Georgia Football Postgame Notes: 37-10 Win over Arkansas
*Slow Start For Offense, Then Bennett Leads Comeback: Trailing 7-5 heading into the second half, Georgia exploded for 22 points in the 3rd quarter on its way to a 37-10 win. It was a combination of offense, defense and special teams that sparked the Bulldog comeback and improve Kirby Smart to 5-0 in season openers and Georgia all-time at 97-27-3 in openers. Georgia now leads the all-time series with Arkansas 11-4.
With four first-time starters on offense including redshirt freshman quarterback D’Wan Mathis, Georgia tallied three points on 177 yards in the first half. In the 2nd quarter, Georgia came through with a safety for its first points. It was the first safety since the 2016 season opener against UNC. Mathis returned midway in the 4th quarter.
With 10:07 left in the first half, junior Stetson Bennett came in at QB and finished the day 20-for-29 for 211 yards and 2 TDs, all career highs. Today marked the first time Georgia had a new starting signal-caller since 2016 as Jake Fromm had started the past 42 games. Fromm is now in the NFL with Buffalo.
In the second half, Bennett directed a six-play, 57-yard go-ahead TD drive, capped by a 19-yard touchdown pass to George Pickens (4-for-47 yards, 1 TD). It gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the game. Then Bennett covered a two-point conversion, scampering in to make it 13-10. It was Bennett’s third career TD pass and Pickens ninth TD catch. Zamir White’s six-yard run capped a 13-play, 81-yard drive for a 34-10 lead with 11:15 left. Kearis Jackson led the team in receiving with a career-high six catches for 62 yards and two punt returns for 34 yards.
*Stout Defensive Effort and Special Teams: In the first half, Georgia held Arkansas to 160 yards of total offense and 91 of them came on its lone touchdown drive. They finished with 280 yards . With 8:48 left in the first quarter, Arkansas took a 7-0 lead after a seven play, 91-yard drive capped by a 49-yard completion from Feleipe Franks to Treylon Burks. UA’s other eight drives in the first half netted just 59 yards. Overall, the Bulldogs were hurt by penalties, tallying 11 for 98 yards in the first half. In the second half, the Razorbacks turned a Bulldog miscue into a field goal, going 43 yards midway through the 3rd quarter for a 10-5 edge. Nakobe Dean lead all tacklers with seven stops.
Georgia also blocked a punt as tailback Zamir White got it with 4:31 left in the 3rd quarter, giving Georgia the ball at the Arkansas 24. It was the first by a Bulldog since Eric Stokes against Missouri in 2018, and he returned that one for a TD. Today, Georgia turned the block into a touchdown, a seven-yard strike from Bennett to Ryan FitzPatrick, the first of his career and a 21-10 advantage.
Junior Eric Stokes had a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown to make it 27-10. It was the first by a Bulldog since current staffer Juwan Taylor had a 1-yard INT return for a score in 2018 at South Carolina. It was the first career INT for Stokes. Senior Richard LeCounte had a pair of interceptions today to give him eight for his career. LeCounte collected a pair of picks in the 2020 Sugar Bowl win over Baylor.
*Camarda Pins Them Deep and Podlesny Connects: Junior Jake Camarda averaged 49.9 yards on seven punts, placing the first four inside the 20 with two inside the 10. He had four for 50+ yards including a long of 63 yards. Redshirt sophomore PK Jack Podlesny made his first career field goal, a 38-yarder to end the half and trim the deficit to 7-5. He added three PATs and a 38-yard field goal for a 37-10 lead with 1:23 left in the game. Today was the first time since 2015 that the Bulldogs had a new placekicker after All-American and 2019 Lou Groza Award winner Rodrigo Blankenship graduated. He is now in the NFL with the Colts.
*For Starters: Four Bulldogs on offense in D’Wan Mathis (QB), Owen Condon (RT), Darnell Washington (TE) and Jermaine Burton (WR) along with Nakobe Dean(LB) on defense and Jack Podlesny (KO/PK) and William Mote (SN) on special teams made their first career starts. Washington and Burton are true freshmen. The longest active starting streak on offense belongs to center Trey Hill now with 19 while Richard LeCounte leads the defense at 19 straight. Also today marked the latest start date for the Bulldogs since the 1946 national champions opened up with a 35-12 win over Clemson in Athens on Sept. 27.
*Captains: Georgia seniors Richard LeCounte, Malik Herring and junior Jamaree Salyer served as captains. LeCounte walked out for the coin toss as teams are limited to one captain for the toss this season as part of COVID-19 rule change to limit the amount of personnel. Georgia won the toss and elected to defer until the second half.
*Homage To 1980 Champions: Georgia wore red pants and white jerseys today as part of the 40th anniversary of the 1980 national champions. This was their uniform combination in the season opening road win over Tennessee.
*Pregame Show of Unity: Approximately two hours before kickoff in a show of unity, Georgia and Arkansas student-athletes, wearing black SEC t-shirts that featured the slogan “Together, It Just Means More,” locked arms on their respective sideline and walked out to midfield. The Director of Player Development for both teams, Georgia’s Jonas Jennings (UGA ‘97-00) and Arkansas’ Fernando Velasco (UGA ‘03-04, 06-07), spoke briefly.
*Up Next: The Bulldogs (1-0, 1-0 SEC) play host to Auburn in the Deep South’s oldest rivalry with kickoff slated for 7:30 pm (ESPN). This will mark the first meeting outside the month of November for the first time since 1936. Georgia has won eight of the past 10 meetings and leads the series 60-56-8.