For much of the season, Georgia’s receiving core has been the one area of the offense that hasn’t lived up to expectations coming into the season. A primary reason for that has been injuries, which the team had to deal with again on Saturday night against the Buckeyes. However, with everything on the line, this group of pass catchers rose to the occasion.
Sophomore Arian Smith led the way with 129 yards on three catches, which included the turning point in the entire game — a 76-yard touchdown with under nine minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
“I seen that he was playing hard inside leverage. The safety was down. When I was running I was kind of peeking inside, but I was looking at him [and saw] a lot of breathing room. So I seen the safety bite real hard on play action, so I knew I had to win,” Smith said, via 247 Sports. “I gave him a little jab. I guess the rest handled itself.”
Coming into the game, Smith only had 59 yards receiving on the entire season, which is just a testament to Georgia’s incredible depth across the roster. Both teams suffered critical injuries, but it was the Bulldogs’ depth pieces that rose to the occasion.
Credit has to be given to Stetson Bennett, who did a marvelous job spreading the ball around the entire night. He finished with 398 yards through the air, completing passes to 10 different receivers.
On the final drive, it was a 35-yard deep shot over the middle to Kearis Jackson — his first reception of the contest — before Bennett finished the job once again, hitting AD Mitchell in the corner of the endzone for a 15-yard touchdown pass.
Mitchell, a sophomore, was one of the heroes in the National Championship Game a year ago, catching the go-ahead touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. He was supposed to be a critical piece to the Georgia passing attack this season, but injuries have limited him to just four games. In the game’s biggest moment, though, none of that mattered.
The Bulldogs win over the Buckeyes Saturday was a testament to what Kirby Smart has created in Athens. This is a game they were probably supposed to lose. In the past, Georgia fans would have left the stadium wondering “what could have been,” exactly how Ohio State fans are feeling right now. However, Smart has instilled a sense of confidence in every player that is a part of this program. He’s the most prepared coach in the country, and this is the most prepared team in the country. On Saturday, with everything on the line, that’s what mattered most, which is why the Dawgs are heading to the National Championship for a second straight season.
Photo: Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire
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