ATHENS — Georgia football found two things it was previously lacking on its road trip Tennessee, and they came from the most unlikely of places.
The 2019 Bulldogs, it seems, are finally finding their personality.
Every championship team has some degree of so-called “Swag.” It’s an air of confidence most evident by how key players carry themselves.
Or, in the case of QB Jake Fromm after the 43-14 win over the rival Vols on Saturday night, the Swag could be heard.
Fromm, often vanilla and carefully proper in each interview, exited the postgame press conference signing Rocky Top. Not just humming, and not just singly quietly to himself, but in a manner that put an exclamation point on his 2-0 dominance in a rival stadium.
“Good Ol’ Rocky Top, Woo!” Fromm belted out, sounding as though he had some degree of choir training in his background.
Fromm’s celebration was captured on social media and went viral.
Jake Fromm leaves media availability singing a little jingle:
“Goooood Ole Rocky Top, Woo!” pic.twitter.com/UwH87Cvhwk
— Dylan Webber (@Dylanlwebber) October 6, 2019
Bulldogs fans enjoyed catching a hint of Fromm’s ultra-competitive personality and fun-loving spirit, all rolled up into that ear-opening moment.
The UGA defense let its play make a statement earlier in the game with a pair of intimidating hits in the secondary.
Georgia, for all its success on that side of the ball, had lacked the sort of edge two of the smallest players exhibited in the 43-14 win over the Vols in Neyland Stadium.
First, it was 5-foot-11, 190-pound safety Richard LeCounte bringing the hat on 6-4, 257-pound Tennessee tight end Dominick Wood-Anderson. LeCounte delivered a shot the former JUCO All-American will not soon forget.
Next up it was spindly 6-1, 185-pound cornerback Eric Stokes crushing unsuspecting Vols freshman Brian Maurer with a vicious — but clean — hit. Stokes perfect form tackle separated the first-time starting QB from the ball, leading to Tae Crowder’s 60-yard fumble return for a TD.
A shot pic.twitter.com/82CeRW06s3
— CFB Home (@CFBHome) October 6, 2019
More confidence on offense, more Havoc on defense — it was about all Kirby Smart could have asked for on Saturday night.
Here are 3 more observations from the win over the Vols:
Competition for carries
The story of Brian Herrien being a hard-working backup has been a popular narrative. But Herrien’s efficiency in the Georgia run scheme and success in short-yardage could make him a threat to take Red Zone and goal line carries from D’Andre Swift.
Brian Herrien @brianherrienn with an amazing run!!!
— HRKK (Hiro Katsuki) (@KatsukiFB) October 6, 2019
Swift has been contained by Notre Dame and Tennessee the past two games, not breaking a run longer than 23 yards on his 35 carries. Swift’s running style seems most effective when he’s searching out cutback lanes.
Speaking of competition, James Cook has just one carry for minus-4 yards in the last two games and appears to have cornered the “decoy” role in the offense. It’s puzzling considering Cook’s 8 carries for 103 yards through the first three games, and Smart’s lofty praise and talk of finding ways to get him the ball throughout the offseason and preseason.
If Smart’s decision to promote Dan Lanning looks as good in the second half of the season as it does in the second half of the past two games, Georgia will be playing for a championship.
Tennessee ran 11 plays in the third quarter of Saturday night’s game and gained only 15 yards.
In the Bulldogs’ previous game, Lanning’s defense limited Notre Dame to 9 plays for 19 yards.
Smart said it was a matter of review at the half.
“We just went over what they had done,” Smart said. “We got over what they did in the first half; a lot of times teams repeat plays and we were better prepared for them. Some of them were ones we hadn’t seen, and we were able to execute at a little bit higher rate.”
Touchdowns, not field goals
James Coley’s next challenge is to solve short-yardage and Red Zone issues with scheming and play calls, because everyone knows it’s not a matter of talent.
The Bulldogs had three field goals and two touchdowns in the 23-17 win over Notre Dame, Smart lacking the confidence to go for a fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter of the win over the Irish.
Against Tennessee, Georgia had three field goals and four offensive touchdowns, and saw Swift stopped on a third-and-2 and fourth-and-1 on successive plays against one of the SEC’s thinnest and defensive fronts.
“Our offense was doing a good job moving it, we just couldn’t get touchdowns and had to keep kicking field goals,” Smart said.
“Eventually you’re going to play a really good team and you need touchdowns not field goals.”
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