Georgia’s running game sees second-half improvements
Georgia’s running game took some time to get going.
In the first half, the Bulldogs recorded a total of 56 yards, 49 of them coming in the second quarter. At the end of the third quarter Georgia recorded its highest number of rushing yards with 97 yards. The Bulldogs finished Saturday’s win against Vanderbilt with a total of 219 yards.
Head coach Kirby Smart partly attributes the increase in rushing yards as the game continued to Vanderbilt’s defense tiring. Running the ball early in games, especially in the SEC, is difficult because the defense is running at full capacity, something Smart emphasizes to his offense. The defense’s ability to beat the offense withers as the game continues.
“There’s no magical schemes ... we don’t invent plays,” Smart said. “They are the same plays in the second half that we ran in the first half. It’s just, they get tired.”
Georgia’s offense in the first quarter did not start fast in running the ball. The Bulldogs tallied seven rushing yards for two carries in the first quarter, and did not score on the offense’s opening drive.
Junior tailback Elijah Holyfield attributed to the slow start in the running game to execution. In the first half the offense was not performing at the ability they feel they can, he said. In the second half, however, they turned their game around and executed in running the ball.
“A lot of times we don’t execute,” Holyfield said. “When we execute we are pretty hard to stop.”
The shift in momentum for the running game between the first and second halves saw more running backs carry the ball. In the first quarter only sophomore D’Andre Swift recorded two carries for the seven yards. In the third quarter, Swift, Holyfield, junior Brian Herrien and freshman quarterback Justin Fields all recorded carries, and freshman James Cook joined the backs by getting his share of carries in the fourth quarter.
Fields ability to run the ball as quarterback adds a successful element to Georgia’s running game. Fields tallied four carries for 18 yards. As an offense, Georgia had three players rush for 50 yards or more, with Holyfield recording the most with 64 yards.
Swift said the difference between the first and second half wasn’t due to the offense making large adjustments, but by taking a more focused mindset on the task at hand. The offensive line continued to wear down the defense, which created more movement up front and allowed Swift and the other running backs to run the ball more efficiently, he said.
“I think we did good when we came together. It really just showed like what we can do when we playing at all cylinders,” Swift said.