Georgia Bulldogs Move Up To No. 7 In Latest AP Poll

Dawgs Prepare To Meet Struggling Vols In Knoxville On Saturday

Monday, September 25, 2017 - by special report

Maybe Georgia is for real after all. Just a couple of weeks after beating Notre Dame 20-19 in South Bend, the Bulldogs hosted a hot Mississippi State team and demolished it, 31-3.

Just last week, Dan Mullen and Mississippi State hosted LSU and stomped the Tigers to the tune of 37-7. That victory sent the MSU Bulldogs into a frenzy, but the celebration may have lasted a bit too long. They went from unranked to No. 17 but were brought back down to early by Georgia in Week 4.

Georgia’s in the AP poll is its highest since it was No. 7 after the Sept. 21, 2015 after they beat South Carolina 52-20 to improve to 3-0.

The Bulldogs are also up four spots to No. 8 in the latest coaches’ poll.

Coach Kirby Smart was asked Saturday night what he can do to temper the surging expectations.

“We have difficult practices,” he said. “You don’t temper that. You’ve just got to do a good job of managing your team. If you have a mature team, they handle things like that well. It does concern me because I worry about the guys reading it and believing it. I was around a guy for 10 years (Nick Saban) who did a good job of managing it.”

Georgia’s win Saturday night gives it two wins over 3-1 teams ranked this week in the top 25. Notre Dame is No. 22 and Mississippi State is No. 24.

“I think we really came out here and made a statement that we’re a team to be reckoned with,” outside linebacker Davin Bellamy said. “We’re becoming a great football team and we’re kind of not worried about anybody else. We’re just trying to fix ourselves every week.”

Nick Chubb rushed for a pair of touchdowns including a 28-yard run down the left side with 12:24 left in the third quarter out of the wild cat formation. He had 81 yards on 15 carries as Georgia rushed for 203 yards on 42 carries.

“We have a great team, something special is here,” Chubb said.

JAKE FROMM OVER JACOB EASON? 

After four games, a few things are abundantly clear. (1) Jake Fromm is prepared to lead a college team as a true freshman. And (2) this rebuild to begin the Kirby Smart era is well ahead of schedule.

 

This is a strange situation at quarterback because of how much hype sophomore Jacob Eason garnered throughout the off-season. Eason was not only considered to be among the best sophomore quarterbacks in the country, he was also tabbed to be a potential No. 1 pick in a future NFL Draft.

 

However, Fromm has taken full advantage of getting the starting job since Eason went down with an injury. Fromm threw for more than 200 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions, in the win over Mississippi State.

The only game in which Fromm really struggled came against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Yet, Notre Dame is proving to be one of the faster and more talented defenses in the country. Fromm still led Georgia to a win over the Irish.

The last two weeks is where Fromm has really started to shine. He’s making all the throws needed for this offense to thrive. Fromm only threw 12 passes Saturday and has only thrown more than 20 passes in a game once. But he began the game against Mississippi State with eight straight completions.

Fromm looks so poised and has a solid connection with his receivers. Seven different Bulldogs caught a pass from Fromm and two of them caught touchdowns. His play-fakes were greats, every pass was right where it needed to be, and he no longer seems to be eyeing receivers.

THIS GEORGIA DEFENSE IS VERY GOOD

With how many close games Georgia lost last year, it was only a matter of time before their fortunes changed a bit. Part of the reason for their fortunes changing so fast is the skill spread all over the Georgia defense.

Mississippi State was held to just over 100 passing yards and well under 200 rushing yards. It was a tremendous performance by this defense through and through. The goal is for the defense to take advantage of bad offenses like Tennessee and Florida in SEC play.

The SEC East is now Georgia’s to lose thanks to the level that the defense is playing at right now.Deandre Baker and Dominich Saners both picked off Fitzgerald at key points in the game. It seemed like Mississippi State never even got the chance to put a good drive together.

 

GREAT PERFORMANCES SATURDAY

TERRY GODWIN, OFFENSE

Godwin is having the best season of his career thus far and that continued immediately Saturday. Georgia started with a great play call with a flea flicker and Fromm found Godwin wide open for 59-yard touchdown.

Godwin had one more reception for 21 yards later in the first quarter that led to the Bulldogs second touchdown of the game. He did drop a pass later in the game, but the result was no longer in doubt at that point.

Godwin is clearly Fromm’s favorite target. He’s always getting open and he’s mostly reliable to make catches. He even had another big catch for Fromm later in the game that ended up being whipped off because of an offsides penalty on Mississippi State.

Deandre Baker, defense

Georgia’s defense played another spectacular game, but the best player on that defense Saturday was Baker. He was credited with seven tackles, two pass breakups and an interception. But on one play, his receiver caught a pass in the air and Baker pushed the receiver so he’d land out-of-bounds. So really, Baker should be credited with three break-ups.

His other break-ups were just as amazing. On sure catches, he swatted the ball out of the receivers hands to cause an incompletion. And then he had the perfect jump on a route to intercept a pass.

Baker’s performance had to be devastating for Nick Fitzgerald and the Mississippi State offense. On plays that appeared to be successful for them, Baker shut them down. He played the best game of his career, but I believe better performances are coming.

Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and D’Andre Swift, offense

Fans and media doubted Georgia’s ability to run the ball in the preseason. Last years offensive line issues were a big reason for that. But so far, Georgia has been able to impose their wills upfront and that’s led to good games for Chubb, Michel and Swift.

Once again, Georgia’s stable of running backs had another solid game. Georgia maintained drives and kept pressure off Fromm. Chubb led the way with 81 yards on 15 carries with two touchdowns. Swift rushed for 69 yards on 10 carries. Even Michel on a bad ankle picked up 32 yards on seven carries.

Saturday was no different. The trio busted off several big gains. Chubb’s longest was a 28-yard touchdown on a direct snap. On his first touchdown, it looked like he was falling down before he regained his balance and trotted into the end zone. Swift’s longest run was a 20 yards gain. Michel had a long run of his own but it was called back because of a questionable holding call.

“We wanted to come out and be as physical as we could and make a statement that we’re going to run the ball down your throat and make plays,” tight end Isaac Nauta said.

“It’s just a start,” Nauta said. “We’ve got to keep rolling on from here.”

Georgia (4-0, 1-0 SEC) will try to make it a perfect first month of the season Saturday when it travels to sputtering Tennessee, which beat winless UMass 17-13 Saturday.



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