Rapid Reaction: No. 2 Georgia takes care of business against Samford
It took until the final drive of the first half in Georgia’s second game for its first-team offense to finally record a fruitless drive.
Nobody’s perfect, I guess.
On Saturday against Samford, the Bulldogs were close. Again. They scored on their first 6 possessions –- making it 12 in a row to open the season for the first-teamers –- and took care of business, 33-0, against the visiting FCS foe.
If Georgia is trying to make its offense one of the most fearsome units in college football, as it did with its defense en route to a national title a year ago, it is off to a good start. On Saturday, quarterback Stetson Bennett passed for over 250 yards and a touchdown and ran for another as Georgia built up a 30-0 lead by halftime.
Running back Kenny McIntosh, the leading receiver in the win over Oregon a week ago, again showed his impact in the passing came, catching 5 passes for 61 yards. He also ran for a touchdown in the second quarter to make the score 30-0.
Bennett, whose season-opening performance helped him see an astronomical rise in his Heisman Trophy odds, was solid again if not quite as spectacular as a week ago. He finished the game with 300 passing yards, 1 passing touchdown and another on the ground.
The defense was effective again. Georgia held Samford to under 100 yards, 1 first down and 0 points while the starters were in the game.
The performance wasn’t perfect. Georgia looked a little sleepy to open the game, settling for field goals on its first two drives. Bennett missed a handful of receivers, one on a deep pass downfield that would have gone for a touchdown to Jackson Meeks, and the unit did fail to get points on three consecutive drives (one to end the first half and two to open the second).
Here are a few more takeaways to remember from the win:
Spreading the ball around
A week after 10 Georgia receivers recorded a catch in the opener against Oregon, Bennett connected with 13 passing partners against Samford.
McIntosh again was the No. 1 pass catcher, but behind him the list is deep. Tight end Brock Bowers showed flashes of his old self with 3 catches for 57 yards, and five other receivers had 2 catches apiece.
It’s worth noting because this is more or less what the expectation of this unit was entering the season. It doesn’t have a star receiver like the ones you’ve seen Alabama and Ohio State throw at you the past few years, and yet it might be one of the best wide receiver rooms in the country.
Senior Kearis Jackson, redshirt sophomore Ladd McConkey and a slew of talented tight ends lead the way, but there are a host of others Bennett can count on to go get the ball.
Right now, Georgia is putting together a versatile unit that can beat you in so many ways.
Jalen Carter sighting
Don’t go crazy. Samford is an FCS foe with far weaker talent. Often when you watched Carter go up against a Samford offensive lineman, it looked borderline unfair.
Still, when you’re drawing comparisons to past great Georgia defensive linemen like Jordan Davis and considered a potential top-3 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, you’re going to get noticed. And Carter had a couple of plays where he displayed just why the Bulldogs and NFL scouts are so excited to see him continue to develop.
He hit the quarterback on a couple of occasions despite not recording a sack. Both times, he looked like a complete mismatch against opposing offensive linemen.
The Georgia defense has been statistically strong if not as overpowering to the eye test as it was a year ago. But Carter’s continued emergence and the growth of the team’s front seven, which was decimated by departures after last season, will help Georgia continue to grow into a team that can win it all again this year.
Taking care of business
You had a sense today that the college football world was ripe for a weird day.
Alabama struggled with unranked Texas before avoiding the upset with a late field goal. Notre Dame, which took Ohio State deep into the fourth quarter a week ago, lost to Marshall (Marshall!!) to open the season 0-2. Texas A&M fell to giant-killer Appalachian State, 17-14.
When the Bulldogs opened the game failing to reach the end zone on two consecutive drives, you had to wonder whether they, too, might just struggle like some of the others around the country.
No worries there.
Georgia rebounded, erupted for 30 points in the first half and cruised to an easy victory. It wasn’t as impressive as the one against Oregon a week ago and certainly enough to see a handful of flaws that need to be corrected over the next few weeks as it gets ready for the meat of its schedule in late October and November.
Overall, though, not bad.