What just happened: UGA defense strangles Wildcats

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It seems standard for defense to dominate games between Georgia and Kentucky.

Of course, in this year’s meeting, it was mostly Georgia’s defense having its way with an overmatched Kentucky offense. The defense set the tone early, which helped guide the Bulldogs to a 30-13 victory.

While the Wildcats did their best to play clean football—they committed zero turnovers—the Bulldogs were still able to tally three sacks during the game. Kentucky scored a touchdown in the second quarter, then another in garbage time. But when it mattered most, the defense did more than enough to keep the Wildcats from being able to do much of anything.

Kentucky receiver Wan’Dale Robinson, who entered the game as the SEC’s leading receiver, caught 12 passes for only 44 yards.

On offense, quarterback Stetson Bennett started and put forth another strong outing. He finished 14-of-20 throwing for 250 yards and three touchdowns. Bennett started the game 5-of-10 passing and then completed nine of his next 10 attempts.

Bennett’s biggest beneficiary was tight end Brock Bowers, who caught five passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns.

What it means

Georgia’s win takes it into the bye week retaining the No. 1 spot in both the AP and coaches polls. The Bulldogs remain in the driver’s seat to get to the SEC Championship with the 7-0 start. Of course, in two weeks, Georgia will face its hated rival Florida, with the program looking to get revenge for last year’s loss in Jacksonville.

Outside of allowing its first touchdown in the second quarter this season, the Georgia defense looked like the best unit in the country once again. Being able to slug it out against a tough Kentucky offensive line will only improve the Georgia defensive line as it enters SEC east games against Florida, Tennessee, and Missouri.

Quay Walker and Lewis Cine celebrate after a defensive play in Saturday's win over Kentucky. (Tony Walsh/UGA Sports Communications)

Quay Walker and Lewis Cine celebrate after a defensive play in Saturday’s win over Kentucky. (Tony Walsh/UGA Sports Communications)

Three important plays 

Heads up: In the first quarter, Bennett faced a blindside rush and had his arm hit as he was throwing the football. The ball came loose before Bennett’s hand came forward, with officials ruling it a fumble.

However, Kentucky linebacker Jacquez Jones assumed the ball was an incomplete pass and gave up on the play. Running back Kendall Milton continued with it and fell on the football. Following a review, the play was confirmed as a fumble and a recovery for a positive gain of 9 yards. On the next play, which was the first of the second quarter, Bennett hit running back James Cook over the middle with the play going for a 19-yard touchdown.

Bowers’ touchdown: In the third quarter, facing a second-and-9 from the Kentucky 27, Bennett put up a beautiful pass for Bowers in the end zone for a touchdown. This put Georgia up 21-7, giving the Bulldogs a bit of a cushion. Bowers actually had a prior 59-yard touchdown called back due to a holding penalty, so it worked well as he was able to get in the end zone anyhow at the end of this possession.

Blocked field goal: On the final play of the third quarter, Devonte Wyatt and Jordan Davis burst through the middle of Kentucky’s field goal team, with Wyatt blocking an attempt that would have cut the game to a Georgia 14-point lead. Up by 17 at the time, this led to Georgia extending its lead to 24 on the next drive.

Grading Georgia 

Offense: B+

Following two punts to start the game, the Bulldogs jumped out to a 14-0 lead on consecutive drives. But just as they were heating up, they cooled back down. Leaving 14-7 at the half, however the Georgia offense was able to add 10 points early in the third quarter.

Defense: A

In the high-flying offensive era of college football, with the rules geared toward scoring, holding teams to 13 points per game or less just isn’t supposed to happen. Kentucky was never going to come in and threaten the Bulldogs with a ton of points, but it’s impressive nonetheless.

Special teams: B

The highlight of the game was Wyatt’s blocked field goal. The Bulldogs also blocked an extra point as well. Jake Camarda had another strong day, with four punts for an average of 47.3 yards and a punt downed inside the 5-yard line. He also had a long of 63. However, Kearis Jackson had some issues fielding punts. Jack Podlesny also missed his first career extra point, which ended Georgia’s NCAA longest streak of 363 in a row—dating back to the 2014 season.

Coaching: A

It was another decisive win for the Bulldogs, so it’s hard to find fault with much of anything from the coaching staff. Georgia took a bit of a conservative approach at halftime before opening the passing game up in the third quarter. Regardless, Georgia took care of business once again.

Season grades to date 

Offense: B+

Defense: A

Special teams: A-

Coaching: A

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