Georgia Football: Shades of 2012? Win Out, and All is Well
Are we really going to try to talk ourselves into this again? Yep.
Pragmatically, if you’re going to lay an egg, it is likely best to do so in a game you never really had a shot of winning, anyway. And that’s not to say that Georgia couldn’t have beaten Alabama on Saturday. The offense and special teams put the defense in compromising positions throughout the first half. The only template that beats Alabama is isolating their young corners 1-on-1 with receivers, preferably with a mobile quarterback, not getting into a rockfight with their superior trench play.
As Jason Kirk of SBNation said, the problem for Georgia is that they’re built, in the Alabama template, to beat a lot of teams. Alabama, with a similar template and better athletes, just isn’t one of those teams.
With Florida’s emergence, Georgia’s margin for error is zero. Where have we seen this before?
Ladies and gentlemen, your 2012 Georgia Bulldogs. With an earlier start to the season, Georgia went into October sporting a 5-0 record. The big game circled on the schedule throughout a pedestrian September slate? Jadeveon Clowney and the 6th-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks. I don’t need to remind anyone how that turned out, but the ‘just get us the hell out of here’ second half gameplan after a first half boatracing was eerily similar. How similar, you ask?
- Georgia QB Aaron Murray, at SC: 11/31, 109 yards, 0 TD, 1 int
- Georgia QBs, Alabama: 11/31, 106 yards, 0 TD, 3 int
Astonishingly, Georgia was more ‘in the game’ against Alabama than they ever were against South Carolina that night. But given the strength of the SEC East that year (South Carolina improved to 4-0 in SEC play, with the tiebreaker with the win), Georgia is in better position today than we were at this moment three years ago.
Obviously, this post assumes Georgia wins out, or gets help in dethroning Florida (who still has to travel to LSU out of the West). But the game in Jacksonville is an ABSOLUTE must-win. Outside of that, here are what I see as the keys to Georgia getting back to Atlanta with a legit shot at the playoffs:
- Win out. This goes without saying, but a climb from #19 in the polls to playoff contention hinges squarely on the Dawgs repeating 2012 and taking care of business.
- Recalling the lethargic effort at Kentucky in the aftermath of the South Carolina game in 2012, Georgia has to come out guns blazing at Tennessee on Saturday. The Vols need this win even worse than the Dawgs do, and the mindset has to be one of desperation.
- Hinging from #2, this is where I lose faith a little bit: Brian Schottenheimer has to put more faith in the passing game. I am this website’s foremost Greyson Lambert critic, and frankly lack faith that Georgia survives the next seven games unscathed on the backs of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel alone. The Dawgs are more talented than any team they face from here on out (with the possible exception of Florida) and need to allow the defense to play without one hand tied behind its back, as was the case on Saturday.
- The Dawgs are going to face some very talented defensive lines for the next three ballgames (at Tennessee, Missouri, Florida). This offense simply CAN NOT afford to be one-dimensional any longer.
- No more ‘Georgia-ing’. Formerly known as Clemsoning, this is a Georgia problem now. Special teams needs to be flawless. Ill-advised shots into traffic need to be limited. The offensive line has to do a better job of giving Lambert time. And Georgia can’t afford to win the next three then sleepwalk against game Kentucky, Georgia Southern, and Georgia Tech teams.
The template was laid out in 2012 on the back of a strong defense (check for 2015), a strong dimension of the offense (three years ago today, it was the pass. Today, it’s the run), and the emergence of some playmakers on the other side (2012 Gurshall, 2015… Lambert? Reggie Davis? Isaiah McKenzie?)
Win out, and all is well. Drop one, and we are doomed for another season in the long, tired, annals of, ‘what if’?