Halftime observations from the Georgia Football vs. Georgia Tech rivalry game

Although the Georgia Bulldogs went into Saturday’s game as heavy favorites, the Bulldogs found themselves in the middle of a battle against their state rival.

Georgia leads Georgia Tech 10-7 after two back-and-forth quarters between the two teams. The Yellow Jackets opened the game with an impressive 11-play-scoring drive, but the Bulldogs fought back with a field goal from Jack Podlesny and a touchdown catch from Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint to hold a narrow lead at the break.

Let’s get down to what caught the eye in the first half of the plot:

Bulldogs wake up

To say Georgia’s start to Saturday’s game was disappointing would be an understatement. To the Bulldogs’ credit, a strong second quarter followed.

The Bulldogs allowed an 11-play, 75-yard drive on Georgia Tech’s first possession — which included a big close on a fourth and nine and Georgia’s first touchdown allowed in the first quarter of the season — and answered it on offense with a toothless three-and-out. Georgia appeared to be sleepwalking on both sides of the ball early on, although it didn’t mean Georgia Tech was more than a seven-point lead.

Georgia managed a quick field goal from Jack Podlesny just before the end of the first quarter before going on in the second.

The Georgia defense forced a Georgia Tech punt from the Bulldogs’ 45-yard line before Kenny McIntosh reignited the offense with a 45-yard run. McIntosh’s game set the stage for Georgia’s first touchdown drive of the game, which ended when Stetson Bennett hit Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint with a 5-yard touchdown with 7:59 left before the break.

Georgia Tech was far from done at this point and showed promise just before halftime, thanks in large part to quarterback Zach Gibson’s 41-yard pass to EJ Jenkins. That play wasn’t much, however, as Georgia stopped the drive in its tracks and forced a punt just before the break.

Georgia still has work to do – and will likely get an earful in the dressing room – but the Dawgs looked more like themselves as the second quarter progressed.

Pass defense fights

Although Georgia seemed to settle down as the first half progressed, the Bulldogs’ pass defense remains very suspect.

Georgia Tech started Saturday averaging just 190 passing yards per game and put on 132 in the first quarter alone. The Yellow Jackets also had no problem going down at the Bulldogs, as Georgia Tech’s Zach Gibson had three plays for 15 yards or more.

Perhaps no Bulldog struggled more in the first half than cornerback Kelee Ringo, who missed a tackle on a 16-yard play and was later called out for a defensive pass glitch for an incompleteness that would have forced a Georgia Tech punt. To his credit, Ringo finished strongly with a pass breakup just before the break to keep the Yellow Jackets at bay.

Run game ignites Dawgs

Georgia’s passing game had its moments in the first half, but it was clear the Bulldogs’ running game was their secret to success.

Georgia averaged 7.8 yards per carry in the first half of the game, with big plays from McIntosh, Daijun Edwards and Stetson Bennett. The Bulldogs’ only touchdown drive was fueled by big runs from McIntosh and Edwards, and their field goal drive late in the first quarter included two big runs from Bennett.

While Georgia will be looking to get its passing game going after the break, you can bet the Bulldogs will benefit from a suspect Georgia Tech Run defense.

Up and down in the red zone

After a poor performance in the red zone against Kentucky last week, Georgia’s offense had its ups and downs in that aspect of Saturday’s game.

On the afternoon’s second drive, the Bulldogs got this close to Georgia Tech’s 4-yard line before a 3-yard loss from Edwards, a false start and a third incompletion error forced Jack Podlesny to kick a 30-yard field goal . Their next trip to the red zone proved more successful, however, when Bennett hit Rosemy-Jacksaint for the Bulldogs’ only first-half touchdown.

Given how close this game could get in the second half, Georgia needs to maximize every time they reach the Georgia Tech 20.