Doing the Unspectacular

October 14, 2018
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ON THE WAY BACK HOME - The first loss of any season is the one that is the most disheartening. 

That’s certainly the case after Georgia’s loss at LSU Saturday night. There is much to keep in perspective. There is also plenty to question. 

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The margin of error, in terms of not winning the SEC and still getting into the CFP, is gone. Its hard to know how much that really existed to begin with. That wasn’t the path for Georgia last year, and while Alabama pulled that off a season ago, it feels unlikely a non-conference champion will get into the playoff in 2018 because of Notre Dame’s surge (but there’s half a season to go still…). 

 

Georgia should still win the SEC East. It should still play in the SEC Championship Game. So it can still defend its crown and, in fact, win it all. 

But we are a far way and many adjustments and improvements away from those things happening. Florida and Kentucky are very real challenges along the way back to Atlanta. Getting past LSU or Alabama will be a mighty struggle in December. 

First things first, Jake Fromm has to perform better - period. He has to execute and hit throws that are there. He’s the starting QB, and he’s earned that over time. But because he’s the starting QB means that he’s going to play a lot, and when he’s playing he has to play better. A year ago it took him until about now to really get going. He’s not had an unreal game yet this season - after Saturday its hard to imagine him lighting folks up. 

But he will get his chance because the key to beating Georgia is stopping the run, or convincing UGA not to run the ball - either works. This UGA run game isn’t as effective as a season ago, but it is still one of the best around. 

Saturday Fromm was asked to do more, and he didn’t or couldn’t do it. That needs to change.

UGA coach Kirby Smart repeatedly pointed out that if you don’t stop the run in the SEC you will lose. UGA gave up an embarrassing 275 rushing yards on Saturday, and it lost. The defensive line was without some players, but this group has been far too up and down this season. That has to change. Those linemen need to take on the challenge of being better against the run. 

Florida, Kentucky, Auburn and Georgia Tech are all run-based offenses. Only Auburn has what one would describe as a quality QB. You stop the run of those teams, and you win going away. Saying it is one thing - doing it is another. 

275 rushing yards allowed is unacceptable. 

Georgia’s coaching staff should absorb the bulk of the “blame” for this loss. The fake FG seemed to change momentum. The likely three points would have been massive at the start of the fourth quarter. Not sticking with the run game was questionable. 

When you are averaging 6.3 yards a carry in the first quarter and are running over people the simple question is why you would structure your offensive scheme around a quarterback, Fromm, who ended the first quarter going 1 of 6 and ended the game going 16 for 34 with two interceptions. Fromm was obviously not playing well from the start of the game and couldn’t correct it during the game. 

Punting is a wake-up-in-sweats nightmare right now. 

Nothing went well Saturday, and UGA was in striking distance to score, only down ten, at the start of the final quarter of the game. It wasn’t a game UGA should have lost, and it did, and that’s on Kirby. He acknowledged that after the game.

So at least there are no confusions about living in Never Neverland.

That this is a younger team than in the past doesn’t excuse poor execution. Defenders can line up quicker. The offense can be more crisp. Nick and Sony aren’t walking through that door. You’ve got what you’ve got, and we are halfway through a season where Georgia has clearly been the better team and imposed its style of play on everyone it has played except LSU. 

The Tigers beat Georgia the way Georgia typically beats everyone else - with solid but not spectacular QB play, a heavy run game and solid special teams play. LSU was Georgia Saturday. 

Now the Dawgs will have to lick their wounds during the off week and get ready for what is pretty well the game of the season, as usual… the Gators. First, Georgia should beat Florida. But the Gators have enough players, like LSU, to fight Georgia all of the way. If UGA plays the way it did Saturday - poorly on the field and outcoached on the sidelines - it will lose, and the entire world will start questioning Kirby’s tenure.

If they win, which they should, they won’t be able to erase the mark of this loss until December. But you have to get to December first, and that starts on Monday. This team is too good to goof around and lose again in the regular season.

Lastly, enough talk about leadership and “stepping up”. This is about execution. This team needs to start, one by one, executing specifically what it is supposed to do on each snap. That’s true leadership - doing the unspectacular every play. 

Doing that will solve the problem and make this team the best version of itself - something we’ve still yet to see this fall.

 

 
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