The game last night between Georgia and Clemson was the epitome of a throwback.
Only 13 total points were scored in the entire game and the only touchdown came on a 74-yard pick-six by Georgia’s Christopher Smith in the second quarter.
The game was a classic hard-hitting, defensive battle, and a refreshing change of pace from the offensive showcases that have dominated college football for the past few seasons. Don’t get me wrong, 50-point shootouts can be fun to watch, but getting a 10-3 old school, grind-out game can be just as exciting for the college football fan.
Last night in Charlotte, the emphasis on the pass rush, field position, and team discipline was crucial. It felt like every little mistake was magnified because a false start on first down could be the difference between a three and out or putting points on the board.
Georgia’s defense was masterful the entire night. They pressured Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei relentlessly and sacked him 7 times. Uiagalelei was noticeably uncomfortable the majority of the game because of the pass rush and it impacted his pocket awareness severely. Georgia also took away the run from the Tigers by holding Clemson to only two yards rushing for the game. This forced Clemson to be one-dimensional and Uiagalelei and the offensive line didn’t have an answer.
Clemson’s defense was also stellar despite the loss. But they had a harder time getting Georgia off the field on third down and the Bulldogs were able to establish a running game, which made things slightly easier for quarterback JT Daniels when he had to pass. The offense ended up doing just enough for the Bulldogs to squeak out of Charlotte with a huge W for their college football playoff implications.
The fact of the matter is that the Georgia defense put on one of the most impressive displays of team defense from any program in the last five years. They smothered what many people thought would be an explosive offense. Early in the season, defenses can sometimes be ahead of offenses, but when you have the athletes that Georgia has on that front seven, they’ll be able to beat a lot of good teams in this same fashion. This could be one of those groups we look back on in a few years that has seven or eight NFL starters.
The offense will have to improve before a potential matchup with Alabama, who throttled Miami yesterday and seems to have picked up right where they left off. You won’t be able to score 3 points on offense and beat that team in Tuscaloosa.
Yet, if Daniels can get this offense connecting on big plays down the field and they stay balanced, this defense could carry Georgia straight into the playoff and maybe even further.