Georgia flexes its muscle, shows exactly how far Arkansas has to go
Football is a funny game. We obsess all week on whether the quarterbacks — Georgia’s JT Daniels and Arkansas’ KJ Jefferson — are healthy and able to play at the top of their game. We talk incessantly about running back and receiver stats. But the bottom line in this crazy game lies in the trenches.
Arkansas had no answer for Georgia’s offensive line, which paved the way for the Bulldogs’ 273-yard rushing game. Yes, major faux pas by the Hogs’ special teams played a key role in setting them in a gigantic 21-0 hole to start the game – the first points allowed by the Hogs in the first quarter this season – ultimately, it was the Bulldogs’ offensive line that dictated the 37-0 outcome.
Blitzes backfired and base defense wasn’t enough to penetrate Georgia’s mammoth front. It was over before it started.
Even the officials’ calls went Georgia’s way early, helping pave the way for the Bulldogs’ insurmountable lead while hamstringing Arkansas’ offense, which didn’t move the ball much but was held back by flags on the rare occasion that it did. Arkansas was called for 6 penalties in the 1st quarter alone while Georgia played like choir boys, penalized just 1 time.
We wondered how Georgia could be a 17-point favorite at kickoff. Now we know.
Arkansas needed to play a near-perfect game to have a chance between the hedges against No. 2 Georgia, even with the Dawgs’ second-string quarterback Stetson Bennett, who got the call when Daniels’ lat injury prevented him from playing.
But the Hogs were anything but perfect, even with Jefferson – a game-time decision — at the helm. They were mistake-prone and outmanned in their quest to improve to 5-0 for the first time since 1998, Houston Nutt’s first season as head coach at Arkansas and a year that saw the Razorbacks tie for the SEC West Division title.
Arkansas’ running game, one of the best in the country coming in, was stuffed by a swarming Georgia defense. The Hogs gained just 79 yards on the ground, averaging 2.7 yards per carry.
So, with no running game to speak of, Jefferson’s dual-threat qualities were negated, relegating the Arkansas standout sophomore to far too many 3rd-and-long passing situations. He converted just 1-of-10 3rd downs, and early in the fourth quarter, coach Sam Pittman pulled the plug on Jefferson’s day.
Coming into the game leading the nation with an average of 18.4 yards per completion, Jefferson connected on 8-of-13 passes for just 65 yards. Sacked 3 times, Jefferson finished with only 5 rushing yards on 8 attempts.
But credit the Hogs for not throwing in the towel following the disastrous beginning. Take away that momentum-cementing start and the game was pretty much what most of us expected, a low-scoring defensive battle on both sides. Ultimately, Georgia’s depth wore down the Hogs and the rout was complete.