In terms of the SEC, Saturday was pretty much perfect for the Dogs: Georgia won (big-time, in a shutout), and Eastern Division rivals South Carolina and Florida both lost.
So here we sit with the Gators on a three-game losing streak and tied for second place in the SEC East.
All the Dogs have to do to secure a trip to Atlanta is win out … and have the Gamecocks lose two of their four remaining conference games (against Vandy, Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida).
After watching South Carolina self-destruct against Kentucky, you figure the latter part of that equation is not that far-fetched.
But Georgia winning out? I don’t even want to think about it.
I’m like Kevin Butler was on Saturday’s post-game call-in show when Jeff Dantzler wanted to look ahead at Florida.
Butler was having none of it. Kentucky is all that’s important to Georgia right now, he said.
And he’s right.
As thrilled as Georgia fans have been by the Dogs’ blow-out wins the past two weeks to snap up another Tennessee state crown, we can’t ignore the fact that neither team was a top-notch opponent. Yes, any SEC shutout is an achievement to be prized, but this UGA team hasn’t yet proved it can play that way on a consistent basis.
And Kentucky, as we saw against Carolina, is likely to be much more of a challenge than either the Vols or Commodores were.
Winning out would be fantastic. But that’s the pie-in-the-sky scenario. So far, this season hasn’t gone that way.
For now I’m more concerned with the Dogs not breaking their streak of consecutive bowl games. And as I said the other day, I think Kentucky is likely the make-or-break game in determining whether that streak reaches 14.
So I’m with Kevin. We’ll talk about Florida and what lies beyond after the game in Lexington.
A few more thoughts about Saturday’s win over Vandy. …
A.J. Green showed Saturday that as great as he is, he isn’t perfect. He dropped a pass. And a holding call on him negated a nice keeper by Aaron Murray. But his touchdown catch-run was great stuff, and the A.J. factor played out against the Dores just like many had expected in the preseason, with the extra attention devoted to No. 8 creating opportunities for Georgia’s other receivers. As I noted Saturday, Kris Durham stepped up big when Vandy had Green targeted, but kudos also need to go out to Tavarres King (four catches for 70 yards) and tight end Aron White (three for 50 yards). …
Murray continues to mature, with his use of the pump fake becoming particularly effective, and I’m really happy to have a Georgia quarterback who’s a threat to run. But I just wish he’d remember he’s not a tailback and slide more often at the end of those runs. The Dogs certainly don’t need him taking those big hits. …
Mike Bobo’s use of Carlton Thomas Saturday finally was right on the money: as a change-of-pace back. Four runs, two touchdowns. Whether that approach continues this week no doubt depends on how successful Washaun Ealey is at keeping the momentum going against Kentucky. …
Chief among the few complaints about Saturday’s game had to be the confusion on the sideline early on that resulted in two timeouts being burned at the start of the game because of not enough players or not the right personnel for the play called. Then there was the third timeout, called when Mark Richt couldn’t make up his mind whether to go for it on fourth down or kick a field goal. You can chalk the latter up to the heat of battle, but having to use those first two timeouts to get the right people on the field is pretty inexcusable more than halfway through the season. …
There’s still too much sputtering in the red zone. A 16-play drive that covers 86 yards and eats up nearly 7 minutes of clock should deliver more than 3 points. …
The student section’s “Bruuuuuce” cheer for Uga VIII Saturday raises the question of whether this mascot will be the first of the line to be known more by his registered name than “Uga.” It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out. …
Overall, Saturday’s game was a pretty complete performance by Georgia and another big step back. Now, can they do it on the road?
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