Few expected Georgia to dominate Clemson defensively the way it did in Charlotte.

Sure, the Bulldogs’ offense struggled. But the defense sent a loud and clear message to the rest of the country, especially with a favorable schedule the rest of the way starting with UAB on Sept. 11.

Here’s my report card from the Bulldogs’ win over the Tigers:

Passing game: B-

JT Daniels deserves some slack here since a good number of his primary targets were banged up, but he did the best he could with that in mind. That said, I’m not sure anyone predicted Brock Bowers would lead the team in receiving yards (6 catches for 53 yards).

Daniels was 22-of-30 for 135 yards for an interception but probably could have had at least 1 other pass picked off. All in all, it was far from his best performance, but it’s nothing that should present a great deal of concern to Kirby Smart and Todd Monken moving forward.

The Dawgs will focus on getting some of their offensive stars healthy in the lead-up to UAB on Sept. 11. It’s a safe bet to think that they’ll put together a more complete performance in that one.

Running game: B-

The running game took a little time to get going but did finish with 121 yards on 31 carries. That’s against arguably the best defensive line in the country, too. Zamir White was kept out of the end zone but notched 74 yards on 13 carries.

Still, a Clemson defense led by star linebacker James Skalski kept the Dawgs from recording big plays on the ground. We knew to expect this much from the Tigers, but Georgia shouldn’t have difficulty moving the ball as the season progresses, though.

Pass rush: A+

I’ve written several times about how the Dawgs’ sack totals have steadily increased over the years: from 22 in 2018 to 28 in 2019, to 32 in a 10-game season in 2020. They have 7 after the first game, with their most challenging opponent of the regular season in the rearview mirror.

Yes, Azeez Ojulari is now in the NFL, but it looks like things are going to pick up right where they left off last year. And from what we saw on Saturday, it could be even better.

Run defense: A+

It’s the same as ever for the Bulldogs’ defensive front led by Jordan Davis. Simply put, if you expect to run the ball against the Bulldogs, more often than not, you’re going to have issues.

Clemson was held to just 2 yards rushing on 23 attempts. Sacks count against rushing totals, but it was its lowest rushing total since recording just 0 yards on 14 carries against Alabama in 2008.

Secondary: B

Joseph Ngata had a big performance, but the good news for Georgia is that he was the only wide receiver that did anything of consequence for the Tigers on Saturday.

Latavious Brini, slotting in at the Star position in place of the injured Tykee Smith, had a key pass breakup at the back of the end zone in the 4th quarter as DJ Uiagalalei tried to find Frank Ladson Jr. for a touchdown that would have drawn the Tigers within 3 points. Instead, they settled for a field goal and turned it over on downs on their next possession as the Dawgs held on for the win. Lewis Cine had a pair of pass deflections as well.

And, of course, we can’t forget Christopher Smith’s pick-6 that put Georgia on the board a few minutes before halftime. That was the only TD of the game.

Special teams: B-

Jack Podlesny’s field goal miss and Kendall Milton’s mishandled punt lower the score for what was otherwise a strong special teams showing Saturday.

Jake Camarda did his part in establishing a long field for the Tigers, while the kick and punt coverage teams had an easy day — understandable for a game like this.

Coaching: A-

Enough can’t be said about the game plan Kirby Smart and Dan Lanning dialed up as this was one of the best defensive performances by the team in recent memory. And they made history in the process: they tied for the 2nd-least points allowed to an opponent in the Top 5 since 1936, the year the Associated Press released its first poll.

Can the Dawgs keep it up in their home opener against the Blazers? The odds certainly suggest that the answer will be “yes.” And if their offense kicks it into high gear, this will be a dangerous group.