No. 10 Georgia looks to rebound against Kentucky

Field Level Media

October 16, 2019 at 1:33 am.

It’s back to the drawing board for No. 10 Georgia when the Bulldogs host Kentucky Saturday night (6 p.m., ESPN).

Kirby Smart’s squad was surprised at home last week by unranked South Carolina in double overtime 20-17, a defeat due largely to an uncharacteristic ugly game by quarterback Jake Fromm, who threw a career-worst three interceptions — his first three of the season — while also fumbling an exchange with center Trey Hill.

Although the loss certainly stung, it didn’t necessarily derail the Bulldogs’ postseason plans — providing, of course, they can beat the Wildcats (3-3, 1-3 SEC).

“We have to correct those mistakes, and our guys have to focus on Kentucky. The most important thing for us is Kentucky. And that’s us getting better,” Smart said. “A lot of it has to do with us inherently looking at ourselves and saying, ‘Okay, what can I improve upon?’ But a lot of the things that we can improve upon are based on what Kentucky does — offensively, defensively and special teams — and that’s where our focus will be.”

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops — whose team topped Arkansas 24-20 on Saturday — is expecting the Bulldogs (5-1, 2-1) to be at their best.

“Knowing Georgia, the way they’re coached, the coaches that they have and the leadership they have on that team, the winning attitude, it will be a very difficult time going in there this week,” Stoops said. “We have to make sure we elevate our game because I’m quite sure that Georgia is going to bounce back in a strong way and be ready to play.”

However, the Wildcats added a wrinkle last week that could cause the Bulldogs some problems.

With regular starting quarterback Sawyer Smith banged up, Stoops turned to wide receiver Lynn Bowden to make his first career start. All he did was account for three touchdowns, rushing for 196 yards while throwing for 78, enabling Kentucky to snap what was a three-game losing streak.

“I have to recognize Lynn, his willingness to accept that role. Was really pleased, I guess somewhat surprised in some ways in the control and composure he had throughout the entire game,” Stoops said. “I really (thought he was) exceptional under the situation that he was under. I appreciate him.”

Smart was certainly impressed.

“He’s extremely athletic. I tell you what, the guy does a phenomenal job. I think their staff does a great job of using his skill set,” he said of Bowden. “And you think when he’s back there he’s not going to throw it, but it becomes harder to defend him because you let the pass creep out of your mind and then he hits two or three big passes.”

For his part, Smart just wants to see his team clean up the mistakes that cost them against the Gamecocks.

If they can do that, Georgia’s head coach sees no reason why his Bulldogs can’t get back on track.

“I don’t think that we had a major lack of focus there. I don’t think that was the case at all. I thought the guys’ focus was tuned in. I thought in pregame warmups, for me, I want to see more physicality, more get-going,” Smart said. “I thought that had a little bit to do with the early start, getting them going in the locker room. But there was good preparation, good leadup. Really felt good about that.

“And give South Carolina credit, they had a lot of it. But, again, the focus for us better be on Kentucky, because you can’t let South Carolina beat you twice.”