Seth Emerson asks, “Did this defense get exposed, or was it just a bad night?”
The short answer is that nobody knows. Obviously, the team hopes it was just a one-off experience. But their coach hints at underlying structural issues when he says things like this:
“We can play better. We have to strike and get off blocks, but every player on our team can do that,” Smart said. “It’s easy to look at a lot of the things that reared their head in the last game, they were in the game before and the game before that. You may not have noticed them because the results weren’t the same.”
That begs certain questions, such as, if they knew there were issues that needed addressing, why weren’t they able to do so?
Of course, it’s equally possible that Smart is using the Auburn outcome to motivate his defensive players to up their game, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Another big question is, assuming this was something more than just a singular bad day, whether it takes a certain level of offensive proficiency to expose Georgia’s defense. If so, what’s tough for those of us looking for context is that Georgia’s last two regular season opponents before the championship game aren’t exactly on Auburn’s level, that being 24th nationally in offensive yards per play. Kentucky is 58th and Georgia Tech is 53rd. Thus, it’s possible that we see significant improvement in the Dawgs’ defensive effort without knowing how much of that to attribute to the lapses being cleaned up and how much to the level of opposition.
Of course, we’ll get a truer measure of all that at the SECCG. Besides Auburn, Alabama is tenth in yards per play.