Georgia is the wrecking ball of college football, visiting destruction on each of its opponents. No one has come remotely close to threatening the Bulldogs through three games, and Kent State doesn’t figure to change that reality in Week 4.
By Matt Zemek
However, there are a few things worth noting about this Kent State team, and that forms part of the backdrop as the Dawgs play one more nonconference game before settling into a long stretch of SEC play.
1 – First-half urgency and energy
One thing to note about Kent State is that the Golden Flashes held the Oklahoma Sooners to just seven first-half points in Week 2 of the season. Kent State baffled Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who (let’s remember) was a prolific quarterback at UCF before transferring to the Sooners. You saw Oklahoma dominate Nebraska in Week 3. There was no good reason for OU to score just seven points against Kent State in a whole half of football. That also tells you, however, that Kent State is capable of playing good defense. The Sooners didn’t devote a lot of focus to that first half, but KSU was prepared and attentive, and it enabled the Golden Flashes to exceed expectations against Oklahoma. That should be a lesson for Georgia, and you can be sure Kirby Smart and his staff are going to mention this in the days leading up to kickoff: Don’t mess around in the first half.
2 – Throw on Kent State
This is a game made for Stetson Bennett and the Georgia passing game. If you took note of what happened when Kent State played Washington in Week 1 of this season, UW quarterback Michael Penix threw for 345 yards against the Golden Flashes. Washington plays physical but precise football and tries to hit big plays with its receivers. That approach was very successful against Kent State. Bennett can throw the ball early and take advantage of the Kent State secondary. Georgia can build a big early lead and then spend the second half running the ball and shortening the game while giving backups the playing time which is part of player development and program building in situations such as this one.
3 – No touchdowns
Georgia gave up a garbage-time touchdown to South Carolina. We’re not going to sit here and say that’s unacceptable; it’s ridiculous to be that judgmental or disapproving of something which is relatively cosmetic, especially when the backups gave it up. Yet, Georgia giving up touchdowns was a rare event last year. It didn’t happen in the first two games. This contest against Kent State shouldn’t be very challenging in a larger sense, so when lopsided games come along, players need to find internal ways of challenging themselves. It’s obvious: Try not to allow a single touchdown and make that a goal. It’s not a high-stakes goal, but it’s a way of assigning meaning to every snap, even if this is a 45-point game in the fourth quarter.