5 observations after Georgia's first 10 games
When you start the season ranked No. 3 in the country, you’d expect see to some rewards by this time in the season, 10 games in. That’s certainly the case for the Georgia Bulldogs, who have a trophy on order.
The Bulldogs are 9-1 through the first 10 games. Two nonconference games with UMass and Georgia Tech in Athens are all that’s left before the SEC Championship Game against Alabama on Dec. 1 in Atlanta.
Here are 5 observations after Georgia’s first 10 games:
1. Say hello to your SEC East division champions
Georgia was a heavy favorite to win the SEC East, and they ran the table, winning all six games against their division foes. The only conference loss was at LSU, and the Bulldogs’ 7-1 conference record was more than enough to win the division. Everyone else has at least three losses.
At Georgia, winning championships are always the goals, and it always starts with being the dominant team in the SEC East. That’s what they are right now after a second consecutive division title. It sets up a National Championship Game rematch with Alabama in this year’s SEC title game, which should be something special. The message to recruits that Kirby Smart and his staff deliver in every living room is that if you come to Georgia, you will play for championships. Message sent, promises delivered.
2. Jake Fromm rises above QB challenge chatter
When Jacob Eason got hurt last year, true freshman Jake Fromm was thrown into the fire, and he answered with a big win at Notre Dame. He’s up to 24 starts now, and he’s a very impressive 21-3 as one of the best sophomore quarterbacks in the country. He’s threatening more school records this year, but for many, there’s still a quarterback “controversy” at Georgia.
That’s because top recruit Justin Fields is there, waiting for his opportunity. The 5-star dual-threat quarterback has the tools to do it all, and every time Fromm throws an incomplete pass, there’s a cry for Fields to play more. But that hasn’t happened. Fromm has been so good — he’s completing 67.5 percent of his passes and has 19 touchdowns to only 5 interceptions — that he’s kept Fields on the sidelines. Fields is going to be a great quarterback some day, but this is Jake Fromm’s team now. He’s the leader, and he has his teammates’ respect. That’s not going to change any time soon.
3. RB D’Andre Swift finally finds his groove
It’s taken awhile, but the word “greatness” can be used now to describe sophomore running back D’Andre Swift. During this critical 3-game stretch against Florida, Kentucky and Auburn, Swift has run for more than 100 yards in all three games and had some memorable runs for the highlight reel.
Georgia needs Swift to be great. Elijah Holyfield is a strong runner who’s having a good year, but Swift has that generational breakaway speed to make big plays. He’s gone for 83 yards and a score against Kentucky and had a 77-yard run last week against Auburn. He has gained 446 yards in the past three games, setting a career-high each time.
4. Good, but not great, defense has room to grow
There are still concerns about a lack of sacks — only 14 through 10 games, and no one with multiple sacks outside of D’Andre Walker, who has five — but for the most part, Georgia’s defense has been pretty good. Walker and cornerback Deandre Baker are playing at a high level, and Monty Rice and Richard LeCounte lead the team in tackles.
Being “good” is fine to get through the regular season, but when December and January roll around, this group needs to turn it up a notch to “great.” Only five interceptions so far is also a concern, so it would help to see that number grow, especially in that SEC title game against Alabama. Turnovers and sacks are important stats, and Georgia is lacking in both.
5. Offensive line remains the biggest concern
The biggest concern, though, remains with the offensive line. They have been very good in spurts, and Georgia’s offense has the numbers to prove it, but there are times when they don’t get the job done. Georgia has struggled in goal-line situations, and that’s because the O-line hasn’t been able to win those battles in obvious running situations.
Injuries certainly have been a factor. Guard Ben Cleveland is back after missing five games with a leg injury. Left tackle Andrew Thomas has been in an out with ankle issues, and center Lamont Gaillard has missed a lot of the last two games, as well. True freshman Cade Mays has played well in multiple positions, but fellow true freshman Trey Hill has struggled filling in for Gaillard. Hopefully this group gets healthy in the next two weeks.