The Georgia Bulldogs defense stepped up and proved they’re for real this afternoon by shutting down the (supposedly) potent Mississippi State offense. The Georgia D has looked great the past two weeks in the Dawg’s first two wins, but that was against Coastal Carolina and Ole Miss, not exactly the best competition.
This week, against a big threat offense, the Georgia defense came out strong and Defensive Coordinator Todd Grantham kept his defense playing strong for four quarters.
The first half was absolutely dominated by the Georgia defense. Mississippi State mustered only 21 rushing yards and 121 total yards. Mississippi State’s two leading rushers just couldn’t get anything going.
Despite two turnovers, the Dawgs’ defense held strong, allowing only three points. Junior cornerback Sanders Commings answered Murray’s second interception with a pick of his own at the Georgia 3-yard line, returning it to the 19-yard line.
Georgia answered after the Commings interception with an eight-play, 81-yard touchdown drive, at least a 10 and possibly 14-point swing for Georgia.
In their run-heavy offense, star MSU running back Vick Ballard gained only six rushing yards the first half as Georgia took a 21-3 lead into the half.
The first series for MSU of the second half ended with backup quarterback Dylan Farve sacked by Jarvis Jones—the last of five Georgia sacks on the day—setting up third and long and an eventual punt. Georgia’s offense promptly went three-and-out and gave the ball right to Mississippi State and the Dawgs’ defense came up big again.
After a Drew Butler punt, MSU started with the ball on their own 25. Again, Georgia held Mississippi State to a three and out, gaining only one yard. Then, Georgia recovered a mishandled snap on the punt, setting them up at the Mississippi State 14-yard line.
Unfortunately, Georgia wasn’t able to score after a botched field goal attempt and the Dawgs went back to leaning on their defense, a squad playing inspired football all afternoon.
Dominant in the first half, the Georgia offense slowed down in the second half, but the Dawgs’ defense held strong and never gave the Mississippi offense a chance to get going.
At 3:21 left in the third quarter, after Brandon Boykin caused a MSU fumble, Sanders Commings recovered the ball and gave Georgia fantastic field position again, starting at the MSU 15.
Georgia’s subsequent drive led to a 23-yard Blair Walsh field goal that gave the Dawgs a three-touchdown lead, which would prove more than enough for this Georgia defense.
The Georgia defense put the last nail in MSU’s coffin early in the fourth quarter when Relf threw incomplete on 4th-and-12 and the Dawgs took over on downs. Sean Williams ended the game with an interception with just over one minute left in the game and Georgia was able to run the clock out for a 24-10 victory.
Give credit to big nose tackles John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers who both did a great job all day stuffing up the middle and stopping the Mississippi State running game. MSU ended up with only 56 rushing yards, just barely over a quarter of their 217.5 season average coming into the game.
The MSU passing attack was virtually nonexistent with Sanders Commings and the Georgia secondary had an outstanding game. MSU only mustered 156 yards through the air with no touchdowns and two picks. Commings and Brandon Boykin also each had a dropped interception, both of which looked like they would have gone for six.
Todd Grantham enjoyed his best day since joining the Bulldog’s staff last season. This was a breakout game for Georgia’s new 3-4 scheme that Grantham brought in last season.
Mississippi State did add a fourth quarter touchdown on when Darius Slay returned a Murray interception for a touchdown, but the MSU offense was held to only 213 total yards and three offensive points.
SEC teams are not going to be looking forward to their date with the Bulldogs for the rest of the season. With the offense thriving, Georgia’s defense is going to keep them in every game left to play in Georgia’s relatively weak remaining schedule.
The toughest game left on the season for the Dawgs will almost certainly be against Florida in Jacksonville. But if the defense continues to stop the run, Demps and Rainey could have a long day and it may just be a happy ending to the Cocktail Party this year.
Game notes: Sanders Commings had a career-type day with three tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery. Brandon Boykin left the game late in the fourth quarter after being kneed in the back of the head by a teammate. Boykin did not return to the game but appeared to be fine on the sideline.