UGA Football

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart addresses the plan at quarterback (sort of)

As multiple questions arose from reporters about the quarterback rotations, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart didn’t have much to reveal.

He tried to pull off his best acting move by seemingly starting to explain his reasoning, then paused. Smart’s eyes widened in frustration with reporters, a finger was pointed for dramatic effect, then the response was the same.

“The plan is ...” Smart said. “... there is no plan.”

As the large host of media erupted in laughter and thought the response was in a joking manner, Smart was stoic and emotionless. Georgia (5-0, 3-0 SEC) wasn’t going to divulge any of its offensive plan.

But in the 38-12 win over Tennessee Saturday, it was as if the Bulldogs truly didn’t have a plan at times.

Quarterbacks Jake Fromm and Justin Fields split time at the position, which has been the case throughout most of the season. But none of the rotations showed a pattern. In fact, the two quarterbacks would sometimes switch from play-to-play.

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Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm tips his hat as he and the Bulldogs get ready for Tennessee. Georgia beat Tennessee, 38-12. Beau Cabell bcabell@macon.com

Fromm had some early overthrown passes, didn’t receive ideal pass protection and Georgia’s offense was stagnant at times in his 185-yard performance. The “spark,” Smart said, came from Fields with his dual-threat abilities as he recorded two 15-yard rushing touchdowns.

“It wasn’t the cleanest or what we had hoped,” Fromm said. “That’s football, and we will watch film on it and get better for next Saturday.

Here’s what else we learned from another Bulldogs’ conference win.

Brian Herrien’s ‘juice’

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Georgia running back Elijah Holyfield (13) rushes for a first down during fourth quarter action. Georgia beat Tennessee, 38-12. Beau Cabell bcabell@macon.com

Tennessee had second-half momentum and an opportunity to creep back into contention against the second-ranked Bulldogs. But as the scoreboard stood at 24-12, Georgia received an unexpected contribution.

Brian Herrien, Georgia’s junior running back who stands third-to-fourth on the depth chart, got his chance with three carries on four plays. And he delivered with runs of 11, nine and six yards — including a nifty spin move.

Herrien finished with 56 yards on nine carries. It was his highest total since an 82-yard performance against South Carolina as a freshman.

“He gave us a lot of juice,” fellow running back Elijah Holyfield said. “He always runs like that. He’s a hard runner and physical. That spin move, got us all hype with that.”

Better run defense

After Tennessee running back Ty Chandler broke off a 17-yard run down the right sideline, it looked as if Georgia’s run defense would be in more trouble. It was the first play from scrimmage, but then the Bulldogs returned to form and finished with only 66 rushing yards allowed.

Georgia’s improvements were led by the return of the Bulldogs’ sophomore linebacker Monty Rice, who said, “If you don’t stop the run, then you lose.” A close call against Missouri and 172 yards allowed gave motivation to the run stoppers.

But as expected, Smart wants better.

“The result is not what’s important. I think everybody looks at the result,” Smart said. “I’m looking at it like this guy didn’t line up right, this guy didn’t play the right technique, and we gave up a nine-yard run. If you can improve that, you give up 54 (yards), you give up 55, and it changes.”

Looking ahead

Georgia returns to Sanford Stadium to host Vanderbilt (7:30 p.m., SEC Network) on Saturday. Vanderbilt (3-2, 0-1 SEC) returns to SEC play after a 31-27 home win over Tennessee State. The Commodores beat Georgia in their last trip to Athens, a 17-16 win in 2016.

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