JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — My column on Georgia’s stunning 38-20 loss to Florida will be posted soon. Until then, here are my three “Short Takes” on the game.
UPDATE: Here’s a link to full column on MyAJC.
1. HELLO SECOND-TIER BOWL; GOODBYE, PLAYOFFS: Before Saturday, all of Georgia’s goals were on the table: SEC East, SEC title, national playoff berth. No. 1 is still possible because the SEC East is such a mess. No. 2 theoretically is available, even if probably not realistic, because the SEC West champion almost certainly will be a heavy favorite over the East winner. No. 3? Forget about it. Even if Georgia wins out, the loss to Florida means the Bulldogs’ two defeats this season will have come to two mediocre teams, the Gators and South Carolina. Those two entered the week with a combined conference record of 4-7. It would be stunning if the college football playoff committee took a two-loss Georgia team with those kind of defeats on the Bulldogs’ resume. And the rest of the nation would scream.
2. THIS WASN’T JUST ABOUT GURLEY: Could the suspended Todd Gurley have made a difference in Georgia’s offense? Sure. He’s nation’s best running back, at least when he’s actually on the field. He might have enabled the Bulldogs to score more than seven points on their first four possessions, when the offense drove the ball but stalled three times. But this was mostly about Georgia’s one-dimensional offense. Once the Dogs fell behind 21-7, they had to pass more. This offense isn’t built for that. The limitations of quarterback Hutson Mason were again evident. Mason threw for 319 yards but much of that came in mop-up time.
3. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE DEFENSE? It’s never good when you’re being compared to Kentucky, which is what happened to Georgia’s defense. Jeremy Pruitt’s improving unit had been a big reason for Georgia’s recent ascent. But the Dogs, who had been allowing an average of only 105 rushing yards per game, were gashed by Florida for 418 yards on the ground and had two 100-plus yards rushers, Matt Jones (192) and Kelvin Taylor (197), for the first time since a win over Kentucky in 2011. It was highest Florida rushing total since a 1989 game — against New Mexico (466). The previous season-high against Georgia: 176 at South Carolina. Most of Georgia’s defensive problems this season have been against the pass; it ranked No. 2 in the SEC against the run entering the game. Add to the humiliation that Florida’s offensive line isn’t even considered that good.
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: No Gurley (oooh, scary); but Dogs over Gators — AJC: Rules are dumb but that’s no excuse for Todd Gurley — MyAJC: Mark Richt deserves credit for holding Georgia together — AJC: NCAA mum but Muschamp expects Gurley to play vs. Florida — AJC: Will Arthur Blank make move with Mike Smith (and reader poll)? — MyAJC: Georgia Tech takes advantage of Pitt’s fumble-fest — AJC: Short takes: Georgia Tech 56 (points), Pittsburgh 6 (lost fumbles) — AJC: LIVE: Tech’s defense must improve vs. Pitt — AJC: Weekend Predictions: Falcons lose, Jackets pull upset, Dogs in prayer circle — AJC: Will a fresh perspective elude Braves? — MyAJC: Todd Gurley’s return would raise Georgia’s ceiling again — AJC: Why did NCAA say yes to Mo’ne Davis but no to Todd Gurley? — MyAJC: Why playoff picture looks good for SEC (and Georgia) — MyAJC: Here’s good news: Falcons are leaving country — MyAJC: Georgia Tech continues to stomp on hope — AJC: Weekend Predictions: Dogs win, Falcons lose, Jameis enabled — AJC: Georgia dealing with reality, FSU avoiding it — MyAJC: Does NCAA care that public sentiment favors Gurley, athletes? — MyAJC: Georgia’s response heard loud and clear — MyAJC: NCAA needs to realize amateurism is dead — AJC: Minus Gurley, Dogs must overcome flaws — AJC: With Gurley suspended, is Georgia done? — MyAJC: If Gurley broke rules, that’s on him — AJC: Weekend Predictions: No Gurley, no Dogs, no kidding — AJC: Blank stands by Smith, Dimitroff. What say you? — MyAJC: Arthur Blank won’t give Falcons’ mandates, speculate on future — AJC: Falcons have turned this week into a must-win game — MyAJC: Georgia Tech’s season may be turning into something special — AJC: Short takes on Georgia Tech’s win over Miami, starting with … defense? — AJC: Tech has a chance to take charge in ACC Coastal — AJC: Braves should have left Gonzalez decision to new GM