It's not a shock that 2022 UGA isn't the 2021 national championship squad. What they have been is a more balanced team that mixes a diverse offense with an efficiency-driven approach. This is an offense that through five games is averaging more than 500 yards of offense per game for the first time under head coach Kirby Smart.
They've also become an aggressive young defense to help make up for a lack of experience. We've seen it against a very talented Oregon team who looks primed to compete for the PAC12. But they're not going to do it when they play like they have for the last two weeks.
A lot of fans and media members wrote off the poor performance against Kent St as a one-off because of the noon start and lack of motivation, heck Georgia didn't even punt in the game. Within the first few series at Missouri, it was clear that UGA did not address whatever caused the slow start the week before.
In the last two games, Georgia has five turnovers in the first thirty minutes with all but one coming from what would have been a successful play. Drops from the receiving corps are close to double-digits and the running game has been up-and-down. The defense is giving up big plays and seems to fall victim to 'eye candy' getting them out of place. This is a football team that has given up multiple explosive plays in back-to-back weeks. Kent State was the first team not named Alabama to have both a 50+ yard touchdown and 12-play scoring drive in the same game since Mississippi State in 2020.
The line of scrimmage issues, both mental and physical, is clearly priority one for this coaching staff.
Things aren't all bad though. Some players are beginning to emerge as offensive playmakers on critical downs like Dominic Blaylock, Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint, Darnell Washington, and of course Brock Bowers. When they needed it, they found a way. Defensively they made up for busts with tremendous effort. Maliki Starks chased down and tackled a Missouri running back on the 1 yard-line. The series resulted in holding the Tigers to just a field goal, the difference of four points was the difference in the final score.
When we look back this could be the game we all talk about as the moment the Dawgs hunkered down and found their identity on their way to another College Football Playoff appearance. Or we could point to this moment as a foreshadowing of things to come. Time will tell, but I have faith that we're likely to see a better performance from now on.
Nonetheless, this has been a vital stretch for Georgia. The five-game stretch of South Carolina, Kent State, Missouri, Auburn, and Vandy is an important stretch of the 2022 season. One that has shown and will continue to show flaws. It's almost as important as the four-game stretch from Halloween until the end of November. Florida, Tennessee, @ Mississippi State, and @ Kentucky. That stretch will define your season in 2022, what you find out about yourself prior to that stretch is vital to surviving it.
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