Posted: 11:27 pm Thursday, October 13th, 2016
By Jay Black
It’s not often in college football that a team actually does what you expect them to do (unless you’re Alabama).
That’s what makes this thing so much fun.
In August, you think you know which ones you will win and which ones you won’t. And every year you are reminded that nobody knows anything.
Except for the first six games of the “New Era” in Georgia football.
There was so much hype, so much talk, so much excitement about how the season would go because, that’s what happens when you get something new.
And the result has been — well — extremely predictable.
Kirby Smart has won the games you thought he would win, and lost the games he was supposed to lose.
Considering the last guy got canned for not doing that enough, is that progress? Probably so.
Of course, just because the result has been predictable, doesn’t mean the path to this 4-2 record has been predictable.
A fourth quarter domination of North Carolina. The Nicholls State sleeper. The Missouri Miracle. The other miracle. That blowout at Ole Miss. A game on a Sunday.
Yeah, it’s been a bit of a ride. But halfway through season one, it could be a lot worse.
Georgia is 4-2. It looks like a 4-2 team. It’s good. It’s not great, but it’s not bad and that’s ok. For now.
Frankly I’m not sure how you could expect anything more than this because of the ability that is here. Mr. Smart might end up being great, but he’s no wizard with a Hogwarts wand.
The problem is consistency. And that’s what you get with a young team under new management. Through the first half of the season, Georgia has not been able to find one thing it can rely on from game-to-game.
That go-to trait should be running the football and I do think those problems have worked itself out. But working out those issues nearly cost this team a couple of games.
Georgia’s secondary is first in the SEC in interceptions, but ranks second in allowing big plays.
The front seven hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in a game all season. Or 90 yards. Or anyone to get more than 80 yards (TJ Logan, UNC). That’s fantastic. But UGA is still ranked third from the bottom in tackles for a loss and eighth in the SEC in sacks. They had five though against South Carolina, which nearly doubled the season total.
Then there’s the one player that completely personifies this team and this program. You know who at QB. One moment he looks like Joe Montana (last pass against Missouri, Tennessee) and then next he looks like some guy named Joe from Montana (the sack fumble against the Vols, every play in a Sunday football game).
“He’s had his wow moments and he’s had his bad moments,” Smart said Tuesday. “You know that you’re going to inherently go through some of those. You’ve got to encourage, you’ve got to teach, you’ve got to improve him as a player so there’s progress there.”
Eason has already had his highlight reel memory, but he’s also had the fewest passing yards in a game for a Georgia quarterback since 1990. Work. In. Progress.
Yet none of this should be too disappointing or surprising. If you’re looking for a point of contention or a major reason to complain, it’s the guys Eason is throwing to.
It appears Georgia has a serious problem at wide receiver. Little Isaiah McKenize has twice as many yards as the guy who should be the No. 1 wide out in Terry Godwin and McKenzie has only 60 yards in his last three games.
Isaac Nauta may very well be the guy before the season is over, but there is very little talent here.
And the kicking game has been a true mess, which you could argue did more harm to Georgia against Tennessee than the final Hail Mary did.
So halfway through this season the grade has to be a B-. That’s fine. But this is what happens with a young team and a new coach. For every yin is a yang.
Yes, if the Hail Mary goes better, then Georgia would be in position to win the division. But, has this team truly played well enough to earn that?
Kirby Smart said on Tuesday that he doesn’t like to talk about expectations. He just wants to see improvement. He wants his kids playing “their best game, this game.”
That will be the barometer of this team for the second half. How much better will it be in the final games than it was in the six to start. That is where Kirby will be judged.
Because — if everything sticks to the script — the Dawgs can win every game they play.
And if that happens, it will be hard for anyone to be too disappointed if this team records another 10 win season.