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Georgia Has Two Weeks to Get Everything Right

James Cook was Georgia's workhorse back against Tennessee. Credit: Tony Walsh

I’m hitting up Thanksgiving at home with my family this year after sitting out last year because of the pandemic. We made do with a “Friendsgiving” last time around, but it wasn’t the same. 

For a few weeks now, I’ve been waiting for my triumphant return to the Thanksgiving table and the opportunity to gorge on my favorite holiday treats. We’re talking turkey, ham, dressing, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, fried okra, assorted pies, as well as any number of other foodstuffs with zero nutritional value. It’s gonna rule so hard.

But since I’m going to eat like a death row inmate on his final meal for days on end, I need to get right beforehand. I’m not a young man who can annihilate multiple servings of sweet potato souffle anymore. So, this week, I’m hitting the gym hard every day and eating healthier than normal to give myself that extra edge and try to make up for all those extra calories coming my way. 

This is my Get Right Week. It’s also Georgia’s Get Right Week.

Any way you shake it, this has been a historically great season for the Dawgs. Coming off a 41-17 win over Tennessee in Knoxville, Georgia is 10-0 for the first time since 1982 and 8-0 in the SEC for the first time in program history. And we’ve beaten opponents by an average of 31 points while doing it. The Georgia Bulldogs are the class of college football this season.

But at the risk of sounding spoiled, it ain’t enough. Historically great won’t mean much if we don’t finish off this historic run with a national title.

So despite a legendary defense and an underrated offense, there is a lot the Dawgs need to get right down the stretch to make sure they can finish strong and win when it matters most. In the final two weeks of the regular season, we have a home game with Charleston Southern and a home-away-from-home game against Georgia Tech in Atlanta. That’s two games to fix what needs to be fixed before the SEC Championship Game, most likely against Alabama.

It may seem like nitpicking with a team this good, but when a single loss could end your historically great run, there’s no margin for error.

Offensively speaking, we have to improve in the red zone. Against Tennessee, we went into the red zone twice and only came away with a field goal. For the season, we’ve only scored touchdowns on 27 of our 46 attempts into the area. By comparison, Alabama has made 50 trips into the red zone and scored 38 touchdowns. It hasn’t mattered because we’ve been blowing teams out, but taking field goals over touchdowns could bite us in the ass in a close game.

We also need to do a better job identifying and sticking with our weapons on offense. We have a lot of dudes who can make plays, but sometimes you need a workhorse. I’ve always thought James Cook should garner more touches, and he finally got them in bunches against the Vols.

Cook hits the gap quicker than I bought husky jeans with a Christmas gift card from grandma in 2003. He finished with 147 yards and two touchdowns on 13 total touches, including a 39-yard touchdown run that got us on the board early. If we’re going to win it all, we need to use all our weapons, and we’ll probably need another game or two like this from Cook down the stretch.

Defensively, it’s hard to find anything to complain about, but we have tackled poorly in the last two games, particularly in open space. When it comes to gang tackling, we’re good. Once one guy gets a lick in, another four are going to be right behind him. But we’ve whiffed in open space far too frequently. It hasn’t hurt us yet, but do that against the speed of Alabama or Ohio State’s skill guys and see what happens.

But the most important thing we can do over the final few weeks of the regular season is to get healthy and stay healthy. There were a handful of times toward the tail end of the Tennessee game when defensive starters hit the turf. Thankfully, it doesn’t seem like any of them are too serious. 

All due respect to Charleston Southern, but we shouldn’t have any starters in after the first quarter this Saturday. The greatest Georgia team ever having its season derailed by late-season injuries against Charleston Southern would be a little too on the nose.