Georgia football: Open week ahead, then the real challenge arrives for Bulldogs
You couldn’t blame Georgia fans for thinking “Here we go again” after a scoreless half against Lynn Bowden and Kentucky on Saturday.
Jake Fromm, with few options to throw to downfield, was forced to make shorter completions than usual. D’Andre Swift and Brian Herrien were getting good yardage on carries, but coach Kirby Smart and offensive coordinator James Coley’s decision to not air it out a little bit more was met with a chorus of boos from a testy, rain-soaked crowd. Those boos grew even louder as the teams headed to the locker room.
This wasn’t going to happen again, was it? Georgia wasn’t about to lose again? Not to Kentucky, a team it hadn’t lost to since 2009?
Not on this night. The Dawgs, in essence, were up against several opponents: the Wildcats, the weather and, most of all, themselves. And they beat all three.
Fromm wasn’t at his best, and he could hardly be blamed for that thanks to a batch of rain from post-Tropical Storm Nestor that blew through Athens and the Southeast. It didn’t matter because Swift was at his best: 21 carries, 179 yards, 2 touchdowns, with 12 of those carries, 98 of those yards and both touchdowns coming in the 2nd half. He ended the evening with 8.5 yards per carry, with his total yardage on the day just 7 shy of matching his career-best of 186 against Auburn last year.
“I remember telling (Swift) many times in the 2nd half, ‘Man, it’s fun to watch you run,'” Fromm said after the game. “He came out and did a great job for us, and I’m really glad he’s on our team.”
It certainly is fun when things are going your way. And while it wasn’t a perfect win by any stretch of the imagination, it’s a win nonetheless after a loss to South Carolina a week ago.
But in less than 2 weeks, we’ll get out clearest look at who the real Georgia Bulldogs are.
There’s a much needed open week coming up to decompress. After that is Florida week, as the Dawgs prepare to head to Jacksonville for a massive Top 10 battle, followed by Missouri in a pair of games that might determine the SEC East. After that? Just a trip to The Plains to take on Auburn in what may be another Top 10 game.
And it’s that 3-week stretch that could really determine the Bulldogs’ trajectory for the remainder of the season.
The Gators were pushed by South Carolina in Columbia on Saturday before pulling away. Mizzou, ranked 22nd, was upset by Vanderbilt. Auburn was the latest team to take Arkansas to the woodshed; they’ll have visited No. 2 LSU and hosted Ole Miss before welcoming the Dawgs to town. Considering Georgia ends that stretch 3-0, it should have the East wrapped up. But Texas A&M won’t be a walkover, and the Dawgs could ill afford to look past both them and Georgia Tech to the SEC Championship Game.
Needless to say, if Georgia wants to be in the Playoff discussion, it needs to be perfect in November. A 2nd loss means that the CFP bubble is burst for good, and while a slight case could be made for it making it in depending on when a hypothetical 2nd loss comes, it’s probably a given that the Dawgs aren’t getting in with 2 losses.
That being said, anyone will tell you that the Bulldogs aren’t perfect right now. Smart was right in saying that there wasn’t much to take from Saturday’s game due to the conditions. He’s right, but the conditions were great in the loss to South Carolina. The question is if we’ll see those Bulldogs coming out of the open week or if we’ll see a focused, aggressive team ready to prove that it belongs in the College Football Playoff.
The goals from before the season are still intact. Soon, we’ll see if this Georgia team truly has what it takes to reach them.