Editor’s note: This is the seventh of a 12-part series on each of Kentucky 12 opponents this season.
By KEITH TAYLOR, Kentucky Today
GAME 7: Kentucky at Georgia, Saturday, Oct. 19, TBA
LAST YEAR: Georgia 34, Kentucky 17.
COACH: Kirby Smart, fourth season. Record at school: 32-10.
LOOKING BACK: The Bulldogs captured their second consecutive SEC East title, falling to Alabama 35-28 in the league title game. Georgia defeated Auburn 28-7 to win the SEC championship the previous season. Georgia won 11 of its 12 regular season games before dropping two straight in the postseason, including a 28-21 loss to Texas in the Sugar Bowl. The Bulldogs have a new offensive coordinator in James Coley, who replaces Jim Chaney, who left for a second-stint in the same post at Tennessee during the off-season. Coley previously was an offensive coordinator at Miami from 2013-15. Georgia has won nine straight over the Wildcats.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Bulldogs have reached a point in the program were they reload instead of rebuild. The offense will be guided by veteran quarterback Jake Fromm who threw for 2,749 yards and 30 touchdowns last season. Fromm has thrown 54 touchdown passes in his first two seasons and figure to add to that total this year. The load in the backfield will be carried by D’Andre Swift, who collected 1,049 yards and scored 10 touchdowns last year. He added 32 catches for 297 yards and three scores. Receivers Jeremiah Holloman, Demetrius Robertson and Tyler Simmons are poised for a breakout season.
The defense ranked No. 2 in the conference in passing defense but fourth in scoring defense and figures to be much improved this year. Andrew Thomas, a linebacker has not missed a game in his first two years and will anchor a defense that will need some new names to step up in the secondary.
Smart is excited about his team and the return of Fromm.
“I’m extremely excited he’s our quarterback,” he said. “He is the leader of our program, the face of our organization, a guy that has given so much to Georgia and Georgia means so much to. As far as where he stacks up in the NFL, I don’t think that’s for me to determine. I think Jake’s got tremendous ability. He’s a leader. That’s the first quality you look for.”
CONFERENCE: The Bulldogs are projected to finish first in the SEC East.
COACH QUOTE: “Confidence, confidence is a word I think about a lot this time of year. Confidence is not about speak, about words. It’s really about actions taken by someone. It’s not given to anyone. It’s earned. And that’s something that we want to do with each and every year and how we build up the season. It’s year four for our staff and our program. That fact excites me, that it’s year four for us. I feel like we made great strides in each season in the way we teach, in the way we learn, in the way we develop players.”