I don’t want to sound spoiled. I really don’t. Beating Tennessee is fun, and it will be fun from here until the end of my days. We just beat the heck out of Tennessee, 38-12. The Red and Black have now evened the all-time series against the Vols. Dang right, I’m happy.
But this Georgia football team did not play its best football today. It will have to play much better very soon to remain undefeated.
This summer I wrote a post listing the top five things that could derail this Georgia team. Some of them appear unlikely, though not impossible. Rodrigo Blankenship remains the most reliable kicker in college football, for example.
But there are definite signs that this UGA football team is very good though not great, and has some work to do to bridge that gap. The defense’s day was statistically strong, as they surrendered 209 total yards, most of them in the second half. Tennessee was a mere 2 of 10 on third down, which isn’t a great way to win football games. Kirby Smart challenged his team after they gave up 170+ rushing yards to Missouri last week, and they responded by surrendering only 66 to the Volunteers.
But poorly timed penalties remain a real, dangerous issue. You can put Tennessee back on offense with a pair of third down penalties and survive. Against LSU or Auburn that could mean disaster.
And while I hesitate to say Jake Fromm is having a sophomore slump, it’s fairly clear that he still has some work to do. Fromm finished the day 16 of 22 passing for 185 yards. But he also had one near interception, and a couple of fumbles which fortunately weren’t recovered by the other guys. Some of that was owing to a Tennessee front which got good pressure, especially in the first half. And Fromm’s efficiency is obviously way ahead of where it was last year, when the ‘Dawgs won in spite of their freshman QB.
Speaking of fumbles, Georgia had four of them on the day but managed not to lose any. Against a better team, any of those could have turned into an absolute dagger.
Perhaps most worrisome, it looks like the injury bug may really be having an effect. Andrew Thomas still looks a little slow to me from time to time as he deals with a gimpy ankle. And while Cade Mays is better, earlier than I thought he’d be, he’s not Ben Cleveland, either.
It’s not all bad news. Justin Fields still doesn’t have the whole playbook at his disposal, but boy what he does have is fun to watch. Elijah Holyfield continues to gain confidence and picked up 78 yards on 16 carries. Brian Herrien added 56 yards on 9 carries. It’s not hard to imagine that the Bulldog running backs might surge forward on fresh legs as they did late in the season last year.
And again, 26 point win over the Hillbillies. Not a bad day. But once again, not our best. Will this team put it together next week? Maybe against LSU? Or will we have to wait until 2019? No one really knows, but I’d feel a lot more comfortable if they’d hurry it up. Until later . . .