UGA Football

Five at the half: Notes and thoughts at halftime of Georgia-Kentucky

Here are five notes and thoughts at halftime, with Georgia leading Kentucky 21-6.

Slow start, strong finish to half

Having a week to stew over being blown out at Auburn, Georgia's offense did not start too well.

The first quarter opened with the Bulldogs being forced to punt. Quarterback Jake Fromm threw an interception on Georgia's second drive, which resulted in a Kentucky field goal. It took some time before Georgia came back to Fromm throwing the ball.

But Fromm would go on to finish the half 8-of-12 passing for 108 yards, a touchdown and the pick. And Georgia's run game was able to get it going a little bit as the half went on. Nick Chubb punched in his 11th rushing touchdown of the season in the first quarter, with the Bulldogs totaling 122 yards on the ground.

The Bulldogs were able to get a couple of second-quarter touchdowns to put some distance between the Wildcats. Perhaps being his most impressive touchdown of the season, Sony Michel hit a hole on the right side of the offensive line and turned upfield as hard as he has maybe all season long. Michel then dove into the end zone to complete a 37-yard touchdown.

First-down play calling

As mentioned above, the offense started slow to open the game. Some of it, perhaps, had to do with the first-down play calling over the first 25 or so minutes of the game.

A week after not showing a threat to pass the ball on early downs, the Bulldogs stayed with the same game-plan early. Georgia ran the ball on its first nine first-down plays, offering little threat to throw the ball, Kentucky, like Auburn a week ago, keyed in on the ground game and kept the rushing yardage from getting out of control.

It took a while but the pattern finally broke late in the second quarter. With a little over five minutes to go in the half, Fromm completed a 16-yard pass to Terry Godwin. On the next play, Fromm hit Javon Wims for a 27-yard touchdown. Those were the first two first-down throws of the half.

Georgia then opened it up on first down on the next drive. Perhaps this is a sign of things to come.

Stopping Snell

The key coming into this game was for Georgia's defense to slow down running back Benny Snell, a week after it was gashed by Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson.

Through the first two quarters, Snell totaled nine carries for 33 yards. 

It will be imperative for Georgia to keep Snell from breaking loose over the final two quarters. Snell is the focal point of Kentucky's offense and made Georgia pay quite a bit late in last year's meeting.

Nizialek, Blankenship avoid scares

A year ago, punter Marshall Long suffered a season-ending knee injury a couple of days before the Auburn game.

For a moment, it looked like Georgia was in danger of having a punter go down with a serious knee injury for the second consecutive year. On Cameron Nizialek's first punting attempt, Kentucky defensive back Lonnie Johnson Jr. plowed into his leg.

Nizialek grabbed his left knee and writhed in pain on the turf.

Rodrigo Blankenship appeared to tweak something on an extra-point attempt. But after taking some time and some practice reps, he was able to continue playing. 

Big Country's first start

In an attempt to spark the offensive line, the Georgia coaching staff decided to go with Ben Cleveland as a starter at right guard on the offensive line. It was Cleveland's first start of his young career.

Cleveland got the nod over Solomon Kindley, who was Georgia's starter at the position the previous eight games. For some fans, this was a long time coming. Cleveland is a mountain of a man at 6-foot-6 and 340 pounds. Nicknamed "Big Country," Cleveland was replaced for a bit in the lineup by Kindley in the second quarter.