A season that began with a 3-0 record – an exceptional 33-24 victory over North Carolina followed by knee-knocking two and one-point wins against Nicholls State and Missouri – now finds Georgia with a 4-4 record and a hungry Kentucky team gunning for the Bulldogs in Lexington.
As was the case in the Sanford Stadium heartbreakers against Tennessee and Vanderbilt and the 24-10 loss to Florida in Jacksonville, the Bulldogs were undone by self-inflicted wounds. This Georgia team doesn’t have the margin for error and firepower to overcome mistakes that are putting this team in bad spots. Georgia is good enough to win every Saturday, but not good enough to overcome the miscues that have hampered this squad.
In Jacksonville, following a Dominick Sanders interception and return, the Bulldogs got a first down and were second and goal on the Florida two-yard line in a scoreless game. A false start penalty turned that into second and goal from the seven, and Georgia kicked a field goal. Florida then took the lead 7-3 on a touchdown catch and run, with a missed tackle that would have been well short of a first down pushing the Gators into the lead instead of a field goal situation. Later in the second quarter, with Riley Ridley running wide open, Jacob Eason and his fellow freshman failed to connect on a long touchdown. The following play was marred by a dropped pass that would have resulted in a first down. To put it simply in that painful game of “what if” that the losing team plays, if Georgia doesn’t commit a false start, makes a crucial open field tackle and connects on an open long one, the Bulldogs could have well had a 21-10 lead. Instead, Dogs trailed 14-10 and lost 24-10.
There are several areas where Georgia must tighten up, including the offensive line and the punt game.
Kentucky has won three in a row, defeating Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Missouri to improve to 5-3 and 4-2 in league play, good for second place in the Southeastern Conference’s East Division.
When a traditional second division team squares off against a struggling SEC blue blood, that rare win opportunity creates excitement and opportunity.
Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs will have to be on top of their game to pull off the victory in Lexington and get this 2016 season back on a winning track.