Georgia Bulldogs overcame 'constant war' to remain undefeated

Georgia Bulldogs overcame 'constant war' to remain undefeated

October 8th, 2018 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Georgia wide receiver Terry Godwin catches a touchdown pass as Vanderbilt cornerback Donovan Sheffield trails him during Saturday night's game in Athens, Ga.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Georgia football coach Kirby Smart yells from the sideline during the first half of Saturday night's 41-13 win over Vanderbilt inside Sanford Stadium. The Bulldogs were penalized 13 times for 115 yards.

Georgia football coach Kirby Smart yells from the...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm completed nearly 75 percent of his passes, threw three touchdowns with no interceptions and headed an offense that racked up 560 yards Saturday night inside Sanford Stadium.

Yet Fromm was the first to admit the Bulldogs' 41-13 dismantling of Vanderbilt was far from aesthetically pleasing.

"It was slower, and that's just the kind of game it was," Fromm said late Saturday night. "We're obviously not very happy with the amount of penalties we had, and that's something we need to take care of as a team. We've got to take care of that and be cleaner next week."

The second-ranked Bulldogs (6-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) committed 13 penalties for 115 yards against the Commodores (3-3, 0-2), marking the most flags and highest penalty yardage for Georgia since its 2012 win over Florida. The Bulldogs entered Saturday night having averaged just 5.4 penalties for 49.4 yards per game this season, so that aspect had not been problematic.

Given that Georgia still amassed 560 yards with all that yellow on the grass, it can be argued that it wasn't problematic Saturday night, but third-year Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart didn't view it that way.

"There is always a disruption in flow when you get penalties," Smart said. "You get 20 (yards) and give up 15. You get 10 and you give up 5. We were in constant war with ourselves to overcome things. Good football teams don't beat themselves, and we tried to beat ourselves tonight with some stupid, undisciplined penalties.

"We've got to grow out of that."

Georgia's average penalty yardage per game now is 60.33, which ranks eighth among SEC teams and 73rd nationally entering this Saturday's trip to LSU. As a result, players were expecting some discipline in practice this week.

"This was all self-inflicted," junior tight end Isaac Nauta said. "We had way too many penalties, and we know that. We need to fix it. It's just undisciplined, and that's something we'll address. The leaders have to get together and do something about it to fix it, because that's something we can't afford to have.

"When you play in bigger games, those penalties lose games for you."

Despite the plethora of penalties, Georgia will face the No. 13 Tigers (5-1, 2-1) — the Bulldogs opened Sunday as seven-point favorites — with no shortage of confidence in its passing game and its ability to defend the pass. Against Vanderbilt, the Bulldogs passed on their first five plays and on nine of their first 10.

That included a 75-yard touchdown from Fromm to Terry Godwin, a result that was in sharp contrast to Georgia's 38-12 win over Tennessee the week before, when the Bulldogs' longest aerial gain was 23 yards.

"We're still not playing as great as we want to, but we're starting to hit that stride," said Fromm, who has moved from sixth to fourth nationally in passing efficiency with a rating of 192.5. "We're getting faster and faster, and that's exciting to see."

Said Nauta: "I felt like we threw it a lot more tonight, and we executed well."

Defensively, the Bulldogs continue to refuse to get beat deep, with Kyle Shurmur's longest completion Saturday night going for just 22 yards. Georgia's pass defense ranks second nationally in fewest yards per completion (8.79) and third in fewest yards per attempt (5.15).

"We're just playing our ball," sophomore safety Richard LeCounte II said. "In that DB room each week, we emphasize not having a ball thrown over our head. It's been paying off, obviously."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.


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