11Alive Sports offers three snap reactions to UGA's 49-7 rout of Middle Tennessee on Saturday, a one-sided, ho-hum affair that should have Dawg fans clamoring for the sustained start of SEC play:
1. Quarterbacks ake Fromm and Justin Fields were near-flawless against the Blue Raiders ... which says more about the UGA offensive line
Fromm (10 of 12 for 128 yards passing, 3 TDs) and Fields (6 of 8 for 71, two total TDs) were equally adept at getting quick passes out to the flat and executing intermediate-to-deep passes at all points of the field.
But it's easy to dominate an overmatched opponent when a mammoth offensive line keeps the opposition at bay, creating clean, consistent pockets for two, three or even four seconds in duration.
The happy result: Eight different UGA receivers corralled at least one pass versus Middle Tennessee, with only Jeremiah Holloman (3 catches, 90 yards, 1 TD) netting big gains for the day.
Mecole Hardman scored two touchdowns on the day–one courtesy of an easy scoring catch in the flat ... with the other serving as a highlight reel for punt returns.
In other words, as expected, the Bulldogs' bludgeoning of the Blue Raiders wasn't the work of one man or a single unit ... more like the proverbial adage of Death, By A Thousand Paper Cuts.
The only downside of the day: In the first quarter, with UGA buried deep in its own end (leading 7-0 at the time), a sack and subsequent fumble involving Fromm could have ended in disaster.
However, O-lineman Ben Cleveland was extremely quick (and light) on his feet, diving to make the recovery, and thus allowing the Dawgs offense to live for another day.
They would eventually punt on the drive; but this result was immensely more favorable than a gift touchdown for Middle Tennessee.
2. The UGA coaches can afford to bide their time, in terms of developing a consistent rotation among the running backs
Elijah Holyfield scurried for 100 rushing yards on Saturday, easily the clubhouse leader in that department.
On the flip side, 87 of the 100 yards occurred in the opening quarter, leading some to believe Holyfield would be a stealth candidate for 200 yards.
CHECK OUT ELIJAH HOLYFIELD'S 66-YARD RUN
We should have known better, though. What worked with flying colors in the first quarter ... wasn't necessarily the plan for the final three periods.
During that stretch, D'Andre Swift (12 rushing yards ... left early with an undisclosed injury), Brian Herrien (44 rushing yards) and Holyfield garnered limited touches in the backfield–barely more than receivers Tyler Simmons (56-yard rushing TD) and Demetris Robertson (23-yard run), who were electric on their only touches of the game.
For last week's rout of South Carolina, the Dawgs fed Swift and Holyfield early and often.
This will likely be the case in next week's road showdown with Missouri; but then again, it might not matter in the short term.
The rationale: As long as the UGA receivers are similarly stellar (or even greater) threats for long touchdown runs, compared to receiving touchdowns of a great distance, there should be no rush to formulate a bankable running rotation.
Just keep the opposing coaches guessing at all times. They were going to stay up all night during the week, preparing a game plan anyway.
And as long as the Bulldogs can demonstrate a range of 35-55 cumulative carries from week to week, very few supporters of Bulldog Nation will be clamoring for substantive change.
It's funny how that works. No one ever tires of consistent winning.
3. It would be unfair for fans and pundits to lump South Carolina and Missouri into the same competitive grouping
Forget about how the Gamecocks are riding a two-game winning streak against the Tigers.
That's ancient history, at least until the clubs meet again next month.
Why is that? Missouri's latest torrent of success has certainly gone under the radar, dating back to last Halloween. Charting the team's previous eight wins during the regular season (including the 2-0 start to this year), the Tigers boast an average victory margin of 30.5 points.
That's typically the indomitable territory of Alabama or Oklahoma or Georgia or Ohio State–not some supposed basketball school in the Midwest, especially when the football program was on shaky ground two years ago.
But that's the reality of the situation in the other Columbia:
Missouri has a quarterback who could easily be the first player selected in next year's NFL draft (Drew Lock) and an underrated defense which has surrendered 17 or fewer points six different times since last October.
Now ... we're not suggesting UGA should remain on high alert next Saturday, in terms of likely being upset fodder for the masses.
We acknowledged that pointless parlor game last week ... and the Gamecocks ran out of gas shortly before halftime.
We're merely pointing out that, eventually, someone from the SEC East will push UGA to the brink of defeat.
Whether it's Missouri, Florida or even Kentucky ... which remains Georgia's last narrow victory inside the division walls.
The world has changed a lot since that near-upset in November 2016.