ATHENS — Georgia was not expected to be great offensively this season. The Bulldogs were starting a freshman quarterback (Jacob Eason) and a suspect offensive line, so any success figured to hinge on running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel ability to tiptoe around those problem areas.
Where Georgia was expected to be better this season was is defense, which is why Saturday’s loss to Georgia Tech at Sanford Stadium was so significant. The Bulldogs, who had been playing well on defensive of late and had stuffed Auburn for an upset win, allowed two touchdowns in the final six-plus minutes of the game — including a 94-yard drive — and lost to the Yellow Jackets 28-27.
For my column on the game and why I believe this loss falls right in coach Kirby Smart’s lap, click here.
Georgia fell to 7-5 with the loss, including 4-4 in the SEC. That’s the Bulldogs’ worst season since going 6-6 in the regular season in 2010 (before a Liberty Bowl loss to Central Florida). Question: Has this caused you to lose faith in Kirby Smart as a head coach?
Georgia’s offense had two red zone possessions in the third quarter that both culminated in field goals, not touchdowns: an 18-yard drive following a fumble recovery by Dominic Sanders that died at the Tech 10; a 58-yard drive that wilted at the Jackets’ 20. Freshman quarterback Jacob Eason also threw a late-game interception that set up Tech for its go-ahead touchdown drive.
But this latest loss was on the defense coached by Smart and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker (as well as Brian VanGorder, who returned for this week’s game as a consultant after being fired at Notre Dame in September).
Georgia Tech’s offense, its legion of misguided critics notwithstanding, has shown it can score points in bunches. But this was a game Georgia’s defense should have put away.
From linebacker Davin Bellamy, “We should have closed it. We should have ended it. You gotta close it out, man. Dig deeper.”
Smart owned it after the game, saying, “We as coaches have to do a better job and that starts with me. I’m the leader of the organization.”
He will have a lot to prove as a second-year head coach next season
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