Every week, UGASports teams up with 11Alive.com to hand out grades to Georgia’s position groups. Here is the report card from a 35-21 win over UL Lafayette.
Jacob Eason threw for just 165 yards, but he did connect with eight different receivers and really spread the ball around nicely. His 68 percent completion rating, albeit against a non-SEC team, was one of his best performances this year. Eason had two touchdown passes, one to Nick Chubb, and the other to tight end Isaac Nauta in the red zone. The young freshman is growing by the week and it looks as though the game is finally starting to slow down for him. Greyson Lambert also had a chance to see some live action as well. While Lambert had just one pass attempt, his leadership off the field matters as well. As much grief as he’s received while being in Athens (and he’s received a tremendous amount in this column over the last two years), he still realizes that he has a job to do for his team and he did it.
Running Backs: B
I mentioned it last week but Nick Chubb is finally back. Chubb, who topped the 100-yard rushing mark for the fourth time this season, also showed his versatility out of the backfield with a 49-yard receiving touchdown. Chubb finished with 157 total yards and two touchdowns. His 35-yard rush looked like a pre-injury run from the talented junior. On the other hand, Sony Michel looked like he was struggling to get going against the Ragin’ Cajuns. Michel only had 41 rushing yards on 13 carries. The junior also fumbled early in the fourth quarter and then did not have another carry for the rest of the game. Brian Herrien and Elijah Holyfield both got a few carries, but neither freshman produced much while they were on the field.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: B-
As alluded to earlier, Eason did a good job of spreading the ball around to eight different receivers and really getting everyone involved in the passing attack. Tight end Isaac Nauta was targeted in the red zone, a welcome sight to Dawg fans. Isaiah McKenzie also had a nice game, although he had just two receptions for 32 yards, he started off the game on the right foot for the Bulldogs with his 55-yard touchdown run. Sophomore Terry Godwin led the team with four receptions, but could not get going after the catch. Eason tried to connect on a few deep balls, but the receivers could not get on the same page.
PHOTOS | UGA v. ULL
Offensive Line: B
The offensive line did a good job of limiting the penalties that had hurt them in previous games and they also opened up a decent amount of running lanes for the running backs. The 235 rushing yards had to be a welcomed sight for offensive line coach Sam Pittman, especially since all everyone heard about before the game was how good the Ragin’ Cajuns’ run defense was. But, the biggest stat of the day is the fact that the offensive line group did not give up a sack, something that was really starting to haunt this group.
Overall Offense: B
The offense did exactly what they needed: put points on the board early and often. The starters had to play a little longer than most would have liked, but they looked good while they were in the game. The reemergence of Chubb is something to really watch with the final game of the season looming. Also, the offensive line cut down on the penalties and they were able to keep Eason upright, which is always a good thing. Overall, this side of the ball did a great job of executing and getting everyone involved against an inferior opponent.
Defensive Line: C
This group was one of the main reasons why the Ragin’ Cajuns had two different players almost break the 100-yard rushing mark. Yes, the second string defensive line gave up a ton of yards late in the game, but the second string unit for the University of Georgia football team should still be able to stop Louisiana-Lafayette. Freshman Julian Rochester had a sack and continues to get better as the year goes on, especially since he did not see much playing time in the first half of the season. Trenton Thompson led the defensive line in tackles with six and generated a lot of pressure. Again, whether the first or second string was in the game is not the issue, the fact that the Ragin’ Cajuns moved the ball on the ground so easy is not a welcomed site, especially since the Dawgs are facing a strong rushing attack next week.
Davin Bellamy had a nice game, tallying three tackles, two tackles for loss, and a sack. The same cannot be said about his counterpart, Lorenzo Carter, who did not set the edge well. Roquan Smith continues to step up in the middle of the field for the Bulldogs with Natrez Patrick still sidelined with an injury. Smith told us after that game that they didn’t play as well as they expected. The defensive line did not do a good job of stopping the run, so the linebackers had to work a lot harder than usual, which could explain why they did not look as good as they normally do.
If the backups did not give up six straight completions for 74 yards, this unit would’ve easily graded out at an A+ due to the fact that the starters played lights out. Malkom Parrish, Aaron Davis, and Deandre Baker each had an interception and really helped the Bulldogs’ offense get in the ball back early in the game. The secondary also did a good job of helping with run defense, not necessarily because they were coming up to make plays, but often acting as the last line of defense when the front seven missed. Next weekend against Georgia Tech, the secondary is going to have to really help set the edge against an offense that loves to get their running backs outside.
Overall Defense: B-
The secondary really helped set the tone early that Anthony Jennings was not going to be able to throw downfield, midfield, or anywhere in between, and the three interceptions show that. On the other hand, the defensive line and linebackers did not have the greatest showing, although the starters only gave up seven points. The backups needed the reps and even though they did allow 14 points in a span of five minutes, the experience will pay off later.
Special Teams: A+
Isaiah McKenzie took a punt 82 yards to the house with a wall of four blockers leading the charge down the field and I’m sure that special teams coordinator Shane Beamer was grinning from ear to ear the entire way. This unit and Beamer have both been highly criticized but there could be no complaints on Saturday. The special teams unit could be trending towards being a strength of the team, especially now that Rodrigo Blankenship is the full-time kicker. Blankenship was 5-of-5 on his extra point attempts and while the wind did seem to affect his depth on his kickoffs, that was to be expected. Punter Brice Ramsey averaged just 34.8 yards on four punts, but ULL only attempted one return for -3 yards, which goes to show that the coverage units are finally starting to mesh.
(© 2017 WXIA)