Georgia has another lopsided win, and this team seems like real deal

Georgia tailbacks Sony Michel (left) and Nick Chubb celebrate a 41-0 victory over Tennessee with fans at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee Saturday. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Is this when we jump?

Win a big game at Notre Dame. Flatten its first two SEC opponents. Spend four quarters of bliss in a stadium that in recent history has seemed more like an oversized petri dish containing flesh-eating bacteria, goal posts and a football team from Athens.

Is this really happening at Georgia? Because it sure seems real.

“It definitely feels different,” senior running back Sony Michel said. “It’s different because of the culture change.”

Go on.

“Last year, it wasn’t what guys expected. It wasn’t what guys were used to. A lot of decisions coach (Kirby) Smart was making — as a player, if something is hard, your natural instinct is to be defiant and not want to do it. But once you buy in and it works, it’s fun.”

Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm heads to the endzone on a quarterback keeper for his first of two touchdown runs against Tennessee during the second quarter for a 17-0 lead. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Something is definitely going on. As the calendar turns to October in Smart’s second season, the Bulldogs are playing the way some envisioned, or hoped, when he was pulled in after Mark Richt was pushed out.

One week after dumping Mississippi State 31-3 with surprising ease, Georgia picked over the remains of Tennessee 41-0 on Saturday at Neyland Stadium.’

That’s a 5-0 start. That’s two SEC wins by a combined score of 72-3. That’s a shutout over Tennessee for the first time since 1981 (44-0, with Herschel Walker in a starring role) and the first time the Volunteers have been blanked at home since 1994. That will be etched on Butch Jones’ coaching gravestone, which is being manufactured at this moment.

The Bulldogs opened the week ranked No. 7. They will climb higher. Thin air. Grab hold of something.

Many are thinking: Wait for the Florida game.  Understandable. But Georgia should win its next two games over Vanderbilt (road) and Missouri (home). That would bring this team to 7-0 going to Jacksonville. We’ll refrain from revisiting ugly history for now.

Smart’s biggest challenge with this team may be keeping it grounded. The Dogs just beat an SEC team on the road by 41 points. They did it despite starting slow on offense (no first downs on five of the first six possessions). They did it without a dominating performance from quarterback Jake Fromm. (Smart: “He did some good things, but he made some poor decisions. We evaluate quarterbacks on decisions.”)

Fromm made two excellent throws on Georgia’s first touchdown drive. Otherwise, he was ordinary passing: 7-for-15, 84 yards, one TD, one interception, two sacks. But that’s all this team may need this season, given the defense and the running game, which totaled 294 yards, including 109 from Nick Chubb. Fromm managed the offense well. He actually probably was more impressive with his legs than his arm, with a few scrambles and running for two scores.

Smart knows what’s coming next. This is Georgia. This is the perpetual tease of a program that underachieved too often in Richt’s later seasons. Hype from fans and media can be dizzying when a team starts a season like this.

“They can’t start believing the hype,” Smart said of his players. “They have to keep working and stay focused. That’s the biggest challenge our coaching staff has now.”

But he conceded, “The culture in practice is what creates games like today. Right now, kids are buying into it because they’re seeing the results.”

Let’s be clear. Georgia beat a bad football. Tennessee quarterback Quinten Dormady threw an interception on the first play of the game. The first play.

“In this game it seemed liked that happened often,” Chubb said. “It seemed like we were on the field more than the sideline the entire game.”

By halftime, Tennessee had three turnovers and only 64 yards in offense. Peyton Manning, a reminder of better times at Neyland, was in attendance. It’s believed he spontaneously combusted.

Vols coach Butch Jones began the week by complaining about negative media coverage. If there’s any way to paint a sinkhole in a positive light, we’re all ears, coach.

But the fact that Tennessee is a mess shouldn’t detract from Georgia’s performance. The Dogs have played bad games against mediocre Tennessee teams before and lost. They fell on a Hail Mary in Athens last season. They lost with all forms of ugliness in Knoxville in 2007, 2009 and 2015. They’ve had a string of horrible injuries occur in Knoxville, including Keith Marshall in 2013 and Chubb two seasons ago.

This game was big for Chubb. He lasted one play in his last visit here and reminded his teammates in a meeting Friday how important this game was to him. It showed in his running. He didn’t have a run for negative yardage, and in his past three games, he has carried 47 times for 321 yards, an average of 6.8 per carry.

“I know last time when I was carted off the field here, I thought I’m never coming back here, just for a lot of reasons,” he said. “To come back here and walk off on my own is a blessing.”

This season has been a dream so far. As contrast, Georgia went 4-4 in the SEC in Smart’s first season, winning games by 1, 14, 3 and 6, and losing to Ole Miss 45-14 and Florida 24-10.

New year. New era?

“It can be a positive or it can be a negative,” Michel said, referencing the hot start. “We just have to stay focused, enjoy what we’re doing and ignore the outside distractions. Everybody is going to want what we have. If you’re undefeated, everybody is going to want to take you down. We can’t get big heads about this.”

The caution is understandable. But this seems real.

EARLIER: Arthur Blank, Falcons to have open discussion on race, protests

Subscribe to the,We Never Played The Game” podcast with the AJC’s Jeff Schultz and WSB’s Zach Klein on iTunes. Episodes also can be downloaded from on-demand link on WSBRadio.com.

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156 comments
jutujugi
jutujugi

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www.stopvalue.com 

OH:IO
OH:IO

Have the dogs week 5 trophy's arrived yet?

twelveofthirteen
twelveofthirteen

Good one mental problem.

Getting oh so close to playing a ranked team again.

#jokeschedule

Savannah.
Savannah.

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▁C▂L▄I▅C▆K▇http://www.todaysfox.com▇ ▆ ▅ ▄ ▂ ▁ 

TideDawg
TideDawg

Hey! I'm as happy about 5-0 as any Dawg fan, but blowouts only mean the team you beat wasn't very good. When the Dawgs beat Auburn and Florida I'll say they deserve a top 5 rating. Georgia still has a freshman QB running the show with a defense that keeps getting him the ball. The defense looks top 5 so far but the offense has to make the bell too for the big games. I'm not so sure about Chaney's offense. On the plus side, every game they play they're getting better. Auburn also drubbed Ms. State. A good offense and a bad game plan can ruin the show.

twelveofthirteen
twelveofthirteen

JT Barret vs ranked teams = sh@t.

Couldn't hold the clipboard for the dog's QB

#padthemstatsvsshitteams

#getworkedvsrankedteams

twelveofthirteen
twelveofthirteen

Top 5. Undefeated.

Little ten little ten little ten

31-16 and flag planted!

twelveofthirteen
twelveofthirteen

Get that hole in the turf filled in little ten bucknut?

Ya b@tch!

#planted

Grant1296
Grant1296

Take Buffalo and the points...

Grant1296
Grant1296

Come to find out, No points were needed..

TOJacket
TOJacket

@Grant1296 From the replay I saw we were cheated by refs but you should never have a game decided by refs....Should have run it on 4th and 1.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket

They've been among the league's most mediocre teams for quite some time now.

Big Wally
Big Wally

Blowhio has memory loss fans.  He seems to forget that Nebraska lost at home to a MAC team, and Illinois got destroyed by an AAC team.

twelveofthirteen
twelveofthirteen

Mental problem has a lot of issues including memory loss. He is a b@tch

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Whether or not this is a great team remains to be seen. Pretty clear now they have an elite defense and pretty good running game. Hard to imagine a more enjoyable start to a season, unless your name is Eason, but it seems apparent Kirby wants to keep the competitive fires burning at the QB position. Go Dawgs!

Covfefe23
Covfefe23

@OH:IO Coattail-ing the Sun Belt.  My, how far we've fallen.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@OH:IO  Congratulations! However you were not their first.

GrandpawKPH
GrandpawKPH

@OH:IO Troy is from Alabama which is in the south.....you know where REAL football is played. Not surprised they are good they have been for a while now. 

Covfefe23
Covfefe23

@JKToole Did you expect better from the butt-chuggers?  The organizations are probably just relieved they're not flying swastikas.

FlatTire
FlatTire

2-17, as in someone hurry up and call the media to make sure overrated st reserves their spot in the playoffs again

OH:IO
OH:IO

dogs are ridin' high. More giddiness than when Isaiah Crowell showed with w/ a puppy. 


We all know how that ended. 

DawginLex
DawginLex

Giddy like your QB running up stats against high school teams but crapping the bed against any team with a pulse like Oklahoma or Clemson? How does it feel to know for certain you wouldn't score a point on UGA defense?

FlatTire
FlatTire

"How many States are you claiming, flat."

Ohio 2-17 is ohio state record vs Clemson South Carolina UGA AUBURN Lsu Alabama Tennessee Florida. 2-17 = JOKE.

UGA vs the big joke 10 is 10-3.

Ohio state isn't even in the top 15 in bowl wins UGA is 3rd.

Please contact the media again so you won't miss your playoff spot

OH:IO
OH:IO

@FlatTire


How many of the dogs"bowl wins" are Toilet Bowls, flat? I'll go with most.

FlatTire
FlatTire

Media coattail riders can't do it on the field. Oh I forgot to add FSU to that list

Covfefe23
Covfefe23

@OH:IO @Covfefe23 @FlatTire Which dog?


Shocker that you're delusional about the '42 title.  UGA went across the country and shut out UCLA in their own backyard in the bowl game, and lolOSU, like the cowards they are, stayed home.  No title for you.

Doomy
Doomy

"Let’s be clear. Georgia beat a bad football."


That pretty much sums it up. Beating Missy state doesn't look too impressive either after watching Auburn lay the wood to em. 


These are the usual paper bulldogs. The SEC, and especially the east, doesn't look very deep this year and the dawgs look like a beneficiary of having played several bad teams. Tennessee just looks like an awful team.


This is pretty predictable. The dawgs will win the east as the beneficiary of a weak schedule and then get destroyed by Bama in the seccg.