We ain’t dead yet. We’re beaten. We’re embarrassed. We’ve been knocked down a few pegs, which was warranted. But we ain’t dead yet.
Alabama thrashed Georgia 41-24 in the SEC Championship Game—the same score as last season. The all-world defense we’ve had all year didn’t show up, and the Alabama offense that wasn’t supposed to be as good as its predecessor did. The Tide’s five-star quarterback, Bryce Young, played like a Heisman winner. The Dawgs’ former walk-on QB, Stetson Bennett IV, played like… well, probably better than a former walk-on should, but not anywhere near well enough to beat Alabama.
Despite the loss, however, Georgia still holds its own fate in its hands. The No. 3 Dawgs are in the College Football Playoff, and they’ll play No. 2 Michigan in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 31.
If it were based on the last game alone, Georgia would not have made it into the field of four. Luckily for us, the entire season is taken into account. Despite its poor showing for most of the SEC Championship Game, the defense got us into the playoff. Some of the glitz and glimmer has worn off after Alabama exposed some weaknesses, but we’re in the top four on the back of their spectacular performance through 12 games.
But when it comes to beating the best of the best, the truth hasn’t changed, regardless of what we hoped while watching this spectacular defense all season: A great offense will beat a great defense. No matter how great your defense is, you will have to score points to win at some point. That’s the way football works these days.
In that respect, this loss falls squarely on the shoulders of Kirby Smart. This season, he made the same mistake he made in 2018 by starting Jake Fromm over Justin Fields, and the same mistake he made last season in starting Bennett for too long. Bennett is not the best quarterback on the roster. That’s JT Daniels. But because Bennett played pretty well while not losing any games after coming in for an injured Daniels earlier this season, Smart refused to bench him. And Bennett isn’t talented enough to run with those boys at Bama. The SEC championship and the playoff are gunfights, and Kirby insists on bringing a knife.
Kirby has always gambled that he could win it all with a great defense and a game manager under center, and he’s lost that gamble every time. By the time it became clear that the defense cannot win it all, it was too late.
It’s not too late this year. Go get a gun, Kirby. Start JT Daniels.
We know Bennett can’t beat Alabama. He’s tried twice, throwing five total interceptions, including a pick-six. We’ve been beaten by 17 points each time.
Daniels should be the man to start against Michigan on New Year’s Eve. Hopefully, he wins—it’s not a surefire victory—gains some confidence back, and we can go into a rematch against Alabama guns blazing with a different look on offense than what they’ve stopped so easily the last two years.
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If Daniels starts and we lose to Michigan or in a rematch against Alabama, I can live with that, because at least we didn’t lose the same way twice.
But what’s the likelihood of that actually happening? At this point, Kirby has a history, and it’s pretty clear whom he prefers. He has a track record of loyalty to quarterbacks, even if they aren’t the best on the roster. So should we believe Kirby will bite the bullet and indirectly admit he was wrong by bringing Daniels? I’ll spend the next month hoping he will, but I won’t hold my breath.
At least we’re still talking about what could happen instead of commiserating over what has happened. Everything is still in front of us. It won’t be easy, but we were fooling ourselves to think it ever would be in the first place. All you can ask for is a shot, and we’ve still got one.
We ain’t dead yet, and nothing’s over ‘til you’re underground.
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