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Georgia Football

Legge's Thoughts: Gut Check Time for the Georgia Bulldogs

October 2, 2022
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MIDDLE EARTH - Georgia Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart didn’t have the ability to shake hands with Missouri’s Eli Drinkwitz after the game because a few players from both teams had to be separated. 

Kirby and staff weren’t taking any chances with something dumb happening heading back home before playing Auburn Saturday. Nearly an hour after the game the two huddled - perhaps catching their breaths from what could have been here in Columbia. 

Georiga won. Missouri lost. Stop me if you’ve heard that before. 

Missouri has seen this before - 2012, 2016 and now 2022. 

What changed this time is the “way” in which Georgia won. It won’t be good enough to satisfy its rabid fanbase; recapture the feeling of winning a national title over Alabama in January; or fulfill the national expectations at Georgia these days. 

Georgia has to play better. Kirby told us in the tiny cave where his press conference took place that the Dawgs “got their ass whipped”. He was talking about the line of scrimmage - which side of the ball I can’t recall specifically. He was right. Kirby knows there is work to be done. He knew after the USC game that Georiga wasn’t what folks were trying to say they were. 

No one is. Everyone is beatable. 

But the real problem right now are the turnovers. This team isn’t good enough to give the ball away five times over two games and survive… particularly without getting the ball back. 



         The Georgia Bulldogs WIN the 2021 NATIONAL TITLE!

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When we dive into the drive chart - Georgia pretty well did nothing the first five drives of the game: three and out, fumble, three and out, punt and fumble. That’s not the Dawgs we have seen the entire season. This was the worst we’ve seen from the offense. 

Then, and only then, did the Georgia we’ve seen in 20222 arrive - scoring on its next six possessions. Twice Georgia had the ability to score a touchdown inside the Missouri red zone. Twice Georgia stalled at the 11-yard line. 

But, again, if you give away two of your 12 chances to win you are forfeiting about 4.5 points per drive. That’s another nine points. That Mizzou scored three of their points off of turnovers didn’t help. That’s 12 points. That’s a lot of points. 

We don’t erase points from the scoreboard. That’s good news for Drinkwitz as he’s got a kicker out here stroking multiple 50-yarders in a game. 

Missouri was there to fight for what’s left of their season. They had the No. 1 team in the country in their joint, and they were trying to make a point. Georgia, it seemed, had to give all it had to survive, and survive it did. 

Surviving counts. 

But this team is younger than you would think, and it feels like these last two weeks are a part of them growing up. Everything isn’t going to be easy - Stetson Bennett has been saying that, but real-world experience is always the No. 1 way to learn. 

Other teams get to play, too. And they are trying to take you out because you are Georgia. Because you are the No. 1 team in the country. Because they’ve beaten their heads against the wall a million times against the Dawgs, and they’ve won once. 

Alabama has faced this for years - and Georgia has faced it to some degree. But Malaki Starks hasn’t. Kamari Lassiter hasn’t, either. Growing can’t be a theory, or some word salad. It actually happens, or it doesn’t. If you remember being a teenager - you remember there’s a lot of not fun that goes on with growing up. 

It is a journey - and Saturday was a journey to escape from Middle Earth with a win.   

Georgia isn’t making too many field goals. It is attempting too many field goals. I don’t have an issue with made kicks. They count. Missouri would have scored an entire touchdown Saturday night without their kicker, who must be a local legend. 

Two 50-something-yard FGs? Seriously?

We had nine kicks attempted Saturday night. I don’t recall any of them ever being close to being missed. Maybe the 56-yarder was close, but that going in gave Missouri a fourth quarter 10-point lead, and riled up the crowd. They had not been that hyped since they got on their feet for the Missouri Waltz earlier in the game. 

What in the Lawrence Welk is going on out here?

But it wasn’t enough. It is getting to the point where you have to beat Georiga twice. Texas knows about that. Teams like Alabama and Georgia aren’t going to give up their seasons on the road just because we’ve got some guy who looks like he was doing keg stands on Thursday is out here drilling it from midfield. 

Georgia is out here to win - pretty or not. And it was not pretty. 



         The Georgia Bulldogs WIN the 2021 NATIONAL TITLE!

                         Check out DAWGSTRUCTION NOW!


But you are allowed to win anyway you can. And the win over Missouri was about a program grinding out a win that was extremely challenging. Georgia trailed the entire night. Larry Munson would have loved the torture of it all. 

Just when Georgia’s defense had to continue to stop Missouri - it did. The Tigers didn’t cross midfield in the fourth quarter. As Darth Vader would say: “Impressive.” The truth is Georgia totally smothered the Tigers in the second half… but the first quarter, specifically, made this way harder than it needed to be. 

This is about getting better at efficiencies. The season won’t be half through until the 127th meeting between Auburn and Georgia concludes next weekend. Then we will have a fuller idea of what this team can really do. How Georiga plays against Auburn matters a lot. 

We now know they can blow out teams that are quite good. We know they can punch SEC East foes into submission. We know they can survive. We know they are mentally tough (and that matters way more than folks realize). 

We also know they aren’t magicians. We know they can’t rely on Jack Pod the entire season. We know that touchdowns are worth four more points than field goals. We know that Kelee Ringo and the corners going to have to get better as time goes on because they are going to get challenged simply so that Georgia can stuff the run. This is the defense. It is what it is. It isn’t going to change. 

It is up to them to get it done. As awesome as Malaki Starks played Saturday night - and he really saved the Dawgs will his determination to stop a touchdown on the one-yard line - even he left some plays on the field. 

This is about cleaning all of that up (every little bit adds up)… and getting as healthy as possible coming into the stretch run of the season. Yes, South Carolina and Missouri are physical, but Auburn, the Gators, Vols and Kentucky will be more so.

This won’t get simpler. If you wanted that you can hang out in the ACC or be Oklahoma and get 40-something hung on you in the first half. That’s not what this is. This is grind it out football. What do you do when you have to win in spite yourself?

Clemson gutted one out at Wake. Alabama at Texas. USC at Oregon State. Ohio State against the Irish. It is going to happen. You are going to have to do this. This is a competition - not a coronation. 

Each yard matters because every play matters. Georgia won because it valued each yard. It stopped Missouri when it needed to, and its offense got rolling when it had to. Georgia needs to play better (sure), but it had to do what it had to do Saturday night. 

And it did. 

Georgia’s foe this coming Saturday night managed to build a 17-point lead only to see it collapse along the way. Auburn is in a special kind of purgatory. They know they are getting a divorce, but the papers haven’t been signed yet. 

There is no “let’s do it for the kids” here. 

Auburn is a mess. Missouri was a mess, too, but no one will out-mess Auburn. They’ll come to Athens ready to fight - probably for about a quarter. After that they just don’t have the players to stick with Georgia. Now, you give the ball away twice again, and you have a problem on your hands. 

The Dawg Post crew was wrong about the Missouri game - and how. I do think Auburn is going to try all it can to fight on Saturday. But at the end of the day Georgia is too good to lose this game without giving it away itself, and in the last eight quarters of football UGA has regressed to doing that a lot. 

In spite of that, Saturday night proved you have to play 60 full minutes to get the job done against the Dawgs. 

That’s going to be tough for Auburn. That’s going to be tough for anyone. 

Meanwhile we’ve seen the Pac 12 surge of late. UCLA and USC are undefeated. The Bruins’ 40-32 win over Washington Friday night puts them at 2-0 in league play. USC goofed around with Arizona State, but pulled away late to win 42-25. Oregon, if you are keeping score at home, continues to light up the scoreboard - throttling Stanford 45-27. 

Kentucky gave away a win at Ole Miss. Amazing. They were the better team and lost. We saw that with Arkansas last week against Texas A&M. This week the Hogs weren’t the better team and lost. Bama’s 21-point fourth quarter made a very uncomfortable game appear to be a blowout. It wasn’t. 

Rutgers and Ohio State nearly got into a coaching staff fight. Michigan beat Iowa in one of the dullest games I have seen - and I watch a lot of the ACC. The Taters took care of NC State, and appear on their way back to the ACC Championship game with little more than Florida State and Syracuse in their way. 

Penn State beat Northwestern, but not without being in a one-game score with the European Champions in the fourth quarter. 

State pummeled A&M. At 3-2, Jimbo and the boys are halfway to their four-loss mandate. Then again, you can’t trust a single thing about the Aggies. There is no telling what will happen in Tuscaloosa this weekend. 

I know this - Alabama is significantly better than A&M. I just don’t know if they are consistent enough to embarrass them - and the status of Bryce Young and his shoulder is problematic. Also, Nick Saban, bro look… CBS is paying a lot of money to Alabama and therefore you. 

To get agitated with the CBS sideline reporter immediately asking about the status of Young after a game was unnecessary. Saban is better than that - at least he should be. Then again, he will use any opportunity to snap at reporters for no good reason. 

She was right to as the question - and would have been derelict in not doing so. Everyone in the country wanted to know the answer. In fact, she handled his hostility appropriately - ignoring it. 

And then there’s Oklahoma. 

I’m old enough to remember the full triggering the Sooners had over the summer when I talked about Brent Vanables and recruiting. To recap: 

Lester AKA Lezer commented: “I really like BV bringing integrity back to the culture. Will he change college football.. No. Will he change OU.. yes”

Actually, it looks like he’s changing Oklahoma. They are regressing. 

“Have you looked at the 2023 247 Recruiting Rankings. I can’t believe you haven’t taken this down yet! Venables is out-recruiting Georgia.”

I mean. That’s not accurate in any way. 

Curbside Critiqe says: “He’s getting it done and you are mistaken.”

If getting it done is going 0-2 in the Big 12 for the first time in eight years - yes. Yes, he is getting it done.  

Austin Kendall: “This take isn't going to age well over the next couple of months.”

And yet here we are a couple of months later. Austin 3:16 means TCU just kicked your ass. 

DJ Hopson: “Get your facts straight before reporting. It’s his ship! Deal with it.”

Lol. Opinions are not facts. I know this is hard to understand at times considering our media landscape. Here’s a report for you: You aren’t having a good Sunday morning DJ. Bless your heart DJ. 

Texas Christain rushed for 361 yards on 41 carries. 

Look, I don’t know what the future holds for Vanables or the Sooners. But it was obvious this wasn’t going to be an ideal season in the summer. Why was that so hard to understand? Right now OU isn’t tough. And a lot/all of the talent that mattered left when Lincoln and company checked out for USC. Oklahoma folks are envy hating USC, which they are welcome to do. But OU needs to worry about OU - not Lincoln Riley. 

When you are getting your ass whipped by Kansas State and TCU it shows you have a long way to go in the Big 12. It is going to get even worse in the SEC. Vanables has a couple of seasons to get this right before coming into the league. 

And it is always hard to coming to a new league. Ask Colorado, Miami, Texas A&M, Missouri, Nebraska and the rest. 

How about Not Geoff Collins’ Jackets? A stunning win on the road at Pitt. What’s that say about Tennessee, which went into overtime with the Panthers earlier this season? It says they won the game, and will be in the top ten this week. 

Either you win (Georiga; Tennessee), or you don’t (Oklahoma; Pitt). 

Win and don’t look back. That’s the case when you lose as well. Whereas Darnell Washington’s default is super kicking defenders midair - Georgia’s default is to win. It is hard to get to that default, but it is hard to unlearn what you have learned. And Georgia has learned to win. 

Saturday night showed that. 


 
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