Here's No. 7 Georgia at 7-2, with losses to ranked teams away from home by a total of 10 points, and the Bulldogs having a chance in the final minutes of both. Georgia, today, could be sitting at No. 2 or 3 in the Bowl Championship Series.
Just as odd is that the worry has some merit.
Georgia is still a little overranked when you look at the facts:
Didn't look good, sharp, or overly prepared in eventually pulling away
Didn't look good, sharp, or overly prepared in barely squeaking by UAB.
Looked better, but not impressive, in losing to a Florida team that was
only a little better.
Looked rather mediocre in losing to LSU, which was only a little less
Sure, there was the blowout at Clemson, of South Carolina, and at
Tennessee. But aren't they countered somewhat by those rugged
performances - on the field and from the sidelines - against sub-par
Georgia's an odd team. The expected offensive variety has failed to
materialize on a consistent basis, yet the formerly no-name defensive
coordinator has a juggernaut going. The fate of the Bulldogs the rest of
this season - as well as next year, when they're a legitimate national
championship contender - rests on the former catching up to the latter
more than every so often.
Obviously, one can't ignore Georgia's youth on offense. Contrary to
what those in front of microphones say, football success emanates from
the offensive line. Georgia's line has teased some this year, playing
better than expected more often than expected.
And Georgia's had injuries at every spot on offense, including
quarterback, although David Greene's knee didn't keep him out of action
for any substantial time.
But the offense is still a head-scratcher. Watching it - unless, as
some point out, the Bulldogs are ahead and open things up - doesn't
really offer much suspense.
It seems like the passing plan is stuck to the sidelines without even
glancing down the middle, where targets are fairly open. That's one
reason Greene got hammered against Florida from his front side: he
looked immediately to the right sideline for the first option and never
saw the oncoming Gator.
Eyeballing that first option has been a problem as well, along with
holding onto the ball way too long. For all the attention handed the
offensive line's youth and injuries, Greene's patience - at least this
year - hasn't been so much of a virtue.
Conversely, it seems insane to criticize Greene. While clearly he's not
having the year expected, so high did he set the bar that it's easier to
A media cohort suggested right before the Tennessee game that it might
be time for Coach Mark Richt to ponder a true offensive coordinator,
that the play-calling was worthy of some examination. The Florida game
apparently has offered that thought up for greater public debate.
There is remarkably little to second-guess about what Richt has done
since coming to Georgia. No question that pretty much everything he's
done has been right in rebuilding the program on and off the field.
But the problems near the end zone and lack of big plays - executed and
called - and true failure to throw deep or downfield on any regular
basis have been fairly well discussed, and increasingly so.
It's been the problem in the losses and in the close games against
inferior opponents, and it's what will hold Georgia back this week, the
rest of the season, and next year when the Bulldogs open the season as a
national championship contender.
Then again, perhaps that's what dances around in the back of Richt's
mind, that bigger picture, the one in 2004 where Georgia has a
legitimate claim to a national title challenge.
After all, even a 9-3 regular-season for Georgia is about right,
whether that includes Atlanta or not. Yet we still can point to the
Bulldogs being two plays away from undefeated.
That's how the whole year of college football has gone. There's no
And, of course, there's Richt's ability to play possum. Just when you
think you have something pegged - like a sluggish offense and
conservative game plan - he pulls off the surprise.
So if Georgia up and scores 40 this week - and no, take nothing for
granted in College Football 2003 - then never mind.
Bulldogs' offense a question mark down the stretch
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