense…

“it's important. All the pieces we have that have played are integral to make the other pieces play well. So Chris is a piece that's played and he brings a lot of confidence to the other players around him, especially in the eye of the storm. I told the players today, we asked for composure and connection. We got a lot of connection. We don't really know, we never really got tested. So it's not their fault. But they didn't get tested in the composure category. And that's going to come. And when that time comes, are you going to be ready for that storm? And Chris is a guy that you feel pretty good about.”

On Javon Bullard’s performance…

“I think Javon, he'll tell you, he probably had some first-game jitters like the other guys. And A couple times where he didn't get lined up right, maybe didn't have his eyes in the right place. He plays really hard. He plays really physical. He's going to continue to get matched up on some big guys. He's got to play big for a guy that's not a real big size. But he's another guy that doesn't back down from contact. And works really hard every day. He gives you everything he's got. And he's a starter I think on every special teams, too, which is a credit to the way he plays.”

On the SEC East this season…

“I'm focused on us. I'm focused on how we can get better. Because we got so many glaring things we can improve on. And that's going to be critical, how mature our team is to grow. Look, standards don't need motivation. So when you look at it, if you play with a standard, you don't need motivation from outside sources. I don't care if it's who we're playing, who we're going to play, how somebody else is playing. Standards don't need motivation. So if we're a mature team, then we'll go practice today to our standards.”

On the differences between opening with a close game versus a blowout…

“Yeah, I don't know how to answer that because, I mean, each one, I think you learn something. I think you learn something valuable about your team and their approach to the team. A lot more learned in the steps leading up to the game and during the game than the result of the game. You guys are about results. I'm about process of how we went about the game, how did we do in the game, how did we do as coaches, how did we do as players during the game, halftime adjustments, end of game, a lot more than I am just the results and what we learned from the result because the result came from what we did during it.”

On deciding to keep Stetson Bennett as the starter last season…

“You guys don’t see every single practice, every single rep that led up to the Alabama game and all the reps from South Carolina to the time he played UAB all the way through — there's a million things you don't see against a pretty good defense, against a pretty elite defense. So there was enough of that to convince me that we were going with the right guy. For who we were and who needed to be, he gave us the best chance to win. And it didn't take a lot of conviction to stick to that. It doesn't really matter what people say outside of our organization. It matters what we think in it. And we had conviction on that.”

On Nazir Stackhouse and the impact of his personality…

“I don't know how to answer the last part. I've never seen any of his TikToks. So I wouldn't really know. I'm a lot more concerned how he plays on the field and how he handles himself off the field and all the things he does to help our team. He's worked himself to get better. He's gotten in better shape. I think Tray is one of the best developers of defensive linemen in the country. And this is a guy that, hey, he needed development. He came in here really raw. And he wasn't the player when he got here that is today. He's come a long way. And he can still get better. But he's one of our thicker, tougher guys that can anchor. And if he continues to get better, it gives us a chance to have a really physical presence in there.”

On the relief of being back in season…

“It's never a relief. I mean, I don't think relief is an adjective that comes with anything positive. Because when you become relieved reeled, you become complacent. And that's just not who we are. So there's no -- you don't approach things that way. I don't think from a mental standpoint it's good to approach it from relief.”

On the performances of Oscar Delp and Arik Gilbert against Oregon…

“I thought both those guys got to go in the game, tried to gain some confidence. Certainly, they've got two good players playing in front of them. We think the sky's the limit for both those guys. I'm looking forward to seeing them work today.”

Tate Ratledge, Redshirt Sophomore, Offensive Lineman

On the depth of the offensive line...

"I think it is pretty rare for an offensive line to be able to rotate people. I think we have a really solid two-deep that can play."

On what the defense was capable of against Oregon...

"They perform every day in practice. They come and bring it. We go against them every day. It makes us better, and we make them better."

On his performance against Oregon...

"Physically, I felt pretty good. It took me a minute or two to get used to it again with nerves and everything, but after that was gone, I felt really good."

On his biggest takeaway on where he can improve heading into week two...

"Personally, it is definitely foot work and things. Little things like hat placement and stuff like that. It got me into situations that I did not need to be in up front."

Trezmen Marshall, Junior, Linebacker

On his health...

"I feel great out there. Being out there is the best feeling. I'm trying to stay healthy. That's something that is really not in my control, but I just get treatment every day. I talk to Ron Courson to see how I'm doing. That's still out of my control, but I get guidance. As long as I stay readied up."

On Malaki Starks...

"Malaki was in beast mode when he stepped onto the field. He's really young, but if you're good enough you're old enough. As long as he keeps chopping and working every day, he'll be alright."

On "going to the doctor"...

"Going to the doctor just means fixing our mistakes. They didn't score, so it looks like we did not play a bad game. But you still go to the doctor on Monday and see what you did wrong to get better. I could've had a possible takeaway, like the pick. I could've completed one of our goals with a few takeaways. There is always room to do better, and we're trying to come back and practice Monday to work on that."

Kearis Jackson, Sophomore, Wide Receiver

On Ladd McConkey and Adonai Mitchell’s improvement…

“They are starting to build their confidence up. They’ve been in this offense for more than one year now, having the experience of last year translating over to this year, having the whole fall camp, having Stetson Bennett as our quarterback the whole fall camp, really gave us confidence as a receiver group. Those two guys were able to showcase their abilities and especially how they make plays.”

On how his confidence grew over time…

“It builds game by game. When you get that opportunity to go out there and play, I just wanted to go ball, because you never know when that next opportunity is going to come. So when it does come, I just wanted to showcase my ability and put it on tape.”

On the team’s offensive identity…

“We’re still trying to find our identity. That was just the first game. A lot of people trying to dictate, ‘Oh, Georgia’s going to be better than last year,’ it’s just one game. We just have to be able to be consistent. If we can keep being consistent, then maybe that [the air raid] will be our identity.”

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Bennett Named National Player Of The Week

Senior quarterback Stetson Bennett has been named the Walter Camp National FBS Offensive Player of the Week, according to an announcement Sunday.

Bennett, a native of Blackshear, led third-ranked Georgia over 11th-ranked Oregon 49-3 in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game to give him 15 career wins as a starter.

Bennett was 25 for 31 (80.6 percent) for a career-high 368 yards and two touchdowns to go along with one rushing score. Assuming the spot behind center for three-plus quarters against the Ducks, Bennett helped the Dawgs go 8-for-8 on third downs while he was in as 11 different Georgia players hauled in catches in the season opener.

Bennett is the first Dawg since former Georgia linebacker and current Miami Dolphin Channing Tindall late last season to earn Walter Camp weekly honors. While Bennett is the 11th Georgia player to earn Walter Camp National Player of the Week honors in history, he is the first player on offense since Todd Gurley in 2014.

Dawgs Pluck The Ducks

Georgia Sports Communications

The third-ranked Dawgs opened the 2022 season with a 49-3 victory over the 11th-ranked Oregon Ducks in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game in front of a record 76,490 fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and an ABC nationally televised audience on Saturday evening.

With the win, Georgia improves to 99-27-3 in season openers, including 7-0 under head coach Kirby Smart. The Dawgs move to 2-0 all time versus the Ducks.

“I was really proud of the way our kids played,” said coach Kirby Smart. “We tried to talk about coming out and playing as if we were hunting, and we wanted to play connected football. That was all we talked about all week; we're going to play connected, we're going to play aggressive, we're going to be a hunter."

Senior quarterback Stetson Bennett began his second season under center for the Dawgs (1-0) with a 25-of-31 passing performance for 368 yards and two touchdowns. As a team, the Dawgs ran for 132 yards on 25 attempts.

Senior tailback Kenny McIntosh led the team with 135 all-purpose yards (117 receiving and 18 rushing) and a touchdown, while redshirt-sophomore receiver Ladd McConkey registered 89 yards (73 receiving and 16 rushing) with a pair of touchdown. Junior tailback Kendal Milton led the Dawgs with 50 yards rushing and two touchdowns (one rushing and one receiving).

The Georgia defense stood tall, holding Oregon out of the endzone and allowing 313 total yards of offense. The Dawgs were especially impressive on third down, with the Ducks (0-1) only converting on 7-of-15 opportunities.

True freshman defensive back Malaki Starks led the team with eight tackles and an interception, while senior defensive back Christopher Smith and junior defensive back Dan Jackson each tallied five tackles.

After winning the coin toss and deferring the option to the second half, the Dawgs forced the Ducks to punt on their opening drive. Georgia responded with a 12-play, 85-yard drive capped off by a nine-yard end-around touchdown by McConkey.

On the ensuing Oregon drive, quarterback Bo Nix was picked off by Starks, thanks to an acrobatic effort. The Dawgs capitalized on the turnover with a seven play, 92-yard drive and resulting in a Bennett one-yard touchdown run.

Moments later, Christopher Smith logged the defenses second takeaway on another Nix interception. This marks Smith’s second season opening game with an interception – a 74-yard pick-six against No. 3 Clemson in 2021. The Dawgs again took advantage of the Oregon turnover, scoring on a McIntosh one-yard touchdown run to take a 21-0 lead in the second quarter.

The Ducks responded with a promising drive, but the Dawgs held Oregon to a 35-yard field goal. Georgia answered with an eight-play, 75-yard drive, where Bennett improvised and found a wide-open McConkey for a four-yard touchdown pass to give the Dawgs a 28-3 lead heading into the half.

Georgia opened the second half with a six-play, 64-yard drive that resulted in a Kendall Milton 14-yard rushing touchdown to take a 35-3 advantage. The Dawgs continued their offensive dominance with a nine-play, 75-yard drive, capped off by a 18-yard AD Mitchell touchdown catch. Georgia went on to win 49-3.

Georgia will play host to Sanford (1-0) next Saturday at 4:00 p.m. at Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium. The game will broadcast on SEC Network.

Post Game Notes

Georgia Sports Communications

Impressive Season Opener/Series History: With today’s 49-3 victory over No. 11 Oregon, third-ranked Georgia improves to 99-27-3 in season openers including winning its last nine dating back to a 45-21 over Clemson in Athens in 2014. In the Kirby Smart era, Georgia is now 7-0 in season openers. Under Smart, Georgia came in averaging 31 points a game in openers (186 points/6g) while it surrendered just 8.8 (53 points/6g).

Today’s 49 points was the most in a season opener under Smart, and the most since 2015 (51-14 over La.-Monroe in Athens). Also, today marked the second straight opener when the Dawgs held their ranked opponent to only three points (No. 3 Clemson in Charlotte, N.C.). This was the third neutral site opener under Smart, and he’s now 3-0 (2-0 in Atlanta/Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic and 1-0 in Charlotte, N.C.). In the series history with Oregon, the Dawgs are now 2-0 including winning a 1977 contest in Athens (27-16). With today’s win, Georgia is now 26-12 in top 25 matchups (11-7 at neutral sites) under Smart.

Strong Defensive Showing: Georgia limited the No. 11 Ducks to three points on the day including a goal-line stand with less than two minutes left in the contest. For the day, Oregon ran 68 plays and had 313 yards of total offense. In the first half, the Dawgs built a 28-3 advantage as the Ducks ran 36 plays for 183 yards of total offense (41-rushing, 142-passing).

Freshman Malaki Starks notched his first career interception (snagging it while falling backwards at the UGA8) and finished with a team-best eight tackles. It led to a 92-yard touchdown drive and a 14-0 advantage. Senior Christopher Smith snagged his fourth career INT, and he returned this one for 24 yards to the UGA 44. It led to a TD and a 21-0 lead. Georgia registered 16 INTs last year.

Offensive Leaders: Senior QB Stetson Bennett (25-for-31, career-high 368 yards, 2 TDs plus 1 Rushing TD) in three-plus quarters while improving to 15-3 as a starter as the Dawgs racked up 571 yards of total offense on 62 plays. He concluded his seventh and final scoring drive with 5:20 left in the third quarter to put the Dawgs in front 42-3. For the game, the Dawgs were 8-for-8 on 3rd down with him at the helm. Georgia was 6-for-6 in the Red Zone, scoring six TDs. Bennett now has five career rushing TDs. RS-sophomore QB Carson Beck took over for Bennett, and he led an 89-yard driver on nine plays in 4:36 including a 3rd-down conversion to make it 9-for-9 for the team on the day. Georgia’s first punt came with 10:19 left in the contest.

The second half started with Bennett directing a six play, 64-yard TD drive in 2:36 for a 35-3 advantage. It was aided by a 36-yard kickoff return by Kearis Jackson. Sophomore wideout Ladd McConkey (5 rec., 73 yards 1 TD plus 2 rushes, 16 yards, 1 TD)notched his second career rushing TD with a 9-yard scamper to cap a 12-play 85-yard drive in 4:57 for a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Georgia’s second score came on a 7-play, 92-yard drive in 3:37 for a 14-0 edge early in the second quarter. Bennett’s one-yard rush finished the drive. Today was the first time since Vanderbilt last year that he had a rushing and receiving TD in the same game. McConkey’s rushing TD versus the Commodores last year covered 24 yards.

RB & TE Production: Senior Kenny McIntosh (5 rushes, 18 yards, 1 TD and Career-high 9 rec., 117 yards) notched his sixth career rushing TD, a one-yarder to put the Dawgs up 21-0 midway through the second quarter. It capped a six play, 56-yard drive in 3:46. His previous best receiving was 3-for-37 yards. The leading rusher today was junior Kendall Milton with 50 yards on eight carries and one TD that covered 12 yards and an 18-yard receiving TD (first of his career). Sophomore TE Brock Bowers had two receptions for 38 yards while junior TE Darnell Washington tallied two for 33.

Points Off Turnovers: In the first half, Georgia converted two interceptions into 14 points. The INTs came from freshman Malaki Starks and senior Christopher Smith. Last season, Georgia was +4 in Turnover Margin and scored 94 points off 21 turnovers.

For Starters & Game Captains: Georgia had six first-time starters today, all on defense. Javon Bullard (DB), Juman Dumas-Johnson (ILB), Kamari Lassiter (DB), Smael Mondon (ILB), Nazir Stackhouse (DL) and Mykel Williams (DE). Williams became the first true freshman starter on defense in a season opener since Tyson Campbell (DB) in 2018 against Austin Peay. Williams became just the ninth true freshmen starter to make his debut in a season opener in the Kirby Smart era. In the fourth quarter, true freshman Brett Thorson had his first career punt, becoming the first true freshman punter in a season opener since Jake Camarda (2018). Thorson’s punt covered 53 yards and was fair caught at the 11 yard line.

Georgia won the toss and elected to defer the ball until the second half. Senior Kenny McIntosh (RB), redshirt sophomore Sedrick Van Pran (C), senior Nolan Smith (OLB) and senior Christopher Smith (DB) were the captains.