Bulldogs blank Hogs for second straight SEC shutout
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Bulldogs blank Hogs for second straight SEC shutout

Georgia Bulldogs
Photo: Tony Walsh/UGA

ATHENS, Ga. — The No. 2-ranked Georgia football team used its stifling defense, a powerful run game and some special teams fireworks to take down No. 8 Arkansas, 37-0, Saturday afternoon at Sanford Stadium. It was the Bulldogs’ second SEC shutout in as many games after winning 62-0 at Vanderbilt last week.

In the Bulldogs’ second top-10 match of the season, after opening up against Clemson in a top-five clash, Georgia’s stout defense clamped down on the Razorbacks from the outset and never let the Hogs get going. Arkansas didn’t reach 100 yards of total offense until the final minute of the third quarter and finished with 156 yards, while the run-first Bulldogs ended up with 273 on the ground and 345 total yards.

Quarterback Stetson Bennett was making his second start of the season in place of the injured JT Daniels. In his first, against UAB in the Bulldogs’ home opener on Sept. 11, Bennett put on a show for the ages, completing 10 of 12 passes for 288 yards and tying a school record with five touchdowns. Against the Razorbacks, Bennett was mainly tasked with handing the ball to Georgia’s vast supply of running backs.

Zamir White led Georgia’s ground attack with 16 carries for 68 yards and two rushing touchdowns. James Cook had 87 yards on 12 carries, and Kendall Milton and Kenny McIntosh combined for 105 yards on 23 attempts, and Milton scored on a 1-yard run. Bennett, meanwhile, was an efficient 7 of 11 passing for 72 yards. Ladd McConkey led the receivers with three catches for 27 yards.

Just like it has in its previous SEC games, the Bulldogs got off to a running start. On the first play from scrimmage, Bennett faked a handoff to White and ran right for 9 yards. Another fake handoff to White and a quick throw to McConkey netted 16 yards. The Bulldogs were on the move and the nine-play drive ended on a 3-yard touchdown run by White, putting the Bulldogs up 7-0 with 10:46 to play in the first quarter.

Arkansas’ first possession went perfectly, at least for the Georgia defense. A false start backed the Hogs up 5 yards, as did a second false start. Devonte Wyatt and Quay Walker teamed up for a stop after a short gain on first down. Wyatt then sacked K.J. Jefferson for a 6-yard lass on second down, and Walker broke up a pass on third-and-24.

The Georgia ground game ate up the yards on the Bulldogs’ second drive. The first six plays were all runs, by four different backs, and the drive ended on Kendall Milton’s 1-yard run, putting the Bulldogs up 14-0 with 4:34 left in the opening quarter.

Georgia’s special teams produced the Bulldogs’ second touchdown. After the defense stuffed another Razorback possession, forcing a punt on fourth-and-9 from the Hogs’ 8-yard line, the Bulldogs’ Dan Jackson got free and blocked the Reid Bauer attempt, and White recovered the ball in the end zone for a score and a 21-0 advantage with 2:17 to play in the quarter.

The Bulldogs have outscored South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Arkansas a combined 70-6 in the first quarter this season.

The Bulldogs’ only points the rest of the half were a 46-yard field goal by Jack Podlesny with 7:38 to play in the second. Georgia had 139 rushing yards at the half while the Bulldog defense had held the Hogs to just 78 yards of total offense. This was the fourth time in five games that Georgia’s defense has held its opponent scoreless at the half.

A defensive stop — the Razorbacks lost 7 yards on their first possession of the third quarter — and a 10-play drive that ended with a 30-yard Podlesny field goal, put Georgia in front 27-0 with 10:05 to play in the third quarter.

White got his third touchdown of the game early in the fourth quarter, scoring on a 15-yard scamper to cap an 11-play and 93-yard drive, making it 34-0 Bulldogs. On Georgia’s ensuing drive, after another Arkansas possession lost yardage, McIntosh ran for 15 yards on fourth-and-1 at the Hogs’ 38. Podlesney capped that drive with a 37-yard field goal that put the Bulldogs up 37-0, with 3:46 to play in the game.

Wyatt led the defense with six tackles, including 1.5 sacks. Adam Anderson had five tackles and 1.5 for loss, and as a team, Georgia got 7 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, including 4 sacks.

After Georgia’s touchdown drive to open the game, former Georgia All-American golfer Harris English was recognized on the field for his contributions in helping the U.S. Ryder Cup team defeat the European squad last weekend at Whistling Straits, Wis. During halftime, many of Georgia’s Olympians that competed in Tokyo this summer were celebrated, including swimmers Chase Kalisz and Jay Litherland, who won gold and silver, respectively, in the 400-meter individual medley.

Georgia also celebrated its 2021 Circle of Honor inductees: football’s All-American lineman Randy Johnson, legendary women’s basketball coach Andy Landers, NCAA-champion swimmer Robert Margalis and softball All-American Kim Wendland.

The Bulldogs return to the road next week when they head to the Plains to take on Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

POST-GAME NOTES

*Defense Dominates Again With Historic Shutout Of Top 10 Team: For only the third time in school history and the first time since 1976, Georgia posted a shut out a top 10 team with a 37-0 victory over No. 8 Arkansas. It was the first time since 1980 that the Bulldogs had back-to-back shutouts of SEC opponents, doing it against Vanderbilt and Kentucky. Today Georgia posted its seventh shutout in the Kirby Smart era and the fifth in an SEC game.

The other shutouts of top 10 teams came when No. 6 Georgia blanked No. 10 Alabama 21-0 here in 1976, and in 1942, the No. 5 Bulldogs shut out No. 2 Ga. Tech 34-0 here. The Razorbacks finished with 156 yards of total offense (75-rushing, 87-passing) and came in averaging 35.8 points a game.

Georgia leads the nation in Scoring Defense, allowing just 4.6 points per game. Opponents now have scored just 23 points on the Bulldogs this year.

The Bulldogs are now 12-6 against top 10 foes under Kirby Smart including 4-0 at home. Georgia improved to 4-2 when ESPN College GameDay is in town including winning its last four. The Bulldogs are 5-0 under Smart for the third time (2017-19). 

*Leading Tacklers and Sack Masters: Georgia’s leading tacklers today were Devonte Wyatt with six along with Adam Anderson and Channing Tindall with five apiece. Also, they got a total of four sacks from Wyatt (1.5)Nakobe Dean (1.5) and Anderson (1). Dean has 3.5 for the year and those were the first for Wyatt this year. Anderson has a team-best four sacks this year. 

*Quick Start For Offense:  Georgia QB Stetson Bennett made his second start this year (in place of JT Daniels who has been dealing with a lat issue) and finished 7-for-11 for 72 yards. Georgia marched down the field on its opening drive, going 75 yards in nine plays in 4:14 for a 7-0 lead. The drive was capped by a three-yard run by Zamir White, his third of the year and 17th of his career. On the second possession, Georgia went 56 yards on nine plays in 4:38 for another TD, this one by Kendall Milton, his first of career. During this drive, the Bulldogs converted a 4th-and-1 at the 35 when White rushed for three yards. Georgia built a 14-0 lead with 4:34 left in the first quarter.

Coming in Saturday, Arkansas had not allowed any points in the first quarter, outscoring their foes 34-0. Today, Georgia led 21-0 after the first.

*Focused on Rushing Attack: Georgia tallied 345 yards of total offense including 273 on the ground, rushing the ball a season-high 57 times. That was the most rushing attempts in the Kirby Smart era. James Cook led the attack with 87 yards on 12 carries. Zamir White had a team-high 16 carries for 68 yards and two TDs. On its first drive of the second half, Georgia started at the UA 46 and used 10 rushing plays for 33 yards before making a 30-yard field goal and a 27-0 lead. White’s 15-yard TD scamper made it 34-0 with 12:12 left. It culminated a season-high 11 play drive that went 93 yards in 5:50. 

*Special Teams Summary: Senior punter Jake Camarda had two punts for a 43.5 yard average and handled the kickoffs. Junior Jack Podlesny was 4-for-4 on PATs to improve to 26-for-26 this season plus he was 3-for-3 in field goals as they covered 47 yards, a season long, a 30-yarder and a 37-yarder.  He is 7-for-9 in FG this year.

In the first quarter, redshirt sophomore DB Dan Jackson blocked an Arkansas punt, and it was recovered by Zamir White in the end zone to make it 21-0. Before today, the last time Georgia blocked a punt was against Arkansas last year by Zamir White. The last blocked punt returned for a TD before today was Eric Stokes at Missouri in 2018. Georgia now has five special teams TDs in the Kirby Smart era.

*For Starters, Game Captains & Helmet Decal: Georgia did not have any first-time starters today. The captains were seniors James Cook (RB) and Jamaree Salyer (LT) and junior Christopher Smith (DB). Arkansas won the toss and elected to defer the football until the second half. Georgia took part in College Football Mental Health Awareness Week (Oct. 2-9) by wearing a special helmet decal to declare #MentalHealthMatters.

*Series History & Up Next: With the 37-0 win, No. 2 Georgia now has a 12-4 edge in the series history over Arkansas. This marked the first shutout in the series history with Arkansas and the largest margin of victory with the series going back to the 1969 Sugar Bowl.

Georgia (5-0, 3-0 SEC) returns to action Saturday at Auburn. Kickoff will be at either Noon ET (ESPN) or 3:30 pm ET (CBS).

POST-GAME QUOTES

Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening statement …
“The opening remark would be how incredible our fanbase is. They answered the bell today. I think all of you
guys will admit that they were elite and we noticed it. To come out there in warmups, and coming out the
tunnel to see every seat full at a noon kick is special. It’s special to be at Georgia, and they impacted the game.
The first series for Arkansas on offense, our crowd was extremely disruptive. I thought our crowd impacted
the blocked punt in terms of cadence and things like that, which forced a touchdown. So, I give our crowd, the
fans, at least 10 points ‐‐ and that’s big. We were patient today but aggressive, and that’s hard to beat. It’s
hard to beat that in football, but we were patient and aggressive, and that’s important. We preached that all
week ‐‐ one series at a time, not getting ahead of ourselves. I felt like Arkansas had a really good team, but
that if we were patient while still being aggressive and physical that we could at least impose some of our own
will. I have a lot of respect for Sam (Pittman) and his staff and their team, they have a really good football
team, but today our crowd was very impactful.”

On the run game….
“Well, it’s called scheme. I mean, it’s not a reinvigorated run game as much as it is you take what they give
you. And we felt like it was important to play the game patient, but you’re aggressive. And I would have
definitely thought there might have been 53 runs in this game, 57 runs, whatever there were because that
was the kind of game plan that we needed to approach it with. And you know that it might be different next
week. The best teams I’ve ever been around can take on the personality of what they need to take on. I’m
really proud of the offensive line. I’m proud of the offensive coaching staff. We did an incredible job game‐
planning against what is a very good defense, in my opinion, a very good defense. And they did a really good
job of game‐planning for that. So it had nothing to do with Stetson Bennett, the quarterback, it had nothing to
do with a reinvigorated running game, it had to do with what we thought it took to win.”

#13 Stetson Bennett | Sr. | QB

On how well Georgia ran the ball…
“We knew we were going to have to (run it well) with the defense they run. They drop eight on every play …
They are just robbing with your eyes, and it is hard to throw the ball. We knew ‐‐ the offensive line knew, the
running backs knew, the wide receivers knew, the tight ends knew ‐‐ that their job this week was to run the
ball, and that is what we did.”

On having something to prove this week…
“We know how good we are. We know what it takes to be good every week. We know that we can lose to a
team any week. It does not matter how good they are if we do not go out and execute. We do not really care
what the rankings say. We just go out there and do our job. When we do it really well, and we execute, we are
pretty good.”

#17 Nakobe Dean | Jr. | LB

On the defense getting early stops…
“Every time we get on the field, we are pushing for a three and out. That is just the standard. If they do not
score, they cannot win. We just try to do our job and get them off the field and get the offense the ball.”

Head Coach Sam Pittman

Opening statement…
“I just want to start out by congratulating Georgia. They have ‐‐ at this point ‐‐ by far the best football team
we played. Kirby had his team ready, and I didn’t ‐‐ that is the bottom line. There were a lot of mistakes in the
game. But the bottom line is that we were not where we needed to be physically yet because they dominated
on both sides of the ball. Certainly, our special teams early in the game were not productive. We wanted to
come in and start fast, take their crowd out of the game, and the opposite happened. They put us in a hole,
and we couldn’t climb out of it because of their physicality.”

On his takeaways from the game…
“Well, a bunch of it was that we started in a hole. We worked on the movement and all that but definitely not
enough because we had several jump offsides. You know, it is hard to get 10 against Georgia let alone 15 and
on the first one it was 20. Guys, I don’t want to simplify this, but they just whipped us physically. It wasn’t guys
in the backfield turned loose or anything like that, we just couldn’t block them. We couldn’t get our blocks a
lot of the day. Then, when we did, it took us a long time to get them on the ground. We have to get better,
and we will. But today they just were more physical than us and kind of played bully ball on us and made us
like it. We didn’t like it but there was nothing we could do about it at times in the game. They were just rolling
us out of there on both sides of the line of scrimmage.”

#31 Grant Morgan | R‐Sr. | LB

On the game…
“That was a really good football team. You have to be able to say the facts. We came in thinking we would
have to play a perfect game to be able to win the game. Just be us. We didn’t win any of the three phases –
special teams, offense, or defense… We have to not let this let make it into two. We have to be able to go back
and start preparing for Ole Miss.”

#78 Dalton Wagner | R‐Sr. | OL

On the UGA defense…
“It was a great football team. Those guys are coached extremely well. It’s an elite group. They are the number
one defense and (ranked) number two in the country for a reason.”

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