By Bill Shanks
Georgia won on Saturday. That’s good. That’s the goal ever week – to win the game.
But they did it against an absolutely horrible team, and it’s not like they blew out the Ole Miss Rebels.
I was at the game Saturday as a fan. I wore red and black. I cheered. It was a nice break for someone that has to sit in a press box and work each weekend. But I got a little different perspective from sitting in the stands in Oxford.
First, back to the point about Ole Miss. They are horrible. That was perhaps the worst SEC team I have seen in years. There are plenty of Vanderbilt teams (like, this year) that have been better than what I saw on the field yesterday from the Rebels.
They have no quarterback. It made me realize why Houston Nutt went so hard after Jeremiah Masoli last year. He was desperate. He has no quarterback.
The weird part about Ole Miss is it looks like they have huge linemen. It looks like they have some athletes on defense. But they were the worst fundamental team I have ever seen. It was truly shocking how bad they were on Saturday, and I fully understood why Vanderbilt blew them out last week.
And then there’s Georgia. Again, they won. That’s good. That’s what I, as the fan in attendance, wanted to happen. But it’s so difficult to judge what they did right against a team that was so bad.
Let’s clear a few things up first. Georgia has a running back. Isaiah Crowell is the real deal. He’s going to be a star in this league for several years. However, he has got to get better at staying in the game. Tapping on his helmet and wanting a breather is making some fans get really impatient.
Now he did have 30 carries, so it’s hard to complain. But there were many times we looked out there and wanted Crowell in the game. Perhaps we are getting greedy already, but fact is, Crowell seems to take himself out of the game a lot for a break.
Georgia’s main issue, once again, is offensive line. It is really bad. Justin “Bean” Anderson is really lost out there, and to see him and Dallas Lee get into an argument on the field Saturday was embarrassing.
What would Georgia’s offensive line do against an elite defense, like Alabama or LSU? It was probably get demolished. It was getting pushed back yesterday by Ole Miss, and yes, while there was a lot of rushing yards, it’s hard to give too much credit to UGA’s offensive line.
Georgia’s defense is better. I could see it in the Boise State game, despite the points scored. I can see it now, even against awful teams like Coastal Carolina and Ole Miss.
It’s going to be interesting to see what Georgia does against Vick Ballard and Mississippi State next week. And as they face tougher offenses, we’ll get a better read on what Todd Grantham’s defense can do. But there is little doubt it is better than last year.
But there’s still something about this team that leaves you feeling that it’s just mediocre. They did not play well Saturday. Sure, they won. That’s good. But there was little that left you feeling good about the Georgia Bulldogs.
It’s not only that they should have dominated the game. I really wanted them to come out and play a good, solid football game – regardless of how many points they won by. I did not see that. Instead, I saw a team that if they had been playing someone that was better than a JUCO team might have been blown out.
There are breakdowns on this team, in all facets of the game that just don’t happen with good football teams. It’s not that there is not talent. There is. But this team just doesn’t always play smart football, and that’s why Ole Miss still had a chance (albeit slim) up until about four minutes left in the game on Saturday.
We all know Mark Richt has got to win this season to keep his job. The UGA fan base is excited, as it should be, that the team now has two wins. But let’s keep this real, folks: a win against Coastal Carolina and Ole Miss should not get anyone too excited.
Richt might be judged simply on one game – the Florida game in late October. But do not discount the next two weeks.
Mississippi State is a team that will be trying to prove they are better than what they have showed the next two weeks when they go to Athens next Saturday.
Vick Ballard will be a tough test for the UGA defense. It needs Christian Robinson back at middle linebacker to defend the other Bulldogs’ running back.
Then there is Tennessee, who is led by a man named Dooley. It probably won’t do Richt much good if he looses to Derek Dooley, as that name is still powerful in the UGA nation.
Mississippi State and Tennessee are not elite teams, like Alabama and LSU seem to be this season. But if Georgia is a better team, it needs to beat these next two opponents.
After what I saw, as a fan, on Saturday in Oxford, they’ll need to do it to prove something to me. I’m still skeptical.
Bill Shanks hosts The Bill Shanks Show weekdays from 3-6 pm ET Fox Sports 1670 in Macon, GA and Fox Sports 1400 in Newnan, GA. You can listen online at www.foxsports1670.com. He also writes a column for The Telegraph in Macon on Sundays and Wednesdays. You can read the columns at www.macon.com.