Georgia football: My 10 favorite moments from the 2020 season
The word for Georgia football fans heading into 2021 is “optimism.”
Sure, the Bulldogs missed out on a 4th straight SEC East title and fell out of the College Football Playoff race. And they’ll certainly be losing their share of players, especially many defensive stalwarts. But with several key returnees on both sides of the ball, especially on offense, 2021 has the look of a special year in Athens.
With the college football season officially over, it’s time for a look back at some of the high points of 2020. Here are my 10 favorite Georgia football moments from the last year:
10. Daijun Edwards’ 1st career touchdown against Missouri
Georgia had a young running back duo on the depth cart in Edwards and Kendall Milton. Both impressed as true freshmen, but it was Edwards gradually getting more experience due to an injury to Milton that caused him to miss the latter portion of the season.
And Edwards made the most of those opportunities: after a 77-yard performance against South Carolina with the Dawgs looking to run the clock down in a blowout win — including a touchdown that was called back on an illegal motion penalty — he recorded 103 yards on 11 carries and made good on that 1st collegiate touchdown against Missouri a week later.
One thing’s for sure: Georgia won’t have much trouble running the ball in 2021.
9. Azeez Ojulari’s strip-sack sets up key Georgia score in Peach Bowl
Hint: It won’t be the last time I’ll mention Ojulari in this article. But a key defensive play from the redshirt sophomore, with the Dawgs trailing 21-10 in the 4th quarter in the Peach Bowl and Cincinnati looking at a potential put-away drive, was a turning point.
— GEORGIA HEROES (@GeorgiaHeroes) January 1, 2021
Georgia scored on the ensuing possession to make it 21-16, but the game could have turned out much differently without Ojulari coming up big as he had done many times before.
8. 1st of many: Eric Stokes records 1st interception, a pick-6 against Arkansas
Stokes’ career at Georgia was missing just 1 thing: an interception. That changed in the season opener against Arkansas — and ended up as a pick-6 to boot.
— GEORGIA HEROES (@GeorgiaHeroes) September 26, 2020
Stokes ended the season with 4 interceptions, including a 2nd pick-6 in the Cocktail Party against Florida. The decorated junior will now set his sights on the pros as he has declared for this April’s NFL Draft.
7. Kearis Jackson’s coming-out party against Auburn
Few expected the Dawgs to dominate this year’s edition of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry the way they did. Even fewer expected Jackson to steal the show.
The redshirt sophomore had 5 catches for 79 yards in all of 2019 but opened the 2020 season with a 6-catch, 62-yard outing at Arkansas. He exploded for 9 receptions and 147 yards against the Tigers on Oct. 3, announcing himself as yet another player to watch among Georgia’s receiving corps.
He finished the year with 36 catches, 514 yards and 3 touchdowns, and it’s easy to expect him to top that moving forward.
6. Curtain call: Ojulari’s sack of Desmond Ritter to end the Peach Bowl
Ojulari will have a chance to do on Sundays what he did to opposing quarterbacks throughout a college career that was capped by a 9.5-sack season in 2020, the most for Georgia since Jarvis Jones’ record-setting 14.5-sack campaign in 2012. And it was only fitting that it was his last collegiate play that ended the 2020 season for the Dawgs, a sack of Ritter in the end zone to put an exclamation point on a Peach Bowl victory.
5. James Cook’s 82-yard touchdown early in the 2nd quarter at Alabama
The Dawgs faced a tough task on Oct. 17 as they were in Tuscaloosa to take on the Tide. And, for a while, it looked as if they’d be able to spring a loss on Nick Saban’s squad, as they led 24-20 at the break.
That was due in part to this play to open the 2nd quarter, an 82-yard pass from Stetson Bennett IV to the always versatile Cook to put Georgia ahead.
THE MAILMAN COOKIN' UP TOUCHDOWNS pic.twitter.com/ClO8MmixWL
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 18, 2020
We all know how the game turned out, and for that matter how the season turned out for the Tide. But with Cook as part of a stacked running back room in 2021, he’ll be able to have more chances to showcase abilities like this.
4. Zamir White’s 75-yard touchdown run to start the Cocktail Party vs. Florida
Looking to avoid a 2nd loss of the season and keep their division title hopes and Playoff aspirations alive, Georgia needed a rapid start in their annual Cocktail Party matchup with Florida. That’s exactly what they received from White on the 1st play from scrimmage.
The Georgia-Florida showdown is already very entertaining.
Georgia RB Zamir White run for a 75-yard touchdown on the first play. pic.twitter.com/LTyclw846y
— The Comeback (@thecomeback) November 7, 2020
While Dawgs fans figured it would be foreshadowing for the rest of the game, it obviously wasn’t. Georgia lost, 44-28, effectively ending their 3-year stranglehold on the SEC East. But at least 1 good moment came out of it, right?
Like Cook, White will, fortunately, be back in 2021, so here’s hoping he produces more moments like the one above.
3. George Pickens lays out for one in the Peach Bowl
Death, taxes and Pickens making a SportsCenter “Top 10”-worthy catch. I won’t list them all here, but this diving catch during the Peach Bowl was just a sample of what the sophomore is capable of. And there’s surely more to come in Year 3 as he and JT Daniels should be one of the most feared QB-WR combos in the country.
— GEORGIA HEROES (@GeorgiaHeroes) January 1, 2021
2. Daniels throws for more than 400 yards in UGA debut
The Dawgs hadn’t had a 400-yard passer since Aaron Murray did it in 2013. It took Daniels just 1 game to hit that mark. In his Georgia debut on Nov. 21 against Mississippi State, he passed for 401 yards and 4 touchdowns in a 31-24 win at Sanford Stadium. Here’s his 1st touchdown of the game to — who else? — Pickens:
It was a debut to remember from the transfer from Southern Cal, and it immediately sent a jolt of optimism throughout the UGA fanbase — not just for the remainder of the season, but for 2021.
1. Hot Pod! Jack Podlesny nails game-winning field goal in Peach Bowl
Was there any doubt as to what the No. 1 moment would be? Georgia had received all they could handle from Cincinnati in the Peach Bowl, but it was ultimately left to the redshirt sophomore and heir apparent to Rodrigo Blankenship.
To borrow an age-old cliche, it would have been good from 60. And with 1 kick, Podlesny staked his place in Bulldogs history forever.