Auburn Ends Georgia's Perfect Season With A Crushing 40-17 Win Saturday

Bulldogs Drop To Seventh In Lastest Poll

Sunday, November 12, 2017 - by special report

No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs had their unblemished season snapped with a 40-17 loss to 10th-ranked Auburn Tigers Saturday evening at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

 
The Bulldogs fall to 9-1 overall, 6-1 in the Southeastern Conference. Georgia dropped to seventh in the AP and Coaches Polls. Alabama is now No. 1, while Miami moves up to No.2. Oklahoma is No 3 in the AP while defending champion Clemson is No. 3 in the Coaches Poll. Clemson is No. 4 in the AP and Wisconsin in No. 4 in the Coaches Poll. Auburn rises to No. 6 in both polls.

 

Auburn (8-2, 6-1) used a heavy dose of Kerryon Johnson and a stifling defense to earn the victory.

Johnson tallied 167 rushing yards; marking the first time a Georgia opponent had surpassed the 100-yard mark in a nation-best last 12 games.
 
"The lesson learned was that they have a good football team," Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. "They whipped us up front, they whipped us on the back end, and they whipped us on the edges. They were more physical than us on both lines of scrimmages. We did some dumb things, and we helped them. You can't help good football teams. We gave them two or three extra possessions, which you can't do."
 
Offensively, the Bulldogs finished with 230 yards of total offense, 184 yards in the air. Freshman quarterback Jake Fromm went 13-of-28 for 184 yards and a touchdown, while senior wide receiver Javon Wims had a team-high 96 yards on three catches.

The Auburn defense kept the Georgia rushing attack at bay as senior running back Nick Chubb had a team-high 27 yards.

For the seventh time leading the team in tackles this season, junior inside linebacker Roquan Smith collected 12 tackles. Redshirt sophomore J.R. Reed followed with a career-high 11 tackles. Sophomore return specialist Mecole Hardman compiled 185 yards on punt and kicks.



In the game's opening possession, Georgia orchestrated an eight-play, 70-yard drive capped by a direct snap Chubb one-yard touchdown rush. In the drive, Fromm went 3-of-3 passing for 56 yards including a 28-yard pass to Wims on a 3rd down.

Auburn took its first lead 9-7 at the 12:08 mark of the second quarter on three consecutive Daniel Carlson field goals. Later in the quarter, the Tigers hit on a 42-yard Darius Slayton touchdown catch to go up 16-7, which stood until halftime.
 
Two third-quarter Auburn touchdowns strengthened the Tiger lead to 30-7, before the Bulldogs responded. Redshirt sophomore Rodrigo Blankenship booted a 47-yard field goal to make it 30-10 at the 5:23 mark in the third quarter.
 
After Auburn notched a field goal and another touchdown, Georgia put up a touchdown in the final minutes of the game. Sophomore wide out Riley Ridley caught a 14-yard pass from Fromm to end a 14-play, 74-yard drive.

"It's life," Smart said on moving on from the loss. "Life's that way. Life's going to knock you down and you've got to get up and go fight. These guys have to understand that. They've got to be able to get up and go fight. It's going to be like that all their life. They're going to have situations they don't like, or don't do well, and they're going to come back and fight."

 

Coach Smart's Post-Game Conference

 

Opening Statement...

"First off, give a lot of credit to Auburn and Gus' staff. They did a tremendous job. They were more physical than us on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Every SEC game that I have ever been a part of, if you lose the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, you don't have a great chance of a good outcome. I thought it was a momentum game. We certainly lost the momentum there with some really uncharacteristic penalties. Throw that in with the fact that they were more physical than us, they controlled the line of scrimmage, were able to run it at will, and they stopped our run. So you shake their hand, tell them they did a good job, and we have to pick it up and go get better. Kentucky is not going to feel sorry for us. So humility is always a week away. This team will answer and respond the right way because we have some good leaders in that room, and they want to improve upon what they just showed."

On the change of success offensively after the good first drive...
"We had a big conversion on that drive, and that's what you need on these guys. You have to get extra downs. They are hard to run the ball on. They were hard to run the ball on that drive because that's what brought up the third down. I thought we executed well there, and then after that we didn't execute well. We struggled to get off of press-man. They do a good job of getting their hands on you, and they just whooped us up front. The bottom line is we couldn't move them."

On if he was surprised that they struggled on the things he preaches every week...
"Yes. The out of bounds penalty, the halo penalty and the 'jumping over the ship' penalty were uncharacteristic. We never do that. We never 'jump over the ship.' I talked to them about that. That's what's disappointing because it was out of character, and in a hostile environment I resorted to things I don't normally do. That's the disappointing part, but that's not what won or lost the game. It was the line of scrimmage and their physicality, but what made it so lop-sided were the undisciplined penalties."

On if the team can learn something from this...
"I certainly think so. You learn from every experience, positive or negative, and we are going to learn from this one. We have to play our brand of football. We have to execute. We have to be disciplined. We don't have to play perfect, but we have to play smart. Riley [Ridley]'s play over the middle, that changes the momentum of the game, and we didn't make the plays. At the end of the day, you give Auburn credit. They did a great job, and they were more physical than us. That's the bottom line."

On the change of momentum after the muffed punt by Mecole Hardman … He catches hundreds and hundreds of those punts, and he knows that he wanted to run up and get under it and didn't get his arms tucked. Mecole is a really good player. He's is going to make a lot of plays around here, and he's starting to develop and gain confidence with what you saw today. You saw some of the return game that he is capable of. He wishes he had it back, but that's part of football. Mecole is going to have things that happen to him in life that are going to be a lot tougher than that."

On his decision to run the ball at the end of the first half instead of throwing...
"It was not a good decision there -- probably a mistake. If we had it to do over again, we would've definitely thrown the ball. The thinking was that we didn't want to get knocked out of field goal range, but we should have thrown the ball, no doubt."

On why the undisciplined mistakes came in this game specifically...
"I can't put a finger on it. Honestly, we preach it hard. It's part of our program. It's part of what we do every day -- making sure every kid understands the discipline you have to play with. When you lose that discipline you get what you had here tonight, and that's undisciplined, foolish penalties. When you play a good team you can't get away with that. You can't give them an extra drive. It exposes you when you have undisciplined penalties because you're playing longer, you're getting less chances to run the ball and wear them down. We didn't tackle really well tonight either."

On Jake Fromm dealing with Auburn's pass rush...
"I thought [ Jake Fromm] made some good decisions. Jake is a battler. If he showed anything tonight it was that he can move in the pocket. They have some good rushers. That front is a really good front. We showed the ability at the end to still be able to move the ball and throw it when they had the good rushers still in. At the end of the day, I thought Jake played well. He played hard and made good decisions."

On a possible discussion on passing the ball more often...
"There's always a discussion about that. Part of it is because there were some sacks involved in there, too. But there's a discussion every drive. With Auburn, if you throw it every play, you will get in trouble because they have really good pass rushers. The threat of running the ball has to slow down the pass rushers, and we tried to maintain that threat. I just don't think we did a good job."

On what was uncharacteristic of Georgia's defensive play...
"First characteristic is that they have good players. They have a great back who is very patient behind the line of scrimmage. We talked about it the whole week. Kerryon Johnson waits and then he bursts. He is a great running back, and he totally bellowed our defense. I have a lot of respect for his toughness and the offensive line's toughness. We didn't keep our edges well. He bounced out and made some plays. They are hard to defend. With all that said, we did not play that well defensively. We did not get off the field with the punt. We just gave them a lot of things. They punched us in the mouth, and we did not respond to it. We did not stop the run like we are capable of."

On what was happening with the offensive line tonight...
"They were more physical than us, on both sides. They played more physical than us in both ways. I always say in coaching 'it's not as bad as it seems, and it's never as good as it seems.' We will watch the tape and there will be some plays that we missed, as well as some opportunities that we missed. At the end of the day, you have to credit Auburn. They came out and played more physical than we did tonight."

On Riley's missed catch...
"I don't even think it matters. We didn't catch it. I'm not looking to blame anybody. I actually think it was an opportunity missed, and it was one of several opportunities that we missed. We have to give Auburn credit. They have good players. They played really physical football, and they dominated us."

On how the defense handled Auburn's fast offense...
"At times, we were able to give them a couple of negative plays on fast-pace plays. They do a great job at trying to create chaos. We have to do a better job as coaches to help our guys to get lined up and be able to keep responding to the fast pace. That's always a challenge. It's not my first time playing them that we had to worry about tempo. We know what comes with it, and we have to do a better job preparing for it to give our guys a chance."

On the team talk he gave the players after their first loss...
"The season is not built in one game. This team will be defined by how they respond, not by how they did tonight. We have a lot of leaders in that room that need to go play a really good Kentucky team next week. Our whole deal is how you respond to some adversity. Things did not go your way, but how are you going to respond? That is all across college football, and you have to respond the right way."

On the involvement he has with leaders...
"I'm very involved. It's tough emotionally. It's tough when you are out there in that environment and things are not going well. You don't respond with undisciplined things. That's not indicative of who you are and not Georgia's brand of football. You can't do that against a good team and give them 100 yards of penalties."

On how important it is to stay positive after a tough loss...
"I'm the one in charge. I'm the one responsible of what we just did out there. I'm not running away from that. We didn't play the way we are capable of, and our kids understand and respect that. Now we have to respond. That's why we do all the stuff we do. This is just an opportunity for our leaders to come forth, including me."

On getting back on track after a loss...
"It's a wake-up call for some of those guys. Auburn had a better game plan and they beat us physically. Our job is to respond the right way and move on now to Kentucky. You don't want Auburn to beat you twice. You go get ready to play Kentucky."



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