Dean Legge / Dawg Post

What Can Get Fixed, and What Can't

ATHENS - After leaving Jacksonville we didn’t learn anything we didn’t already know about this Georgia team.

Its offensive line is bad. 

Its special teams continue to cause problems - punting, specifically, is awful. 

Its receivers seem to be droppers at the most inopportune times. 

Its defense is good to very good, but can’t be on the field the entire game. 

We also learned that Florida will almost certainly now win the SEC East with Tennessee’s inexplicable loss to South Carolina (Everyone remember Butch directing the band in September?). Although UGA left the Cocktail Party with its third loss in a row, Georgia’s main target for the foreseeable future - the Gators - are hardly unbeatable in the years to come. Florida is not nearly the fire-breathing dragon it was under Urban Meyer. 

But nothing written, said or done on the field is going to make Georgia fans feel better about their current situation. This season is gone - probably was gone as soon at Georgia lost to Vanderbilt - and no upset of Auburn is going to make it better. 

Nothing is going to make this better - Georgia simply isn’t good right now, and it is leaps and bounds from where it wants to be. It seems like that’s an understood.

What isn’t understood is what the future will be. Predictably, and we can all be prisoners of the moment, many UGA partisans see no end in sight. “How is this going to get better?” they wonder. The answer is simple, and its one that no one wants to hear. 

They simply need better players in particular positions. Not at every position, but at some critical ones. 

That’s really it. Blaming the coaches is the easiest thing to do after losses. Sometimes they deserve it. Actually, blaming anything under the sun is the easy thing to do. But the players on the field on Saturday for Georgia were not equipped to beat the Gators - no matter than this version of the Gators isn’t anything close to what we have seen in the past. 

Please don’t fall into the “but Georgia has more talent” pitfall that’s as naive as it is wrong. Georgia isn’t as talented as some of these teams. You know how I know that? I can watch and see what’s going on in front of me. Better than Vandy? Sure, and that UGA lost that game is as statistically inexplicable as Auburn's miracle win over the Dawgs in 2013. You just don't see something like that but about once a decade. Is UGA's talent better than Ole Miss, Florida and Tennessee - not this season. Also, in the SEC a top ten class is a minimum to winning the way UGA wants to win - frankly you have to do more than that to really make an impact. And you have to do it many times in a row… not just one recruiting cycle. 

Florida should have won this game, and it did. With the exception of the Vanderbilt game (and perhaps the North Carolina game, but UGA was clearly the better team that night) the team that was supposed to win the game in UGA’s eight games has won it.

Its also sophomoric to declare that Kirby “can’t get it done”, or that “he’s in over his head”. How can any of us really know that? How can we know that he can get it done? Right now Kirby is still a known unknown. We only have the data points we have. Some are good. Some are bad. But some of the good outweighs the bad. Clock management issues have given me cause for concern to be sure, but he was all over that against the Gators.

I would argue that the bad - trying to jumpstart a program with a true freshman QB and a brand new head coach - are outweighed by the know with Kirby… his ability to connect with recruits in a way no head coach has done in Georgia’s history. Right now UGA is listed behind only Ohio State in terms of average ranking per committed recruit. Last season the Bulldogs tied with USC to have the highest average ranking per signee. So Kirby is stringing it together on the recruiting trail in a way that Mark Richt never did.

Then there’s the buying-in narrative floating around. Simply put - I don’t know, but I do believe that there is a group of players who are just not interested in buying what Kirby is selling. Let’s not forget that Kirby didn’t recruit the vast majority of these guys. They are his players now - no doubt - but he didn’t pick them. Allegedly, those not buying in tend to be older players who are not playing, but that’s irrelevant. Kirby has to get the entire group to believe in him one way or the other. Needless to say Mark Richt had that problem 15 years in - not 15 months. In my view, Kirby will get that corrected over time, but there is no certainty of that happening this season at all. Its probably too late for that now. That should be less of a problem in the future. 

When Georgia struggles to win at all in the coming games don’t be surprised. The close of this season is going to be a fight. All you have to do is look on the field to see how far Georgia has to go in particular positions… not all positions. 

For instance, UGA’s defense did pretty well on Saturday - allowing its second-fewest yards allowed all season at 231 yards. But the Bulldogs were massively outpunted. The Gators had two fewer punts, but still managed to output UGA 287 yards to 256. That killed the Dawgs all night. Florida averaged 47.8 yards a punt… UGA managed only 32. 

32 yards per punt. Horrible. The field was flipped the entire night. 

But all you have to do to believe in the future is look at what Kirby’s doing in recruiting. So long as that continues to go well things will be where folks want it in the future. That’s up to Kirby to get done, because he’s not going to be able to do much with the group he’s got right now for the remainder of the season. Its too far gone.

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