ATHENS — For the first time this season, quarterback Stetson Bennett had to take a snap in the fourth quarter. The defense had to stop. The attack had to convert to a fourth down in the red zone.
All of those things happened on Saturday because the Bulldogs were less than stellar in the first three quarters of a 39-22 win over Kent State. The Bulldogs go 4-0 this season, while Kent State drops to 1-3.
It was a Kent State team that was not going to be overwhelmed after already playing in Oklahoma and Washington. The Golden Flashes hung around the game for much longer than expected at the start of the day.
Georgia was a big reason for that, with a sloppy play in the first half coupled with real offensive success for Kent State. Losing the turnover battle will make any game closer than it should be, even with a huge talent gap between the two teams.
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The Bulldogs have now been less than perfect in their first two home games of the season. Maybe it’s a good thing Georgia is hitting the road next week as they take on Missouri. The Bulldogs also won’t have another non-conference game until the final game of the season, as their next seven games face SEC haters.
With the competition ramping up ahead, Georgia will need to be much, much sharper than they were on Saturday.
Turnovers come in bunches for the Bulldogs
As soon as a member of the media brought up after South Carolina that the Bulldogs didn’t return the ball in the 2022 season, Kirby Smart knew the Bulldogs were bewitched. It played out on Saturday, as Georgia turned the ball over three times in the first half.
Bowers then scored again via the ground to give himself a second straight game with multiple touchdowns. On the season, Bowers has three runs. All three ended in touchdowns.
Bowers also worked with his day job, as he had five passes for 60 yards for Georgia. Only McConkey had a more productive day among Georgia pass catchers, finishing with six receptions and 65 yards.
Many in the college football world were once again in awe of what Bowers did on Saturday. On the one hand, it’s hard not to see a 6-foot-4 tight end slide and rise like Bowers does.
On the other hand, it has become a habit for Bowers to take control of a game. He had three touchdowns a week ago and added two more on Saturday.
The second-year tight end may not be lucky enough to post the statistical numbers to be a factor in the Heisman Trophy race. But it’s overwhelmingly evident that Bowers is one of the best players in the country, if not the best.
Defense under pressure but eventually give up big plays
Georgia has only had one sack in its first three games. He had, on the contrary, done an excellent job of preventing big plays.
None of these trends continued on Saturday. Georgia finished the day with 3.0 sacks, finally heading home against the Kent State front. Jamon Dumas-Johnson easily had his best game as a Bulldog, making six tackles. Three of them were for a loss and he also caught 2.0 sacks.
But the Georgian defense also gave up their share of games for the very first time this season. Kent State scored the first first-half touchdown of the season against the Bulldogs as Devontez Walker ran down the sideline untouched for 56 yards. It was the longest play an opposing offense had hit on the Bulldogs so far this season.
While Kent State received three runs from one of McConkey’s fumbles, it had three more scoring drives in the afternoon. The Golden Flashes finally hit the red zone with 12:13 into the fourth quarter, making it 32-22. Senior safety Christopher Smith offered a Kent State interception that followed to force Kent State’s lone turnover in the afternoon and salt the game in the process.
Like the attack, this defense didn’t quite meet the Georgian standard on Saturday. The Bulldogs were still talented enough to win, but it was far from an elite day for the defensive unit.
Georgia Football-Kent State Player News and Ratings
Georgia again used Jalen Carter in a limited capacity, dusting him even less than last week. Carter was only used situationally, appearing as a fullback in a goal line package and on the field goal block unit. Carter is suffering from an ankle injury.
Prior to the game, Arian Smith, Adonai Mitchell and Arik Gilbert were all training with Georgia strength and conditioning coordinator Scott Sinclair. Gilbert and Smith got dressed, unlike Mitchell. The fact that all three were working there would seem to indicate that they are getting closer to returning to the field for Georgia, which would provide them with improved depth among pass catchers.
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