You're never as good as your wins or as bad as your losses. --- A college football coach trying to explain his team's worst lost in years, presumably.
However bad it was on national television, I assure you, it was worse in living color. Georgia lost 38-10 to Alabama in front of a soaked, dejected crowd in Sanford Stadium. I wouldn't say that crowd was at full capacity, but given the buckets of rain that had fallen on the Classic City beforehand (and continued to fall throughout and following the game) it was surprisingly close. That crowd felt a lot like some of the crowds I sat in during the Jim Donnan era, and that frustrates me. The crowd knew from the middle of the first quarter that Georgia was being outplayed, and that something big was going to have to happen to change the calculus playing out before us. It never did. We weren't surprised.
Let's get this out of the way: Greyson Lambert did not lose this game for Georgia. At one point in the first half the scoreboard noted that Lambert stood at 6 of 10 passing. I remarked to our Editor Emeritus seated beside me, a man who knows from heartbreaking losses to 'Bama, that it couldn't be right. But as I thought back through the preceding few minutes I realized that in fact Lambert had completed more passes than he'd missed on, and that he'd been even been victimized by a drop.
The thing is, Greyson Lambert didn't take the team on his shoulders and win this one either. He didn't even keep it close. After that 6 of 10 start Lambert was 4 for his next 14. Part of that was that he was throwing into very small windows, as the Crimson Tide linebackers and secondary were right on top of every Bulldog receiver in sight. But the thing is Lambert generally wasn't even throwing into those tight windows. He was shuffling around the backfield staring at them in a state of paralysis. As former Bulldog receiver Tavarres King put it on Twitter . . . well . . . I'll just let him tell you.
Bruh need to stop throwing check downs... At some point you gotta get some Staff/Murray in you and believe in your cannon— Tavarres King (@TKUnoDos) October 3, 2015
That's not a call to start Brice Ramsey. There's a happy mean between crippling doubt and "Screw it! I'm going deep!" I still believe Lambert's our better option to find that. In their last 14 games Georgia quarterbacks have thrown 6 interceptions. That's 0.43 per game, which isn't really a bad number at all. The thing is that Brice Ramsey has thrown 4 of the 6. After starting 0 of those games. And throwing less than 20% of the pass attempts in those games. Ramsey has a great arm. As Mark Richt noted last night he is better at throwing a wet ball than Lambert. But he simply can't be trusted not to turn it over against quality defenses. Not now. Maybe next year, but not now. I digress.
Georgia essentially lost this one in two ways: poor play up front and big play opportunities. The best single unit on the field Saturday was the Crimson Tide defensive front, and they were better than the Bulldog offensive line by a degree which was game-altering. This one is a manhood check for a unit which many, myself included, have lauded as the best in the conference. They'll have to earn that plaudit back from me.
As far as big plays go, this one came unhinged because Alabama did to Georgia what Ole Miss did to Alabama. A special teams touchdown and a defensive touchdown were all that separated this one from being within reach in the second half. Georgia's failure to take advantage of a turnover early and a penalty that gave them 1st and goal at the 10 (followed by an 11 man yakety-sax routine resulting in the same 3 points taken off the board after the penalty). You get only so many shots to swing the momentum in a game like this. Alabama took advantage of 2 big ones. Georgia let 2 slip away. It's a tale as old as time.
Alabama had a lot more to lose in this one than Georgia. An 0-2 league start would have all but eliminated the Tide from playoff consideration. Georgia on the other hand could actually afford to lose this game and remain in the picture. But I'm not sure they could lose it in this fashion and not be required to to do something utterly extraordinary to wash the stain out of voters' minds. That something extraordinary would likely involve winning out, heading to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game, playing this same Alabama team and beating them. I cannot imagine that happening. Literally, I just tried and came up with nothing.
The thing is, I also didn't see Georgia being a part of the title conversation in 2007, either. You may recall that Georgia was demolished by a Lane Kiffin-coordinated offense run by an unproven QB that year as well. The Bulldog team that made Jon Crompton look like an actual SEC quarterback would have been in the 4 team playoff had such a thing existed at the time. I also can't say at this point that Georgia won't win out and by some fluke of interdivisional play end up with an Ole Miss team against whom they match up much better than the Tide. Or an LSU team that I believe is 1 or 2 turnovers away from the kind of game Georgia played on Saturday.
So take heart. The season isn't over. Go vent a little. The Bulldogs play a game this coming weekend against a Tennessee team that desperately wants a win and will have this one circled on the calendar. Mark Richt cannot allow Nick Saban's squad to beat him twice. Because that would in fact be a very, very bad look.