“Remember, you are mortal.”
It’s said that when a conquering Roman military commander would walk the streets of the empire, being celebrated for his victory and conquest, that a trusted servant known as an Auriga would walk behind him, constantly whispering this solemn reminder.
Because those who are celebrated for their invincibility need more than anyone to be reminded that they can in fact be brought low.
I want to be clear: I have seen much worse efforts from Georgia Bulldog football teams over the years. I may have even seen comparable efforts from Georgia teams coached by Kirby Smart. But I have not seen them in the past two years.
Georgia slouched its way to a victory this afternoon that felt like anything but. It was as incomplete an effort as we have seen from a team that appeared to be in a class of its own in college football.
Football, at its heart, is a relatively simple game. If you don’t turn the ball over, catch it when it’s thrown to you, and tackle the guy who has the ball quickly you’re generally going to come out okay. Georgia decided to test each of these maxims at one point or another on Saturday afternoon. Three first half turnovers kept the game far closer than it had any business being, despite the fact that the ‘Dawgs were rolling up yardage offensively. Then in the second half a Red and Black defense that started the game strong began to struggle with a Kent State offense that did this weird thing called “executing.”
Georgia gave up 23 points in all of September 2021. They gave up 22 to the Golden Flashes in three quarters. The Bulldogs once again churned out over 500 yards of offense, 528 to be exact. But they were halting, occasionally jerky yards, and the yards stopped short of the endzone. I don’t begrudge Jack Podlesny his three field goals, but the score of this one would be a little more palatable if a couple of those kicks had instead been extra points.
Kirby Smart said after the game that his team “needed this.” I’m not 100% sure he means that in the way some are going to take it. Several Bulldog starters played a full game when they could have used some rest late. That included Todd Monken’s top two offensive weapons, Brock Bowers and Kenny McIntosh, both of whom appeared to get dinged up late in a game most of us expected them to already be out of.
Kirby Smart has fretted a little this season about his team’s mental maturity. Until today you could be excused for thinking that was just a Type A coaching personality seeking a problem to which it could be applied. But the head Dawg coach sees his team more than any of us. That team faced some adversity today, much of it if its own creation, and responded by not falling apart.
That’s certainly preferable to going to pieces and needing a goal line stand to outlast Nicholls State. But this game felt like a serious teachable moment that could have been a dangerous situation if a couple of things had gone differently. I’m not in the business of fretting over 17 point wins as a matter of course, but this one looked to me like a good reminder to the Red and Black that they are, in fact, mortal. Let’s hope they heed the warning. Until later…