It's official: Ohio State will play Florida in the Gator Bowl. 1pm on 1/2/12 in Jacksonville.—
Eleven Warriors (@elevenwarriors) December 04, 2011
Is it possible for this to turn into any more of a lost season for Gator fans than it’s become?
For all the light and heat being directed at which team deserves to be number two in the BCS standings, I find myself more worked up over why LSU has to play another school in the title game in the first place.
Whatever was said and done in the Georgia locker room at halftime yesterday, Mark Richt needs to gather that all together, crumple it into a little ball, douse it with gasoline, set it on fire and bury the ashes at sea. Boy, what a letdown.
My question from watching that game isn’t whether Georgia had to play perfectly to beat an excellent LSU team – Georgia, after all, was winning 10-0 mid-second quarter despite two brutal whiffs on touchdown passes by King and Mitchell – but whether Georgia’s best effort of the year would have been enough to pull off the upset.
We’ll never know, of course, but that halftime lead, the only one which LSU has faced the entire season, suggests it would have at least been a close call. That it never came to that in the end I think boiled down to three key spots in the game:
I’m not in the mood to bore you with my usual series of bullet points. Instead, I’ll leave you with some of my feelings walking out of the Dome.
It’s been a good year for Georgia football. Richt has righted the ship. This team proved in the first half that it deserved to be in the SECCG. And the loss, while certainly disappointing, can serve to be a platform for better days.
There are plenty of lessons to be learned. Some are pretty obvious: the running game needs shoring up with better (and more reliable) personnel, depth is a high priority on the offensive line and special teams personnel also needs upgrading (huge difference in speed between LSU’s coverage teams and Georgia’s). That’s all fixable with continued success on the recruiting front. And strength and conditioning, while improved, still has a ways to go.
But the biggest challenge that lies ahead is about attitude. This team learned how to compete again. Now it needs to learn how to finish. It’s good enough to take off a play or two and still whip Georgia Tech. And it can survive losing its cool against an improving Vanderbilt team. But not giving your best 100% of the time against a beast like LSU… well, that gets you beat by 32 points. If Georgia’s players and coaches want to return the program to the élite status it enjoyed a few years ago, that’s the biggest thing they need to absorb from yesterday’s loss.
If I’m Greg McGarity, that’s the discussion I’m having with my head football coach in the upcoming weeks. After mentioning how much I enjoyed watching the defense’s play in the first half, of course.