Georgia looks like Alabama East, and that's not fake news
Anybody who watched what Georgia did against Mississippi State last week could see it. Finally, there’s an SEC East team that’s worthy of taking on Alabama in Atlanta.
Anybody who watched what Georgia did against Tennessee on Saturday could see it. Finally, there’s an SEC East team that actually looks like Alabama.
Everything the Bulldogs did in its 41-0 win at Tennessee looked like the Tide. It was as if Kirby Smart snuck his 2015 defense into Knoxville, threw on Georgia uniforms and let them destroy Tennessee’s soul. But maybe that’s not a fair thing to say. After all, the Georgia defense has been punishing teams all year.
And let’s not sell the offense short. Georgia dominated the battle at the line of scrimmage, it capitalized on some short fields and it essentially ended the game early in the third quarter.
Georgia completely deflated Tennessee. It was reminiscent of what Alabama has been doing in hostile environments since the Nick Saban era began. True freshman quarterback? Doesn’t matter. In-game injuries on defense? No biggie. Tons of pregame national praise? Yeah, what about it?
Alabama finally has an SEC doppelgänger.
CBS color analyst Gary Danielson basically spent his entire afternoon dropping Alabama-Georgia comparisons. If you missed it, here were a few that he came up with:
- Georgia’s team speed is like Alabama’s
- The Bulldogs’ reserves get after it like Alabama
- Kirby Smart is following a similar Year 2 path to Nick Saban
- Sony Michel looks an awful lot like Kenyan Drake
There were probably more. I sort of lost track.
But man, he’s exactly right. And this isn’t just about the fact that Smart is a Saban disciple. This was about watching Georgia play 60 minutes of football and realizing what they’re capable of.
We’re talking about a Georgia team that outscored its two SEC opponents 72-3 so far. Both of those opponents spent multiple weeks in the Top 25 this season. Both of those opponents have game-changing playmakers like Nick Fitzgerald and John Kelly. All the Bulldogs did was bring them back to earth, one gang tackle at a time.
Georgia’s defense doesn’t just have Alabama speed. It has Alabama power. Kirk Herbstreit might’ve said it best on College GameDay this morning.
“They’re hitting people,” Herbstreit said, “and it looks like they’re enjoying it.”
That was before Georgia went into Neyland and pitched a shutout.
Herbstreit said that before watching Malkom Parrish blow up Tennessee’s screens in the backfield. That was before he saw Roquan Smith and Natrez Patrick run sideline to sideline to prevent the Vols from turning the corner. He didn’t see Tyrique McGhee completely bottle up Tennessee’s receivers.
Georgia has been playing that kind of defense all year. Saturday just served as a friendly reminder of that. It was comical when Danielson said that he and Smart talked about whether he had defenders that would get time at Alabama.
Uhhhh, ya think?
Georgia has been every bit as impressive as Alabama in 2017. If they’re on a different level, it sure doesn’t look like it.
Danielson’s in-game comparisons of Georgia and Alabama were all fair. There were plenty others that he could’ve made.
Like Alabama last year, Georgia isn’t being held back by a true freshman quarterback. The Bulldogs are thriving with Jake Fromm. Why? He doesn’t make dumb throws, he converts third downs and he can make plays with his legs, too. He’s exactly what the Bulldogs need.
Like Jalen Hurts, Fromm doesn’t have to throw for 300 yards because of the ground game he has to work with. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel get it done just like Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris. Throw in a D’Andre Swift/Calvin Ridley hybrid threat and it’s not hard to see the resemblance between their two offenses.
That’s not a bad formula.
It’s amazing to think that Butch Jones expected Saturday to be close because of past history with Georgia. Had he not seen how dominant Bulldogs were in the first four weeks? Obviously he wasn’t going to come out and say, “Yep. I think we’ll get dismantled.” But clearly, Jones did not expect the force that Georgia was on Saturday.
A lot of people probably didn’t. After all, this was a Georgia program that developed a nasty habit of having a letdown after it entered the top 10.
This 2017 team clearly doesn’t look like it’s in danger of a letdown anytime soon, especially with Vanderbilt and Missouri on deck. If Smart’s team plays like it did on Saturday, few teams in the country can even stay on the field with them. Shoot, Alabama might not have been able to beat the team that showed up in Knoxville on Saturday (I’m not talking about the team that was in those awful grey uniforms).
Everybody knew what Smart was brought to Athens to do. He had to build a team that could compete yearly with Alabama. Georgia still has a long way to go to prove that it can do that on a yearly basis. The Tide make handling success look a lot easier than it really is.
On Saturday, Georgia made imitating Alabama look a lot easier than it really is.