Posted: 9:23 pm Saturday, October 29th, 2016
By Jay Black
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — I have a computer screen full of stats and notes to explain how truly awful Georgia’s offense played against Florida, but this might be the most damning number of all.
Georgia had 59 more total yards in last year game with Faton Bauta making his one and only start at quarterback than it did this year.
That decision might have been the last straw in the Mark Richt Era. This game will cast plenty of doubt on the new one.
Last year’s game was the worst I’ve ever seen a Georgia offense look. Until tonight.
Without fail, the Gators always seem to bring out the truth about the University of Georgia. So in 2016 we know, the Dawgs were a much better team at the start of September than they are at the end of October.
In case you’re wondering, forward is in the other director.
If there’s a time machine anywhere in this part of Florida, the Georgia fans still here would pay a lot to push a button and go back to that happy, fun time in Atlanta against North Carolina.
In September, Georgia seemed like the class of the SEC East. Kirby Smart had all the answers, Jim Chaney’s offensive mind was pure brilliance and Sam Pittman’s line looked like it was going to squish anyone that got in the way.
Nick Chubb had 58 more rushing yards in that opener than Georgia had total yards today.
Saturday’s total yards: 164. Rushing yards: 21. Second half yards: 47. Second half rushing yards: 2.
Florida’s defense is one of the best in the country, but today Georgia made them look like the best in the world.
You have my permission to hurl.
“It’s frustrating because I really thought we would be able to run the ball in this game,” said Smart. “I thought we could move them up front and get the thing started.”
Georgia’s offensive line sure did do a lot of moving, but the heels were hitting first.
It’s going to take Jacob Eason a long time before he stops seeing blue shirts in his sleep. The stat people here say he was hurried 16 times and sacked twice. It felt like it was about 80.
“That’s what they do best,” said Smart. “They’ve got some really good pass rushers. (Eason) made some throws that helped us, but we couldn’t sustain it. We were one-dimensional, and that made it tough.”
After what we’ve seen the last two weeks, all thoughts and expectations of this Georgia team must be thrown out the window.
An offensive line that has some talent can’t be counted on for much.
A Heisman Trophy caliber running back can hardly get out of the back field.
Special teams. Well that’s still a gigantic issue. And a whole other column.
A group that won 10 games a season ago now might not make a bowl game. Eight weeks ago, a return to the Georgia Dome for the SEC Championship game was very doable. Now it might be the Birmingham Bowl or bust.
4-4. 2-4 in SEC play. Georgia hasn’t won a Saturday since it stole one against Missouri in Game 3.
So Coach Smart where do we go from here?
“You talk about it. You are open about it and realize the way to improve is go out, practice and get better. We’ve improved in some areas, just not enough.”
Yes, Georgia’s defense has been very solid. They’ve allowed 402 total yards in two games, with 162 of that on the ground. All that’s gotten them is two losses.
But even that is not without its issues.
The Dawgs defense has to make a lot of plays, but it’s still getting hit with the big ones at bad times. Florida was 9-for-18 on third downs, with some huge back breakers.
“You’ve got to get off the field on third downs,” said Smart. “You have to stop 3-and-10 90 percent of the time and we gave up two.”
That’s how thin the margin of error is right now. Georgia is one third down mistake, one penalty on the goal line, one bad punt (or several) away from a big problem.
Rebuilding is hard and the results aren’t usually what you hope for, but you certainly aren’t at fault for thinking things would get this bad.
There are very few minds Kirby Smart and his Bulldogs will be able to change in the next four weeks. The doubts are exploding and they will be hard to squash.
Maybe one day Bulldog Nation can look back on this and giggle. Remembering how bad things were as it watches a dynasty in 2020. But they don’t make time machines for that either.
The only thing to hope for now are signs of turnaround and a state championship.
Because it can get a lot worse from here.