A talent vacuum is not always a real talent vacuum. It’s often as much so or also a perception by players (and sometimes coaches) that what worked so well in past seasons or games won’t work enough to equate to big wins because Billy Badboy has moved on, he plays in the NFL now or is hurt. We saw that, as example, at rival Auburn twice: 1. when Cam Newton left after one scandal-filled year playing as a semipro 2. when the top statistical single season running back in school history left the Plains with his best blocker. Those two teams played for the national title, netting one, and were the only AU teams to beat #GEORGIA in a full decade of dominance. The War Eagle teams of the following seasons had talent on hand but stunk it up on the field. Sure, the guys who came in after were not as good as the guys who they replaced, but what mattered to them, what matters to these young and generally immature college men is identity, or a lack thereof.
And when your identity has been say usually run left behind one guy or Todd Gurley running it down their throats and doing hurdles over dudes, and he goes out. When your identity has been AJ Green catches everything and doesn’t even have to be open, and he goes out leaving a freshman QB looking for options…you generally lose games and that can lead to bad seasons and coaches getting canned. Because instead of being galvanized to play to the very best of their ability – like Nick Chubb did in Gurley’s second absence – dudes tend to sort of stand around waiting for their school’s Earl Campbell to come walking back through the door. He Ain’t Walkin’ Through That Door, Folks…
Again with the clear exception of Chubb two years ago – and even then we went out and lost our biggest game badly to what should have been on paper an under-matched Florida squad – Georgia has been as guilty of this as any football program. We are overly reliant on Chubb right now, and as the 2017 schedule released I wondered how we could do next year without him carrying the load. He’ll be going pro.
When he went down last year we had no answers. Michel ground out 1,000 hard yards, but still we had no real answers. Our offense was so horridly bad that we were unranked in one poll and eked in at 25th in another after winning 10 football games and having the top pass defense in the country, the defense number one at forcing three-and-outs in the country. Unranked! You say Eason. I say…yeah maybe.
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Book: “Richt Era” debuts FRI 11/11 at Avid Bookshop Athens