If you’ve watched any Georgia football game in the past month, you’ve most certainly been impressed with the defensive output. But for the Dawgs to sustain this success, they will need players like Zamir White to continue punishing teams in the run game. This is how Georgia works: breaking teams down on defense, then stomping on their throat by rushing the football. As you’ve noticed, it’s led them to the No. 1 spot in the CFP Rankings.
They will face another SEC foe this weekend, as Missouri travels to Athens for a 12 pm ET matchup, where the Dawgs are 39.5 point favorites, according to FanDuel.
It hasn’t been lost on Kirby Smart how important Zamir White has been to this team, especially with Kendall Milton dealing with a new injury. So, seeing this running back group with QB Stetson Bennett has to bring a different level of confidence for the Georgia head coach. Smart discussed how Zamir has turned into a great leader for this team and emphasized how important it is for the group to share the workload.
“The sharing carries is more for his health than anything else,” Kirby said. “I don’t think a guy can play in the SEC and [carry] it that many times anymore, I mean it’s just tough. I saw it with Derrick Henry, and seeing it with other guys, it’s hard to do and sustain. So what he’s done is incredible. In terms of carrying the workload, the leadership, the work ethic, and there’s not a day he comes out to practice [that] he doesn’t practice hard. And the best thing about it is he takes care of his body. He does a tremendous job. I’ve seen come across my office outside my window right here where he’s walking back and forth, and I’m texting him, ‘What are you doing?’ ‘Well, I’m coming to treatment.’ ‘I’m leaving treatment.’ ‘I’m getting extra treatment.’ ‘I’m taking care of my body so I can be effective.’ He’s just a great leader.”
This Georgia football team has rushed for 1,542 yards and 16 touchdowns so far this season, taking the pressure off the quarterbacks and leading to a balanced attack. As we’ve seen this season, opposing teams continue to struggle with getting the Dawgs’ offense off the field, especially on third down. The offensive play callers haven’t had to ask Bennett to do extraordinary things, so the Bulldogs have clearly established themselves as a dominant running team in the conference.
Stetson Bennett has only passed for 1,157 yards, which is actually pretty good compared to the number of times they’ve asked him to throw the ball. This is due to the Georgia offensive line continuing to dominate opposing defenses. For this reason alone, I don’t expect this to be much of a game, as Missouri’s run-defense is atrocious. This is how Kirby Smart has decided to win games this season, by simply rushing the ball and adding a little play-action into the mix.
But again, this wouldn’t be possible without the offensive coaches understanding how to use their running back group. Smart signaled out Zamir White in particular and compared him with how the Titans use Derrick Henry.
“Yeah, this year in carries has been more from his health than anything else. I don’t think a guy can play in the SEC and end the season that many times anymore. I mean, it’s just tough. I saw it with Derrick Henry and seeing it with other guys. It’s hard to do and sustain, so what he’s done is incredible in terms of carrying the workload, the leadership, the work ethic, and there’s not a day he comes out to practice and doesn’t practice hard and the best thing about him is that he takes care of his body.
“You know, he does a tremendous job. I’ve seen him come across my office outside my window right here where he’s walking back and forth and I’m texting ‘What are you doing?’ ‘I’m coming to treatment,’ ‘I’m leaving treatment’, and ‘I’m getting an extra treatment’, ‘I’m taking care of my body so I can be effective.’ He’s just a great leader,” Kirby added about Zamir White.
So, as we head towards the final four games of the SEC season, you can expect Kirby Smart to be very conscious of how he uses this group. At least he understands that he can’t run his guys into the ground before postseason play begins, as he wants this group healthy for the stretch run.
The way Georgia is playing football right now, especially on offense, they’ve got enough running backs to carry them to a National Championship. But this weekend, all we can say is good luck to the Missouri defensive line.