Who said anything about looking ahead?
With a top-10 matchup against Notre Dame looming next week, all of Georgia’s focus was instead on Arkansas State in Sanford Stadium on Saturday. The Bulldogs (3-0) jumped all over the Red Wolves (1-2) and cruised to an easy victory by a 55-0 margin.
“I’m proud of our players,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said after the game. “I thought that their approach to playing this game and this team, they approached this team with a lot of respect, which I did too.”
Georgia dominated from the jump, limiting Arkansas State on offense while itself scoring on all but one first-half possession.
By game’s end, the Bulldogs had outgained the Red Wolves in total yards 656-220.
Jake Fromm had a standout day in just over a half of action, completing 17-of-22 passes for 279 yards and three touchdowns. Running back D’Andre Swift also had a fantastic all-around day, registering 76 yards rushing along with 64 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Now, all eyes can officially turn to next Saturday night’s showdown with the Irish in Athens after a dominating performance between the hedges.
No sluggishness here
Last week the Bulldogs came out of the gate slow, ending the first quarter against Murray State in a 7-7 deadlock.
However, Smart and his staff made sure there would be no lack of energy to start the game against Arkansas State.
The Bulldogs led 13-0 after the first quarter, scored another touchdown on the first play of the second quarter and led 34-0 by the time the first half came to a close.
“[Smart] just said to just come out and just play our standard,” defensive back Eric Stokes said. “We just try and set the bar because I know that we’re going against each other.”
In what was undoubtedly the most impressive half of football for the Bulldogs so far this season, they outgained Arkansas State 382-81 in the first half. This includes a 267-74 advantage in the passing game and limiting the Red Wolves to just seven yards rushing on 13 attempts.
Georgia came out and kept extending the lead after halftime, but effectively, this game was over by halftime.
Secondary shuts down the aerial attack
Arkansas State is a team that likes to throw the ball around and get it out quick to its numerous talented receivers. In the leadup to the game, Smart said his corners would have to win some individual battles with the Red Wolves on the outside.
Now that the dust has settled, it’s safe to say the Bulldog defensive backs won that battle.
The Red Wolves were limited to 177 passing yards for the game, with the first-string defense holding the Arkansas State air game to just 74 yards in the first half.
“When Coach challenges us like that, we take it on. That was the main thing we’ve been preaching all week,” said safety J.R. Reed. “We knew we were going to have to win that, and we showed up big.”
The most impressive performance was turned in by sophomore Tyson Campbell. In the first half alone, he was credited with a trio of pass breakups and had outstanding coverage on a couple more plays.
Stokes, Tyrique Stevenson and Lewis Cine all registered pass breakups as well, with Cine capping things off with his first career interception late in the fourth quarter. Heading into a matchup with Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book next week, Smart has to have a little more confidence in the play of his secondary.
Injury bug bites key Bulldogs
There was a bit of bad news on Saturday for Georgia, as a pair of key contributors exited early with injuries.
Campbell left late in the first half with what was termed a right foot injury and did not return.
Receiver Tyler Simmons left with a right shoulder injury in the first quarter after being thrown down out of bounds. He also did not return to the game.
“I’m not sure on Tyler, we’ll have to see Monday,” Smart said. “We think he’s going to be OK. He bumped his shoulder on the sideline...I think he could’ve played if he’d had to.”
Smart also said receiver Demetis Robertson had some “nagging injuries” and “wasn’t able to finish out.”
“It would be a big loss if either Simmons or Campbell could not play against the Fighting Irish next week. Campbell played well and has been starting at corner opposite Stokes, while Simmons is a starter at receiver and also the primary punt returner.