“Does it mean Georgia is, you know, like, back?”

Matt Hinton hits the sweet spot of where I’m at after Notre Dame with this:

So in that respect — even if only in that respect, on just the one side of the ball — Saturday night looked like the realization of the job Kirby Smart was hired to do: Elite athletes executing at an elite level. For a program that’s spent years watching decorated recruits flirt with their potential before ultimately falling short, Notre Dame’s status in the national pecking order was entirely beside the point.

If you’re feeling less optimistic, you can point to the fact that Georgia’s offense struggled to score points, too, and the fact that wet-behind-the-ears QB Jake Fromm looked every inch the freshman in his first career start. Long term, the looming tug-of-war behind center between Fromm and Jacob Eason has the potential to send the entire season careening off course. Nagging concerns over Nick Chubb and Sony Michel’s durability and explosiveness haven’t entirely gone away. The receivers remain largely unproven; the reshuffled offensive line is just hoping to get by as it gels, maybe, into a cohesive unit.

At the end of the day, though, it’s not new that Georgia remains a work in progress. It’s a given. That project in Athens has been under perpetual construction for at least a decade, spanning full recruiting cycles, myriad injuries and defections, and coaching changes. In that context, it’s rare to see the work result in actual progress in real time. Strictly speaking, Saturday night may not have revealed much more about Georgia or its immediate prospects of a championship run than we already knew. But it did look an awful lot like progress on a big stage, and the best indication yet that the Smart era is on schedule.

There’s no question that plenty of work on offense remains to be done before we can label this program elite.  But between a defense that appears to have earned that label Saturday night and special teams that have removed themselves from being the outright liability they were last season, it’s okay to feel like things overall are heading in the right direction.  For the moment, that works for me.

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63 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

63 responses to ““Does it mean Georgia is, you know, like, back?”

  1. Dolly Llama

    Am I the only one sick of hearing about our nonexistent “quarterback controversy?”

    Like

    • 3rdandGrantham

      Exactly; Eason is the clear starter upon his return as he should be, unless Fromm suddenly morphs into Tom Brady.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ugafidelis

        Why is Eason the clear starter? What would have changed for him on that 3rd series against App State?

        And I ask that seriously. No ill will towards him or you at all.

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        • Rocketdawg

          What wouldn’t have changed? You can’t see the future anymore than I can. The Oline didn’t start blocking until the third series.

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        • Brandon

          So if Eason didn’t get hurt you would have been in favor of benching him after 3 series for another true freshman, got it. It was 3 series. All 3 of which we came out in bunch sets trying to pound the ball before realizing it wasn’t going to be that easy. Fromm had all spring and summer to beat out Eason and couldn’t do it. 3 series of the opening game isn’t going to undo all of that. Seriously, that is why Eason is the clear starter.

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          • ugafidelis

            1) Nope.

            2) What I expected was a 2nd year super stud to come out and throw accurate passes. What I saw was a “pocket passer” who as you say had all summer to to work on his technique and then came out and threw his first pass behind his wide open receiver and then threw his third pass off his back foot high and behind his receiver. They were rockets though, that’s for sure.

            And now you have From who has taken the team to 2-0. So they just snatch him out when Eason is healthy? At what point is Eason not the clear starter? 3-0? 4-0? 5-0? Isn’t winning the most important thing? Isn’t Kirby all about competition?

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            • Paul

              Eason is the clear starter until Kirby Smart says otherwise. What we think makes no difference. Kirby named Eason the starter and said emphatically that he did not want to go through another year with a true freshman starting at quarterback. If and when he’s healthy you can expect Eason to play.

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              • ugafidelis

                Haha well that’s definitely a good point Paul thanks.

                I guess I was just thinking that claim might not be so concrete as the weeks go by.

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        • Whiskeydawg

          IMHO: Fromm got lucky as he threw into a lot of coverage a more experience QB would’ve avoided. Eason also worked a great deal more with the 1st string and knows the entire playbook. He’s also more experienced and I feel throws the deep ball with more accuracy and strength than Fromm at this point.

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  2. dawgtired

    “If you’re feeling less optimistic, you can point to the fact that Georgia’s offense struggled to score points, too,”

    I would like to point out one other thing about our O struggles. I’m aware of our own issues but ND’s D, for all the talk about them being weak, tackled very well. Sure tackling in open space against some pretty good athletes goes a long way to characterizing a defense as pretty good in its own right. And they had D-linemen that came off the edge to catch Chubb from behind. That’s not an easy task.

    ND supposedly has one of the best OLs we’ll play and Wimbush is not a shabby QB. He may not be the best passer or best runner we’ll face but he ranks high in the combination of both. Plus they had tall athletic WRs.

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  3. I agree completely. Lots of work to do and lots of measuring sticks coming up and quickly, but there’s a lot to look at and see progress….or is it Process?

    I’ve unashamedly compared CKS to CNS at alabama and I’ll do it again. I wonder how much better we’d look on that side of the ball in year 2 had CKS had an incumbent senior QB like Nick had.

    Instead, CKS has had two true freshman to manage.

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    • Hogbody Spradlin

      Kirby’s sideline demeanor needs a little calming down. I’m not saying he needs quaaludes, but he’s the head coach now. I expect he’s feeling the pressure this year, and he’ll get calmer if and when his efforts are successful. There’s a difference between Kirby’s ass chewing and Muschamp’s vein popping.

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  4. Mayor

    The team is on the right track and that’s good enough for me right now. I said last week that if the Dawgs beat ND at South Bend it would be the biggest OOC win for the program since the 1965 win over Michigan in Ann Arbor. I stand by that statement. Does this mean the team is perfect/going to win a nattie? No. The ’65 squad went 7-3-1. Everybody needs to get a grip. This team is a work in progress but it is definitely headed in the right direction. They exhibited a toughness in South Bend, both mental and physical, that I haven’t seen from a Dawgs team in a very long time.

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    • That Clemson win in ’82 between the prior 2 national champions was pretty significant. Otherwise, I totally agree.

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      • Mayor

        The ’82 Clemson victory was in Athens. While I guess I didn’t make it clear, I was talking about an away victory. That said, the ’82 Clemson win was BIG and paved the way for a shot at another national championship.

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      • Mayor

        Since ee brought up Clemson somebody explain to me why they don’t make a big deal about Danny Ford there? He won over 100 games and a natty for those hillbillies.

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        • Because he got them on probation and is a total redneck? 🙂

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          • Mayor

            He didn’t really get them on probation Charlie Pell did. Ford stuck it out through the probation and then won ’em a nattie. As for being a redneck, he fits right in with ’em. He should be treated by Clemson with the same respect that Auburn treats Gene Chizik….wait……

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        • garageflowers

          Not sure who the “they” is you are referring, but Clemson fans do make a big deal about Danny Ford. He is a legend there. He was hastily let go after the 1989 season because of a NCCA investigation, of which he was completely cleared. Then Clemson hired Hatfield and the decline started. Took them two and a half decades to recover.

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    • Irwin R. Fletcher

      It’s interesting to go back to the Florida loss last year. The wheels had come off between Ole Miss and Jacksonville and there was talk about the potential of missing a bowl game…

      If not for the fact that you blew a 13 point lead in an awful 10 minutes of football, you’d be staring at 7-0 since then. As it is, you are 6-1 with two wins over ranked opponents.

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  5. 3rdandGrantham

    Well said; I might have to bump up my 11 win season projection to 12. After all, I did have us losing to ND.

    With that said, I’m going to wait until after the UT game to get terribly excited, as we beat a 4 win team on essentially a neutral site (though I believe ND is a much better team than last year). Eason still is an unknown and our OL, while improved, still has a ways to go. The positives are I loved Cheney’s game plan Saturday and our ST are vastly better, so those are two areas I feel better about.

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  6. Certainly the defense and maybe even the special teams are good enough to do big things this year. Good enough to get to Atlanta. The ND game was a microcosm of what we need from the offense…play to the strengths, play smart and protect the ball. We don’t need a record breaking offense. Run the ball, play action, use the TEs. Play field position. Help keep the D off the field for a bit so they can take over when it counts.

    Oh, I’m back on the koolaid. Seriously, though….this D should give us a chance to win every game on the schedule. The offense may need to be a little “vanilla” until we can get QB sorted and the OL continues to improve, IF they improve.

    If anyone wants a session in being an elite LB just watch Smith on the first half defensive plays. That dude is fast, smooth physical and, best of all, a God leader and really really intelligent. Heck, just watch Notre Dame’s first 3-4 possessions and see Smith dominate every play in a possession. The guy was out there dominating Oklahoma Drills. I know I’ve gone on about him but it’s one of those performances that make an impression. Want a session in 3-4 DL play do the same. Just want to get jacked up? Watch first half defense.

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  7. 92 grad

    The jimmy and Joe post earlier left me a little less optimistic. Why? How many times in the last decade have we had elite talent on BOTH sides of the ball. I think the 2013 season was the only time, and they all got injured.

    I love the D we saw and I loved the intensity I saw everywhere, but, we’ve been down this road a few times. Maybe we will miss the left turn and find a happy trail

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    • Irwin R. Fletcher

      Since 2000, holding opponents to 20ppg or less is usually a pretty good indicator that the team can be in contention. Agree that it is only two games…but considering this is only the 5th time in 11 seasons that UGA has made two games without a loss, I’ll take it, thanks.

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    • Otto

      This is a new staff, so I don’t get setting expectations off prior staffs. We should expect improvement.

      The ’17 team has talent but loads of young talent which will make mistakes. A 1 point win over ND is great for the program, something to build on. However, a 1 point win over a program who at its recent height was blown out by Bama and I don’t think ND’s ’17 team is close to making a title run.

      Enjoy the day but we should not be thinking UGA has arrived. Yes the media will make it sound like UGA has.

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    • Bulldog Joe

      “That project in Athens has been under perpetual construction for at least a decade, spanning full recruiting cycles, myriad injuries and defections, and coaching changes. In that context, it’s rare to see the work result in actual progress in real time.”

      Add in the myriad zero tolerance suspension, special teams, and undersigning philosophies.

      We’ll still pay the price for those sins for another year (at QB, OL, receivers, and
      at DB) but we are finally approaching the point where ‘next man up’ is not a walk-on or a marginally-recruited athlete.

      If ‘back’ means competing for an SEC Championship or playoff spot, the answer is ‘no’.

      If ‘back’ means competing for our division, the answer is ‘yes’.

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      • Mayor

        BJ: If we win our division by definition we will be “competeting for an SEC Championship and a playoff spot.” Won the SECCG and we’re in the 4 team playoff. Not saying we will win the SECGC mind you but we would have a puncher’s chance and I remember in ’05 LSU was favored and the Dawgs won. It’s a long way until the end of the regular season and by then this team could grow to be something special.

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        • Otto

          While technically true it can be argued that the last time East competed with the West in the SECCG was 2012.

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          • Irwin R. Fletcher

            It can be argued that way if you forget how good Mizzou was in 2013. I think people judge the 2013 Tigers by how bad the 2014 Tigers got crushed.

            I think the best teams in the East since THE DROUGHT started in no particular order…2009 Florida, 2012 UGA, 2013 Carolina, 2013 Mizzou, 2012 Florida, 2012 Carolina, 2011 Carolina, 2014 UGA….

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  8. AceDawg

    What I know – The ND game was a great one for the UGA fanbase, which is worth something in and of itself – true excitement and optimism inside and outside the locker room. It also was a game where UGA’s defense was more disruptive than it was in any game last year, and if the secondary gets Parrish back and gets a few freshmen playing decently, the whole defense is certainly top 10 in America material – maybe top 5?

    What I don’t know – The UGA offense looks to have improved athleticism at WR, and it remains full of strong RBs, but the likelihood of this offense being a success under Chaney is still hard to have faith in. It seems like Chaney still tries to get the ball to any WR or RB that enters the game for the first time – Simmons, Herrien, etc. This isn’t a video game, buddy. The other team can see that, too.

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  9. Russ

    I’ve thought before the season, and what I still see, is a nasty defense that will give us a chance in most/all games. Chaney has at least moved away from the “running into a brick wall over and over” offense, though he still seems to be figuring out how to use the talent we have there.

    And while I think Kirby will put Eason back at QB as soon as he’s physically able (and I fully support that), there’s most definitely a percentage of our fanbase that thinks Fromm is the clear starter no matter when/if Eason returns. I can guarantee you that the first time Eason overthrows an open receiver (and he will), you’ll hear the boo-birds. I think it’s bad for the team and can cause problems.

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  10. Skeptic Dawg

    So I incorrect in stating that the Dawgs would start the season 1-3. The defense this week was a pure joy to watch. It was evident from the stands watching Carter and Smith fly all over the field just how dominant they where, but seeing the replay was even more impressive. Wow! As for the offense, I am not sure who our QB will be upon Eason’s return and that is troubling. The WR’s are still a mixed bag. One thing is for certain, Sony is the best RB we have on outbreaks roster through 2 games. Swift has earned the right to carry the ball more, and I expect to see that in the coming weeks. I said prior to the season that I just want to see progress game to game over the course of our 12 week season. And through 2 weeks we have seen progress. I am going to wait until we face a few SEC teams before I am ready to go any further. But man that was a fun win for the team and fans this weeekend!

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    • Skeptic Dawg

      Sony is the best RB we have on our roster through 2 games.

      Proofreading is hard.

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      • Brandon

        I’ll save you some troubling. Eason will be our QB when he returns, unless he does something upon returning to lose the job which I don’t see happening.

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        • Normaltown Mike

          scooter infraction?

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        • You don’t know that. Eason is week to week and may not even return in time for Mississippi State. Dude was on crutches Saturday. So here is the big question. If UGA cruises next week and then Fromm plays well enough to beat MSt, does Kirby start Eason against Tenn? I doubt anyone here knows that answer for sure. Coaches tend to stay with what is working, and Eason didn’t exactly set the world on fire last year.

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          • hailtogeorgia

            Fromm hasn’t exactly set the world on fire this year, either, but he does have the benefit of being able to rely on the defense to keep it close and simply try not to do anything stupid. Eason had multiple games where he had to actually put the offense on his back.

            I really don’t understand how quickly some of y’all can jump ship on Eason. If Kirby thinks he’s the better player and gives the team the better chance to win, he’ll start whenever he returns. Considering the coaches had all offseason to make that decision and still went with Eason over Fromm (even with his allegedly less than satisfactory year last year), I can’t imagine that will have changed in a month. The defense is the reason we won in South Bend, not Fromm.

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    • PTC DAWG

      I remember your BS 1-3 prediction….just said it to get attention, no way you thought that.

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      • Skeptic Dawg

        Believed it. The 2016 squad was not good in any phase of the game. I was not, nor am I today, sold on Eason. 1-3 seemed very possible. I failed to see such defensive improvement. As I said above, I am going wait until we have played a few SEC opponents before I really begin to believe. But so far so good.

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    • Shane#1

      Where is Skeptic Dawg and what have you done with him? Loved the D, and Fromm gained valuable PT. Loved the win, ND ain’t the old ND but I still love beating them. The Dogs front seven, or eight or nine is awesome. OL needs work but I see improvement. Special teams seem much better, but I have my fingers crossed.

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  11. Brandon

    I can’t believe everyone is acting like the next real game we play is at Tennessee. We’ll find out a lot about MSU this Saturday but I expect them to give LSU all they can handle. Nicky Fitz is a baller and that Defense has improved. I could see a real nail biter ‘tween the hedges in a couple weeks.

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    • Russ

      Agree about MSU. I think the’re pretty solid, but we’ll know more this week.

      And Vandy worries me.

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      • Got Cowdog

        Me too. What I am looking forward to, if everyone stays healthy, is tech. Can’t wait to see what this defense does with the option. I watched the replay. Our D is some kind of quick.

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      • Jared S.

        Word. Our schedule is chock full of teams that can give us all we can handle (and maybe more) on any given Saturday including MSU, UT, Vandy, Florida, USC, War Eagle and Tech.

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  12. We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again

    The defense is where it needs to be. The special teams, miracle of miracles, finally looks competent. But it’s still hard to shake the feeling that our offense is holding us back.

    We haven’t reached 40 points in any of the last 24 games. For a program that regularly hit that mark under Bobo, that’s quite a drought. It’s important that we lay a big number on Samford this week — even though it’s only Samford — just to prove that we’re capable of doing it against a live opponent. We keep talking about how the offense [I]should[/I] be better; now it’s time to start seeing results.

    In an SEC East lacking any great competition, our defense is probably good enough to carry us to 10 wins and a trip to Atlanta for a sacrificial beatdown at the hands of Alabama. But if we get the offense going, there’s no goal that’s off the table for this team.

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  13. Dave

    If you really go back and look at all the offensive plays that didn’t result in reasonable positive yardage or more, you’ll find that more than a few were well designed plays.

    The Wilddawg to Herrien which lost 2 should have been kept by Sony for at least a 3-4 yd gain. (MAYBE it wasn’t his option to keep it, I don’t know)

    Chubb getting tackled by the backside LB was set up beautifully. That backer made the right move and had the quickness to get there. It happens.

    The pass before the GW field goal had a clear throwing window to Nauta, who had a step on the defender and Fromm had good protection. Fromm just missed the throw.

    Obviously, the drop by Hardman.

    Obviously, the overthrow by Fromm on another deep ball.

    Those are just a few.

    Bottom line is, you’re going to get stuffed on a lot of plays throughout the game when you’re playing a quality opponent. And, I don’t expect to hit every single open play.

    I think what we’re beginning to see, though, is Chaney getting more comfortable with his players, and the players themselves beginning to get used to one another.

    If I was the staff, I’d issue a challenge to the offense. If y’all don’t score 40 on Samford, you’re all running stadiums on Monday.

    Maybe I’m the eternal optimist, but I really feel like this offense is starting to get the idea. Just need a few more successes and I think we’ll be an efficient and exciting offense. Not expecting 40 ppg just yet, but an offense that can do what we need to win.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 92 grad

      I get your point and I think it’s a good one. If Chaney is scripting plays that are designed for 11 elite athletes then we could assume that the margin for error is set very tightly, where 1 or 2 blocks aren’t set the right way it all goes to shit. If everyone does their job, it’s butter. At some point a teacher reaches the talent level and pushes to elevate the skills, maybe Chaney is good at this. Maybe Chaney is coaching as if it’s an Alabama roster at kirbys demands. One day it might all just click, sort of like that auburn run with Marshall.

      Like

  14. The Truth

    I wish there were a way to graph an O-line’s improvement and a team’s overall improvement, because if you could lay those 2 graphs side-by-side that would tell the story of the 2017 season. If the OL trends upward, so will we. Likewise…

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  15. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    Matt said, “The receivers remain largely unproven;”

    The receivers have saved the bacon of our QB a bunch already. Yeah, Mecole dropped that one pass, but otherwise, I am impressed. Maybe they don’t run good enough routes; maybe they block better, but they are to the ball with the intent to catch the damn thing.

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    • Dave

      Don’t forget the overthrow by Fromm as well. There are plays to be made by the receivers. I think the biggest thing right now is the trust being developed, especially with Wims and Godwin.

      Hopefully, Eason is taking note and that will transfer when he returns. Put the ball in a good spot when they’re in single coverage, and good things will happen. Expect to see Wims begin to draw a PI about once a game, too.

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  16. Hogbody Spradlin

    If special teams are decent, we might want to give some grudging credit to that Beamer boy, one of last year’s favorite lightning rods.

    Like