As we did after every game this season, UGASports has teamed up with 11Alive.com to hand out grades to Georgia’s position groups. Here is the report card from the 28-27 loss to Georgia Tech.
This football season for Jacob Eason has had its fair share of ups and downs, with the season ending on a down note for the freshman after his performance against Georgia Tech. Eason completed just 14 of his 27 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown, which are not terrible statistics, but at the same time are not anything to write home about. He also had two interceptions; one that bounced off of wide receiver Terry Godwin’s hands and gave Tech the turnover it needed to take the lead. This game was Eason’s season in a nutshell, in the sense that he had some excellent completions, but he also misdiagnosed some reads and threw an interception at the exact wrong moment.
Running Backs: A
The Georgia Bulldogs did not lose the football game on Saturday because of lack of production from the running backs. Junior Sony Michel had his best rushing performance in a Bulldog uniform, tallying 170 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. His counterpart Nick Chubb had 88 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries and helped get the Bulldogs out of some tough situations. If this was indeed the last game between the hedges for Michel and Chubb, which is pure speculation at this point, then they definitely went out on top in terms of individual performances, albeit in a losing effort.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: B-
Georgia’s leading receiver, Terry Godwin, had five receptions for 53 yards, but he will be remembered most for the tipped pass that was intercepted and eventually led to Georgia Tech’s go-ahead touchdown. The referenced pass was behind Godwin and while he did everything he could to contour his body to make the catch, the blame, of any, should not fall solely on him. Freshman tight end Isaac Nauta was second on the team in receptions with three, but his drop on the final drive for Georgia was ill-timed. Eason did spread the ball around to seven different receivers, but the lack of plays called for junior wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie is perplexing. McKenzie, who was brilliant in the beginning of the season, really turned out to be a non-factor in the latter half, and the game against Georgia Tech was no different. Yes, McKenzie caught the only touchdown pass, but he only had one other catch which was a two-yard loss.
Offensive Line: B+
The offense rushed for 263 yards, Eason was not sacked, and the unnecessary penalties were held to a minimum. If you put all of those things together you get one of the best performances from the offensive line all season. Offensive guard Isaiah Wynn did get called for a holding penalty deep in the red zone, but he was bailed out by Eason throwing a touchdown pass to McKenzie, so that penalty ended up not hurting as much as it could have. The offensive line also did a great job of opening up running lanes for Michel and Chubb, which is one of the main reasons why the duo put up monster numbers. This group was also on the field for an extended amount of time in the first half and did a good job of keeping their foot on the gas when they might not have had much left to give.
Overall Offense: B-
The offense seemed to really be clicking and moving the ball up until the fourth quarter, whereupon it failed to put any points on the board in three drives. This was the first game in which Michel and Chubb really seemed to be clicking on all cylinders and it also helped that the offensive line did a great job of opening up holes for them up front. The wide receivers and tight ends will not want to remember this game, but they did do a good job for the most part of hauling in some fastballs from the young quarterback. Overall, the offense put up 402 yards of total offense, but just could not seal the deal and run out the clock at the end when it mattered most.
Defensive Line: C
Most of the defensive line faced the triple option attack for the first time against Georgia Tech, and they did a decent job of holding it in check. Freshman David Marshall had five tackles and a tackle for loss, and Trenton Thompson had a couple of nice tackles. On the other hand, senior John Atkins was having trouble getting off of his block and into the backfield for most of the game and Jonathan Ledbetter did not show up much, either. The Yellow Jackets rushed for 226 yards, but a good chunk of that came on outside runs for which the defensive line cannot be blamed. Still, Tech averaged over five yards per carry, and when Justin Thomas went to throw, the line seldom pressured him.
Roquan Smith had an amazing game and he led the team in tackles with 13, and his closing speed on the runs outside was eye-opening. Outside linebackers Davin Bellamy and Lorenzo Carter both loaded up the stat sheet due to the triple option offense, and Bellamy registered a half sack. But, the Tech offense was too effective versus the Bulldog linebackers at times. A number of Tech pitch plays were turned inside yet managed to pick up lots of yardage. Or the Tech ballcarriers were tackled but not after picking up five or six yards on the carry. That happened a good bit, mind you.
This grade would be a lot lower were it not for the play of Aaron Davis and Dominick Sanders. Davis, who had five tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss, was a run-stuffing machine and did a great job of stopping some big plays from becoming touchdowns. Sanders had a fumble recovery and also an interception and did a nice job of roaming around and coming in to help tackle when needed. Other than that, the secondary looked pitiful. Thomas completed just six passes on 10 attempts, but those six passes accumulated 164 yards. For a team like run-first team like Georgia Tech to amass over 27 yards per catch is a cause for concern.
Overall Defense: C-
For most of the game, excluding the third quarter, Georgia Tech scored with relative ease. The Yellow Jackets were a perfect three for three in the red zone, scoring touchdowns each time. The inability to stop Tech’s passing offense was something that is inexcusable and the fact that Georgia knew what was coming but couldn’t stop it was also a headscratcher.
Special Teams: B
Kicker Rodrigo Blankenship was two of three on his field goal attempts, nailing both his attempts in the third quarter but missing his first try due to a bad snap. William Ham did a good job on his kickoff duties and had four out of his six attempts go for touchbacks. Punter Brice Ramsey had two punts, with one of those two being downed inside the 10-yard-line. Georgia’s kick coverage and punt coverage were not really tested.