Coming off a hard fought 51-44 win over SEC rival Tennessee, the Georgia Bulldogs were expected to head to Columbia, SC humbled and ready for another dogfight. However, that was not the case. Instead the team now finds themselves in an unexpected position entering their bye week.
The South Carolina Gamecocks absolutely dominated the Bulldogs in a matchup of no.5 and no.6. The final score of the game was 35-7 South Carolina but to Georgia it must have felt like 56-0. Coach Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks controlled every facet of the game, never allowing the Bulldogs to get back into the game. Gamecock quarterback Connor Shaw threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another against Georgia in the rout.
If Georgia safety Bacarri Rambo intercepted that pass on South Carolina’s first drive would things have been different? What if Aaron Murray‘s pass on the team’s first drive wasn’t intercepted? How bout if the Georgia Bulldogs actually played with some energy, would that have changed the outcome of the game?
The answer to all of these questions is possibly. They are also all questions that the Georgia Bulldogs may be asking themselves after being mentally and physically beaten by the Gamecocks.
However, they are also questions that can be used as excuses for the manner in which they played against South Carolina and that is unacceptable.
Instead of nitpicking and finding plays that could have changed the outcome, the Georgia Bulldogs as a whole need to look themselves in the mirror. They most likely won’t like what they see but it is a necessary step towards getting prepared for the second half of the season.That’s the point of the exercise though. The Bulldogs need to ask themselves if they are happy with what they see and if they aren’t they need to decide what they need to do to get to that desired place.
Georgia’s defense was expected to be among the nation’s elite this season and has been anything but that six games into the season. Only two starters from last year’s team left, defensive end Deangelo Tyson and cornerback Brandon Boykin, meaning the team should be playing at that elite level from last year or so one would think. The fact that nine of last year’s starters returned should mean that they know defensive coordinator Todd Grantham‘s 3-4 defense and should not falter from missed assignments as they did against South Carolina.
The defense possesses first round talent at multiple positions, including the possible no.1 pick in this year’s draft, All-American linebacker Jarvis Jones. Underclassmen have also been sprinkled into the fold on defense but they can’t be blamed for the defenses’s performance of late. Freshman linebacker Jordan Jenkins is one of the team’s more explosive playmakers and he is only a first year player. If Jenkins was excelling on the fly it would be one thing but Grantham plays the best 11 players, meaning Jenkins has earned his playing time.
The talent is there for the Dawgs but talent isn’t everything. Last year the Bulldogs boasted one of the top rush defenses, this year they are being gashed by opposing running backs. It wasn’t just South Carolina, almost every opponent of Georgia’s has found success rushing against their front. That is one of the many questions Georgia needs to answer. What happened to their defense?
When looking themselves in their proverbial mirror, Georgia needs to be honest with themselves and come to terms that they may be that team that was dominated by the Gamecocks. If they are, that’s fine. If they believe they are the team that everyone had ranked no.5 going into last week, they need to “hunker down’ and get back to business.
Chris Lionetti covers the Georgia Bulldogs and SEC Football for Rant Sports
Follow him on Twitter at: @ChrisLionetti