Reassessment of Georgia’s Schedule
Han Vance on Georgia football:
1. Vandy is a bad SEC team and overall not strong football collective in terms of depth of talent, albeit very well-coached and fairly hard fighting. Georgia got out to a 21-0 lead on three opening drives, bouncing back from two straight losses to end the 2018 season. The rest of the game in Nashville – in front of a visibly tipsy pro-Georgia crowd – it was just 9-6, Bulldogs. The win looks worse now than it did at the time (8/31). Georgia already exposed that it was not a team that can play with cresting momentum throughout whole games or even whole halves. Winning 30-6 looked good enough nationally at the time, and Vandy winning over Mizzou last Saturday showed the Commodore’s grit and heart. Since August, Vanderbilt lost to UNLV (34-10), as well as Ole Miss, LSU and Purdue.
2. The Murray State Racers are an FBS (not FCS) team, a basketball mid-major who plays in the lesser level of Divison I American college football, and Georgia came out flat against them in the home opener. If LSU/Bama had been in town, the game could have been nearly out of reach by the time the team awakened and scored 60+, lightning in a bottle. This was one of two total big offensive outputs for UGA (63-17) entering the Cocktail Party, only two truly high outputs of offensive coordinator James Coley’s career in the position at Georgia. Where he coordinated before it did not work out for long. After first enrolling at UGA in 1990 and covering Georgia football for 12+ seasons, I take the longview.
3. Coley looked like a good hire the next week, still, as Georgia held the statistical second-best offense faced this year so far to zero points (55-0). The coaching all worked that week, obviously, as Georgia came out hot and played a complete game; FCS Arkansas State is 3-4 (1-2 Sun Belt).
4. CANINES vs CATHOLICS was next in the Classic City. Huge weekend! #3 Georgia scored just 23 after trailing at the half. Reigning AP Coach of the Year Brian Kelly actually out-coached Kirby Smart, if you believe that Georgia is that much more talented than Notre Dame right now. The nation does (I don’t). One blown overtime-in-Atlanta-like late busted coverage and our Dawgs could have been looking at being a CFP long shot, before even getting any quality wins (23-17). Instead, Georgia has the single best win in the nation at mid-year. Keep in mind, the CFP reranks every win every week (supposedly), so for this to really be a “Top 10 win” Georgia needs Notre Dame to be in the top 10 of the final CFP committee rankings before the bowls. They had one loss last year, to a Clemson who next beat Bama worse, and they are undefeated outside of Athens and through the meat of their schedule after the upcoming Michigan game. Great, right?!?! Problematic, too, because UGA later lost at home to a sub .500 South Carolina, and national media-beloved forever ND could get the nod over a Georgia who barely edged them Between the Hedges behind a rabid crowd.
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5. Georgia struggled at a Rocky Top it owned on the last visit, trailing in the first half before getting some separation prior to the break. 43-14 looks bigger than it was because of the defensive TD by Tae Crowder. Crowder is my 2nd-tier UGA defensive MVP of the first half, trailing only main man J.R. Reed. Y’all called for Crowder to be benched for children. Not, ahem, smart. Smart knows vets win games.
6. The sky fell. Chickens won without scoring, at all, in the 3rd quarter, 4th quarter, first overtime. Tap the breaks on the statues…GEORGIA tries not to lose in overtimes under Coach Smart. It somehow, luckily worked at the Rose Bowl – I was there:
…it did not work in Atlanta. It did not work in Athens. IT DOES NOT WORK!
Get into overtime, you have to score touchdowns. Every time you get the ball, y’all. No kicks.
They made a field goal in the second overtime, after missing two potential game winners and won. Rodrigo Blankenship would be heading to NYC for the Heisman (exaggerating), if Kirby had let him kick from 55, from 60. Seth Emerson of The Athletic said he makes those in practice but wrongly failed to blame Kirby, because Kirby thought South Carolina could have scored on the kick attempt. Yes, Chickens can fly. We tried a Hail Mary, instead, after some bad offensive coordination and poor head coach clock management. That long shot unholy prayer of a play went unanswered, while Kirby again showed a horrid tendency to only truly trust defensive players in the clutch. His special teams leadership has resulted in the fake field goal at LSU, the fake punt from midfield in a tie game in last year’s SEC championship game straight up head coaching choke, and the non-kick. The game would have ended.
This one (game 6) got paragraph breaks, because it is so different. South Carolina had the top pass defense in the SEC (lowest opponents’ QBR) and Jake Fromm threw 51, mostly short, passes, was sacked three times, after getting sacked only once all year, threw three picks (to one dude!), one his fault, after throwing none, fumbled a bad quarterback-center exchange, as the loss of stellar stud center Lamont Galliard continues to be the biggest personnel loss from 2018 nobody talks much about besides me – the snaps are off. That’s no bueno! After getting just 23 while hosting ND, Dawgs hit for all of 17.
7. Georgia has given up 17 total second half points this season and is the only team in the whole FBS which has yet to yield a rushing touchdown, at all. UGA has the top defense in the SEC, and Dan Lanning is a serious candidate for national coordinator of the year, somehow replacing ace D.C. Mel Tucker so seamlessly. Some say, that’s Kirby. It is, but spread the love with the blame. Good hire. Coley was a bad hire, so far, and it showed an arrogance top-down to stay in-house when Georgia could have had any coordinator in the country not named Jim Chaney – who should not be missed like this. Kirby does not allow his offensive coordinators to fully shine, I’m afraid. Georgia has the top running back in the SEC – the top football league – and the number one overall rushing attack in the SEC, after holding that title twice in the last two years. We run. We won 21-0 on Homecoming in a lasting rain. Jake Fromm threw one pass in the second half. Reed hit a dude so hard he dropped the ball. Kentucky actually managed to have a worse punting game than a Georgia whose punter struggles with mental situations to the level of needing sports therapy and whose returners are really fair catch specialists. Mecole Hardman as an All-SEC, fast punt returner and kick returner – not a wide receiver with speed but bad hands – is another thing missing this season. We fair catch. We tackle. We run.
Is it enough?
I still have Georgia projected to win the SEC and reach the Fiesta Bowl – Zona, brah – as a #3. Are we even headed to Atlanta, though? Winning at THE GATOR BOWL in November would go a long way. But beware that one loss after, say at Auburn where Kirby is 0-3 on the road versus the SEC West in his career, all types of blowouts, could still be coming even if Georgia can hold off a Florida who is ranked higher than our Bulldogs. They finished last year more highly-ranked in both polls, and it’s Dan Mullen who scares me, his play calling versus Coley putting up points. I will be there.
This is my last BLAWG until Halloween, unless the sales come. Thank you for reading me.
Class of 1998