What was that? What was the problem for Georgia against Kent State? The Bulldogs played a game which was totally out of character for them.
By Matt Zemek
A defense which could regularly be relied upon to not concede much of anything – one touchdown was an eyebrow-raising moment for this defense in 2021 and the very early stages of 2022 – suddenly allowed over 20 points to a Mid-American Conference foe at home? Georgia led by only 10 points at one stage of the fourth quarter. The Dawgs were never in immediate danger of losing, but they weren’t fully safe until the 5:30 mark of the fourth quarter in a cupcake game. That performance marked a noticeable lack of focus, and you know that Kirby Smart will treat that game like a loss. He should. That kind of effort will not be allowed the rest of the year, which brings us to this upcoming SEC East game against a struggling Missouri team whose season has already gone off the rails.
1 – No time for complacency; immediately reestablish good habits
Time to start over. The national championship culture Kirby Smart has built at Georgia rests on a foundation of playing every snap with urgency. Maybe the backups should get more snaps in this game, but the main thing is that every snap matters. This is why Georgia has become an elite program: Giving up even one touchdown in garbage time – as we saw against South Carolina – feels like a defeat for this defense. Georgia contested every play and made opponents work extremely hard for any small bread crumb of achievement. That’s when it’s clear a program has reached a higher level. The baseline for Georgia’s consistency was so high that even a slight dropoff would put UGA higher than the competition. Kirby understands that.
Against Kent State, that high floor crashed and fell several stories.
Georgia has to regain that high floor. Forget about the ceiling. This defense needs to get back to the discipline, the awareness, and the communication of an elite unit. Nothing we saw against Kent State was elite. Jobs should not be safe. Some might say this is all an overreaction, but national championship programs do not leave things to chance. Georgia’s defense needs to play Missouri as though it is playing Alabama or Texas A&M. Total urgency must define this contest.
2 – Offensive urgency must be part of the formula, too
The Georgia offense is hardly exempt from scrutiny. This group did not score 40 points against either Samford or Kent State. Against Kent State, Georgia scored only one second-half touchdown. That’s not the Georgia standard, and we can all agree that against good SEC opponents, such offensive stagnation could lead to problems if not addressed right now. This offensive line needs to kick its opponents in the teeth and establish a benchmark for physical, rugged performance. We didn’t see much of that versus Kent State.
3 – Shut off the big play
Georgia allowed a 56-yard touchdown pass last week. Missouri will need huge plays to have any chance. Georgia must close that door, lock it, and throw away the key. Period.