Your reminder of how 2016’s 7-5 regular season could have been:
Georgia is one late, fourth-down touchdown catch by Isaiah McKenzie (against Missouri) away from going 0-4 last season against the teams it will face in this four-game stretch. Of course, the Bulldogs also came close to going 3-1 against Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Mizzou and Florida.
The only game that was out of reach was a 24-10 loss to Florida where Georgia mustered all of 164 yards of total offense. But had the Bulldogs not surrendered an unbelievable Hail Mary touchdown on the final play against Tennessee, and had their offense not faltered late in a 17-16 loss against Vanderbilt, the narrative from Kirby Smart’s debut season as Georgia’s head coach would be slightly more positive. As it stands, it was a disappointing first season for Smart marred by losses in three of the four biggest games on the schedule: Georgia Tech, Florida, Auburn and Tennessee.
“Slightly”? Win those Tennessee and Vandy games, and they roll into Jacksonville with a 6-1 record, 4-1 in the conference, and a completely different mindset.
Of course, they’ve got to run the same gauntlet again this season, with only one of the four games in Athens. If we’re looking for a measuring stick for improvement in Smart’s second season, it starts with going better than 1-3 (barely) against that bunch.