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Flashback: 2019 LSU vs Georgia and its impact on Saturday's game

As Georgia and LSU prepare to battle for the SEC Championship in Atlanta. We take a look at the last time these two teams played and reflect on the impact that game has had on these 2 programs.

Georgia and LSU don't play as often as TV networks and the respective fanbases may hope. But when they do, there are usually major implications that come with the game. Saturday's matchup will be no different, as both teams will be playing for the SEC Championship in Atlanta. The last time these two historic programs met, Georgia fans might recall a drumming in the Mercedez-Benz at the hand of the soon-to-be Heisman and National champion winner Joe Burrow to the tune of 37 to 10. 

The main culprit of Georgia's embarrassing loss was their lackluster offense, which had hindered the Bulldogs all of 2019. It did not help that coming into the game, star running back D'Andre Swift was limited in carries due to an injury suffered in weeks prior, and freshman sensation Georgia Pickens was suspended for the first half after a fight in the game against Georgia Tech. Quarterback Jake Fromm threw the ball 42 times for only 225 yards and the Bulldogs were held to just 61 yards on the ground with 25 carries.

Smart's comments after the game were aimed at what he deemed a place on his roster where he could find improvement. 

"Right now, I don't know if we have four wide receivers that are going to be playing in the NFL at this time next year," Smart said. "I don't know how many drops we had tonight, but I feel like we had to have had five or six that you could say should have probably been caught, and we would have been more explosive if that was the case. I don't mean that in disrespect, but when we had really good wideouts, we were more explosive, and right now, I don't [think] that we have that." - Smart After 2019 SECCG Loss to LSU

The legendary 2019 LSU offense performed the exact opposite of Georgia. They eviscerated Georgia's No.1 scoring defense through the air the entire game and ran the ball for 3.7 yards a carry. Quarterback Joe Burrow locked up the Heisman trophy after he threw for 349 yards and 4 touchdowns with no interceptions. The Tigers' dominant performance would also secure their place in the College Football Playoff where they would eventually be crowned the kings of College Football for the 2019 season. 

After 2019 however, things were not the same for the Tigers. Much of their legendary roster had departed (which included key figures like Justin Jefferson and Joe Burrow) and passing game coordinator Joe Brady and Defensive coordinator Dave Arranda both took other positions. Head coach Ed Orgeron was also involved in multiple rumors and scandals and the LSU Tigers put together 2 awful seasons prior to Orgeron's firing at the end of the 2021 season. The Tigers hired Brian Kelly from Notre Dame, and the rest is history. 

Things changed for Georgia after the 2019 season as well. After seeing the successes offensive juggernauts like Alabama, Ohio State, and LSU had enjoyed, It seemed like Kirby Smart decided to change his team's philosophy on offense. Current offensive coordinator James Coley was fired and Georgia would then hire Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Coley had been heavily criticized by fans throughout the season for his "predictable" run-heavy offense that was presumably wasting the talent the Bulldogs roster had. Todd Monken on the other hand was more well-known for his "pass-heavy" philosophy was one which differed HEAVILY from the traditional run-first identity that Georgia had built for years. 

Georgia also made moves in the transfer portal during the offseason as well. The Bulldogs acquired dual threat Quarterback Jamie Newman from Wake Forrest as well as 5-star Quarterback JT Daniels from USC. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic from 2020 took away much of the offseason, and opt-outs and injuries made the transition period from Coley to Monken extremely difficult. Georgia finished the shortened season 8-2, but show a lot of promise on the offensive side of the ball under new Quarterback JT Daniels. 

2021 was the first full off-season that the Bulldogs had under Monken. Even with starting QB JT Daniels being injured for most of the year and eventually being benched for walk-on Stetson Bennett, Georgia averaged an impressive 38 points per game, finished the regular season 12-0, and would eventually win their first National Championship in 41 years.

Today, the Georgia program is clicking on all cylinders. Despite losing 15 players to the draft. The Bulldogs are 12-0 and have the No.2 offense in the country as far as yards per game is concerned. All while maintaining their hard-nosed identity on the defensive side of the ball. 

While it is almost impossible to know if LSU's dominance over Georgia in 2019 was what forced Kirby Smart to head back to the drawing board and change the identity of his team and their offensive philosophy. And while it is also impossible to say whether or not Ed Orgeron "mailed it in" after his 2019 successes which led to his firing. One thing is for certain. The two programs that played in 2019 will not be the same teams that take the this Saturday and much of it is thanks to the last matchup.  

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