Whew! That was a tough one. An unbearable game to watch. I mean there is so much to dissect from this game that you may not even want to relive this (but you should read this). First things first, congratulations to the Florida Gators on a well-played game and execution. I’m sorry Bulldogs fans, I know you hate to hear this but, this year is not the year. Injuries, lack of tackling plus covering the wheel and checkdown routes yesterday is simply not going to help you win a championship. Also, giving up 38 points by halftime to a Florida Gators team will not help either.

This is not easy to do at all but here it is: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, and simply, The unteachable.

The Good: Zamir White

Let’s start with the good before we get into everything else. Zamir White seemed like the only viable option for Bulldogs on offense. The running back rushed for 107 yards on seven carries for one touchdown. Albeit 75 yards came on the opening play of the game where he scored on the long run, in this game he was only a few positives from this game.

The Bad: Bulldogs defense and quarterbacks

Defense: Good lord, look at these stats: The Gators had 571 yards of offense for the game. Gators quarterback Kyle Trask threw for 474 yards and four touchdowns on 30-43 passing and looked untouchable. Not to mention, 38 points allowed at the half. This was a defense that prided itself on limiting opponents points, stopping the run, and making a team one dimensional. For all except the second half yesterday, the Bulldogs defense looked like they did not belong on the field. Allowing 44 points is not going to help you win many games. I know the excuse of injuries is viable but Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart is not the one for using that excuse.

“If we are going to live in the past and worry about missed opportunities, you can’t do that,” said Smart. “It is what it is. Florida beat us, [they] out executed us. I’m not making it about injuries, I am not making about anything. We have to get better … we made our bed.”

Quarterbacks:

Stetson Bennett: 5-16, 78 yards, one touchdown, one interception
D’Wan Mathis: 4-13, 34 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions

If I didn’t even put the names besides these stats, you would not be able to tell the difference. Georgia has a quarterback problem and that is the main issue. Kirby Smart deserves a lot of blame and criticism for this not only because he is the head coach, but mainly because he has proven that he could bring in top tier talent including quarterbacks, and has mismanaged them. Justin Fields is a popular name mainly because that is what has defined Smart’s biggest mistake as head coach. Most believe if Fields stayed at Georgia, we would not have this problem and would have won a championship. While this is likely, you simply cannot live in the past and wonder what-ifs. You have to use what you have and recruit better players. From the looks of everything yesterday and the season so far, Bennett nor Mathis are the guys.

As it relates to J.T. Daniels, Smart feels that Mathis and Bennett give him the best options to win games.
“Stetson wasn’t 100 percent,” said Smart. “We felt like D’Wan could give us a chance to do some different things.”
Although Smart feels this way, it is a legit question and concern as to why Daniels has not got any reps. I truly feel that Daniels deserves an opportunity (especially after yesterday) to show what he can bring but he may not be ahead or the guy most think he is. Moving forward, I do expect Daniels to get one game of reps before the season ends and for the quarterback situation to be better going into next season.

The Ugly: The defense, specifically linebackers and defensive backs

This game showed me for the first time that the defense looked horrific and Smart couldn’t do much about it. Again, although the defense was banged up, it was the veterans that still looked lost and could not make plays. Linebacker Monty Rice and cornerback Tyson Campbell looked like babies yesterday against this offense. Campbell who has a high stock as one of the best corners got beat twice for touchdowns and looked very helpless. Now you may say, “He has a tough job to guard Kyle Pitts and other Gators receivers,” but the truth of the matter is that he has not progressed much since his freshman season. He cannot turn around in time to make plays on the football and he lacks a bit in speed when the deep ball is thrown and panics a lot. This is a guy I expect better from.

As for Rice, he and other linebackers struggled to cover the wheel route and checkdowns to running backs. Smart even alluded to this and why the guys struggled to cover these routes.
“I can’t live with leaving a guy wide open on a wheel route,” said Smart.
He referred to linebackers being matched up on Gators receiver Kadarius Toney and how that affected them.
“He is really quick where we have to put a linebacker or db [defensive back] on him. Sometimes we covered him, sometimes we didn’t and when we didn’t it was huge. It seemed like that happened so many times. Those weren’t busts, we just got beat. We can’t give up explosives like that.”

Smart also eluded to how defensive backs did not see the receivers.

“We had a couple of times where Monty [Rice] and Nakobe [Dean] had them and didn’t do a good job. [ON] one of them we had bad eyes. They’re in the same play twice and Tyrique Stevenson trips and falls over 84 [Kyle Pitts] and he catches it for a big play. Then they back on the next series and hit the same play on a touchdown on Mark Webb where he doesn’t see his guy. He didn’t see him, he didn’t look at the right thing.

It was ugly, make no mistake about it. The defensive backs and linebacker core will have to grow up and get better because this is the second time they have looked this bad this season. As time goes on, the Bulldogs defense will need better man coverage as they prepare for the elite offenses of college football.

The Unteachable: Speed

The sad and unfortunate reality for the Bulldogs football team is that they simply do not have speed. We have a few guys that are shifty and fast but it just simply it is not enough. Starting from the defensive side of the ball of the defensive backs and cornerbacks, we need more guys who can cover fast receivers in order to win the big games or shootouts. On offense, it is not too much of a concern but we need a quarterback who can show elite running ability but also a high throwing ability. In order for this Bulldogs team to eventually get over the hump, adjustments at quarterback defense need to be made.

Conclusion: Questions that need answers

To finish this off, I am simply going to answer questions that a lot of Bulldogs fans have and hopefully give you positive affirmations to move forward this season and next year.

Should Kirby Smart be fired?

No, let’s be smart and rational. The fact of the matter is that Smart has set expectations for this Georgia program and has put them in the position multiple times to compete for a national championship. He has won the East every year except for his first season at Georgia and this season (which we will see how it plays out). Do not let one loss get you on edge about firing the head coach. He has owned Florida and rivals except for Alabama. Dan Mullin got his first win against Smart and it took an injured defense, injured key offensive players, a well-called game, and for the Bulldogs to not have a decent quarterback to win. He wins against the top-ranked teams more than he losses, he just has not won the biggest one yet. Yes, he has not beaten Alabama but who has? I say this all to say that the sky is not falling guys. Do not forget those days before Smart which consisted of a Mark Richt led program that underachieved horribly and could not compete with the SEC East nor had a national championship appearance.

Who deserves the blame for this season and the loss to Florida?

Smart definitely deserves all the blame and criticism for yesterday’s game, deservingly so. As a head coach who’s specialty is defense, you have to figure out a way to cover the wheel an underneath route. You cannot get outcoached by Mullin in a rivalry game that determines the SEC East each year. At the same time, quarterbacks do have to make simple throws and he for the most part put them in a position to win on the offensive side of the ball.

When will the Bulldogs get over the “hump?”

This is a question every fan wants the answer to. The answer is simply this: Whenever the Bulldogs get a great dual-threat quarterback who can run, stretch the field with long throws, and most importantly, put up points. Even if the quarterback is not a dual-threat, he has to be able to put up points and I am talking 35 plus on average. Also, as I stated above, Smart has to recruit and get guys who can cover speedy wide receivers.

Who looked decent or good yesterday in the Bulldogs’ loss?

There is not much good to take away but there are three things. Zamir White who broke the 100-yard rushing mark showed up. Eric Stokes who for the most part played well and had a pick-six showed why he is arguably the best cornerback on the team. The last thing is Smart. Although this is a bad loss and terrible showing by his club, he held the Gators to six points (two field goals) and gave his team an opportunity to get back in the game and win. As crazy as that is, the Bulldogs had multiple opportunities to win the game but just could not put up points.

Where do the Bulldogs go from here?

It is pretty simple. Win the rest of the way out and let the chips fall where they may. Although I am usually optimistic and hopeful, I say the Bulldogs season is done. But, in 2020, things are possible, even the craziest. Figure out your quarterback situation and make sure your injured players fully recover and are ready for next season.

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) is taken down at the line of scrimmage by Florida defensive lineman Kyree Campbell (55) during the first half of a NCAA college football, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

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