Here we go again: Georgia has the chance to do something big

It was, we note, a one-point win. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Three months from now, we might recall the doings of Sept. 9 and ask, “Why was that such a big deal?” Notre Dame, which was 4-8 last season, could well wind up 7-5. The trappings of the game – at South Bend, on NBC in prime time with a slew of Georgia fans in attendance – will brand this a Signal Moment in Bulldog annals. In football terms, it probably wasn’t.

In football terms, it was a nice win. In headier times, Georgia would bag two of those a month. This is not – or, more precisely, not yet – such a time. The best win of Mark Richt’s final regular season came against an Auburn team that finished 7-6, which is why that was Richt’s final season. The best wins of Year 1 under Kirby Smart? Either the Georgia Dome opener against North Carolina or the November victory in Athens over an Auburn team with a banged-up quarterback. Both Tar Heels and Tigers would finish 8-5.

The image of Georgia has come to outstrip the reality of Georgia. This program really hasn’t done much for a while. When the Richt era was in its ascendance, his teams would go anywhere and beat anybody. For Smart, winning in South Bend – even at the expense of a team that might get Brian Kelly fired – was all but mandatory if these Bulldogs are to make anything of a season that needs to have something made of it.

Photos: Georgia holds on for win at Notre Dame

Winning at Notre Dame caught our attention. Losing would have had us shaking our heads and saying, “Same old Georgia.” The victory wasn’t pretty. The Bulldogs were flagged for 12 penalties. Jake Fromm, making his first collegiate start, made two turnovers. Rodrigo Blankenship, newly minted scholarship holder, missed a field goal. (He would make up for it.) The Bulldogs led for 12 ½ of the game’s 60 minutes. Their biggest lead was one point.

And yet: They won. A year ago, Georgia let three home games slip – Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech – that were easier to win than to lose. Its three true road victories came at Missouri, South Carolina and Kentucky, all of which finished under .500. The Bulldogs finished 8-5, and in hindsight not one of the eight W’s merited a gold star. Over the fullness of time, this Notre Dame game could get devalued. In the here and now, it was one a coach in Year 2 coming off an unimpressive Year 1 had to have.

We’ve been fooled so many times by early Georgia results – remember the South Carolina and LSU game of 2013, or the Clemson win of 2014? – that we should proceed with caution. (Doesn’t mean we will, but we should.) There was much to like about the performance in South Bend, most of it having to do with defense, The offense remains another matter. Through two games, the Bulldogs rank 97th among FBS teams in total yards.

Small sample size, yes. But the Bulldogs mustered 368 yards against small fry Appalachian State and 326 against Notre Dame. That’s 694 yards in eight quarters against non-SEC defenses. Georgia Tech got 655 in four quarters plus two overtimes against Tennessee. (And lost, but never mind.) Yes, Jacob Eason was hurt on the season’s third series and Georgia has since operated behind a freshman who’s less gifted, arm-wise, but still. You have Nick Chubb and Sony Michel and Terry Godwin. You have more tight ends that any team save the New England Patriots. You’re supposed to have upgraded the O-line. This is the best you can do?

Whispers from Athens have held that Eason, who’s listed as “week to week,” is apt to miss four to six weeks. Someone who knows a lot about athletic injuries suggests the larger window is more realistic. Fromm just proved he could do the game-manager thing on the road in a charged environment. Against better opposition, would that be enough?

That, yet again, is the issue. On this schedule, where’s the better opposition? Tennessee should have lost to Tech and was close to getting embarrassed. Florida looks no different from the past two years, which is not a compliment. Mississippi State hasn’t played anybody. (It gets LSU on Saturday.) Missouri just fired its defensive coordinator. Kentucky led Eastern Kentucky by a point with 11 minutes left. The genius schemes of Gus Malzahn enabled Auburn to amass 117 yards and no touchdowns at Clemson.

Once more, with feeling: Even if Georgia doesn’t appear anything approaching a colossus, what’s to keep it from winning the SEC East? In years past, the answer has been, “Georgia keeps itself from winning the SEC East.” Winning at Notre Dame suggests – but does not prove – that these Bulldogs could be the class of a division that could stand a touch of class.

Reader Comments 0

131 comments
_Lillian_
_Lillian_

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mgunter
mgunter

Why so many Ohio State comments? Bradley's article is on UGA...... some of you folk have anger issues, might want to get a hobbie.

Grant1296
Grant1296

Baker apologized for the flag planting..

Does that make ya feel better Techeye?

Big Wally
Big Wally

TOJacket 11 minutes ago

@FlatTire @TOJacket I sure hope so...as I have stated before, I am not a OSU fan or follower...as a youngster I always pulled for Michigan against them

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

and ladies and gentlemen we have the all-time whopper of all whoppers.
 

Big Wally
Big Wally

@TOJacket I can point to about 4000 posts where you have sucked up to Ohio and his Ohio State team as evidence proving my point.  


I rest my case.

FlatTire
FlatTire

Nor worries Ohio after 40+ point wins over UNLV, ARMY, Rutgers Maryland, Iowa and Illinois Ohio state will be ranked #1 or #2 again


and with huge stats acquired another heisman will go in the trophy case 

Grant1296
Grant1296

Iowa, Penn St And Michigan..

2 out of 3 are a loss for the over rated Buckeyes.

dawg fan
dawg fan

Unfreakingbelievable. Actual ESPN headline: "Oddsmakers still think Ohio State has a good chance to win it all."

The Choke-eye Network (aka ESPN) will be working overtime this season to get their precious Suckeyes back in the big dance.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@dawg fan been saying it for years


2-17 vs UGA, Alabama, Auburn, FSU, Clemson, South Carolina, Tenn, FL, LSU

FlatTire
FlatTire

@TOJacket. just pick a team that can beat southern teams.  I would like to see Tech play Ohio st.  I think the score would be Tech 42, Ohio st, 24

TOJacket
TOJacket

@FlatTire @TOJacket I sure hope so...as I have stated before, I am not a OSU fan or follower...as a youngster I always pulled for Michigan against them

FlatTire
FlatTire

@TOJacket. its not the breaks its the lack of passing.  Im really afraid when coach Fry finds a QB that can really throw too, they will be unstoppable 

dawg fan
dawg fan

LOL. If you could beat anybody you'd think you'd be better than a .500 football team the past half decade. Then you have the audacity to call us the delusional ones. Wow.

Tech fans are the most delusional brain dead idiots in college football and it's not even close.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@dawg fan you would think coach Fry would watch the 90's Nebraska teams.  They ran the same offense but had a dependable passing game

dawg fan
dawg fan

Good thing that's not going to happen Flat. A QB who can run that offense and throw the ball will be winning titles and Heismans at a big boy football program and not an ACC toilet bowl with a 60,000 seat stadium and noon snoozer kickoffs on ESPN 3.

But it's the calculus. Stick with that nerds.

GTBob
GTBob

@FlatTire @dawg fan You trying to rewrite history? You should look at their passing numbers from those days.

Mulk
Mulk

@dawg fan


No need to worry, Flat. All those Heisman winners and title winning QB's seem to end up at one "big boy" program -UGAG. Not to mention the most sought after unproven football coaches. As Coach Spurrier so aptly pointed out - "what happens to 'em after they get over there".

candlin14
candlin14

Kirby Smart, get a new Offensive Coordinator. Chaney is far to conservative for this team. The two minute drill and play calling before half, was laughable. 2 runs that drain the clock (even though you have two time outs) and one pass for an INT. 


Not using Chubb on short yardage 3rd and 4th down attempts is completely ridiculous. Calling another half back dive after you have done it 3 times prior and actually calling it again AFTER A TIMEOUT is just plain stupid.


Chaney will cost you BIG this season.

DawginLex
DawginLex

I've bashed Jim Chaney but I give him a B+ for Saturday. Scrap the wild dawg and it's an A. Hardman needs to catch the ball

ATLTRUE
ATLTRUE

@DawginLex The problem I have with Chaney is the use of a "read and react" offense and you have no run threat from the QB.  Line those RBs up behind the QB and see what you get!

dawg fan
dawg fan

Huh? I feel the opposite. I've defended him and given him the benefit of the doubt but I'm starting to see what everyone has been talking about. Talent is being wasted and we have absolutely no identity on offense, just like last year.

candlin14
candlin14

@DawginLex 

Cmon man, are you serious. Worst offensive play calling I have ever seen. The two minute drill (if you want to call it that) was horrible. You get the ball on your 35 with 2 maybe 3 time outs at the time and he calls two run plays that soak up the clock. Then he tops it off with a pass play. After running the ball twice and draining the clock, what is the point of the 3rd down pass?

BBQ Chaney will be the reason the Bulldogs will lose 3-4 games. UGA finally has a stellar defense, but they have an idiot calling the offensive plays.

DawginLex
DawginLex

@TOJacket @DawginLex At least they would be man enough to accept a bet.


You on the other hand just run your mouth and then quiver in the corner when the money is on the line


Wimp

DawginLex
DawginLex

@candlin14 @DawginLex I disagree. Are you forgetting the 2 min offense right before the half that resulted in an interception? Are you forgetting our starting QB was on the sidelines? Are you forgetting that our OL is nowhere near where it will be in 2 years?


Hardman catches the pass for a TD and From jumps on the fumble and we win comfortably.


That's the point of playing, right?

TOJacket
TOJacket

Not this early. That. Would stupid...like 12/13

tipstotips
tipstotips

Sports physic is a strange thing. Look at the Braves of yesteryear. With all that talent, 1 title and lots of close shaves. The Falcons of last year. This was a game UGA usually loses. The culture has to change. Hopefully, while not a very impressive win, it was a win and not the usual close but no cigar, and it can help change the culture.

twelveofthirteen
twelveofthirteen

Comparing anything UGA to Atlanta professional teams is just dumb. Not even remotely related.

dawg fan
dawg fan

Agreed. Mark Richt chokes that game away. Probably lose by a substantial margin too because the D hasn't been this stout since BVG.

twelveofthirteen
twelveofthirteen

Enlighten me on how changing the "culture" at UGA has anything to do with the Braves or Falcons?

Didn't think so.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@FlatTire @TOJacket No...Bobo was hired by another school as HC....I wasn't aware CMR was fired because of that 4 years later.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@TOJacket. Im just saying they finally realized 10 wins was the ceiling