Kirby Smart’s young pups are growing up as we watch. In the last three weeks, they have beaten Florida, Kentucky and Auburn while playing a battalion of freshmen, redshirt freshmen and sophomores, many of whom are nursing various bumps and bruises. If there was ever a time for a let-down, an off night, a lapse of focus; that time was Saturday night in Athens.
There is no need to sugarcoat the performance. At times in the first half, the young Dawgs looked as if they were in a funk that would inevitably lead to Auburn spoiling Georgia’s run to the SEC Championship game. Of course, a spot in the title game was already locked in, but a loss to a less talented Tiger squad would have dampened the spirits of the fanbase and killed any playoff hopes. None of those unfavorable outcomes materialized, however.
When UGA sets about beating an opponent, they beat them up. They maul the other team and steal their will. Like a boxer working his opponent’s body to weaken resistance and lower his guard, the Dawgs use depth, speed, size and conditioning to gradually erode other team’s stamina. Auburn succumbed just like the others.
Teams rarely possess the combination of size, depth and speed that UGA is putting together. Imagine the hulking lines of an excellent Big 10 team, combined with the depth of the best in the SEC and the firepower and quickness of the elite of the Big 12. That is the kind of program that I see Georgia developing. Teams that have not beaten Kirby’s Dawgs may have missed their chance.
The 2018 edition of the Red and Black is still learning, still growing as a team. They have two more games to build cohesiveness and continue to mesh on both sides of the ball before the ultimate challenge of Alabama in the Benz. That battle is going to be fun to watch, but win or lose, Georgia will be back – and better.