The highly anticipated Top 20 matchup between Georgia and Mississippi State was, for the rest of the country, quite a letdown. Georgia dominated from beginning to end, winning 31-3. Here are the grades from the game:
A true freshman quarterback making his first career SEC start is supposed to make a lot of mistakes, right? Well, Jake Fromm pushed traditional logic out the window and instead threw for 201 yards on 9-12 passing and two touchdowns. Yes, it was that type of game for Fromm. Of his three incompletions, two were dropped and one was thrown out of bounds on purpose to avoid a sack. The media pundits predicted Fromm would likely have trouble getting comfortable in the pocket, but everything about Fromm’s performance Saturday night was the exact opposite.
Running Backs: A
Nick Chubb finished the evening with 81 yards on 15 carries with two touchdowns and was the top running back for the Dawgs against Mississippi State. The ‘Wild Dawg’ formation finally worked. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney used Chubb in the Wild Dawg and the senior tailback followed a convoy of blockers to a 28-yard score. True freshman D’Andre Swift continues to show flashes of excellence. Swift finished with 69 yards on 10 carries, almost seven yards per carry. The Philadelphia native did make his first true mistake of the season when he fumbled the football and gave Mississippi State some momentum. The coaches, whether they will say it or not, seemed to work Sony Michel back into the rotation slowly after he did not play against Samford. The senior only had 7 carries for 32 yards, but should see his touches increase against Tennessee.
Wide Receivers/ Tight Ends- B+
For the third week in a row, Terry Godwin came up with a huge play for Georia. Godwin only had 2 receptions, but he was able to catch the flea-flicker touchdown pass from Fromm on the first play from scrimmage for the Dawgs. Yet Godwin also dropped a wide open pass that would have either scored or at worst picked up a lot of yards. Head coach Kirby Smart noted it in the press conference after the game, but did not mention Godwin. Of Godwin’s eight catches this year, four have been touchdowns. Besides Godwin, Javon Wims had a solid game. Wims hauled in 2 receptions for 43 yards. Tight end Isaac Nauta caught a 41-yard touchdown pass and reminded folks why he was a freshman phenom last season.
Offensive Line- A-
The offensive line continues to improve week after week. The interior of the offensive line, which has been the least stable, showed great progress and push up front. The offensive line limited the disruptive MSU defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons to only four tackles. Left tackle Isaiah Wynn had an incredible block on the Wild Dawg touchdown, and freshman Andrew Thomas certainly does not look like a rookie. The line allowed no sacks and opened up a number of big holes for the tailbacks.
Defensive Line- A
While the defensive line did not dominate like it did last week, it still held its own against a rushing attack that was supposed to come into Athens and dominate. Mississippi State rushed for 177 yards on 37 carries, while running quarterback Nick Fitzgerald only had 47 yards on the ground. Senior John Atkins led the way up front with four tackles. Both Jonathan Ledbetter and Trenton Thompson tallied three tackles each. The defensive line did a great job of limiting the rushing attack that was so potent for Mississippi State in its first three games.
The linebackers once again proved to be stout against an offense that was supposed to move the ball at will per the pundits. Roquan Smith had eight tackles, second on the team, and made plays from sideline to sideline. Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy did a great job of setting the edge and containing the outside runs that Mississippi State had used so effectively up until this point. This unit continues to be the strongest on the team, and is probably the best linebacker corps in the SEC.
Defensive Backs- A+
The defensive backs were celebrating Saturday night after grabbing two interceptions against MSU. Deandre Baker had the first interception of the season, and also added seven tackles and two pass breakups to his stat line. The other interception went to senior Dominick Sanders, who now has 13 in his career at Georgia. The other safety in the secondary, JR Reed, led the team in tackles with 10 and had 3 pass breakups. Overall, the secondary showed that they could stop one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC, and they did a great job of limiting big plays and causing turnovers. Aaron Davis made a pair of gig open-field tackles as well. .
Special Teams: A+
Two weeks in a row and the special teams grade does not move. Kicker Rodrigo Blankenship made a 49-yard field goal and also did not let Mississippi State run back a single kickoff, as all of his kickoffs went for touchbacks. Punter Cameron Nizialek had an average of 45.5 yards per punt, with a long of 54 yards. Not only did NIzialek pin the Bulldogs deep with his four punts, he also had great hang time which forced Mississippi State to have to signal for a fair catch each time. When you can limit a team to zero return yards, it is likely that you will win the game. Georgia did both.