Han Vance on Georgia football: Last year at this time, the University of Georgia were ranked #1 in the CFP, a historic designation that certainly didn’t help the Dawgs later on the plains of Auburn. Getting the loss out of the way, when a loss is coming, actually allows the rallying team more time to improve before the end of the season. An advantage to losing on the bayou this year was that Georgia’s toughest road game on-paper came earlier than in 2017, so the team could get and stay stronger, longer, before the postseason. The postseason itself is long, too, regardless of a program’s bowl destination.
Georgia has qualified for a bowl and has all options on the table still: the SEC, the CFP, the Natty.
Realistically, Georgia showed nearly as many weaknesses in areas as it did overall program strength in Jacksonville, though the admirable strength was significant enough to beat a Gators team who turned the ball over three times and have a new head coach. Year two is when you have to watch a program, and the Georgia-Florida series looks compelling enough moving forward that Tim Tebow said that it will be marquee “for the next 10 years,” before the big Georgia win. The Gators could knock Kirby down to .500 in the series with a win next year and have tons of motivation and, with a state population twice that of Georgia’s, plenty of potential.
We all begged for Elijah Holyfield to get 20 carries and he did and was held to 71 yards, after coming in leading the nation in yards after contact. His average took a dip, but D’Andre Swift finally broke out with a 100-yard game. Sounds an alarm: Georgia had two total runners reach the century mark over eight full football games. In three-fourths of the regular season, each went big only once. This is way, way off pace from last year (Sony/Chubb 2,500+ yards) and not up to GEORGIA standards.
The goal line stand that Florida mustered in defeat has deserved the press it got, because that is not power football. There was no push anywhere, and Florida had too much team speed for the Georgia blockers. If the game had gone the other way, that would have been talked about forever. In the end, it was 36-17. Georgia came in averaging beating teams 39-16. Florida was not ready.
Should Georgia find a way to get past the upstart, defense-minded Kentucky Wildcats Saturday in Lexington, the Bulldogs are in a great position to win the rest of their football games, and in doing so: Georgia versus Alabama or Georgia vs. LSU will be a play-in to the College Football Playoff (4-team) for UGA. With Georgia qualifying for the first CFP in school history last year and getting the school’s first CFP win on the first day of 2018, expectations for universal continued success, at the highest levels, were a bit premature. Winning the SEC East was a good goal.
That’s the type of realistic goal a coaching regime puts forth to a team. Win the SEC East, and you qualify for the SEC championship game. Win the SEC championship game, with less than two losses, and you will qualify for the CFP. The draw from the SEC West is going to be more dangerous than this Kentucky team, which is plenty scary on the road. They traveled last week and gave up no first downs or points in the second half of a comeback win. Georgia simply needs to outscore them.