The Problem with Georgia: Nobody Can Identify the Problem with Georgia
The life cycle of a Georgia fan is a crazy thing. Starting at the outset of a calendar year, fans’ expectations climb slowly but steadily into spring practice, reach a fever pitch through the summer, and at unreasonable highs once justified with a couple of September beatdowns. Then, the inevitable crash.
Its hard to consider Saturday’s loss to Tennessee ‘heartbreaking’. As Georgia fans, we have to live with the fact that we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment by following the team, as this marks at least three straight seasons (and many prior) of failed expectations and goals.
But why is this? I’m not going to turn this into a #FireRicht piece, though I do have one hastily and angrily drafted in the aftermath of Saturday’s game on the backburner. He is the constant, yes, but there are a lot of variables at play that make Georgia the nation’s most consistent overachiever at underachieving.
Alabama is susceptible to mobile quarterbacks. Good Auburn (or Nick Marshall Auburn) is beatable if you can force their quarterback to throw into narrow passing lanes. Southern Cal is susceptible to getting beaten by unranked teams, especially at home on Thursdays. The point being: there is a blueprint in place to beat every team in college football.
What is that blueprint for Georgia? It varies, and that’s what is eating away at me.
Going back to last year for a little bit more sample size:
South Carolina: L, 38-35: The Dawgs were playing their second game under Jeremy Pruitt, and couldn’t stop South Carolina on the ground or through the air. The Cocks ran for 176 and threw for 271, and one can call this a ‘scheme adjustment’ defeat. You have the obvious bad playcalling/missed field goal sequence, as well as the questionable spot at the end, but Georgia’s D simply was not getting off the field. Things got better, then…
Florida: L, 38-20: Outside. Zone. Run. The Dawgs weren’t prepared, then failed to adjust. The fake field goal was an early punch that had Georgia reeling, and the Dawgs never fully recovered.
Georgia Tech: L, 30-24: Listen, Georgia’s defense is plenty talented, and as we’ve seen (and I’ve said repeatedly) Tech wasn’t that good last year, and is proving it this year. 399 rush yards notwithstanding, a pair of goal line fumbles allowed the Jackets to stay in the game and win it as their mojo increased (and kept right on going through an Orange Bowl win against Mississippi State).
Alabama: L, 38-10: We were here for that one just two weeks ago! 20 minutes of field position exchanges, an easy TD for the Tide…then the wheels came off. Jake Coker had the best game of his career against a secondary that nobody thought would be amenable to such a result.
Tennessee: L, 38-31: Lord have mercy. Obviously, the Chubb injury was an early taste of adversity. But the Dawgs prevailed for the time being, taking a 24-3 lead late in the second quarter. A big 4th down touchdown and a fumble on the ensuing kick later, it was back to a one-score game with the Vols holding all of the momentum.
Schematically, there was not any one thing that derailed the Dawgs. Tackling is an effort thing, and the only common denominator between the hashes was a defense that failed to tackle in each of the aforementioned games. Offensively, each of these games saw extended scoring droughts as the defense let the momentum slip away.
What I’m trying to say here is this: Georgia underperforms because, for some reason, the team cannot handle and appropriately respond to adversity. There is no system, adjustment, or player that has Georgia’s number. The only team that is consistently excellent at beating Georgia is well…Georgia. Shit, maybe this is the setup to a #FireRicht piece, after all.