Defense! Will Kirby Smart Defense Win National Championship
Han Vance on Georgia football: It’s out, “The Dawg Pawd” on SoundCloud podcast featuring football deep insider Han Vance on the Georgia Bulldogs, SEC, FBS, CFP, NCAA, in that order. Get it at SoundCloud (free). *New episode coming this Thursday, on Georgia-Tenn. (the 3:30 CBS SEC big game of the week). Han Vance’s immersion into these rivalries sees “The Dawg Pawd” jump all on a huge home triumph in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry and closely compare the two SEC programs tied for the 2nd-most SEC championships, with 13 apiece, Tennessee and Georgia.
The top defense in the nation leads the way, as Kirby Smart seeks his second SEC crown and first national championship, as a head coach. He was a big part of many as the key assistant. This could be Kirby’s time. The pieces may be there for breakthrough to winning it all.
Defense!…Defense!…Defense!…I’ll be talking about defense a lot on this week’s podcast, after UGA held a talented Auburn to just 6 points. Which begs into question the old coaching axiom: defense wins championships. …Does defense win championships still?
Tops in the nation in scoring defense at 12.6 per game, Georgia returned 8-of-11 starters to the nation’s #3 overall defense at season’s end. After giving the Hogs an opening touchdown and a kick. Auburn got just two kicks. The Georgia defense is nasty!
The Dawgs are currently giving up an unobtainable for long 8.0 points per football game. They also even directly scored 8 points (not counting an extra point) at Arkansas. On the season, that’s -8 points total, even if you place the special teams of the oppositional foes with their offenses. We are getting outscored just on defense alone, by only 4 points per game on average. Easy to find the points to beat that.
Georgia entered the postseason #1 in total defense, too, last season, which is yardage, only to finally have the levee broken by Louisiana State University, as they had a football year for the ages. They were an undeniable force, but Georgia was right there behind them, and we had both our leading receivers (Cager out for game and Pickens out first half) not starting, and our leading rusher – who was leading the SEC in rushing – Swift, all but out at feature runner: He was a decoy who played in a handful of total plays, in the last two games of the whole season, after getting hurt in Atlanta against Georgia Tech, as Georgia set a scoring dominance rivalry record for a single game in our in-state pairing, which we’ll sadly not be seeing this year. Tech gave us a good half, and then we really put it to them. Look forward to them rejoining us in battle, especially as my new next door neighbor in Historic Druid Hills is the Voice of the Jackets.
His lady is a producer of AL.com, by the way, covering Bama and Auburn. She [Goldman] said to me out front, “Auburn didn’t show up.” Me: “Our defense is nasty.”
Georgia Glory. …In a dominating total team performance, the Dawgs immediately and completely smashed Auburn 27-6 in the Classic City Saturday night, much to our delight. First played on Feb. 20th of 1892, I’ll be celebrating that day outside at the spot of the game, in Frederick Law Olmsted’s Piedmont Park, the emerald jewel of Atlanta, this winter in my hometown.
Happy the Hairy Dawgs are my in-state team.
…And boom just like that the SEC East division is already on the line. Here come the Big Orange. Game 3 is upon us in the world’s most watched college football league, where the old power triumvirate of Georgia, Florida and Tennessee have thrust forth in the national rankings, with Bama-Georgia-Florida ranked 2, 3, 4 in the country and with another Georgia border state team, Clemson, in the top spot.
The SEC’s longest winning streak resides on Rocky Top, where the (#14/#12, in two polls) Vols have gone on a nice enough eight-game tear, but fret ye not my red-and-black clad faithful, the schedule they’ve played therein has been pretty weak, as any annual Tennessee schedule is always front-loaded with the hard games in the first half of the season. And throw in an improbable neutral site comeback over Big Ten non-power Indiana, in the very last bowl game played before the national championship. I caught the end on TV. They pulled out an onside kick and things and stuff that just won’t work in Athens.
Not in Kirby’s Athens, where Coach Smart has Georgia on the precipice of greatness, or at least positioned to possibly reach greatness. We have a dynamite football team at UGA for the 2020 season, fans.
By the way on scheduling, the Tennessee rivalry will be moved to the back of Georgia football seasons, ongoing, with the Auburn game moved to the early season, in its stead. Auburn complained to the SEC that the end of their annual schedules were too stiff, with three-time consecutive SEC East champ Georgia and constant thorn Alabama as their last two league games and petitioned to and got it changed; UT, as I mentioned having the front-loader, was able to see their future schedules not quite as daunting (Florida, Georgia, Bama) early out of the gate, and making Georgia and Tennessee instantly bigger rivals than ever before, with more key games between the all-powerful neighboring flagship institutions of states forthcoming, for championships.
Next BLAWG here at BHB, I’ll talk Georgia-Tennessee in more detail. In his career, Coach Smart has lost to them only his first year as a head coach, that the Dobbs Nail Boot game. Smart has dropped exactly one game to each primary rival, here in order of historical significance: Florida, Tech, Auburn, Tennessee, South Carolina – Alabama and LSU weren’t traditional rivals, and we haven’t been playing rival Clemson…yet. Tennessee is only so low down the rivalry rankings list because we did not play them much before divisional play began. They beat us nine straight times over 11 long years, once, and then Donnan broke through at home, followed by Richt on Rocky Top the day Verron Haynes got famous.
New rival mighty Bama has faced Georgia in two SECCG in Atlanta, where Dawgs are 0-2 (Richt once, Kirby once). The Natty overtime loss happened, of course. Remarkably, Georgia has paired up with the stronger LSU teams of all time regularly (1-3) in the SECCG in Atlanta, upsetting them under the steady leadership of All-SEC QB DJ Shockley in 2005 and losing to the Honey Badger in breathtaking fashion, as well as 2019 Joe Burrow, and other national champs prior. Saban was at LSU before Bama, after all, and they’ve had three different coaches win one ring each. Best ever Saban just blew another former assistant out, as Jimbo felt the wrath of the master this week. Hate that this is potentially a bit of a lookahead game for the guys, with the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry always major theater and spectacle, and the fastest-growing and most-marquee-moments rivalry in the SEC, Georgia-Bama, the big game on the capstone slotted for Game 4. The league surely didn’t do Georgia any favors in the first half of the season, with a very tough schedule we may not be able to navigate wholly unscathed. …Bama…Florida loom, but not now…
Hope the boys are laser focused on the Volunteers, and they will be. This type of speculation and peaking ahead is just fine, for the fans and this is a fan talking to you. The schedule peak ahead is a privilege of fandom the actual team, and to some extent the coaches, just can’t have much, unless they want to drop games, by not being focused.
Which is about what happened with Carolina in Athens last year, Georgia had a big schedule coming up and had beaten Notre Dame. This is a trap game, by definition, with the very next game the white wale we’ve been seeking, and coming off a showcase rivalry win. Tougher spot this week than last year’s lone upset of UGA, and Tennessee has so much momentum right now that they very well could play us well, possibly win.
Tell you right now I’m picking Georgia, but this could be a much tougher game for our beloved Dawgs than Auburn was. All glory to Ol’ Georgia.
Sic ’em, Dawgs!
Check this out y’all: What I’m reading and really digging is humorous book: “I’m a Dawg, You’re a Dawg” by Jeffry A. Head, a Georgian and proud alumnus of the University of Georgia. Head, now an attorney, resides in Mobile, Alabama.
This is raw 1970’s UGA, on rare-in-its-fullness, funny display. The subtitle of the book gives you an indication of the overall feel of the storytelling, as it references the notably zestful and fabled Bulldog experience in Athens, Georgia: “I’m a Dawg, You’re a Dawg: And we all picked up some fleas in Athens.”
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