A offensive performance has top-ranked Georgia geared up to generate points when it hosts UAB on Saturday night in Athens, Ga.
The Bulldogs overcame a 14-3 halftime deficit to post a 24-14 victory over visiting South Carolina behind rushing touchdowns from running backs Daijun Edwards and Cash Jones and wideout Dillon Bell.
But issues in the red zone, with and without the ball, have head coach Kirby Smart fired up to fix the shortcomings before the Bulldogs hit the road next week for the first time this season.
Edwards finished with team highs in carries (20) and yards (118) and scored on a 7-yard run. Jones had two carries for 20 yards and added one reception for 11 yards. Bell had seven carries for 23 yards and added a 16-yard reception.
Quarterback Carson Beck connected with nine different receivers and completed 27 of 35 passes for 269 yards in his first Southeastern Conference start. Despite having just 98 yards through the air at halftime — with his longest completion just 11 yards — Beck found his rhythm in the second half and led the Bulldogs (3-0) to their first conference win.
“He did a good job,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “He throws the ball downfield well. I thought he got rid of the ball when he had to, made plays with his feet and took off running. I thought Carson did a tremendous job of being the commander of this offense.”
Georgia entered the red zone six times versus South Carolina but only scored three touchdowns.
“Things weren’t working out,” Beck said. “We weren’t executing on all levels. We got down to the red zone two or three times, we just weren’t able to punch it in, which we’ve got to do better at.”
Kicker Peyton Woodring missed two field goals — one was blocked — after making his first attempt of the game, a 31-yarder, on the Bulldogs’ opening drive.
Woodring is 3 of 6 on field goal attempts and has missed two inside the 30-yard line. Attempts from 28 and 43 yards go in the books as misses.
“We’ve seen much better in practice,” Smart said. “We’ve got to do something there.”
UAB (1-2) opened the season with a 35-6 win over North Carolina A&T in the debut of head coach Trent Dilfer. The Blazers, however dropped a 49-35 decision to Georgia Southern and 41-21 setback to Louisiana in subsequent weeks.
Quarterback Jacob Zeno (956 yards and six touchdowns passing, 94 yards rushing and two scores) and wideout Samario Rudolph (14 receptions for 127 yards and a TD) have been the top playmakers on offense.
But UAB has had trouble running the ball and stopping opposing offenses. The Blazers have averaged 125 yards on the ground and are permitting 32 points per game.
If UAB has any chance at pulling an upset in primetime, it will have to get better production in both areas.
“As Blazers, we got to get better at football,” Dilfer said. “We got to get better at coaching. We got to get better at running this building. The challenge only gets greater playing a, not good, but great Georgia team at their place.”
UAB is playing a No. 1-ranked team for the first time in program history. The Bulldogs lead the series 3-0.
–Field Level Media