Written by Brian Pohl
Athens, GA- The third-ranked Georgia Bulldogs flexed their muscles in a 49-7 victory over the Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders.
In complete control from the opening kickoff, the Bulldogs dominated the Blue Raiders in all three phases of the game, and through the first three weeks of the season look to be just as talented as last year. If the Dawgs can continue at this level of play throughout the season, they could be positioned to return to the College Football Playoffs.
UGA head coach Kirby Smart talked about the win and his message to his team prior to the game saying, “They came out fast, they came out physical. They answered the challenge which was to own the standard.” He continued, “We challenged them. We said hey, we are creating a standard here that we play at this level regardless of whom we play, and now you’ve got to go own the standard and I really think our players tried to do that.”
Leading the way offensively for UGA was sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm. Although he only played in the first half, Fromm was able to make his presence known, completing ten of his 12 passes for 128-yards and three touchdown passes. Fromm controlled the game well, not taking any unnecessary risks, but also flashed big-play ability as he went deep to sophomore receiver Jeremiah Holloman for a 65-yard completion.
Starting running back D’Andre Swift did not record a rush in the game and didn’t play past the first couple of possessions. This led the way for junior running back Elijah Holyfield to take the bulk of the carries for the Dawgs. The son of champion boxer Evander Holyfield rushed eight times for 101-yards and a touchdown and wasn’t afraid to lower his shoulder and run right through the Blue Raider defense.
In his post-game press conference, Coach Smart stated that Swift didn’t have an injury, but that they just wanted to get some other guys some work after taking the lead early.
The play of the game may have come on special teams, as return man Mecole Hardman returned a punt 70-yards for the score. Hardman made several players miss after going untouched for the first ten yards, and turned on the jets on his way to the end zone for the touchdown.
Coach Smart was asked about Hardman’s return and jokingly said if Hardman had been tackled by the punter, they may have had to make a change at the return position.
All in all, it was an impressive showing by the Bulldog offense, who scored 42 first-half points before allowing their backups to receive a large amount of playing time in the second half.
Just as impressive, however, was the UGA defense, who were making plays all over the field against an MTSU offense that scored 61 points just last week. The Dawgs shut down the Blue Raiders offense, holding them to just 250 yards and a touchdown.
The Bulldog defense also forced two turnovers early in the game with an interception and a recovered fumble, which allowed the offense to turn around and score to get the game out of reach early.
Collecting the interception was defensive back Deandre Baker, who leaped up and picked off MTSU quarterback Brent Stockstill, returning it 26 yards to set up the offense in great field position.
This was a statement victory for the Bulldogs, who now improve to 3-0 on the season. They had to replace a lot of talent on both offense and defense, and so far, it looks as if they remain as one of the most talented teams in all of college football.
Next week the Dawgs begin the bulk of their SEC schedule, traveling to Missouri to take on the Tigers.