Brant Sanderlin/AJC
Kirby Smart's Bulldogs have lost three of their last four games after starting the 2016 season 3-0.

Good Day, UGA: The math doesn’t work edition

Good day, UGA. Welcome to your one-stop shop for all the UGA football news and takes every Monday through Friday morning. Today, we look back at the Bulldogs’ math-breaking upset at the hands of Vanderbilt.

What they said about Georgia

What did the media’s top college football minds have to say about Georgia’s stunning loss to Vanderbilt? We’ll begin with USA Today’s Dan Wolken, who ranked the Bulldogs No. 1 in his weekly “Misery Index” column, and he thinks Georgia’s offense might not fit its personnel:

1. Georgia: There’s something inherently off when Nick Chubb, one of the best running backs in college football, generates only 40 yards on 16 carries. Credit Vanderbilt’s defense, but it’s been true all season that Georgia has a substandard offensive line. That’s not so easy to fix. It’s going to take a lot of recruiting and development for Georgia to get to the point where it can implement the type of pro style system he and Jim Chaney want to run.

And when you think about it in those terms, you have to worry about whether Georgia is positioned to get the most out of quarterback Jacob Eason by his junior year when the NFL scouts will be watching closely. Given the situation (Kirby) Smart inherited, he’d be better off in the short term running a spread type of offense where you don’t necessarily have to dominate the line of scrimmage to move the ball.

Meanwhile, there was a good bit of criticism levied at Smart and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney for the decision to run wideout Isaiah McKenzie on fourth-and-1 on the final drive of the game.

Most of the remaining discussion on Twitter was pointed criticism of Georgia’s decision to fire Mark Richt and hire Smart.


Muschamp 2.oh no

I still can’t quite figure out how Georgia lost this game. The numbers just don’t make sense. Georgia had 23 first downs to Vanderbilt’s nine. The Bulldogs outgained the Commodores by 250 yards and held the ball for 35 minutes. They didn’t commit any turnovers. How did that lead to a loss? The math doesn’t work.

Of course, this made me think of the Coach Who Broke Math: Will Muschamp.

Everyone knows the similarities between Smart and Muschamp. Both are former Georgia defensive backs, and both were top defensive coordinators in the country before moving to the SEC East for their first head coaching gigs. And Georgia fans always hoped the similarities ended there.

Unfortunately, the Vanderbilt loss is downright Muschamp-ian. It seemed like while Muschamp was at Florida, he was good for a game or two every year where his team outplayed and outgained its opponent only to end up with a loss. One I remember in particular is the Gators’ 42-13 loss to Missouri in 2014. Florida won in total yardage,first downs, third-down efficiency, possession and pretty much any other stat you can think of. Except turnovers. Florida turned it over 6 times.

The Vanderbilt loss this weekend is more perplexing than that, though. Georgia doesn’t even have the turnovers to blame. For the Bulldogs, the bad math stems from special teams. The Commodores’ 95-yard kick return was really the kill-shot, even though it opened the game. The -1 yards on punt returns doomed Georgia to bad field position all day, and Georgia got the final push to end zone only once, settling for field goals three other times.

Smart doesn’t have the quantity of math-breaking losses Muschamp does, but he’s off to a good start if he’s trying to catch up.

I still think Smart has the potential to be a great coach and the Nick Saban-clone many folks thought the Bulldogs hired. However, after this loss, you can officially consider me concerned he’s just Muschamp in Saban’s clothing.

Top Dawgs

It was surprisingly easy to find five names to fill out this list, which is one reasons this loss is so perplexing. The receiving corps played its best game of the season, but the tailbacks played their worst. There hasn’t been a single game this season when both facets of the offense clicked.

I still contend that there is a good offense in there somewhere, but everyone has to get on the same page. So far, the offense has shown no sign that it has that capability, and that could make for an extremely difficult final five games.

If you’re looking for something to be positive about, look no further than the performances of these five.

  1. Rodrigo Blankenship — After some early struggles, the bespectacled, mustachioed Blankenship righted the, uh, ship against Vanderbilt. He went 3-for-3 on field goals with a long of 45, 16 yards better than Georgia’s previous long this season.
  2. Jacob Eason — A week after his worst performance as a collegian, Eason was superb. He went 27-of-40 for 346 yards and a touchdown, and he threw no interceptions for the first time as a starter. The fact that Georgia lost despite Eason’s accuracy and no turnovers is mind-boggling.
  3. Isaac Nauta — Nauta and fellow freshman Eason seem to have found a connection, and the Buford native is quickly becoming the go-to pass-catcher in Georgia’s offense. He finished the day 5 catches for 74 yards and a touchdown.
  4. Riley Ridley — The freshman also had a good day with 67 yards on 5 catches. Eason seems to be at his best when throwing to fellow freshmen. Things certainly look bleak with the offense now, but his connections with Ridley and Nauta are great signs for the future of Georgia’s passing game.
  5. Lorenzo Carter — Carter had the best outing of the season for any Georgia pass-rusher with 2 sacks.

Dawgs in the NFL

  • Matt Stafford threw for 4 touchdowns and 270 yards in the Lions’ 31-28 win against the Rams. Todd Gurley rushed 58 yards and 14 carries for the Rams, and Alec Ogletree contributed 9 tackles, 2 for loss.
  • A.J. Green hauled in 6 catches for 88 yards in the Bengals’ 35-17 loss to the Patriots. Shawn Williams and Geno Atkins had 9 and 3 tackles, respectively, for the Bengals.
  • Thomas Davis finished with 8 tackles and Charles Johnson finished with 3, including 1/2 sack, in the Panthers’ win against the Saints. John Jenkins had 2 tackles for the Saints.
  • Chris Conley caught 3 passes for 26 yards as his Chiefs beat the Raiders.

Around campus

  • The Georgia women’s golf team tied for sixth at the Stanford Intercollegiate. The final round was canceled because of rain.
  • The men’s and women’s cross-country teams competed in Tuscaloosa, Ala., this past Friday. The men finished second, and the women finished fourth.
  • The Black Squad won Georgia baseball’s Fall World Series 2-1 after wining the final two games of the series on Friday and Sunday. That’s the last you’ll see of the Diamond Dogs until the season opener against College of Charleston on Feb. 17.

Good dog

Yo, this duck is chasing this good dog. Keep your head on a swivel, dog.


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