South Carolina is not a great football team, nor is Georgia – right now. Fortunately for Dawg fans, the guys in Red and Black can change that perception. Most injured players will return to the lineup, and all those inexperienced pups are gaining valuable experience as the “easy” part of the schedule provides the opportunity for growth through game reps.
Back-to-back national championships allowed players to showcase their skills to the nation, and the NFL was watching. The 25 Dawgs selected from the natty teams is an NFL record, but replacing that talent level is no mean feat. Fortunately for Kirby and Company, top-end players have continued to flock to Athens. However, only some arrive in Athens as SEC-ready contributors. The fact that some kids go directly from high school to SEC starters should cloud the fact that most college athletes need to grow and develop to employ the talents that made them attractive to Coach Smart’s program.
Now that we have covered the excuses for the Bulldogs’ lackluster performance to start this season, the Dawgs have one more Saturday against an overmatched opponent (UAB), then the team must be ready for the SEC grind. No matter how weak the upcoming league schedule is perceived, Auburn, Kentucky, Florida, Mizzou, and Ole Miss, have SEC-caliber players. Like South Carolina, each will rise to the challenge of taking on the defending national champion, and give the Dawgs their best shot. And we know going to Rocky Top late in November will be a tall task.
Of course, most of the concern (from fans) about the team’s performance focuses on the offense, as it should. In each 2023 start, Georgia has looked out of sync, confused and flat, but the solution lies in the symptoms.
The Bulldogs’ performance has been in the doldrums during the first quarter (every game) and the entire first half for most. Saturday’s defeat of the Gamecocks proved once again that UGA has the player resources to take back a game that was in danger of slipping away. That kind of reversal after the half is usually a player-directed turn-around. It is about leadership. The challenge from now on is for team leaders to exert their proven leadership from the opening kickoff – comebacks sometimes fail.