Here is how Georgia grades following its 40-17 loss to Auburn.
Georgia posted remarkable grades all season long and then had an uncharacteristic game against the Tigers. Thing is, Georgia started strong as if it would be in for a big day. Quarterback Jake Fromm completed his first three passes for 56 yards and seemed comfortable with his decision making. From there, Georgia leaned heavily on the run and could never get it going. As a team, Georgia finished with a season-low 46 rushing yards. Fromm finished 13-of-28 passing for 184 yards, with his scoring throw coming late in the game.
Georgia entered Saturday’s game giving up an average of only 89 rushing yards per game. The Bulldogs then allowed Auburn to total 237 rushing yards, which included 167 from Kerryon Johnson. Johnson proved to be the best back Georgia has faced this year as he didn’t have a problem finding holes up the middle or hitting big gainers outside. The defense also allowed a 42-yard touchdown bomb from Jarrett Stidham to Darius Slayton in the second quarter. Georgia entered the day giving up 300 total yards in only one game this season. It ended up surrendering 488 total yards to Auburn.
Special teams: C-
Georgia was done for good after Mecole Hardman’s muffed punt early in the third quarter. Down 16-7, Hardman was unable to secure a fair catch and Auburn got the ball back. The Tigers converted the turnover into a touchdown and never looked back. Rodrigo Blankenship missed a 42-yarder that would have cut Auburn’s lead to six points at the second quarter buzzer. The special teams units did have some positive moments as Hardman had a good day returning the ball on kickoffs. Cameron Nizialek posted a net punting average of 44.6 yards per attempt with a long of 58.
This grade mostly has to do with the in-game adjustments, or lack thereof, that Georgia made in this game. In the first half, the Bulldogs called only eight passing plays after Fromm’s start on the first drive. While head coach Kirby Smart worried about Auburn’s pass rush, opting to run so much negated Fromm’s ability to take advantage of Wims in man coverage on the outside. Wims came down with two jump balls on his first two catches. While Fromm threw three passes on Georgia’s first drive, he only totaled five the rest of the first half. While it was a hostile road environment, there was no need to keep Fromm from letting loose in Auburn. Throw in the undisciplined penalties (seven for 75 yards) and you ended up having a recipe for disaster, which Smart took blame for after the game.