Georgia football: No time for Cocktail hangover. Bulldogs must hit reset button at Missouri
Well, that hurt.
Losing to your rival is one thing. Losing to your rival in the fashion that Georgia lost to Florida on Saturday is quite another. Not since 2009 have the Bulldogs put up such a poor defensive showing against their rival.
So how do you bounce back, knowing that your College Football Playoff hopes are gone and your shot at a 4th straight SEC East title might as well be?
Take care of the games that you should win.
And the remaining schedule is very favorable to the Dawgs, starting Saturday with Missouri.
Georgia is 7-1 against Missouri since the Tigers joined the SEC. The Dawgs have won 6 straight.
So this is a team that the Bulldogs should be able to take their frustrations out on, right?
Hopefully. But it’s not always that easy with this offense.
Without question, fans would like to see them win a good, old-fashioned, start-to-finish blowout for once. Yes, Arkansas was a 37-10 win, but the Hogs led 7-5 at halftime. Georgia beat Tennessee 44-21, but the Vols led 21-17 at the break.
The Dawgs need to come out firing from the get-go (and hold on, unlike against Florida). They’re more talented than the Tigers, but that doesn’t mean Eli Drinkwitz is completely devoid of weapons. Connor Bazelak won’t blow you away with his numbers outside of a 400-yard passing day against LSU, but he’s been remarkably steady: He’s completed nearly 70% of his passes and has thrown just 1 interception in 160 attempts. He’s not a heavy runner but isn’t afraid to take off, either. Drinkwitz hasn’t been afraid to put it in the hands of Larry Rountree III, either, while Tyler Badie is a key all-purpose threat who somehow wasn’t involved all that much against Florida on Oct. 31, a move Drinkwitz called “a screw-up on me as a play-caller” during his weekly radio show last week.
I doubt he makes the same mistake twice.
Defensively, the Tigers are 11th in the SEC against the pass but 4th against the run, which lends itself to the possibility of a more aerial attack for the Dawgs. I’ve already made the case for a change at quarterbac, so I won’t make it again — and whoever ends up relieving Stetson Bennett IV is up to the staff — but whoever it is must find a way to get the playmakers involved.
That doesn’t mean abandoning the running game. Zamir White opened the Cocktail Party with a 75-yard touchdown run but inexplicably wasn’t involved much thereafter. Giving it to your featured back a total of 7 times doesn’t really equal success, and that starts with offensive coordinator Todd Monken.
What about the defense, licking its wounds after an awful showing against Florida? Bazelak won’t throw for 474 yards or 4 TDs the same way Kyle Trask did, but as banged up as this defense is, they need a response. Kirby Smart has preached “next man up” in these situations, and so far, he hasn’t been getting that.
Great teams respond when faced with adversity. We’ll see if the Dawgs can do so on Saturday in Columbia.