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Georgia Football

The Only Team That Can Beat the Georgia Bulldogs is the Georgia Bulldogs

November 17, 2022
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ATHENS - Kirby Smart and the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs are going to be tough to beat - unless they give the other team some help. 

It’s truly hard to believe there are only two regular season games left in the 2022 season. This highly anticipated season coming off the first national championship in forty one years is now down to a frigid tilt with Kentucky and a pseudo-practice game with Tech. While I do believe the Wildcats will put up a fight Saturday with their bruised egos, the only thing that will get in the way of another undefeated regular season is... Georgia. Further, the only team that stands in the way of a repeat championship is... Georgia.

Football is a funny game. You can be a preseason Top 10-ranked team and end up not bowl eligible in a dumpster fire program that can be seen from the International Space Station. You can also have a first-year coach and rise unexpectedly to be undefeated and firmly in the top 4 of the CFP rankings. You can also build a program that somewhat quietly continues to grind opponents down despite losing so many great players to the NFL.

Georgia is without question that team. Week in and week out, Georgia just goes about the business of winning. No glitz and glam, just winning. We’ve all seen the statistics on both sides of the ball and where the Dawgs stand. Statistics don’t win games, though. Just ask Tennessee. The CFP committee even said as much Tuesday night when the rankings for this week were released, saying there is separation between the Dawgs and everyone else. To me, this simply means the decision makers see what many see – that UGA is just better than the other contenders.

It’s a fun exercise to look at predicted spreads for potential opponents. The oddsmakers in Vegas are generally spot on, and each of the predicted spreads for potential CFP opponents have the Dawgs as winners. I think we’ll all take those odds. Having watched several games of all the Top 8 (much to my wife’s chagrin), I do think there are teams that would present some resistance to the Red and Black machine that is Kirby Smart’s program.

But resistance doesn’t equal wins. It simply means that their best against our best won’t be enough. Back to the thesis of this article – so, if the other potential contenders aren’t viewed as favorites in any situation, how can the Dawgs be beaten?



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        Sunday, November 20, 2022 || Red Zone in Athens



 

How can Georgia beat itself?

This may be viewed as “duh”, but I submit to you there are two areas where the Dawgs are their own biggest threat. First is turnovers. Georgia is -2 on this season, ranked 82nd in the nation. Wowzers. For a team that prides itself on discipline, that’s not very disciplined. I can think of three of Stetson’s five interceptions that were either great defensive plays or just bad luck. There have been, however, several passes that should have been intercepted that were not. Good luck?

The Dawgs have also fumbled eight times after only having five in the entire 2021 season. While putting the ball on the ground is troublesome, not creating complimentary turnovers to cancel out our whoopsies puts pressure on a young defense when the opposing offense is given additional chances to score. So far, turnovers haven’t cost the Dawgs a game although they came very close at Missouri. So, what happens when Georgia plays a team with equal talent? Will two turnovers be easily erased against Ohio State? In a rematch with Tennessee? I don’t know, and to be honest I don’t want to find out.

The second “duh” area is penalties. The Dawgs are averaging 4.4 penalties per game this season, down from 5.4 last season. The only team in the CFP top 6 with a better penalty rate is Michigan at 4.1. Both Ohio State and TCU both come in at 4.9 penalties per game, while LSU sits at 6.9 and Tennessee at a whopping 7.9 penalties per game. These numbers look pretty good for the Dawgs, but I go back to the questionable roughing the punter call in the Mississippi State game. That bad man Jalen Carter had sacked the MSU quarterback on the preceding play.

The penalty gave MSU a first down and a chance to close the gap. Penalties are another measure of discipline along with turnovers. And while the aggregate penalty numbers for the Dawgs are really good, a discipline lapse against better teams could spell trouble. Sacking CJ Stroud with a 14-point lead and then giving him another opportunity to score off of discipline breach is very different that what happened this previous Saturday. 



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Turnover Trouble?

While I am not as concerned with penalties as I am turnovers, backsliding in any of these areas is the only thing that can stop Georgia. OSU struggles against physical teams and can’t seem to stay healthy. Michigan can’t throw consistently and hasn’t truly been challenged by any opponent other than Penn State. TCU is an enigma in that has only shown the requisite physicality once this season. Tennessee evidently needs turf, good weather and a neutral site to be on par with the Dawgs. LSU is a nice story in Brian Kelly’s first season but cannot protect their quarterback and can’t tackle to save their lives.

All of the contenders don’t match up well with Georgia’s physicality, offensive balance, and a suffocating defense. While each of these teams may have some success against the Dawgs, none will be able to stand up to the pressure that Georgia puts on every opponent on both sides of the ball. Cover Brock Bowers? I give you Darnell Washington and Ladd McConkey. Want to throw quick passes to mitigate the pash rush? I give you JDJ and Smael Mondon rattling your teeth when you do catch the ball. I give you Chris Smith and Malaki Starks filling the lane with reckless abandon. What this team and staff has shown is that they have an answer to every potential problem you bring. You punch, and the Dawgs answer with a combination.

Kirby famously said last season that the Dawgs weren’t practicing to beat somebody, they were practicing to beat everybody. He also said something this past week about how there was no overlap between the last few opponents. Meaning each game has a different gameplan on each side of the ball. There are different calls and formations this team has to learn with respect to each team they play. That’s incredible to me that this staff can get this young team to learn and execute different things each week.

This doesn’t bode well for future opponents in that you cannot gameplan for tendencies. All of this to simply say there is no opponent that scares this team. And the only team standing in the way of a repeat national championship is none other than our own beloved Dawgs.

 
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