One thing I used to bitch about in the Richt era, even in the good times, is how often his teams didn’t put opponents away in a manner that let the backups get significant playing time. Last season was more of the same, unfortunately.
There was no such scenario last year, when the Bulldogs pulled out last-second triumphs over Missouri and Kentucky and suffered last-second defeats against Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech. Georgia’s most comfortable win a year ago came in the 35-21 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette, a game the Bulldogs led 35-7 midway through the fourth quarter, and even the expected feasting on FCS-member Nicholls resulted in a 26-24 escape.
That hasn’t been an issue lately.
Georgia’s only close call this season has been the 20-19 win at Notre Dame on Sept. 9, with the Bulldogs having opened Southeastern Conference play the past three weeks with routs of Mississippi State, Tennessee and Vanderbilt by a combined 117-17.
Smart bemoans the downside — “If you don’t play in tight ballgames, sometimes guys get tight when you do have to play in them.” — even if that wasn’t a problem against Notre Dame, while acknowledging the obvious.
“It helps the development of our team, should we have an injury or a situation where a guy’s got to go in and play. We now have some experience, which we didn’t get last year, so there are positives and negatives.”
That’s huge, not only for this season, but for future seasons when this year’s backups become next year’s starters. The positives outweigh the negatives by a wide margin, especially when you toss in that you’re reducing the chance of key players being injured.
And even if a little in-game R&R might hurt a bit when it comes to individual honors…
While Chubb is the SEC rushing leader at the moment, he is 16th nationally.
He has done this despite sitting out in a lot of fourth quarters due to five blowouts in six games.
“Sony (Michel) and I did some calculations, and we missed a quarter from five games,” Chubb said. “That’s (over) one game we’ve missed. It’s great to keep us fresh and keep getting the young guys some playing time. It’s working out well for us right now.”
… I really doubt Nick’s complaining about it. Even if he is doing the math.