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Georgia Football

Legge's Thoughts: It's Time for Georgia Step up Against Alabama

December 5, 2021
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ATLANTA - For more a minute and a half, Georgia offensive lineman Justin Shaffer turned to watch another Alabama celebration as he was footsteps from the UGA locker room. 

The Million Dollar Band was blaring, and three crimson flags were waving. First Zion Logue stopped to comfort the Atlanta native. Then Matt Luke turned Shaffer and hugged him. Kirby Smart, who had been hugging Warren Ericson, saw Luke and Shaffer and waited until their embrace was over to put his arm around Shaffer before walking him to the corridor. 

Then Smart and Lewis Cine embraced.

Kirby Smart has been no stranger in consoling his players as they leave the field after losses to Alabama at the Dome. The question is if he will ever get to embrace his players with red and black confetti falling from the sky rather than crimson and white. 

It’s hard to have taken in Saturday at the Dome and come away thinking Kirby and Georgia will ever topple Alabama. This was a Tide team that, after all, had escaped Auburn; had barely escaped the Gators; had slopped around with hapless LSU and had lost to the Aggies. 

Alabama, as always, continued to save its biggest set of guts or best performance of the season for the Dawgs. It is what it is as Nick Saban has been known to say for a long time. 

So what now? Alabama is the No. 1 see in the College Football Playoff. Georgia will take on Michigan in Miami. The questions is if both teams, who are favored to win their semifinal games according to FanDuel, will make it to Indy for yet another edition of this game. 

At some point Kirby and Georgia have to prove they can win this game. And that confirmation needs to be for themselves more than anyone else. Georgia has the better team. Georgia does not have the better quarterback, and that is something that will continue to get close scrutiny as time goes on. 

And it is a subject Kirby Smart will be asked about for the rest of the year and season. I doubt he will make a change at that spot. Why? Because if he was going to make a change he would have done so down 14 in the fourth quarter when Alabama just couldn’t put the game away. 

You should expect Stetson Bennett to be the starting quarterback for Georgia the remainder of the way. What you should not expect is that he will become something he is not. Bennett has yet to prove that he can throw the ball more than 40 times in a game and Georgia win. 

In games where Bennett has thrown 39 balls or fewer Georgia is 16-1. That one loss is when he left the game due to injury against the Gators in 2020. Games where Bennett has thrown the ball 40 times or more? 0-2. Both losses to Alabama in games with multiple throwing errors. 

The question is if Georgia can play Alabama in a way that Bennett doesn’t have to throw the ball 40 times or not. So far the answer to that is no. It is going to have to be yes in the future. 

But Georgia’s defense didn’t do Bennett any favors. The Dawgs were totally outcoached on that side of the ball - it is the reason they lost the game. Up 10-0, and with firm control of the game, Georgia’s defense then surrendered a 31-7 Alabama run that is too much for any team to reasonably be expected to survive. 

Young wasn’t pressured. Alabama’s offense looked crisp and explosive. The Tide did in the second quarter what UGA has done all season - wrestle the game away, and pretty well win it. Georgia was down seven at the half, and inside the Dome it felt like they had lost. 

Which is another problem - none of this is going to be easy. This isn’t the ACC. If you are trying to win the national title Alabama has been, continues to be and is right now in your way. They will be in your way in the future. There is no easy path for Georgia.

They are going to have to do it.

The only college football team remaining without a loss is Cincinnati, and no one expects them to win it all. As of Sunday morning, Fan Duel expects either Alabama or Georgia to win the national title game. The Tide are a very slight favorite to win it over the Dawgs after their massive win. 

So the path is straightforward now - win two games to win it all, or not and spend here until eternity explaining why Georgia can’t do something it so clearly has the ability to do, but hasn’t. 

It’s time.

 

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