The confusing start to the Kirby Smart era 

Posted: 8:06 pm Thursday, September 15th, 2016

By Jay Black

Kirby Smart has been more than a little upset with his team after last week’s clunker against Nicholls St.

PADUCAH, Ky. (Yes, we are driving all the way to Missouri) — So everyone got a little carried away didn’t they?

I’m guilty too. I bought in. I was a believer. I knew better than to raise my expectations after one game. My bad.

Kirby Smart arrived with his shaggy-haired gun slinger and used the dilapidated (rolls eyes) Georgia Dome as the south’s greatest washer and dryer.

Take a football team stained by issues, sprinkle in some Nick Chubb and Tar Heel fabric softener (they have the same color at least), crank up the spin cycle and watch all of the Dawgs problems wash away.

If it were only that simple.

Once again, we are reminded that one college football game rarely is a barometer of what will happen in the next one. Especially at the start of a new regime.

Who knew Nicholls State would be the great truth serum of 2016?

Frankly, I don’t think King Kirby would have been too upset if the Colonels played with the Dawgs for a half or so, just to bring everybody back down to Earth. Because a football team that doesn’t think it has any problems is one that’s about to get beat.

That being said, what happened last week took “reality check” a little too far (I’m glad I missed it. Congratulations to my little sister Ellen Black for picking that week to marry Will Bowyer. Oh, and congrats on their marriage).

Georgia is not two points better than Nicholls. You could argue there was about a 21-point swing in that fourth quarter because of a couple of silly turnovers.

Of course the issue is the starters for the University of Georgia were making a “couple of silly turnovers” in the fourth quarter against an itty bitty school in Louisiana.

Nick Chubb actually fumbled (gasp) against Nicholls State

Oh, and that school, 98 percent of the state hadn’t heard of, pushed Georgia’s offensive line around like a jar of salt. The same offensive line that helped Nick Chubb get 222 yards against North Carolina only got 167 total against an FCS opponent. And Chubb couldn’t even break 100.

“The bottom line,” said Kirby Smart in his Monday press conference, “we’ve got to block better.”

(Also, is UNC’s defense still that bad?)

A let down after that thrilling win against UNC was inevitable. It just was. But if there is reason for worry, it’s the last few sentences above. If Georgia doesn’t block better, it has no shot, because it can’t survive without being able to run the ball.

I don’t care how many times Jacob Eason has been anointed by the great QB coach in the sky. Nick Chubb is the man that matters here.

So now what? I’m so confused.

Is Georgia as good as it was against North Carolina when they looked like favorites to return to the Georgia Dome as SEC East Champions? Probably not.

Are they bad enough to get pushed around by some school from Louisiana? I doubt that too.

The question for Saturday is, where is the middle going to fall?

Charles Harris (91) had 18.5 TFLs last season for Mizzou

Missouri is becoming a factory for miserable weather, great baseball fans and defensive lineman. Since the Tigers joined the conference they have been ranked seventh, first, first and third in tackles for loss in the big bad SEC.

Sacks? Missouri has finished 12th, first, first and eighth.

In both of those categories, they’ve been better than Georgia each of the last three season.

“Those guys are disruptive in what they do, they are really explosive,” said Smart about the Tigers pass rush. “They know what they are going to do, they do it well and they do it really fast.”

Charles Harris was second in the league with 18.5 TFLs. He’s back. Walter Brady had 12.5. He’s back too. And now you can throw in Josh Augusta (355 pounds) who is fourth in the SEC with 3.0 TFLs this season.

So I told you all that, to say what Smart has already said.

“We have to block better.”

This is game comes at a great time for Georgia. Missouri is not Alabama, but make no mistake, the Tigers are more than good enough to win this game.

But they shouldn’t.

Either way, things will be a little less confusing when we head back to the Eastern Time Zone on Sunday.