You know when your friends post pictures on social media of their idyllic vacation? Hiking the rim of some volcano in Iceland? Enjoying a perfect sunset in Hawaii? Smiling with the kids on the beach?
It’s all a lie. Well, not a lie per se. Those things probably happened. But they were approximately 2% of the story. No one ever posts the photos of themselves being delayed seven hours in the Moline airport, or getting violently ill from the dodgy conch fritters, or the screaming, sleep-deprived family brawl over the radio station.
Georgia’s 21-0 win over Kentucky tonight was the Facebook vacation album of conference wins.
Georgia has put away Kentucky in a daylong downpour that (temporarily) leveled the playing field. Bulldogs bounce back from the debacle vs. South Carolina.— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) October 20, 2019
If you don’t dig into the numbers you’ll come away with the impression that Georgia played well enough to dominate in terrible conditions against an overmatched visitor. That’s not what happened here.
Let’s get this out of the way up front. For the second week in a row the bulldog defense was perfectly blameless. They pitched a shut out in SEC play and didn’t give up a single completed pass until inside of five minutes left in the game. The ‘Cats gained only 177 total yards and were an anemic 3 of 13 on third down. I’m not saying a good offense won’t soon expose some of the issues we’ve seen with tackling and busts in the secondary. But Kentucky absolutely wasn’t that team.
But while we’re talking about being exposed, let’s take a moment to note that Georgia went 3 full quarters without scoring a single, solitary point against a Kentucky squad ranked ninth in the SEC in both scoring and total defense. Yeah, it was raining. Football is often played in the rain. That doesn’t explain the crippling, all-consuming trepidation with which Georgia approached this game.
I know, you thought there’s no way Jake Fromm could help but bounce back from the 3 interception game he had last week. Not if James Coley had anything to say about it.
You: “There’s no way Jake Fromm doesn’t bounce back from that South Carolina game.”— Four Pumpkin Turnovers (@dawgsports) October 20, 2019
James Coley: “Bet me?” pic.twitter.com/1lr6xG0f7G
I expect that in a few minutes we’ll hear Kirby Smart talk about how they knew the weather would be bad and that their game plan was to come out and not allow turnovers to lose the game. Kirby Smart will view this as definitive proof that his offense’s tendency to slowly wear on teams until they eventually yield is supported by the evidence.
He’ll take this position despite the fact that 7 short days ago it went horribly wrong. No one’s asking Kirby Smart and James Coley to throw the ball 20 yards downfield on every snap. The receivers they’re working with frankly aren’t going to get open consistently if they try. And D’Andre Swift’s 179 yards on 21 carries was the kind of bell cow performance you can certainly build an offense around.
But in the same way that Bulldog fans argued during the Mike Bobo era that scoring a bunch of points in and of itself isn’t enough, many are now fairly pointing out that failing to score points despite winning the field position battle and controlling the clock on the way to ultimately chalking up a “W” is a little troubling, too.
Because a merely competent offense is likely to engage the UGA offense in a track meet it can’t win. Florida’s offense looks more and more competent as the weeks go by. Auburn’s has had its moments. And if it gets that far Alabama and LSU passed the “competency” exit four touchdowns back at 125 miles an hour.
Seven games into the season is too late to change your offensive identity, even if you want to. Georgia has a bye week within which to make whatever incremental changes they can, and to get as healthy as possible, before facing a game that sets up as a make-or-break for their SEC title and CFB playoff chances, and a surprise referendum on the status of the program. The winner of the 98th installment of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party takes the mantle as the likely favorite to win the SEC East. If that’s Georgia it simply means that the program is where we’d all like to believe it should be. If it’s Florida, it looks a lot like Kirby Smart’s presumed stranglehold on the division is looser than many thought.
A 21-0 nothing win is great. Except when it’s not. And if Georgia puts up 270 yards of offense in two weeks, the Bulldogs will lose. If that happens, this game will be forgotten for reasons other than those that Kirby Smart and his staff would prefer. Until later . . .