Smart’s big decision

Like we didn’t already know that from yesterday.

Look, I’m not here to crap on Stetson today.  He’s not the reason Georgia lost yesterday.  As Graham points out with this stat…

… overall, he wasn’t awful.  The problem is, he simply isn’t built to pick a team up on his shoulders and chase the other side down.  That was painfully apparent in the second half as the margin widened and both the playcalling and Stetson’s style of play changed to adapt to the circumstances.

Had the defense kept the game from becoming a shit show mid-third quarter, Stetson may very well have been able to do the job he’s been capable of doing all season.  But once Georgia had to abandon the run for good and commit to the passing game, Alabama was able to run the Clemson playbook on defense with good success.

As for what Daniels could have done under the circumstances, well, remember who the quarterback was when Georgia played Clemson.  Also remember who’s been getting the bulk of the reps with the first string in practice over the past couple of months.  There’s no reason to think JT would have made enough of a difference once the Dawgs were in that third quarter hole.

And that’s Kirby’s big decision.  Assuming Georgia is in the playoff field, Alabama looms large in a rematch.  If you’re Smart, do you roll the dice on your defense playing better, negating Stetson’s shortcomings, or do you assume you’ve got to win a shootout and change your starting quarterback?

And before you make that call for him, ask yourself one other question — what if Stetson being the starter isn’t merely about the value of continuity in the midst of a winning season.  What if Stetson has consistently outperformed Daniels in practice since he became the starter?

This is why Kirby is paid the big bucks.  The good news is that he’ll have the better part of a month to figure out an answer.  The bad news is that he still has to figure out a way to beat Nick Saban.

117 Comments

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117 responses to “Smart’s big decision

  1. moe pritchett

    Hard for me to put this on any one unit or player.
    One thing that I noticed glaring was the front seven just didn’t look like they’ve looked the last 11 games. I guess Lord Saban had it right, it was all that “positive rat poison” about how shaky Bamas OL would be against us; talk about motivation

    Liked by 4 people

    • dawg100

      Passive. Our front 7 except on a few occasions was passive. Lots of tentative tackling, coverage, etc.

      Microcosm – Nolan Smith – 2 tackles.

      Kendrick – 1 tackle (HOW could that be?)

      Microcosm – Travon Walker – 1 solos tackle and a reach down pansy attempt at a fumble that the QB managed to steal back while 2 yards away from it with someone laying on him.

      PASSIVE.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I just don’t see how playing JT would’ve made any difference in this game. This was a total team loss. Everyone bashing Kirby about QB management seem to forget that Justin Fields and Ohio State lost 52-24 to Bama eleven months ago. I don’t know what the answer is other than Bama just may not be beatable under Saban.

    Liked by 12 people

  3. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    “What if Stetson has consistently outperformed Daniels in practice since he became the starter?”

    As you often say, what if is doing a lot of heavy lifting there. But you’re right to say that Stetson didn’t lose it; it’s also correct to say that he didn’t win it.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. mg4life0331

    Amazing. The bama qb needed to step up to win and he did

    I think burrows did a few times as well

    Maybe even fields at OSU

    I guess we will try to do it with a defense that can’t be scored on. We will go against the grain. Yeah that’s the ticket. Cause it hasn’t been proven wrong yet this year or last year or the last few ones before.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Corch Irvin Meyers, Former Jags Corch (2021)

    Bennett’s two inaccurate passes on what should have been make-able 3rd downs, one thrown out in front of Mitchell on a slant and one thrown in the dirt three yards behind his running back were directly responsible for the two three and outs that led to Bama TDs against our gassed defense in the second quarter.

    He also had a pass on the first drive that should have been his first pick six and then in the second quarter almost had another pick. His INTs in the second half of course sealed the game for Bama. Bennett’s poor play hurt our defense and then his limitations as a QB made it impossible to come from behind.

    He didn’t play well. It’s a mirage. It’s ALWAYS been a mirage with Bennett. Kirby does make the big bucks to make these decisions, but why does he keep on making the wrong decisions when it comes to the most important position on the team? Does anyone think Daniels gets a sniff last year if Bennett doesn’t get hurt? And if that’s the case, where are we today? If Bennett is “beating” Daniels in practice, maybe as the coach you have to say, well, let’s see Daniels in a game. We had Charleston Southern and Tech to end the season. It’s inexcusable that Daniels didn’t get meaningful reps in those games.

    If we make the playoff, and right now it’s a big if, and IF we beat Michigan and I’m honestly unsure we can do that, then we play Bama again. Does anyone think this is actually a decision Kirby? When he refused to allow Daniels any playing time this last month, he hitched his star to the Try-Hard Kid. And now he will have wasted the best team we’ve ever had because of it. It makes you sick with grief to think of it.

    Liked by 7 people

  6. benco04

    Alabama offensive linemen were all-world in pass pro last night. Their feet were quick, their hands were adept at parrying UGA hand-fighting. Our stunts were deep and by the time they got home the Bama line was already retreated into a ready position and waiting. That Young was taking monster drops only helped them. He either had room to stay back there and sling it, or step up and find the other open guy. I’ve said before and I’ll say again, it was high-level flag football. It was a surprising gameplan and it just caused havoc for us.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. Migraine Boy

    Amen. Stet certianly didn’t win us the game yesterday (Maybe JT could have? MAYBE?) but I don’t think he lost it.

    Those pics came from pressing because we were behind and having to score.

    This is squarely on the D : players and coaches

    Liked by 4 people

    • Brandon Bruce

      You proved the other guys point. Stetson is not good under pressure which is what you have in championship games. Therefore he shouldn’t be a QB on a national championship caliber team!
      He will win all the easy ones but doesn’t have the ability to put a team on his shoulders when it counts. Teams like Alabama and OSU do have those QBs. That’s why they are serial winners.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Gaskilldawg

    One irony is that Bennett played poorly in Tuscaloosa in 2020 and Alabama beat us 41-24. Last night Bennett played a lot better against Alabama this year than last year. He had a much better completion percentage, more yards per attempt and more total yards and more TDs. He had the same number of interceptions. Only Jefferson threw for more yards against Alabama than Bennett did and that was by only 18 years.
    Bennett improved significantly in his performance against Alabama and it did not mean a thing in either the outcome or score.

    The problem is, as others have pointed out, his best was not good enough.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Kirby always has one plan. There is no other plan. If the Maginot Line doesn’t work we’ve all got swastikas up our fourth points of contact. No Saban isn’t hitler, but he may be Rommel…Uber disciplined but also flexible.

    Liked by 4 people

    • RangerRuss

      Rommel had Col Bonner Fellers inadvertently passing allied tactical intel to the axis forces which contributed to his success in North Africa against the British. Makes me wonder if Saban has a Fellers in Butts-Mehre?

      Liked by 2 people

      • gurkhadawg

        NOW we’re getting somewhere Ranger. I never thought of that. That’s the only thing that could explain yesterday’s complete disaster. Time for a mole hunt.

        Liked by 2 people

  10. raintdog

    Obviously, that L isn’t all on the QB. But….

    Just finished rewatching the game. Bama dropped 2 easy picks, 1 of which would’ve been a pick 6. Could’ve easily been 4 picks total, arguably 5. Also, we were 3 of 12 passing on 3rd down for a 25% conversion rate. Not typical of Stetson or Monken’s season. Bama was elite when they had to be and UGA was less than average in critical situations.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. When we were down two TDs after that disastrous closing drive of the 1st half and the first drive of the 2nd half, did anyone really think we had a chance to come back without getting a lot of help?

    Liked by 2 people

    • For the man who famously made a comment in Jacksonville a few weeks ago about coaching not overcoming players, Kirby certainly doesn’t seem to believe it when it comes to the most important position on the field.

      Liked by 5 people

      • Munsoning

        Kirby refuses to accept that the QB is the most important player on the field. Despite all the evidence to the contrary he believes that he can win with D. How he can’t see that Stet’s play doesn’t hurt his D, though, is beyond me. As raintdog noted above, Stet could easily have thrown 4 picks yesterday. The QB who most helps your D is the one who helps his team score the most points. Duh.

        UGA is, as Josh pointed out on Twitter (https://twitter.com/Dawg_Stats/status/1467482231816048644), 0-7 in the last seven games in which the D has given up 25+ points. The last 6 national champions have averaged 41.1 PPG. Kirby is a fool to think that he can win championships by holding offenses averaging more than 40 PPG to 24 points.

        Liked by 4 people

  12. Ozam

    For many years now most Dawg fans have been concerned whether our style of play could compete in the inevitable shootout against a top team.

    As yesterday demonstrated, without an elite triggerman the concern is real.

    Liked by 4 people

  13. dawgsaregods

    I just have to believe there’s some good reason why we’re continuing to start a physically limited former walk-on at QB when we have a bigger, stronger athlete who has a perfect record as a starter at UGA sitting on the bench. My frustration — and I think a lot of people’s frustration — is in not knowing what that reason is.

    Kirby doesn’t owe me or anyone else outside the team an explanation, but it sure would be nice to know.

    Liked by 11 people

    • Butler Reynolds

      People forget that JT was the starter this season. A lot has happened between then and now that doesn’t show up on TV or the web. That doesn’t stop the armchair coaches from speaking with great confidence on the matter.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Munsoning

        Yeah, I’m all too prone to armchair coaching. But Kirby has been in Athens since 2016 and hasn’t had 1 elite QB1. That’s pretty damning.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Jacob Eason – 5-star
          Jake Fromm – high 4-star/low 5-star
          Justin Fields – highest rated recruit to sign at UGA in the ratings era
          JT Daniels – 5-star
          Carson Beck – 4-star
          Brock Vandagriff – 5-star
          Gunner Stockton – high 4-star on the way

          The problem isn’t the talent unless you think the recruiting services get it right for everyone else but us.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Munsoning

            That’s my point. Kirby’s QB1 is never elite, despite his having elite talent in the QB room every year. Bama has had elite QB play every year since Kirby was hired.

            How many UGA QB1s have been Heisman finalists since Kirby was hired? Now do Bama.

            How many have won a conference or a national title? Only Fromm, and he was good but hardly elite. Now do Bama.

            How many have been 1st-round draft picks? Now do Bama.

            I’m not expecting Kirby to have a Heisman-winning QB1 every year. But he hasn’t had one. It’s not the talent. It’s the development.

            Liked by 2 people

            • classiccitycanine

              It’s not that the blue chips haven’t panned out. It’s that Kirby is unwilling to play guys who are raw but have a high ceiling. He prefers the guy who won’t screw it up today but has a lower overall ceiling.

              Liked by 1 person

      • raindawg722

        Yes, and he was also the starter for the last half of last season when we saw what our offense was capable of.

        Like

  14. This was on Kirby and Lanning. The Bama OL didn’t play better…our front 4 were in contain and our LBs were playing (poorly) in coverage. You could see Davis many times just shoving 2 OL guys around not moving and holding his space. Exactly what he was told to do. But no LB was flying through the gap. We didn’t change scheme until 3 scores down middle of the 3rd and then Young suddenly looked human and we got a couple of 3 and outs. Given the talent, time and experience at hand, this may have truly been the worst coaching job by Kirby since his arrival. Bama really had no running game…not one that was going to beat us. Young rarely runs and rather than contain you just need to spy him and apply pressure. He can get the ball out quick, but for short yardage and he’s far less accurate. Jam and double Williams and Metchie. NEVER let them get behind you at safety. Stuff we know. Stuff we’ve done. Stuff others teams did. And yet we played a new brand of D that wasn’t our identity of attack and swarm. I repeat, it was not bama’s OL being better, it was us scheming something stupid.

    And yes, there is no obvious reason not to open the second half, now down 2 scores, with JT under center. We still had time to establish the running game. JT’s presence along with Pickens might have even softened up the Bama D front. This was right up there with Richt starting Bauta in Jax and having him be a pocket passer. Completely out-schemed ourselves, not the other team.

    Shit…get Mullen and Grantham into Athens to keep some perspective on what does work against Saban. (/j….sort of).

    Liked by 7 people

    • Your first para said it perfectly. Not sure dreamed up the game plan on D, but we should have dumped it half way through the second.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Migraine Boy

      This is one of the best, most accurate comments I’ve seen in my years reading this blog

      Like

    • originaluglydawg

      I still can’t get over Lanning not just doing what Auburn’s defense did in the Iron Bowl. It was (is) THE template to shut down Bama’s offense. But he let most of the game go by before doing it. Who knows? Maybe it isn’t as simple as it sees. I see this loss as a failure on so many levels that it would take too long to type them.

      Liked by 5 people

  15. W Cobb Dawg

    I think Monken has gotten all he can out of SBIV, who’s reached his zenith. Monken can only use a portion of his playbook because of the physical limitations. The long passes, for example, are still there but we don’t have a big league arm to exploit them. SBIV’s scrambling/running/athleticism was useless yesterday when we needed a passer.

    Having said that, I’ll repeat it was the D coaching that lost the game. You’ve got to through everything you’ve got at Young.

    Liked by 1 person

    • originaluglydawg

      “SBIV’s scrambling/running/athleticism was useless yesterday when we needed a passer.”… JT would have been picking himself up after a sack every other play. It’s just too easy to say, “Play the backup”.

      Like

      • A quicker release and ability to read the defense can make up for much of that.

        Don’t be so quick to dismiss the backup.

        Liked by 5 people

        • That’s the part of this that everyone is discounting. Bennett has a tendency to hold the ball too long. Kirby has yelled at him in games for it. Daniels has seemed to have full control of the offense when he has been the starter and generally thrown the ball on time (and most of the time to the right read).

          Like

          • SB was holding on to the ball wayyyy too long last night. I blame coaching again. Pull him aside and tell him “Look…if the first option isn’t there and it’s open in front, take off. We need every 5 yards we can get.” It’s almost like he was reverting to his scout team days and trying to be Bryce Young instead of himself. If we replay Bama and score first (again) we need to send the whole bench to the end zone to dance. Worked once before to exorcise demons.

            Like

  16. theotherdoug

    I agree this is why Kirby gets paid the big bucks.

    Kirby needs to decide what he can do with each QB in the next 3 weeks. He knows there isn’t much more he can get out of Bennett, so it’s going to come down to Daniels, Beck, and Vandergriff.

    Daniels is probably still injured, so the first thing is can they get him to healthy enough? If so you give him almost all of the reps.

    Beck and Vandergriff is probably more about which one can you coach up to be ready if Bennett struggles? Smart has to be ready to pull Bennett and bring in another guy, and it doesn’t need to be a Faton Bauta or D’Wan Mathis. He needs to have a guy ready.

    He should have been doing this all season against the cupcakes, but alas here we are.

    Like

    • Ace Harris

      It “ain’t gonna happen” Bennett is going to be there until we lose in the playoffs! Kirby fell in love with Fromm with a better guy on the bench and it is just a continuation with the infatuation of Bennett!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Munsoning

      Daniels is not injured. Beck is in the portal. BVG, the Dawgs’ version of Bryce Young, is struggling. The choice is between Stet and Daniels. Kirby has chosen Stet. 1st-team reps in practice and in games don’t lie. Start drinking now and you might just be drunk enough to watch the playoff game(s).

      Liked by 1 person

  17. uga97

    Gosh thanks for those stats. It’s mind boggling how any QB with 3 tight ends, 5 RBs, 7 WRs, 5 Star O-Linemen & a great play caller couldnt find more than 24 points vs a scoring D that wasn’t even ranked in the top 20 nationally. Saban saw the Pickens play & said. “Fine, lets play down-field too. I’m here for a damn shoot out, I don’t G.A.S. stop us if you want, and catch us if you can.” And Lanning & company couldn’t stop it. Couldnt trick it, stunt it, blitz it, jump it, robber it, lock down corner it, outsmart it, nor track anybody down after a busted play. Even no takeaways. Nothing. Nor could our Offense manhandle & man-ball 9 possessions enough which all resulted in 0 points. Nothing. So glad we can move a ball downfield only to clock fuck ourselves with our own slow play anyways on most of those empty drives. Now Michigan, who destoyed Ohio State & Iowa’s Defenses, has the gametape.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. RangerRuss

    None of the Georgia QB’s provide the skill set to overcome Saban’s Bama when the Dawgs staff has a limp dick scheme which they fail to adjust until too late.
    SMFH.

    Liked by 7 people

  19. Illini84

    WE ARE IN CORCH.

    Liked by 4 people

  20. Illini84

    Muck Fichigan!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  21. spur21

    In Kirby and staff, I trust. They got us to this point by adjusting as injuries took out some of best players.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. JT has forced as many bad throws as Bennett since he’s been here. He really should have had 3 INTs in the Clemson game. Idk if it’s recruiting or coaching/developing but we just aren’t championship caliber at QB and haven’t been for a while.

    We have some good QBs but that’s about it or so it seems.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. akascuba

    Bennett played about as well as his ability allowed. Why JT can’t claim the starting job only those that watch practice really know. It’s stupid to think Monken and Kirby don’t want to win.
    The complete lack of pass rush on defense for 3 quarters was something I never saw coming. Bama clearly wanted this game more than the Georgia players. The entire coaching staff for (insert the reason you believe) did not have this team ready to play. That starts at the top.
    Few of Saban’s NC teams went undefeated. Given the chance to play Michigan in the playoffs I doubt Kirby delivers another turd burger team performance.

    Liked by 5 people

  24. flydawg

    Stetsons legs were a non factor. 3 for 12 on 3rd down. 2 bad pics and should have been 3. We have seen this before against a quality opponent. What do you have to do to get benched?!

    Liked by 5 people

  25. otto1980

    The stat are there to back to JT. He makes decisions quicker and more accurately. Bennett’s mobility doesn’t top JT’s decision making.

    https://blutarsky.wordpress.com/2021/10/15/advanced-stats-bennett-vs-daniels/

    Liked by 8 people

  26. pansythedawg

    This is what happens when you’re not elite in all three phases of the game. Sooner or later things won’t go well for part of your team, and you’ll need the other parts to bail you out, like Alabama did against Auburn. The problem with our predictions were we expected that our defense and ST would have to bail out our offense. Instead, it’s our defense that needs bailing out, and our offense couldn’t do that with Stetson.

    Liked by 4 people

  27. Munsoning

    Heard of any chess grandmasters who refuse to acknowledge that the queen is the most powerful piece on the board? Somehow Kirby can’t admit that the QB is that piece on the football field. Bonkers.

    Liked by 4 people

  28. There is no decision at all to be made. They made the decision 5 weeks ago when they refused to even give JT any meaningful snaps. It’s too late to start now with no games to get comfortable. We are who we are now.

    Liked by 3 people

  29. Munsoning

    I love Stet and don’t blame him for the loss. But the Dawgs need an elite QB (that ain’t Stet, God bless him), elite WRs (seem to have at least one of those, plus Bowers), and coaches that develop and play them (welp). Has there been one championship team during Kirby’s tenure at UGA that hasn’t had an elite offense? Meanwhile Kirby’s 0-7 vs. teams scoring 25+.

    Liked by 1 person

    • junkyardawg41

      Do we have one of those elite QBs on staff?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Munsoning

        Whether JT is elite or not, he’s undefeated as a starter and the stats say he’s better than Stet. I’m trying not to do the armchair coaching thing–no one is less qualified for that job than I–but all available evidence suggests that JT should be QB1.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Faltering Memory

        My reply is for whatever happens in the next few weeks, good for Stet and us, or bad for all, I think he needs to move on, If he wins the natty, remember the good times. Don’t stick around and not repeat.

        Like

        • (not a direct attack on you, but inspired by your comment due to so many other similar ones I’ve read here and elsewhere)

          The kid should do whatever makes him happiest. IF that’s stick around and continue to read clippings about what a terrible QB he is (even after, using your example, WINNING THE NATTY), then he should do just that. Sounds like some incredible masochism, but maybe it’s actually sadism… I dunno.

          The fan attitude of “that kid needs to do the thing that I think will make ME happiest” is ridiculous.

          I can’t imagine any of us would put a lot of stock in what some shmoe on a message board or blog said we should choose to do with our lives – especially if it’s in direct conflict with what we enjoy.

          If Kirby sticks with him and we win, great for him. If he gets benched and we win, also great for him (thank you for your service, sir). If he sticks and we lose, boy, I couldn’t imagine shouldering the blame that’ll be coming his way. If he gets benched and we lose… well.. the entire fanbase will then just say “JT woulda won if he’d played all year” because as we know, hypotheticals are undefeated.

          I would hope, that given the condition where “UGA wins the Natty”… the fans could chill the hell out about the decisions the kids make.. for at least a couple years. (Narrator Voice: “They could not chill the hell out.”)

          Go Dawgs

          Like

  30. Ran A

    We have enough of a sample size to know that Stetson Bennett cannot beat the Crimson Tide. You have little or no choice but to make the change. I’ll be shocked if Bennett is the starting QB in Georgia’s next football game, unless they are out of the play-offs and JTD has entered the portal.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. 69Dawg

    All this QB talk makes me think that Kirby screwed the pouch when he took JT out of the portal. He obviously went for the best available but he should have gone for the best available duel threat QB. Hind sight is 20/20 but if JT was mobile I think SB4 would have been on the bench by now.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. willypmd

    Stetson does not recognize what’s going on pre-snap. Monken is an A+ OC, so the called play works most of the time, but nobody’s perfect and having a QB that can check you into a better play call is huge.

    I don’t care what Stetson does in practice, that limitation is enough to convince me he cannot win a championship against Alabama.

    That combined with our defensive game plan doomed us, hopefully coaches will get it corrected

    Like

  33. Previously Paul

    Here’s what we know. While we cannot blame a loss on one player, Stetson has had two shots at Alabama and lost convincingly both times. By the same score. We have a month to get the other guy ready. Could he possibly be any worse? I don’t thinks so. Georgia has lost to Alabama seven times in a row. We need something different. Anything. The Dawgs lose the game before they step on the field. They don’t believe they can win. Maybe JT believes differently. Give him a chance.

    Like

  34. Dee Oellerich

    Saban is hard to beat, recruiting or game day. One of his most recent classes was said by some to be the best OL class ever. Bama has been winning National Championships since the 1920’s. Mentally forever, but especially under Saban, they consider losing to be IMPOSSIBLE. Great coaching, great recruiting classes, MENTAL FIXATION installed is tough to beat.

    Like