It’s way too early for me to assign deep meaning to Georgia’s win Saturday night. Only two games in, we don’t know how each team’s season will develop. Reflect back on how half the fan base was ready to anoint Jim Donnan as the second coming of Steve Spurrier after the Dawgs demolished the Gators in 1997. How did that turn out?
While I’m not ready to draw any big picture conclusions about the state of the program based on the Notre Dame game, I will say that there are certain things about Kirby Smart to take away from it.
For one, I think we can dismiss the “it was Nick Saban’s defense” narrative. Georgia took on an offense that generated over six hundred yards of total offense the week before and held it to 265. Notre Dame’s yards per play declined from 8.19 to 3.44. The Irish offense that ran for 422 yards against Temple only managed 55 rushing yards against the Dawgs.
While it was the last, it wasn’t nearly the first time Wimbush was hit Saturday night. Due to the impressive speed on the defensive side of the ball, Georgia was able to get into the backfield often and make Wimbush uncomfortable. They also were able to stick with Notre Dame wide receivers all night and quickly shutdown running lanes. The Irish offense looked much different than it did against Temple the week prior.
“Yeah, it was everything I thought it would be, but I never played against a team with speed like that,” said Wimbush, who was genuinely impressed with the Bulldogs’ speed defensively. All 11 positions, all the guys were really physical and had speed. That was a little different. It’s hard to emulate that during the week, but our scout guys do the best job they can do.”
Georgia was fast, well-prepared, mechanically sound and Nick Saban was nowhere in the neighborhood. Kirby can coach a little D all by his lonesome, it turns out.
Deficits Georgia faced and rallied from at Notre Dame. The Bulldogs trailed 3-0, 10-3, 16-10 and 19-17.
You sensed a couple of moments when things could have gotten away from them, especially when the offense struggled, but they never did. For a young team with a true freshman quarterback starting his first game on the road against a ranked opponent who was favored, that’s an indication that it has a head coach who is able to instill a sense of toughness and focus that’s been lacking at times over the past few seasons.
It might even turn out to be a statement.