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How Will the 2020 Georgia Bulldogs Be Remembered?

January 12, 2021
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ATHENS - The Georgia Bulldogs finished the most up-and-down season of the program’s history ranked No. 7 in both major polls

A result like that probably won’t do in 2021, but in 2020 - after starting three different quarterbacks in a seven-game period and with a fourth quarterback and presumed starter opting out just as the season was about to kick off - surging at the end of the season for the program’s fourth consecutive top-ten finish wasn’t all bad. 

Kirby Smart’s program is clearly on better footing heading into the fall, but a look back it seems clear the Bulldogs were not poised to win it all. Only Alabama, which Georgia led in the second half on the road, was able to be king in 2020. 

Georgia seemed to have three different seasons in a matter of ten games. 

The first three games, where UGA moved from D’Wan Mathis to Stetson Bennett, were part struggle (first half deficits to lowly Arkansas and Tennessee) and part unexpected surge (the emergence Stetson Bennett and the dubbing of Auburn). 

The middle three games - Alabama, Kentucky and Florida - knocked the Bulldogs out of contention in the SEC East, showed the struggles of the offense and quarterbacks and led to the once-and-for-all change at signal caller. 

The final four games, State, Carolina, Missouri and Cincinnati, showcased the Bulldogs’ offense and new QB JT Daniels. The USC transfer rifled his way to 1,231 yards, 10 touchdowns and two picks while completing 67% of his passes. Players who were wide open in Todd Monken’s offense were hit with the ball - usually on time and in rhythm. 

Georgia was a different team those final four games of the season. Scoring was easy. Daniels and the Bulldogs averaged 37. 3 points a game - nearly ten points more a game than the first six games of 2020. The production opened eyes around the country. 

Georgia’s offensive explosion at the end of the year was coupled with a defense that started getting back into rhythm as the season closed. UGA’s defensive performance against No. 8 Cincinnati to close the season was one of that group’s best showings of the year. The Bearcats struggled to move the ball at all in the second half, and two big sack-fumbles flipped the game for the Bulldogs for good in the fourth quarter.

Each season has its own version of what could have been. But for Kirby and this UGA group it is hard to know how things could have been a ton better considering the merry go round at quarterback. 

No, Georgia didn’t play well in its two biggest games. Beyond Alabama and perhaps Texas A&M, who did? Clemson? Notre Dame? Maybe Ohio State? Can we say that about a four-loss Gator team? A two-loss Sooner squad?

2020 was kind to nearly no one.

Will 2021 be any different?

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Tags: Kirby Smart, 2020
 
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