That hump’s not gonna get over itself.

This Andy Staples assessment… fair or not?

Still, the program that seems most likely to make the jump is one you’re probably not thinking of because it got close to a national title twice in the past six years. Georgia hasn’t won a national championship since 1980, so it belongs in the category we’re discussing here. (Clemson won a title in ’81.) The near misses for the Bulldogs in 2012 and ’17 only served to deepen the frustration of the fan base. This season’s SEC title game loss made it even worse, because Georgia outplayed Alabama for most of the game and then lost because a) it couldn’t stop a backup quarterback and b) the coaching staff called one of the most perplexing fake punts in recent memory.

But the fact that the Bulldogs have gotten so close combined with Kirby Smart’s high-level recruiting suggests Georgia can be in the mix every season for the forseeable future. It’s just a matter of getting over the hump. That won’t be easy with Saban’s Tide on the other side of the SEC, but Georgia feels ready to break through—just as Clemson did back in 2015.

What about this analysis?

The Tide can be beaten. Clemson just beat the brakes off of them. Lesser teams like Ole Miss and Texas A&M have snatched wins. But there is a massive difference between those and Georgia beating Alabama through six of eight quarters in the calendar year.

Kirby Smart’s Georgia was supposed to be something more than a fluke or out-of-conference rival. Georgia was supposed to supplant the dynasty by building a bigger palace for one of Nick Saban’s best former assistants.

The Bulldogs still have little to show after coming so insanely close twice. So far, no matter how promising, they are still just the SEC’s latest imitation.

Smart just finished his third season, coached for a national title in one and came close to repeating in another, so in a sense insanely high expectations feel rational.  It’s Smart’s bad luck, as well as a moment of supreme irony, that the program he’s emulating has been the barrier to breaking through.

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94 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

94 responses to “That hump’s not gonna get over itself.

  1. gastr1

    Well, but the copies have yet to beat the original.

    Soon enough Saban’s going to hit the wall, because age skips no one. At the very least we’ll be taking over then. How long til then? Can we stand to wait the eight the eight years or so until the wheels are clearly off the Saban bus? Maybe Dabo’s success will help hasten his decline. Losses like this year’s certainly make them look like they’ve lost a little shine.

    Like

    • RandallPinkFloyd

      Fair assessment by Staples. We’re close, we’re right there. We’re also going into the fourth year of Kirby Smart’s head coaching career, a point that often gets overlooked IMO. Also, while the cupboard was far from empty when he took over, we’re just now rounding out Kirby’s 4th year as recruiting. We’re going to get over the hump. We’re going to be in playoff contention for the foreseeable future, UGA fans just need to be patient and know it’ll happen eventually.

      Not enough credit is given to Clemson at this point. 2 of the past 4 titles and the most recent one just totally out coaching and out playing Bama. Dabo has a much easier road to the playoffs, they’re going to be there for a while. Clemson isn’t slowing down, at some point Bama/Saban has to slow down a bit.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. willypmd

    I wouldn’t call our first SEC championship in a decade, epic Rose bowl win, National Championship appearance, and this years SEC heart-breaker, “little to show”

    National championships are the goal, but not the only goal in my opinion. 3 years in, I’d sat the Smart era is a success. If we can’t get back or win the big one in the next 7 years, the story changes.

    Liked by 4 people

    • 4th & Kirby

      “National championships are the goal, but not the only goal in my opinion”

      That ship sailed in 2016. Not to bludgeon the skeleton of the deceased horse, but NC’s are exactly why Kirby was brought to Athens. Kirby’s first 3 seasons on the field are identical to Richt’s. And if there were a playoff in 2002, we would have been in. The Smart era will be a success when we average more than 2 SEC titles a decade (UGA’s historical average) and bring home a NC.

      Like

  3. NoAxeToGrind

    Even Saban won’t last forever. Kirby just needs to keep recruiting at the current level and hire the best offensive and defensive coordinators McGoofy will pay for, particularly offensive, keep Pittman satisfied, and learn from the mistakes of the LSU and UA games, and, eventually not too far into the future, he and we will reach the promised land.

    Like

    • J-DawG

      “learn from the mistakes of the LSU &UA games” is easier said than done. For all his positives, Kirby has in my opinion an arrogant and stubborn streak that he needs to lose. Stop playing not to lose, eliminate the brain farts, and use “all” your weapons. Give Jake the ball and turn him loose.

      Like

  4. ugafidelis

    “because a) it couldn’t stop a backup quarterback and b) the coaching staff called one of the most perplexing fake punts in recent memory.”

    Cause and effect. CKS had to make a bold decision b) based off a). Had it worked, he’s the hero. Because it failed so miserably he’s the goat.

    As far as the analysis goes, I’d say it’s fair. I think CKS is building something here, it’s just that we as a fan base are so accustomed to the drought that we are having a hard time seeing the forest for the trees. It feels like 2017 was our only chance for the foreseeable future but we’ve got to remember that pyramids aren’t built point first. Hope springs eternal. Just wait ’til next year!

    Like

  5. MGW

    The trajectory is still upward.

    Like

  6. Got Cowdog

    Hall’s comments about Trevor Lawrence pointed out something I hadn’t thought about: “The ball comes out about 10 feet off the ground, almost impossible to bat.” Huh. Imagine standing under a basketball goal …
    Kirby gets accused of copycatting Bama too much, IMO. He recruits large, athletic linemen, highly ranked QB’s, big and tall receivers, and typically has a couple of blue chip running backs in the pipeline. Is this similar to Alabama’s formula? Sure, but every program in the damn country would do the same thing if they could. Getting the Jimmy’s on the field is priority one for any successful program.
    As far as the ex’s and o’s, I don’t know enough about schemes to say. I do feel safe venturing that if I had a large and athletic line with a pair of powerful backs I would probably be a power team as well, regardless of what everyone else is doing.
    Net-net, It isn’t like Saban invented power football. It’s been historically successful for the teams that have the athletes for as long as there’s been football. Calling Kirby a copycat is throwing shade on a program that is well on the way to being a perennial contender. envy and jealousy, maybe?

    Like

    • Tony Barnfart

      Nor do I, but go read some of his previous Football Study Hall posts. The nomenclature of “pro-style” vs. “spread” is basically a dead description. The fullback is basically dead everywhere, and the in-line tight end is decreasing. In its place you are seeing the H-Back tight end (I like to call it the return of the wingback)…..yeah, we may go “two tight ends” , but a lot of those times we’re technically in almost a 30 personnel grouping (Nauta, Woerner and Swift all counting as running backs since the two tight ends are off the ball with 2 more wide receivers out wide.)

      The H-Back tight end is way more versatile and unpredictable to account for, particularly when he’s in a wingback type position, he can still provide functional edge blocking or act almost as a slot receiver. We aren’t running as dated of an offense as people like to claim, I just think we need to push it down field more.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. CPark

    Kirby says it all the time, “Pressure is a privilege.” It’s not just a catchy phrase for a TShirt or Strength Coach fodder, it’s legit.

    He’s obviously got the talent pipeline flowing so I believe UGA will keep knocking and eventually break through but these are about the most tumultuous times Kirby has faced since his hire. It will be interesting to see how he and the team responds.

    Like

  8. Normaltown Mike

    Incredibly optimistic about Kirby. Important to remember Saban had over 10 years of HC experience when he got to Bama. I think 7 years from now Kirby will be a better coach than he is now, by virtue of navigating all the decisions that come his way. Despite that, he’s already ratcheted up our program and put us in a position to compete with the top program in the land.

    Just for a point of reference, when CMR showed up in Athens, it was big news that we would have “mat drills” in the off-season. Much pearl-clutching by faculty ensued. At that time, he was pushing the envelope on making Georgia better. I think he got complacent years later and the game passed him by. Kirby’s challenge will be to change with the game (as Saban has)

    Like

    • DawgPhan

      I love that the win now folks are now asking for 7 years of patience.

      Like

      • DawgPhan

        excuse me. 7 MORE years of patience.

        Like

      • Normaltown Mike

        I don’t know what you mean.

        Like

      • 1smartdude

        I didn’t miss that either. This isn’t UT. It’s never was a 10 year rebuild project. Given the talent that’s currently on the field, I’m not sure why the 7 year timeframe was mentioned…twice. That’s certainly not my expectations. Kirby is either THE guy or he isn’t. It doesn’t take 10 years to figure that out, anymore than it took 15 to decide that about Richt. Here’s the truth, you don’t get that many shots, you HAVE to take advantage of those. If you don’t, you’ll always be looking down the road. I know, I’ve done it for years.

        Like

      • Jeff Sanchez

        Amen.

        I thought the narrative was that 10 wins wasn’t reaching our potential as a program and we needed a coach to finally get into the upper echelon.

        This was by NO means a total rebuild job .

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Russ.

    Well, call me Capt. Obvious, but this season will tell a lot. If Kirby replaces both coordinators and the trains keeps a rollin’, then we have something. If we struggle this season and don’t win an East sitting there for us, then I’ll worry we are back to where we were, just with more talent.

    It’s a fine line between consistency and stubbornness. If Kirby can navigate that successfully, then we can look forward to great things.

    Like

  10. The one down side to beating bama, is potentially having to beat them twice inside of 4-5 weeks…..they will be in the playoff conversation ALL the f&/@1!g time

    Like

    • Jack Klompus

      Yep. But we can flip that meme.

      Like

    • california_dawg

      Painful truth, which is why 2017 was the year to win it all. We could get lucky if an LSU, A&M or (less likely) Auburn sneaks by them and gets to Atlanta, thereby only facing Bama once. You’re right though, beating them twice in essentially a month is a tall order.

      Like

      • Dawg1

        If I’m the team that eked out wins over the school that led us for 119 minutes of 120 the past 2 games, I’m thinking beating them twice is a tall order!!

        Like

  11. Mick Jagger

    Saban really looked “ran through the ringer” at halftime of the game. I think his time (as a coach) is getting very short.

    Like

  12. Derek

    I still say we out played and out coached them two times in a row and lost because the refs were blind, insane, corrupt or in fear.

    Whatever it was, it wasn’t an even playing field. If the punt block is called right whose to say we don’t win by 4 tds?

    Liked by 1 person

    • dawgtired

      It pisses me off that the refs and the people that line their pockets have the power to affect the outcome. Wouldn’t be easier and cheaper just to bet on the better team?…UGA in this case. Then they wouldn’t have to pay the refs. Just let it be settled on the field!

      Like

    • ASEF

      The refs in game 1 helped make those 4th quarters more important than they perhaps should have been but…

      They played no role in Alabama throttling Georgia in both those 4th quarters and OT. Alabama ran 55 plays to Georgia’s 33, out-gained Georgia by 2 yards per play, and outscored Georgia 30-3.

      Like

      • Derek

        Count me in as a person who recognizes the import of momentum especially as a game wears on and people get tired.

        We don’t know what happens after a blocked punt. Do we get 7 or a FG or a TO or a TO on downs? We’ll never know. We go up 23-7 after chasing their starting QB do they lay down? Give up on the qb sweeps and runs to Najee? We don’t know. Does chasing points send the game into a spiral of TO’s and us winning big? We’ll never know.

        If the hit out of bounds on 2 gets called, does that possession turn into points?

        If they call the hit to 11’s head OR the simultaneous grab of his facemask, do we get points there?

        If 7 getting his entire body swung around by his facemask gets called do we get points there?

        If they call PI because their corner has both arms wrapped around 8 as the ball is coming down, do we get any points there?

        The problem isn’t a call here or there. That shit happens. The problem is multiple, pervasive and obvious 15 yarders that don’t get called going ONLY one way.

        I know we could have won anyway, but don’t sit me down at a poker table with Daniel Negreanu and tell me I could have won despite the fact the deck was marked. What was hard, becomes nearly impossible and thus unacceptable.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Macallanlover

          First of all, you and ugafidelis are both right, it was an aggressive move that Kirby had good rationale for why it might work, and it was required, in his mind, because he didn’t want to give the ball back to Bama with that much time.

          I said previously I had been told that Smart took the bullet for Fields on that play flopping. UGA practiced the play dozens of times that very week just for that situation. I think we all realize that using Fields as the passer was the fatal flaw, but he was coached to get the play off quickly because Kirby knew Bama would adjust if given time, he had seen Bama’s weakness in not covering all receivers in a punt formation too many times while he was on Saban’s staff.

          The play was there with a quick snap. Fields froze, he saw it was covered after taking too much time and should have called the timeout. He may even have had an audible to punt it away as a failsafe. After all the practice, he froze. Now, Smart could have also called the TO, but Fields is a QB and taught to stop a play designed to fail.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Derek. What you said. Exactly. You called them pervasive and one way. Truer words have never been spoken. I am sorry to disagree with those that say you have to overcome that bad call BS but crap like pervasive missed penalty calls DO affect the outcome. They DO change momentum, especially emotional momentum. Players DO get discouraged and tentative and wonder about WTH will happen next to them or is going to be done to them. Sure we have to play the game and we freakin’ did play the game. And, you have to not call stupid plays like Chaney and Smart did….But you insert any two of those calls in the stream of the game and they result in first downs and momentum for our side, and could very well have changed the outcome. So, while I am on my rant, why is that – our QB seems to thrive in a HUNH setting and we move the football very efficiently when we run that set, and STILL, somehow, the OC and HC are reluctant to do that? Jake ran that set in HS and every time we do it, we are super productive. Is that Kirby’s manhood is in the way? Can’t do that because we are a ‘run the football, out physical our opponent’ type of team. I could give a flying you know what about that. I want to run a winning offense. Period. And if that script includes the HUNH in large doses, so be it. Who freakin’ cares how we win I am not interested in style points. And while I continue this rant, one change I really hope I see is the new OC actually using our TE, often, whether it be on play action, or underneath a two deep safety coverage. My football IQ is lower than most, I admit, but even a playbook moron like me can see the deficiency in not using these weapons. Give me a freaking break, Kirby. And Chaney, for that one reason alone, I am glad you are gone. Peace. Out.

          Like

      • Derek

        By the way, nice call on the Meyer post before the natty saying Saban never, ever gets beat down. Prescience!! Please keep saying that!

        Like

        • ASEF

          I noted as a historical fact at the time (which it was), not a universal absolute that worked as a predictive model.

          The refs angle is just pathetic. Are we LSU already?

          Like

          • Derek

            1) I’m just saying you may have cursed them so keep it up.

            2) a conclusory statement fails to prove anything pathetic. You’re the guy sitting at a poker table and can’t find the sucker. It’s you and you don’t even know it.

            I know it won’t be me anymore.

            Like

            • ASEF

              College officiating is horribly incompetent. I’ve been pounding that drum for years, and I pointed out that waiting until Georgia got screwed by it in a big game to complain about it would be too little too late.

              Every complaint about officiating falls into a conspiracy theory/corruption category. And conference offices can laugh at tin foil hat nonsense and never do a damn thing about it.

              It pisses me off because you’re part of the problem. And you should know better.

              Like

              • Derek

                Shouldn’t it average out tho? If the refereeing just sucks it should go both ways, right?

                I’m not arguing any conspiracy (while I’ve been sober). I don’t know why its been as bad and one-sided as it has been. I really don’t. I just know its been bad enough to raise questions as to the reliability of the outcome. I don’t want that thought in my head anymore than you, but when it happens over and over you just can’t trust it AND more important to me, I’m not spending thousands of dollars on watching us get fucked. I can do that on the couch.

                I paid over 5k for tickets to the natty and the SECCG combined. Not doing it again in a game vs. bama. Not until it sorts itself out.

                I don’t know if its fear.

                I don’t know if its incompetence

                I don’t know if they get more shit when they get a call vs. Saban wrong

                I don’t know if they’ve concluded that their assignments get impacted when bama ain’t happy.

                I don’t know if they got a bag of cash.

                What I do know is that whatever the cause was, it impacted the outcome of those games because they were so bad, so obvious, so consequential and so one sided. It is n;t enough to me to say: its fair until you have proof.

                This is not tin foil hat shit. Its just watching with your own 2 eyes. That’s all the proof I need and there’s no fucking way those games were fairly called whatever the underlying reason.

                Liked by 2 people

    • Silver Creek Dawg

      The punt block would have never happened on account of the clear and obvious false start by Alabama killing the play before the snap had it been called right.

      Like

      • Derek

        That’s BS. Leaning back by an eligible player isn’t a false start. Only 5 guys can’t lean back. He wasn’t one of them.

        Like

        • 1smartdude

          You need to rewatch that particular play, it wasn’t one guy moving but several. I’ve always been of the opinion that all that movement was the reason for the flag, they just called it on the wrong guy. I’ve never been a conspiracy theory guy though. I know it’s a common trait because I’ve sat at games and listened to it, over and over. All game long. It’s gotten to the point where it’s just part of watching a game. You’ll find comfort in knowing you’re not alone.

          Like

          • Derek

            Still moving back. Two guys at different spots.

            Technically two guys moving would have been a flag.

            But one was on the line and one was an up back. Likely you have different eyes on them. This individually neither was a flag.

            But both guys who moved were going away from the LOS. Elible recievers can move laterally or backwards, albeit one at a time.

            Now in the 4th and 7 Td pass to Najee he was definitely moving towards the line without a call.

            In any event the bullshit that the blocked punt play should have been correctly called on them, is a little specious to me.

            Like

    • 1smartdude

      I’m not one who thinks that particular call was that devastating, from an officiating standpoint. Yes, it would have been huge had they not throw the offsides flag, but there still should have been a flag on that play, half the Alabama protectors were moving, presnap. The missed face mask was different and at a critical time.

      Like

      • Derek

        Of course for you seeing multiple Alabama players moving and not throwing a flag except for one on a Georgia who isn’t offsides doesn’t mean something is wrong.

        Got it. 🤦‍♂️

        Like

  13. bcdawg97

    I think they are both fair. Hall’s is a bit more of a stretch in the “nothing to show for it” (can’t take the Gator out him I suppose) as a season like 2017 helps with recruiting, national perception, etc. But the fact does remain, if the goal is a national title, Kirby’s gotta find a way to get his players/coaches to cash in the chances when they are presented. Time will tell.

    Like

  14. Bright Idea

    Georgia has to get better on defense. Take away Roquan and we haven’t seen the kind of defense needed to get over the hump especially fundamentally getting off blocks, tackling , pass rush, etc. This has kept us from winning the really big games when we can’t score 30 points against the good teams. Kirby doesn’t have the philosophy of scoring big and wants to play to his defense, so improve it.

    Like

    • Derek

      You aren’t always going to have the Butkus award winner at ILB. I know because we’ve only had one.

      Tindall and Dean and a healthy Rice and Quay will be a marked improvement over what we had to put out there this year.

      I don’t think most people understand how well 2 and 20 had to play to protect us from shitty ILB play and a less than stellar front.

      That’s getting fixed.

      The bigger concern is that we know we’ve got 7, 9 and 11 but they just played their worst football game and no one else on that side of the ball has emerged as reliable. And they’re getting a new O.C.

      Like

  15. Dovedawg

    Dabo built for 7 years before breaking thru. He got humiliated in the Orange bowl a couple of years before he won the natty with Watson. His keys: Staff consistency, aggressive offensive football, great recruiting, a positive faith based coaching attitude that makes players want to play for him, and many seniors on both of his Championship teams. Kirby has many of the same things going for him or available to him. He is working hard. Staff changes will happen but his choices for replacements will be very important. Seniors staying and playing are important. he Georgia fan base needs to relax and stop frothing at the mouth about how soon we will get a natty. Kirby cannot do anything about the past 40 years. He can only operate in the present and do the best he can to Recruit and coach up good players. Hopefully we will have more good times in Dawg football in the coming years!

    Like

    • 1smartdude

      I think you’re solid with a lot of that. Although I belive Dabo isn’t in the majority. He’s a rarity. He’s the only coach I can remeber getting a Natty after year 4. Most never do. He also done it with less star talent than most. You’re dead on with the roll his seniors played. It’s not a coincidence that he had TWO generational type QB’s either. As for me, I’m not upset with the final result of last year, even though I’m disappointed in how close we were to winning it all. I’m very disappointed with this year. I can handle losing if we play well, I struggle with the way we lost all three games this year. LSU game left me feeling like I’d moved back in time. The SEC game bothered me because it was a remake of the title game and, as well as we played, we didn’t learn the lesson we should have from the Title game and made almost the exact same type of mistakes. Topping the season off with the way the Surgar played out ruined what could have been salvageable year, in spite of all the other things going on. I want a Natty as much as anyone, but what I’d like more than anything, is to avoid these type games that can crush you soul. Get rid of those and I’d have a pretty good feeling that a title is on the way. I’m not there yet, because while Kirby hasn’t been here the last 40 years, I have.

      Like

  16. 92 grad

    All this debating and questioning. None of it matters if we don’t win the east, most of it doesn’t matter if we don’t win the conference. Clemson doesn’t have these concerns so there’s no reason to attempt to make declarations of which program is the best. We just need to win our conference.

    Like

  17. W Cobb Dawg

    “Little to show” Jeebus, talk about Staples making an ass of himself.

    Kirby is 43! He’s just begun his head coaching career. He’s not declining or nearing the end. He stacks up 5 star recruits like cordwood. His most experienced starting QB was a sophomore. These young kids are going to grow up. Three years in and Kirby is giving the greatest dynasty in cfb history all they can handle. I’d say we’re doing considerably better than just about anyone could’ve envisioned.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. mp

    Lots of folks who are missing who actually wrote “little to show” dig. That was not Andy Staples or Spencer Hall. It was Stephen Godfrey. He is the less valuable half of “Podcast Ain’t Played Nobody” with BIll Connelly. People can reach him @38Godfrey.

    Like

  19. Bigshot

    It’s Georgia. Their destiny is to always be the runner-up. My heart has been broken so many times, it’s unreal. It’s the Georgia way.

    Like

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