ATHENS — Georgia football has been “a thing” the past three years, previously ranked in the Top 10 for 58 consecutive weeks dating back to the start of the 2017 season.
The Bulldogs (4-2), however, fell to No. 12 in Sunday’s AP Top 25 poll, another sign the program is in danger of losing its elite status if things don’t change quickly.
Georgia will face an upset-minded Missouri that’s coming off a bye week on the road, at noon next Saturday, looking to get back into the Top 10.
Coach Kirby Smart and his staff have crossroads decision to make at the quarterback position that will determine what the future of the offense will look like this week.
The offense managed only 7 points in the second half against a weak Florida defense that entered the game 12th in the SEC against the pass.
Defensively, it’s a proud unit that only gave up 6 points in the second half of the 44-28 loss in Florida, despite being depleted of key players and being on the field nearly 20 of the 30 minutes of the first half.
Here’s a look at how different players are trending:
Lewis Cine: The sophomore was providing tremendous run support while patrolling the secondary and staying assignment sound until his unfortunate targeting ejection. It was a big-time hit on Kyle Pitts, and Cine did it as clean as possible by leading with his shoulder and turning his head before the contact. But Cine’s level of play in the clutch cannot be denied, as he had six tackles with little more than one quarter in the books.
Kearis Jackson: Jackson was limited to just three catches for 48 yards and his 25-yard touchdown catch, but he showed another skill on the kick return team. It was impressive to see Jackson shift into another gear when he saw an opening and nearly break his 56-yard return for a touchdown.
Eric Stokes: Stokes was excellent in coverage throughout the night, and his 37-yard interception return for a touchdown was truly impressive. Stokes’ open-field running skills are such that UGA might want to consider him for some offensive snaps to showcase his skills even more.
Nakobe Dean: The sophomore went to work with a team-high 15 tackles and touchdown saving taking down on one of the cleverly schemed Florida wheel routes. Dean’s hard-hitting and sound-tackling ways are part of what enabled UGA to hold Florida to two field goals in the second half and open the door for a comeback had the offense been executing.
Todd Monken: The first-year Georgia offensive coordinator absolutely stole the first 14 points with his preparation and scheming. Monken is dialing up the right plays, but the Bulldogs simply haven’t executed well enough at quarterback to get the full return on his Air Raid system.
Azeez Ojulari: The redshirt sophomore entered the game with the highest pressure rate in the nation, but Florida was able to hold him to just one quarterback hurry in a game Georgia desperately needed sacks. Ojulari was mostly sound at his position, though, making five tackles.
Zamir White: It was good to see White take the opening play 75 yards for a touchdown, following his blockers and hitting the seam to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead. White can be counted on to take what’s there and run hard on every carry.
D’Wan Mathis: The redshirt freshman played as one might expect an inexperienced quarterback to play who hadn’t seen game action in almost a month. It was a difficult situation to be thrust in, down 20 in the biggest game of the year. Mathis showed that despite his great upside, he needs more development before he’s ready to run the offense.
Stetson Bennett: Bennett made some nice throws early in the game, but the shot he took to his shoulder that led to an AC Sprain effected his ability to throw. Smart said he could tell Bennett was favoring it, and until it’s healed the redshirt junior will not be as effective as he was before the injury.
Jake Camarda: There was nowhere for the All-American punter to go but down after his incredible start to the season. Camarda’s second quarter shank contributed to Florida scoring a final touchdown before half, but it was as much on the failure of the offense to execute and pick up a first down in the two-minute offense.
Tight ends: It was disappointing to see two dropped passes out of this unit and no catches from woefully underutilized Tre’ McKitty. In fairness to McKitty, the Florida State graduate transfer was running wide open on one play but the quarterback’s throw was not on target.