Photo Credit: Chamberlain Smith
Respect the specs of Georgia's all-time scoring leader.
It wasn’t pretty, but with these Dawgs, it rarely is.
Georgia defeated Texas A&M 19-13 at Sanford Stadium on Senior Day in the schools’ first meeting since the Aggies joined the SEC in 2012. And if that’s what we can expect from a Georgia-A&M game, I hope it’s another eight years before they play again.
If you missed this one, don't worry, because it played out almost exactly like every other game against a tough opponent this season. Stop me if you've heard this one before...
The defense largely dominated the game, holding the Aggies to negative one rushing yard and 274 total yards. Jake Fromm (11-of-23, 163 yards, 1 TD) and the offense struggled, although D'Andre Swift managed to eclipse the century mark on the ground. With the offensive struggles, Rodrigo Blankenship was once again relied on to provide the bulk of the scoring, hitting four field goals. A&M had the chance to spring the upset at the end, but the defense dug in, and the Dawgs escaped with a narrow victory.
With his four field goals, Blankenship passed Blair Walsh for first on Georgia's all-time scoring list with 418 career points. And he did it in his final game at Sanford. It's crazy to think the most popular player during one of the most successful stretches in program history was a kicker. Congrats and thanks to Rodrigo and all the other seniors. DGDs.
All the issues we're used to reared their heads in the game, as did all the solutions that have helped us achieve a third consecutive 10-win season. At this point, we are who we are. As much as the offensive issues suck, they likely ain't gonna change now, with one week to go in the regular season. If this Georgia team is going to win, odds are it’s gonna be ugly. Forget style points. It's all about survival now.
Georgia's recipe for survival is simple: Bend, don't break. Offensively, that means not taking risks that'll lose you the game and getting points whenever you can. Defensively, that means taking some lumps but keeping the opponent out of the end zone by any means necessary. It's as basic as you can get in football. As legendary UGA defensive coordinator Erk Russell famously put it, "If we score, we may win. If they never score, we'll never lose."
If we're going to beat LSU in the SEC Championship Game, that's how we're going to have to do it, albeit against a much better quarterback and offense than any we've seen this season. There is roughly a zero percent chance to win if it turns into any kind of shootout. If LSU scores more than 30 points, it likely means you can kiss the SEC Championship goodbye.
Next week against Georgia Tech is a different matter. The hated Jackets are 3-8 and unbelievably bad in the first season under new head coach Geoff Collins. This will be Tech's Super Bowl—an upset win over Georgia would render all its losses this season moot—and the Jackets may come out guns blazin'. But on superior talent alone, we should be able to beat Tech. So if you're hoping to see a Georgia offense put up some points and dominate a team this season, the Tech game may be your final chance.
It should also give you some hope moving forward that these Dawgs have yet to play a complete game. Of course, that's troubling at this point in the season. But it's also encouraging when you consider we're 10-1 on the verge of an SEC Championship and CFP berth without one so far. Maybe there's another gear they just haven't found yet.
But when the LSU game rolls around, be prepared for another typically Georgia display. And be prepared for the fact that no neutral fan in America will be in our corner. Frankly, LSU is fun to watch and Georgia isn't. Kirby Smart's "Us vs. The World" mentality actually has some grounding in reality now, because almost every neutral would rather see LSU in the College Football Playoff and will be rooting for them to beat Georgia. The good news for us is that their opinion doesn't matter. If we win, we're in.