The midpoint of the Georgia Bulldogs' season passed after the Tennessee game, marking the point at which we would normally take a look at how things are shaping up midway through the season.But over the last couple of weeks Bulldog fans have had a lot more pressing things to consider. Like, existential crisis kind of things.
Now that we've all come to terms with the futility of hope, our own mortality, and the cold, unfeeling universe . . .how about we name some midseason superlatives!
MVP: Nick Chubb. In the strictest sense, the most valuable player should be the player whose presence or absence makes the greatest difference in a team's overall results. Anyone who watched the Georgia offense with Nick Chubb, even in a crushing loss to Alabama, and then watched whatever that was last Saturday can appreciate that it's a different animal when the Big Hound from Cedartown is the one in the backfield. Chubb is not only the guy you can count on to jam it into the end zone so you don't have to throw futile screen passes from the five yard line (yup, still bitter). He's also the guy who becomes such a focal point that Greyson Lambert gets single coverage on Malcolm Mitchell. The guy who's a threat out of the backfield. The guy who can carry the ball 32 times a game and get stronger with every touch.
I mean no disrespect to Sony Michel, or Brendan Douglas, or Keith Marshall (he still plays for Georgia right? Right Schotty?), but none of them is Nick Chubb, and sadly the results so far indicate that it's not as close a call as any of us had hoped. Honorable mention: Jordan Jenkins.
Most dependable: Malcolm Mitchell. Mitchell has become Greyson Lambert's security blanket. The wind beneath his occasionally flailing right wing. That alone would be enough to get him this award. But if we grade on a curve, if we're honest with ourselves about whether Malcolm would have made it through seven games without missing any significant time due to injury, this one is even more of a no-brainer. Honorable mention: Leonard Floyd
Top Newcomer: Jake Ganus. This was a close one for me, interestingly between two inside linebackers. One could easily go with Tim Kimbrough here, as his 46 total tackles is second on the team. Except that Ganus leads the team in tackles with 50 in his first (and sadly only) season in Sanford Stadium. Ganus has also picked off two passes, including one that turned out to be pretty big in the second half against Vandy. If only those chuckleheads in the Yellowhammer State could have razed a perfectly good football program a year earlier, right?
Biggest disappointment: The entire offensive line. Man, I hate to even cover this one. But when a team is ranked in the top 10 in the preseason and drops two straight to fall out of the rankings altogether, then squeaks by the way Georgia did against Mighty Mizzou, well, it's clear somebody isn't firing on all cylinders. Some would argue that this one belongs to Greyson Lambert, but I just don't buy that. Greyson Lambert has so far been an amplified version of what he was at Virginia: very good (even transcendent) against poor/mediocre competition, but in over his depth against the best in the game. That can't really be classified as a surprise.
For me the title has to go to a Bulldog front five who many (me included) believed was the best in the SEC this season. But after watching them fail to gain traction at all against Alabama, struggle in key stretches against Tennessee, and then get pushed around (and even have some mental busts) against Missouri, I've concluded that I overestimated this group. To be clear, they're not a bad unit. I still think they're in the top three in the league. But it's become clear to me that some of what I attributed to their excellence was a result of their excellence combined with Nick Chubb (and Todd Gurley before him) being on a whole different level.
Hope for the future: Terry Godwin. As Murf and I discussed on the podcast recently, Godwin's route running still needs some work. And his blocking isn't yet where it needs to be, largely because he needs to continue to develop physically. But this guy's got it. He makes plays with the ball in his hands, and he'll only get better as his technicals improve. Honorable mention: Trent Thompson. I'm not sure he will make good on my prediction that he would be starting by next Saturday, but he's playing enough that the starter's designation is a difference without a real distinction. The scary thing about Thompson is how much room to improve he still has.
Honorable, honorable mention: Rico McGraw. He's had some rough times in coverage. But that's the life of a freshman DB. He keeps coming back for more and is steadily improving back there. While the Georgia secondary is still a work in progress, Sanders, McGraw, Parrish, and Davis look like long term, steady contributors who could be great before they leave Athens.
So where am I wrong? Are there other superlatives who should be recognized before we hit the road to Jacksonville? Until later . . .