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Georgia will play in the Peach Bowl on Friday.

2020 was not a successful year for Georgia football, but that doesn’t make it a failure

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2020 forces us to re-examine what a successful season looks like for Georgia football

Perhaps no one better summed Georgia football this season when offensive coordinator Todd Monken spoke to reporters on Tuesday.

“Obviously it was tough without having spring, without really the preparation you’d like,” Monken said. “But at the end of the day no one really gives a shit.”

Georgia faced a number of obstacles this season. A pandemic. Installing a new offense. Three different starting quarterbacks. A fourth quarterback who was expected to start opting out before the start of the season. Losing your two best defensive players before the biggest game of the season.

In a year filled with bad beats and tough hands, Georgia seemed to catch their fair share of them, often at the worst possible time.

Everything that could’ve gone wrong this year for Georgia did.

“We’re in a get-it-done business. There’s a lot of other teams that lose players, that didn’t have a spring, changed coaches, didn’t have as good of players as we have.

“Everybody has their own issues they’ve got to deal with.”

Yet with all that went wrong this season, Georgia is a bowl win away from finishing another season ranked in the top-10. While Georgia did lose to Florida, the Bulldogs could finish with two fewer defeats than the Gators this season after Florida was demolished by Oklahoma on Wednesday night.

Georgia lost to Alabama once again, but so has every team that played them in 2020. The Bulldogs were the only team on the schedule to hold a lead on the Crimson Tide into the second half. Given how JT Daniels played in the back-half of the season it’s fair to wonder what he might’ve looked like in that game if healthy.

Based on the lofty standards that Kirby Smart holds Georgia to, the 2020 season was not a successful one. Georgia wants to compete for championships. This was the first season since Smart’s first year that Bulldogs didn’t at least win the SEC East.

When you consider the hype surrounding the Georgia defense, it wasn’t all that successful either. The Bulldogs gave up over 40 points and 500 yards of offense in both losses this season. It didn’t help that Richard LeCounte and Jordan Davis missed multiple games this year. Even with those games and injuries, Georgia still finished first in the SEC in yards per play allowed.

Perhaps though there was a silver lining to those defensive performances this year. It became crystal clear that no matter how great or talented your defense is, it’s not going to be able to stop a good offense in modern college football. Slow down, sure. But you can’t turn off the facet completely at this point.

Which brings us to Georgia’s offense this year. In the losses to Alabama and Florida — the defining games of Georgia’s 2020 season —the offense wasn’t good enough. It got shut out in the second half against Alabama. Stetson Bennett and D’Wan Mathis combined to complete nine passes in the Florida loss.

The offense stunk in 2019, which is why Todd Monken was brought in after one year of James Coley. While it did take time for things to get going for Georgia, once JT Daniels entered the picture for Georgia, you started to see an offense that resembled what the Crimson Tide and Gators have.

In the final three games of the regular season, Georgia averaged over 40 points a game and nearly 500 yards. None of the teams Georgia played were as good defensively as what the Bulldogs will see against Cincinnati on Friday.

That game will be the best barometer for what Georgia might really look like on offense in 2021.

“I do feel like we’ve been really hot as of lately,” Daniels said. “I think a lot of young guys have matured tremendously from George to Jermaine to big Warren on the line. There’s a lot of guys that have gotten a lot better. I think you’re seeing what that’s looking like now.

“Obviously a little later than we would have hoped.”

Should Daniels come back in 2021, he’ll have a lot of toys to play with. Both he and Monken spoke about the excitement about the future on Tuesday, even if Daniels said he hadn’t contemplated his future at this point in time.

The offense did develop over the course of the season. Even if it didn’t happen as fast as everyone wants, including Monken, that’s still a success. We’ll see if Georgia is able to carry it into 2021.

2020 was a dark year for many. Hundreds of thousands of Americans died due to the pandemic. A lot of joy was sucked from the world on all levels. College football was no stranger to that.

The pandemic took away the comfort of being at Sanford Stadium with those who enjoy watching the Bulldogs. It took away a chance for Georgia to really develop and mesh this season. It even took away a game, as Georgia’s senior day was cancelled due to issues within Vanderbilt.

We’re not out of the woods yet when it comes to COVID-19, nor are the Bulldogs there yet either when it comes to being a title-winning team.

But the day is always darkest before the dawn. For all the struggles Georgia had during 2020, it clearly found some success in pulling off a college football season. Just the fact that Georgia is going to play 10 games this year should be seen as a massive success when you remember how things felt in August.

In the black or white definition of success, 2020 was not a successful year for the Georgia football program. But hopefully — like the rest of us — Georgia can use what it learned in this trying year to build to a better and brighter 2021.

A 2021 that is filled with less sh** and much, much more joy.

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