The heart of this Georgian soccer team cannot be questioned.
The Bulldogs lagged Cincinnati for most of the game in the Peach Bowl but relied on their dominant defenses late on to claim a 24-21 win. Georgia (8-2, 7-2 SEC) ends the 2020 season with its second straight New Years win. What follows are the grades of the three units of Georgia earned for their victory.
It was hard to see. Georgia’s supposedly superior offensive line fought from start to finish, allowing three sacks and producing only 45 rushing yards. Their performance ruined every game plan that went into play.
Quarterback JT Daniels never seemed comfortable in the pocket and the running backs had no place to run. As a result, Georgia opted for field gates twice, tripped five times, and ended two more possessions with sales. The Bulldogs converted only a third attempt.
It wasn’t all bad, however. Broad receiver George Pickens caught seven passes for 175 yards and had a touchdown in the first quarter. Tight ends Darnell Washington and John Fitzpatrick together made seven catches and 87 yards. Daniels was outstanding despite the rush of passers-by, completing 26 of 38 passes for 392 yards. Even Stetson Bennett produced and completed a 12-yard pass if he had to.
Anyone who says Georgia’s offense was a terrible game is discrediting the skill players. They did their part. When Georgia needed them the most during the last 1:28 of the game, they were producing. Daniels and Co. moved the ball into the field goal range to get the kick that was decisive for the game.
Aside from one bad game, Georgia’s defense had an outstanding game, especially in the second half.
Cincinnati scored their first touchdown after a punt gave the Bearcats possession at the Georgia 44-yard line. The third and final touchdown was a 79-yard run caused by a linebacker misinterpreting the game and not closing the gap.
The Bearcats drove 75 yards on their second touchdown run. This possession included two games in which quarterback Desmond Ritter ran for his life until he found receiver in the last possible second. Sometimes a plus effort is not enough.
Enough of the bad, let’s talk about how well the defense played because they are the reason Georgia won. Ritter came into play with 609 rushing yards and was the Bearcats’ runner-up rusher. Georgia kept him at minus 17 meters with 15 runs.
The Bulldogs fired knights eight times, including one in the end zone, because the safety time had expired. Azeez Ojulari had this safety bag and two other bags. Ojulari’s first sack caused a fumble recovered from Adam Anderson that resulted in Georgia’s second touchdown of the game.
Latavious Brini, who starred in the corner with Tyrique Stevenson, played fantastic on his first start. Brini took away Cincinnati’s swing passes and covered his recipients well. Not only was Stevenson beaten once, but he also played pretty well in the corner. Long-term aside, it could hardly be said that Georgia missed several starters in defense.
Special teams: A-Minus
What a finish for Jack Podlesny. Georgia needed a perfect game from him and he delivered. The offensive failed to give him an easy kick to win the game. He had to go up a 53-yarder and kicked it right in the middle, leaving enough yards. A great moment for the second year Redshirt.
Of course, special teams weren’t finished yet. There were still three seconds left after the field goal and Georgia had to step back from 15 meters due to a formal penalty. Punter Jake Camarda had a perfect kick and jumped over the head of the returnees. Rather than possibly giving a decent field position, Cincinnati took over on its own 2-yard line.
The special teams get some points for their grade as Camarda scored two bad points at the start of the game. Quay Walker also got offended when he didn’t need it. Kearis Jackson kicked the kick close to midfield, but the penalty kick put the offensive back on its own 6-yard line.