What the national media is saying about Georgia football heading into Kentucky game
Like most Georgia fans, the national media came down pretty hard on the Bulldogs following their stunning 20-17 loss to South Carolina. Georgia dropped to No. 10 in both the AP and Coaches Poll, lower than a Notre Dame team Georgia beat.
Much of the criticism came on the offensive side of the ball, where Georgia scored only 17 points and turned the ball over four times.
The harshest criticism came at quarterback Jake Fromm, who was responsible for all four turnovers.
“Some fans will blame the playcalling of offensive coordinator James Coley or Smart’s overall conservative approach, which may be fair,” USA Today’s Dan Wolken wrote. “But some of this is on Fromm, too. If the primary reason he’s your quarterback is because he gets you in the right play and prevents bad ones, as Smart has alluded to many times, then days where he has a lot of bad ones are even more magnified.”
Wolken also contrasted Fromm’s struggles with Justin Fields’ success at Ohio State. The Buckeyes are still unbeaten and ranked No. 4 in the country.
But Fromm isn’t the only one drawing criticism. ESPN’s David Pollack put much of the blame on Georgia’s wide receivers, who spent much of the day struggling to get open.
“The wide receivers out wide did a lot of losing. They could’ve made more plays,” Pollack said on ESPN earlier this week. “They’re going to have to design more explosive plays. The receivers are going to have to grow and get better because to me that was the biggest flaw of the Georgia offense, Jake Fromm and those Georgia wide receivers.”
Georgia did lose Lawrence Cager during the game, but the senior will likely be out this week against Kentucky due to rib and shoulder injuries.
In his absence, Kirby Smart has challenged the available wide receivers to step-up.
“We’ve got some good players out there, Matt Landers gotta step up, Tyler Simmons gotta step up, George (Pickens) gotta step up,” Smart said. “Kearis Jackson went in the game and did some physical things. Dom’s (Blaylock) gotta step up. D-Rob’s (Demetris Robertson) played well at times and has to continue to play more physical.”
Georgia will likely lean on freshman George Pickens more in this game, especially after his performance against South Carolina. He hauled in seven passes for 98 yards.
However, some blame can be put on the coaching staff. ESPN’s Bill Connelly pointed up some stats about the pace of the Georgia offense, and it does not paint Kirby Smart and James Coley in a favorable light.
Writing about UGA, and this is infuriating:
* Fromm vs SC (1st 44 min): 17-28, 154 yds, 1 INT (99.8 rating)
* Next 15 min (when they had to take the regulator off): 10-16, 136, 1 TD, 1 INT (142.0)
* Last min+OT (tied again): 1-7, 5, 1 INT (-8.3)
JUST KEEP YOUR FOOT ON THE GAS
— Bill Connelly (@ESPN_BillC) October 16, 2019
Even with the loss — and it is a really bad loss — Georgia still has some playoff hopes. If the Bulldogs win out, it could create some chaos for the rest of the college football landscape, given that Georgia would have wins over Notre Dame, Florida, Auburn and possibly Alabama or LSU in the SEC championship game.
ESPN’s Heather Dinich laid out a scenario where Georgia, Alabama and LSU all finish the season with one loss. And in that scenario, Georgia would be in the College Football Playoff.
“This one’s scary for every other Power 5 conference — especially if they produce one-loss conference champions,” Dinich said. “If Georgia runs the table and wins the SEC, which isn’t impossible considering it still has the best chance to win the East, according to ESPN’s FPI, the Bulldogs are in. They would have defeated Notre Dame, Auburn, Florida, Alabama — more than compensating for the bad loss to South Carolina.”
The important thing to point out there in that scenario though is that Georgia has to win out. Pollack made that very clear, especially given last year when the Bulldogs won their final five regular-season games but suffered a close loss to Alabama in the SEC championship game. The Bulldogs ended up finishing fifth in the final College Football Playoff poll.
“They’re on life support. You just took away your mulligan,” Pollack said. “Your one chance you had to possibly lose close and still make the college football playoff.”
Georgia gets to show whether or not it can fix the mistakes it made against South Carolina against Kentucky on Saturday. Kickoff for the game is set for 6 p.m. on ESPN.
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