Here are four halftime thoughts as Georgia leads Kentucky 14-3 at Kroger Field.
Defensive success on Snell, but Kentucky finding other ways
Georgia’s defense had a primary target of containing Kentucky running back Benny Snell, and it has been successful through 30 minutes of play. Against a group that has shown its deficiencies in stopping the run, Snell has recorded 61 yards on 17 carries.
Snell entered with a season average of 120 rushing yards per game, so he is on pace to eclipse it. His average, however, is only at 3.6 yards per carry. Snell was removed on Kentucky’s final drive of the half to be evaluated by trainers.
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It is evident that Snell is the workhorse of the Wildcats’ offensive attack due to his heavy volume, and was able to gain a sense of momentum with runs of 7-and-11 yards on the second offensive drive. But Kentucky has found other ways to reach a 130-yard mark.
Kentucky’s first play from scrimmage was an 11-yard completion from quarterback Terry Wilson to wide receiver Isaiah Epps, and Wilson has continued to find his targets. He has 66 yards on 9-of-11 passing — a few of which have come on screen completions.
Kentucky was limited to three points due to Georgia stiffening its defense in the latter stages of drives, however. Freshman Brenton Cox recorded his first-career sack on a third-down play in Bulldogs’ territory to force a punt. Then, Kentucky place-kicker Chance Poore was held to a field goal after Channing Tindall recorded a sack in the red zone.
After not playing against Florida, Georgia re-introduced freshman quarterback Justin Fields back into action in the second quarter.
Georgia was in the midst of what would result in a 20-yard touchdown run by sophomore D’Andre Swift, and Fields entered for consecutive plays. He had a 6-yard rush and a 1-yard loss on the following play, then was replaced by Jake Fromm.
Lamont Gaillard injured, yet to return
Georgia’s offensive line injury pattern strikes yet again. On its first offensive drive, senior center Lamont Gaillard hobbled off to the sideline with an apparent leg injury after a second-down play.
Trey Hill, a true freshman out of Houston County, entered the game and Georgia recorded a 4-yard touchdown completion from Isaac Nauta on the following play, so it didn’t seem to be a major cause for concern. That is, until the inexperience of Hill played a factor two drives later.
After Georgia forced a fumble from Kentucky tight end CJ Conrad (which killed a Wildcat drive that had potential to result in points), the Bulldogs began to creep toward the red zone. A second-down snap then went awry, Fromm couldn’t gather the exchange and Josh Allen recovered for the Wildcats.
Gaillard was seen on an exercise bike on the sideline and has yet to return to the rotation.
Hardman gives Georgia a fast start
Three minutes hadn’t even elapsed in the first quarter when the crowd dynamic quickly changed. After a mass of Kentucky fans were loudly anticipating kickoff, the large section of Georgia red in the corner of the end zone came alive.
Georgia forced a punt on Kentucky’s opening drive, despite the aforementioned first-down pass, and then Bulldog wide receiver Mecole Hardman found a hole on a punt return. He fielded the punt at the 12-yard line, juked past a few Wildcat defenders and suddenly had a 65-yard return.
Hardman has had a punt return of 20 yards or more in four consecutive games.