#SECPreviews- East: #1 Georgia Bulldogs
Because if you underachieve enough, sometimes you actually have to meet or exceed expectations.
We’re going to get a lot more in-depth with Georgia over the coming days, as I’m going to steal a page from SBNation’s Bill Connolly and break down each position by recruiting ranking and year, and add my own personal touch of stats. Obviously, the podcast and future writings will break down the schedule as well. The spreadsheet has taken me about five hours already and I’m about halfway done.
Given that news, I’m going to skip the ‘three key games’ and ‘five players to watch’ segments. With our capacity for bad losses, they’re ALL key. And I don’t need to rehash how important Malcolm Mitchell’s return, Nick Chubb’s continued awesomeness, the QB’s emergence, the DBs’ improvement, and the pass rush’s stability are. If you read this site, you know all of that.
But, we at DudeYouCrazy are in the content-generating game, so let’s at least hit it with…
What Happened Last Year?
Pretty much what I’ve grown accustomed to. Resounding wins and inexplicable losses. The opener against Clemson, even with a green defense, was a thing of beauty as the offense ran for 328 yards while the defense allowed 88 (on 43 carries), along with five sacks. The 45-20 win didn’t require anything in the way of turnover margin, a number in which Georgia finished on the losing end just once all season. Yes, that makes this reflection all the more painful.
Questionable calls (the Kublanow phantom hold, the pass/sack/missed FG sequence the unbelievably close fourth down to end it) doomed UGA in Columbia, SC, in week two, but we figured SC was just going to recover and be back in contention. Not a horrible loss, right?
The Dawgs then did work against Troy, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Mizzou, and Arkansas, losing Todd Gurley to suspension in the middle of the streak. With hope rampant that he’d be back against Florida, he…wasn’t…and…neither was the defense that carried the five-game winning streak preceding it.
As they are wont to do, they don’t generally lose consecutive mind-numbingly stupid games, and that manifested itself in a 63-31 shellacking of Kentucky that I recall being nervous about. Follow that with a cathartic blowout of Auburn and a snoozer against Charleston Southern, and hey! Right back in the top 10 with an outside chance of making the playoff!
Nope. Mizzou took the wind out of the Georgia sails by beating Arkansas and clinching the SEC East on Friday, and that hangover was evident as Georgia dominated and still managed to lose to Georgia Friggin’ Tech for the first time in almost a decade.
As the Alabama title game loss in 2012 (unfairly) did, the loss cost the Dawgs a sure trip to a ‘Group of Six’ bowl. The difference this time being that the Dawgs showed up and took care of a vastly inferior opponent in Louisville in the Belk Bowl.
In a brief synopsis, it’s the same old story: do some great things, suffer some inexplicable defeats. One should note that last year’s Dawgs finished #7 in FootballOutsiders.com’s S&P rankings, which take into account way too many factors to begin to list. They were one of six teams with both offense and defense in the top 20 (offense at 6, defense at 17). The others? Ohio State, Alabama, TCU and inexplicably Auburn and Arkansas.
Georgia’s 2014 team was an elite team without elite results.