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15 Thoughts Says It’s Great To Be a Georgia Bulldog.

2023 SEC Championship - Georgia v Alabama
This was ruled a catch. It wasn’t.

And there it is...

Michigan (they're cheaters, ya' know)
Washington
Texas
Alabama

FSU
Georgia

Florida State is not better than Georgia, but it’s all minutiae now. We have a chance to prove it in the Orange Bowl which is a bitter consolation prize for both teams. Texas deserved their spot for their head-to-head victory in Tuscaloosa. Bama has enough cache, I suppose.

1. I haven’t written a 15 Thoughts after losing in 2 years. Think about that for a second. What we accomplished since the 2021 SECCG is amazing and despite yesterday’s result, I wouldn’t trade where we are (and, where we’ve been) as a program for anything. Kirby is the ultimate competitor and what happened yesterday probably doesn't sit too well.

I was in school and experienced Georgia’s early 80’s run first hand. As great as those teams were, it was largely dependent upon a single dominant player, Herschel Walker. By the mid-to-late 80’s, Georgia became just another good team as Vince Dooley's career wound down. Then, in the 90’s Georgia regressed for an entire decade until Mark Richt renewed the program.

It’s completely different today. This will prove to be a bump in the road and more championships lay ahead. But the here and now totally sucks.

We played like dumpster juice and hot dog water soup and still would’ve won the game by 4 if the refs hadn’t gifted Bama their typical TD. I’m not sure if that says more about us or Bama, honestly... -Cherokee's Grip

2. Sigh. We simply played our worst game yesterday, yet still there were paths to victory if we get a stop, or maybe a fumble (that nearly happened). Mike Bobo got away from what got him here, in my opinion. Why did we prioritize the running game over passing? Why are we tossing the ball to the outside on short yardage situations? This will be dissected by brighter football minds than I, but questions abound.

3. I’ll never understand why Isaiah Bond’s drop wasn’t reviewed, yet Arian Smith’s obvious catch took about 8 minutes to finally get confirmed. The SEC officiating really screwed us and I could not agree with this more. It’s worth a read.

3a. Bama got away with a ton of uncalled stuff. It usually works both ways, but not from what I witnessed yesterday.

4. Bama’s ill-gotten TD before the half and the illegal procedure that did end up affecting Peyton Woodring’s 50 yard field goal that would’ve been good from 45 where just a couple of “what ifs” in a game full of them. But the bottom line is we missed some plays and didn’t execute in so many areas of the game, it’s hard to keep track. As poorly as we performed for much of the game, Bama only bested us by 3.

5. A tip of the cap and “thank you” to Brock Bowers and Ladd McConkey. Those guys were nowhere near “full-go.” Bowers’ simply wasn’t the same guy who shredded Auburn before his ankle injury against Vanderbilt. But Brock played and did his very best. Why didn’t Oscar Delp get involved more? Ladd McConkey really gutted it out and made some plays although he was in agony at times. If both those guys are healthy, I think we win despite ourselves.

6. Mike Bobo scripted a perfect initial drive. Why couldn’t we replicate this? Of course Bama adjusted, but getting too cute on 3rd and short killed us (we were 4 of 12 on 3rd down yesterday). The fumble deep in our own end was just a bad call and even worse execution. The risk outweighed any potential reward in that moment. That play looked a bit desperate.

7. We need to replicate, as much as possible, the type of interior defense that we enjoyed in 2021 and 2022. Ideally, a big-body Jordan Davis or Jonathan Jenkins type nose tackle. I realize they don’t grow on trees, but Davis was a 3-star afterthought and we found him. There are a few dudes in the portal. Hope we can persuade a few to come to Athens.

8. Our pass rush must be more consistent. We actually sacked Jalen Milroe 4 times yesterday (and had 8 tackles for loss), but more often than not Milroe had too much time to loiter in the pocket. I hope that’s the last “Jalen” that we have to face wearing Crimson and White. If they get another dude named Tua, I’m retiring.

9. Fix the middle of the defense, then focus on boundary defense. That has been our Achilles all season long. Right now, we’re playing some really young guys at linebacker who are still learning. They’re good, but they’ve got a long way to go. The experiences over the last month should serve them well going forward.

10. My heart literally sank when Amarius Mims went down with a re-tweaked ankle injury. He was an absolute manimal on Georgia’s first drive of the game. Xavier Truss had to spell Mims, but that wasn’t going to work for long. He’s simply not the player that Amarius is. Depth at both tackle spots needs to be addressed. Earnest Greene had a tough time, especially in the 2nd quarter. Hell, everyone did as Bama really flexed. Yet, we probably go to halftime only down by 3 if the SEC officiating was 1/16th competent.

11. We are losing Kendall Milton and Daijun Edwards and they will be missed. The Dawgs have recruited well at this position, but an experienced, physical back from the portal is important while we begin to identify, develop and rotate the youth at the position. Georgia has talent, with more coming in the next recruiting cycle.

12. Special teams, with the lone exception of (hello!) Anthony Evans’ brilliant 31 yard punt return, were not up-to-snuff. We survived Jared Zirkel’s opening kickoff that had much to be desired. Woodring still has to make that kick from 50 that hit the upright. I think Mekhi Mews is a liability on punt returns. I dig the kid’s heart and he has value, but just not in that role.

Kirby had Mews and Evans on punt return. Mews ran a decoy, drawing the defenders away from Evans who nearly took it all the way.

13. I do hope Carson Beck returns in ‘24. If he does, he’s got an off-season homework assignment: Work on the deep ball. The 51-yard pass to Arian Smith (I knew he had a big play in him) was underthrown but should have been a long touchdown. That hurt because we had to settle for a field goal. Beck is deadly in the intermediate passing game and has a pro arm, but for Beck to become a next-level QB, he’s got to hit those. The latest example is one of many that failed to connect this season.

14. In a game this consequential, we have to score touchdowns in red-zone opportunities and we failed to do this a couple of times.

15. It was a great season, folks. I know you are as deeply disappointed as I am because we now have an exhibition game against a big-time recruiting rival coming up in Miami that, at least today, feels like just another bowl. That’s what happens when you haven’t met “The Georgia Standard.”

In the blink of an eye, the season is all but over. Portal and signing day madness is up next. We’ll get through it.

BONUS THOUGHTS:

  • Michigan is going to get murdered by Alabama. Not because Bama is some sort of offensive velociraptor, but because Michigan is about the most average #1 team in the nation.
  • I was hoping we’d draw Ohio State in the Orange Bowl.
  • I will miss The SEC on CBS. You will, too. I’m already a pretty nostalgic kinda’ dude and I think Brad and Gary are, too. In fact, I believe this was very difficult for them to do as they said goodbye last night. CBS puts on a consistently great product, especially from a production perspective. A lot of their vignettes and pre-production has been incredible over the years. Yeah, “Shut Up, Gary!” is a thing, but I reckon I’ll miss that, too. So long, fellas. And thank you for doing what you did for all those years.

That’s all I’ve got.

Always and Forever, It’s Great to be a Georgia Bulldog.