ATLANTA — Defending national champions Georgia may have lost 15 players in the NFL Draft, but the No. 3 Bulldogs won in the first game of their title defense at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday. , defeated No. 11 Oregon, 49-3. .
Even after losing five defensive players, including No. 1 pick Travon Walker in the first round, Georgia’s defense was too fast and physical for the Ducks.
After losing the most players in NFL draft history from a single school in the draft, Georgia appeared to be back in the hunt for CFP Bath for the third time in Smart’s seven seasons.
But Smart knows his young team still has a long way to go to get back there, even after a one-sided victory in the season opener.
“Expectations are definitely under control,” Smart said. “Don’t worry about it.”
After second only to a record defense last season, Georgia’s offense was much more explosive against the Ducks. Stetson, the former walk-on quarterback who led the Bulldogs to his first national title in 41 years, Bennett completed 25 of his 31 passes for his career-high 368 yards with two touchdowns. Did.
With 21 seconds left in the first half, Bennett spun away from four Oregon defenders and somehow Rudd was wide open in the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown that gave Georgia a 28-3 lead. I saw McConkey.
After starting as Georgia’s third quarterback last season and joining the lineup for the first time after JT Daniels was injured, Bennett is this year’s undisputed starter.
“I don’t think Stetson is really affected by what I do, or what you do, or what anyone else does,” Smart said. It does a very good job of blocking out all noise, and he had a flip phone in 2021.
“I think that’s his strength. He made some plays today where he didn’t make the right decisions. He knows it. He knows his mistakes. He has to be smart. He probably does what we can’t ask him to do.
Georgia scored a touchdown on each of their first seven possessions, converted their first nine third-down plays, and advanced to the red zone, going 6-6. The Bulldogs didn’t punt until early in the fourth quarter when freshman Brett Thorson boomed a 53-yarder.
The Ducks were able to muster almost nothing against Georgia’s reconstructed defense. Georgia had two interceptions and stopped the Ducks on the goal line stand at the 3-yard line with 1:22 remaining.
“We don’t want to be hunted,” said safety Christopher Smith, who had one of Georgia’s two interceptions.
Oregon was playing its first game in 2021 under new coach Dan Lanning, who served as the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator. It was a disappointing debut for first-time head coach Lanning.
“He’s going to do a really good job in Oregon,” Smart said. “He’s relentless. They’re going to bounce back from this and he knows we have better players. would never say that, but he knows we have better players.”