Somehow—between Nick Chubb’s nascent Heisman campaign, a schedule that set up quite favorably before the season, another weak SEC East and a beatdown of what amounts to the worst South Carolina team in more than a decade—we were all convinced that Georgia had a good football team, a shot at the SEC championship and maybe even a national championship. We were all wrong, and Saturday’s 38-31 loss to Tennessee in Knoxville showed just how off-base we were.
Before I start analyzing the way this season went so wrong, I need to make an aside I was hoping to avoid this year: If you’re one of the nation’s top high school running backs, do not come to Georgia. I’d love to see you don the red jersey and silver britches, but that’s for my own selfish reasons: I want UGA to be good at football. If you’re one of those top running backs, and you want to, say, keep walking for a significant amount of your life, stay the hell out of Athens.
The most obvious and significant news to come from the loss to Tennessee was the nausea-inducing knee injury to Chubb on the first play from scrimmage. (According to his mom, Chubb tore three ligaments and needs surgery.) Chubb’s injury marks the third consecutive season that one of our top tailbacks went down with a major knee injury. It was Keith Marshall against Tennessee in 2013, Todd Gurley against Auburn in 2014 and now Chubb. Injuries like this come with the territory of playing football. It sucks, but you kind of know that a few guys will have their knees shredded over the course of a season. But for it to be one of your best is just cruel, and even worse for the athlete. We can only hope this Chubb can come back strong as ever and still make a killer living in the NFL one day. (Another aside I don’t have time to rant about now: Pay the players.)
I won’t get into the blow-by-blow of how the loss went down (if only for my own sanity), but I will say this: UGA got lucky enough on a few occasions that we could’ve pulled this out, but Tennessee played better on Saturday. The defense is too young and inexperienced, special teams are woeful, and Greyson Lambert should not be a starting quarterback anywhere in the SEC. With all our problems laid bare, and no Chubb to cover them back up, we could be in for a few more losses.
It happens every few years, but Mark Richt’s seat is on fire again. Fans can talk all they want about him being a “good man,” but his job isn’t to be a good man. His job is to win football games and SEC championships. Since the last time he won the SEC, back in 2005, Georgia has lost more than three games in each season except 2012, which looks more and more like an anomaly as the years tick by. Four of those seasons have featured at least four losses, including the disastrous 2010 season when the Dawgs finished 6-7, the last time Richt was really on the hot seat.
That time frame has seen the SEC West become the best division in college football while the East is downright mediocre. Richt should get the boot for not winning the East in the short span that Will Muschamp was head coach at Florida. When the Gators were down, we shouldn’t have had any competition in the East. But we squandered the opportunity at every point, and now Florida is back on the rise under Jim McElwain. The window’s been slammed shut, and Richt has shown he can’t open it. It’s time to give someone else a shot.
We welcome Missouri to Athens next, and the way things have panned out so far this year, a loss would be the least surprising outcome. I’m back at the point I reach every year—the point where I expect everything to go wrong. You’ve broken me again, Dawgs.
If you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go cry some more.
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