ATHENS, Ga. — Big hits produce fat swells of emotion.
Georgia started Saturday by surfing the waves one teeth-rattling tackle after another en route to a 42-10 win against Georgia Tech at Sanford Stadium.
“Besides not liking Tech, everybody knows we don’t like Tech,” Georgia inside linebacker Christian Robinson said. “But in this kind of game, a yard matters. You have to really fight for that yard because they’re a four-down team. If you can be more aggressive, knock them back and get their head turned the other way, that’s how you end their drives and they don’t rack up yards on you.”
Inside linebacker Alec Ogletree set the early tone as he made a pair of pile-driver tackles by picking up Georgia Tech ball carriers and hammering them head-first into the turf.
“When Alec slammed that dude, his feet went right by my face so you have to imagine how high he was,” Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones said. “The guys just played lights out. Alec was by me all day just making tackles. He was just making plays all day. When the guys are into it and everybody on the team is making plays, it feels great because you know everybody is doing their jobs. Everybody prepared at his best, but everybody making plays. It’s good to see that instead of just one player just dominating the stat sheet.”
Ogletree had maybe the best game of his career with 15 total tackles (10 solo, five assists), including at least three shoulder-high bulldogging moves usually seen in rodeos.
“I guess I body-slammed one of their dudes but that was just a tackle to me,” Ogletree said. “You just have to read you keys and watch film, run through the hit and make the tackle. It’s all about playing with great effort.”
Ogletree’s 15 tackles is the most by a Bulldog this season. Robinson also had 13 tackles and defensive lineman John Jenkins added 11 tackles. But Ogletree was the star as many of his were worthy of making highlight reels.
“Tree (Ogletree) is a really good player,” Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “When you get a linebacker like that against that kind of offense (option) and you can get him in the alley, there’s really no answers. Once we kind of got a feel for what they were doing, I think we pretty much shut them down.”
Georgia held Georgia Tech to a season-low 10 points. Georgia Tech did not score a touchdown until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs sent their reserves into the game.
“Hits like that set the tone,” Robinson said. “If I’m a running back and somebody picks me up and slams me down, I don’t want to keep running. That’s football. There’s few guys who in every play can take that beating and keep coming back.”
The dizzying hits were a little surprising because Georgia Tech runs an option offense that has a history of punishing over-aggressive defenses. Georgia had a chance to warm up against an option offense last week when it beat Georgia Southern 45-14. Georgia Tech rolled up 306 rushing yards and 26 first downs. But the Yellow Jackets repeatedly stalled after they crossed midfield and only capitalized with 10 points.
“Our coaches did a really good job of putting us into position and getting us ready,” Jones said. “We saw it last week so we knew a lot of what to expect. Last week we kind of played slow in the first half but came back in the second half and picked it up. This week we’d already seen it last week and we came out ready.”