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Georgia Football

Legge's Thoughts: Dawgs Blowout Carolina - UGA's Offense is Exploding

November 29, 2020
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COLUMBIA, SC - Georgia’s Saturday night win over the Chickens continued forward momentum  for the Dawgs. 

The offense was the best it has been on the ground this season (332 yards and four TDs). That comes a week after that group was the best it has been in the air all year (401 yards passing and four TDs). 

The question remains if and probably when UGA will put those two things together in one game. That’s pretty hard to do when one side is so much better than the other. It felt like UGA could have thrown for more balls last night, but why bother?

Carolina couldn’t stop the run at all. UGA went for 7.2 yards a touch on the ground. And that includes a couple of sacks against JT Daniels. 

All of that, combined with the Dawgs’ defense getting back to form against a hobbled Carolina offense, means the Bulldogs left Columbia having played their best game of the season (perhaps save the Auburn game). That the best game of the season came against the worst team on the schedule (so far) makes sense. 

But you play who you play each week. That’s something you can’t help. That often dictates how you play, but no matter who you play you need to play well. And we can all see that Georgia is playing better right now

Period. 

And it will get uglier this week for the Dawgs’ foe. Vanderbilt stands no chance to beat Georgia Saturday. Vandy is giving up 188 yards on the ground, which is good enough for 88th in the country. Georgia is going to kill them on the ground. That Vandy is allowing nearly 300 yards a game through the air is a bad sign. 

Georgia should eclipse the 500-yard mark on offense with no problem. 

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And what will all of that mean? It will mean that Georgia will slide into the final game of the season at Missouri with a date in a New Year Six Bowl on the line. Projections show the Dawgs matchup up with Cincinnati if they sweep these final two games. That will be a challenging matchup for the Dawgs, but we have a long way to go, and this team has improved here this last month. 

A lot of that has to do with the play of the Dawgs’ new starting QB, but Kirby Smart touched on an important point after the game. He talked about what this team has given up so far this season: 

“Yeah two off weekends they can’t really go anywhere. They can’t do anything. They’re scared to death of getting COVID or affecting a teammate. And that’s just tough. Their families. I don’t think anybody talks – we’ve got kids with relatives and family members that have been in the hospital. We had a coach lose his father. It’s tough, and it’s trying, and they’ve stuck together. And look, the support system we have at Georgia is tremendous. From the administration on down, they give us tremendous support. So to have people in your organization, like Jonas Jennings, like Bryant Gantt, they’re there for our players and support them when doubt creeps in. Do I want to keep doing this for two or three more weeks? I think the media perception is they love this - that this is fun. They have to work really hard. And for our guys to stay together, as hard as they have, as close as they have, it’s tremendous for me to see that.”

He’s right. This program isn’t playing for a conference title. There is no path to the playoff. And with the apparent exception of D’Wan Mathis - players have not checked out late in this season. We’ve seen that everywhere in college football and the SEC. Players opting out for the year. 

That’s not happening at Georgia. Why?

That’s the question. There must be a reason so many of the Bulldogs’ players are still on board at the conclusion of a year where their goals were gone as soon as the bus was loaded up to leave Jacksonville. 

Back to the win over Carolina. This is the fifth win in six years over the Chickens. All of those wins have been by double digits. South Carolina will be on its fourth coach in seven seasons when these two programs next meet up in Athens next fall. 

This is not a rivalry for Georgia. It is another in a long list of games the Bulldogs play. For Carolina there is a lot of romance in the game. This is USC’s second-most played series (73 games in history beyond only Clemson at 117). Several of their top wins in school history have come against the Bulldogs, and a few of those wins have come of late. Frankly, for decades Georgia was the only regional power that would play yearly home-and-away games with the Cocks.

Four of the biggest Carolina wins of all time have taken place against the Bulldogs - 2019 vs. No. 3 UGA; 2012 vs. No. 5 UGA; 2014 vs. No. 6 UGA and 1988 vs. No. 6 UGA. Part of that is the Dawgs are the best overall program South Carolina plays or has played consistently. Three of USC’s five most-played foes are NC State, UNC and Wake Forest. 

The fact remains that the Chickens are still getting a lot of their ACC blood out of them - even 28 years after they joined this league. The grounds around Williams-Brice have gotten so much better. The facilities are vastly nicer than they once were, which is really saying something because there is still a ways to go. That you have to take your life in your hands walking on Bluff Road is another matter all together. This state isn’t known for its roads. 

Still, this is back-to-back games for the Dawgs scoring 30 points or more. That hasn’t happened since the Murray State and Arkansas State games in early 2019. Georgia hasn’t had back-to-back 30-plus point games in the SEC since The 2018 Gators-UK stretch. 

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But getting four games in a row with 30-plus points is not out of the question. And that has not happened since the start of 2018 when Georgia scored 38 or more in the first six games of the year. We will see if that happens, but it seems closer and closer to likely. 

This team is getting closer to where they want to be. They just need to close it out right. 

MEANWHILE

I loved the idiot class that covers college football this week losing their breath about Georgia being in the top ten of the CFP rankings. Not sure their reaction this week after Oregon’s loss to Oregon State and Northwestern’s egg laying at Michigan State. I’m sure the will move on to something else to be outraged about.

One win does not make a season. Also, Georgia is going up against the reputation it has built up over the last few years. In many ways folks are unfairly judging this year’s team against the accomplishment of the last three years at UGA. And that’s not what this year’s rankings are about. 

Look across the landscape of college football. Indiana, which has improved, will slide closer to the top ten this week. But the Hoosiers’ best win is a loss to Ohio State. Miami? Their best win is a blowout loss to Clemson. The Canes have saved themselves against Virginia Tech (25-24), NC State (44-41) and Virginia (19-14) the last few times they have been on the field. Oklahoma has lost to both 4-5 Kansas State and Iowa State. BYU is certainly legit for what they have been, but the Cougars’ top win appears to be over a nondescript Boise team. 

Yes, Georgia has lost to the Gators and Alabama. Still, five of Georgia’s six wins have been by double digits. You want to put Iowa State ahead of Georgia? Go ahead. Just keep in mind that Iowa State, who very well could win the Big 12, lost to Louisiana. And please, save the talking points about a team that beat Georgia Southern by two points and lost to Coastal Carolina. 

Also, it is cute for Chris Low to stick the Chanticleers in his top ten this week (Low typically does a good job), but that’s not based in reality. In no world is Coastal a top ten team. A great story? Yes (unless they lose to Liberty this week), but folks get so far ahead of themselves with things.

Anyway you get the point - stop the foolishness. 

Speaking of foolishness, the regular clown show known as the Big Ten got back at it this week with a Michigan-Penn State matchup up to see who could do the least with the most recourses. I didn’t care who won the game. I just like pointing out how bad two of the most powerful schools in the country are right now. 

Notre Dame handled its business on Friday, but not without my Heisman front runner Ian Book tossing the ball forward on one play late in the fourth quarter like he’d never played the sport before. He will need less of the hero act and more of the 23 of 33 for 279 stat line he had Saturday night to get the Irish firmly in the playoff. I don’t see much in their way at this stage. Even a loss to Clemson in the ACC title game likely won’t knock them out. 

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I’m not writing about Dabo. He’s become an embarrassment. But Clemson did look back on track with their throttling of Pitt. 

Speaking of throttling: What Alabama did to Auburn was wrong. That game wasn’t competitive after the first quarter. Alabama is a machine. The Gators are going to have to play their best, most complete game of Dan Mullen’s time in Gainesville to win that game. And the more sideline shenanigans I see from Mullen and Todd Grantham the more I am convinced that won’t happen in a few weeks. 

I’m not sure how Jeremy Pruitt will explain away - if that’s the best way to put it - Tennessee’s performance this coming up weekend in Knoxville against the Gators, but I will be watching. Does it make sense for the Vols to make a move at the end of the year on Pruitt? Probably, but practically it probably won’t happen without a horrific loss… meaning Vanderbilt, who just fired Derek Mason. I just don’t see that right now. 

Ohio State needs to play, but even if they don’t I think an undefeated OSU gets into the playoff. If winning your conference actually mattered Alabama would not have been in the 2017 CFP, and Notre Dame would not have been invited in 2018. Those are talking points for the committee to snake around when that’s convenant.

Texas A&M is holding on. I think they get past Auburn, but they will need to make their case for the CFP these last two weeks. A total thrashing of Auburn would help their case. The Gators looked sloppy the first half of the Kentucky game before pulling away. The LSU game “might” be tricky, but it seems like the Gators should handle that before heading to Atlanta to fight the Tide. 

Oregon and Texas face-planted. Nebraska is a joke. 

It will be interesting to see the New Year’s Six Bowl games. It looks like Alabama, Florida, Texas A&M and UGA will all get big-bowl or playoff invites. It appears only the Big 12 winner (OU or Iowa State) will get into the NY6 games. The Pac 12 winner is likely the only team from that league who will get in. Cincinnati, BYU, Tulsa or Coastal are poised to get the mandated group of six spot. 

The Orange Bowl very well could be a matchup between the Gators and Miami. If Clemson loses twice it will be a lot of orange in the Orange with the Gators taking on the self-righteous Tigers. 

The Cotton seems most likely to take the Big 12 winner against A&M, but it should be pointed out that it “should” be the Orange that takes Texas A&M, but the bowls can sort of do whatever they want to do. The Fiesta will likely wind up with the Pac 12 winner against the backup from the Big Ten.

Nothing says college football like the Rose Bowl getting replaced by an Indiana-USC matchup in the Fiesta. Part of me thinks the Peach Bowl won’t get two top-ten teams, but that’s happened in the last four Peach Bowl games and in five of the last six. 

That event has come a long, long way. Gary Stokan, the leader of that organization, is going to do all he can to get the Bulldogs in Atlanta this holiday season. No, ticket sales won’t be on the docket, but something is still making me type that Georgia sells in Atlanta in a way that no one else can. 

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The finish is near. Georgia needs to sweep the leg on Vanderbilt to get ready for a trip to Middle Earth to play Missouri. Kirby and company are trying to get the slingshot ready for 2021, and a lot of it is already put together. Let’s see how the rest unfolds.

 
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