JAUDON SPORTS: Georgia’s sloppy win over Kent State isn’t cause for concern, unless you are a Georgia fan

Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint (1) tries for a catch in the end zone behind Kent State Golden Flashes defensive back D.J. Miller Jr. (35) at Sanford Stadium. | Photo by Dale Zanine

It felt like the good ole days for the University of Georgia football fans last Saturday afternoon in Athens and around the state.

Georgia (4-0, 1-0 SEC) beat visiting Kent State, 39-22 in Sanford Stadium. But if you looked around social media in the hours and and days following the win, you might have thought that No. 1 Georgia was the victim of a massive upset. You might have thought they lost to a team they shouldn’t have. You definitely knew that Kirby Smart’s team didn’t play up to the standard they themselves have set.

Still, the Bulldogs won … by 17 points. Yet still … UGA fans were not pleased. Media members took their turns writing opinion pieces they’ve had stashed away for months, for years.

“What’s wrong with Georgia” was a trending question throughout the Kent State game.

Oh, how I’ve missed this side of the Bulldog fan experience. Every game means everything. Every play is a sign of something bigger. Everything matters and nothing is as it seems.

You know the kind of UGA fan I’m talking about. He had his finest come-up during the Mark Richt era, when the Bulldogs were accused (oftentimes by their own fans) of being “not ready to play” or that “the moment” was simply too big for the guys in silver britches.

It’s a woe-is-me based emotion that unites Bulldog Nation like nothing else can.

Even after the Bulldogs won a non-conference contest that was really never in doubt, if you scrolled through Twitter or Facebook after the game, you would have thought the sky was falling and the hedges were burning. It reminded me of the days not long ago when UGA fans would band together behind the notion that there is a problem (or problems) with their beloved Bulldogs.

While I’m here for the unification of Georgia fans behind almost any cause or complaint, the idea that Georgia isn’t what we thought it was before last Saturday, or that a fatal flaw was exposed by Kent State is laughable. There is no reason to feel differently about UGA this week than you did last week. The Bulldogs gave a D+ performance against Kent State (a 44-point underdog before kickoff) and yet they still won by 17 points.

“I don’t know if we were awake to start,” said UGA quarterback Stetson Bennett after the game.

My only takeaway from the win is that the Georgia players seemed to be going through the motions, and they weren’t as excited to play the Kent State Flashes as they were for Oregon and South Carolina. Nothing is wrong. There aren’t any significant conclusions resulting from a game with a lesser-than MAC team.

I’m in the minority on this one, and that’s fine, it’s a familiar spot for me. But Smart agrees with me, I think. The reigning national championship head coach was not mad after the game. He was pleased with the win, even if it came by way of an ugly performance.

“When you come out ahead like we did, sometimes you take wins like that for granted,” said Smart. “I have a lot of respect for (Kent State) and that program. That was a tough, hard-fought win.”

Georgia is still No. 1 in the Associated Press Poll and is still a heavy favorite to make a return to the College Football Playoffs this December. A game against Kent State isn’t the kind of game that we can learn a lot from. It just isn’t that important and the UGA players knew that. Of course they knew that, everyone knows that.

Are there questions about specific parts of the Georgia team this season? Sure. But that doesn’t mean what we saw against Kent State is going to happen again. We’d all like to believe that college football players show up with the same energy and focus every Saturday, regardless of the opponent. The fact is, we’d all be wrong to think that. It’s a long season and when a cupcake portion of the schedule arrives, it’s not uncommon for the favored team to play down to its competition. It happens.

The Dawgs rank 81st in the country in passing success rate allowed, if you’re into those kinds of stats. Their pass defense needs work, that’s clear enough, but when UGA plays more potent passing attacks – like Tennessee next month – the Bulldogs won’t be lacking focus or intensity. It’ll be all hands on deck and when that’s the case, I don’t see any way this Bulldog boat sinks.

Optimism is a foreign feeling for most Georgia fans. I get that. There are plenty of historic heartbreaks to validate a pessimistic point of view, but after winning the whole shabang last year and starting this year with blowout victories in games one through three, it felt like those good ole days of Georgia fans trashing the Georgia teams were gone for good.

Last week was a good reminder that it won’t ever fully go away. It’ll always be there, ready to pounce at even the slightest sign of struggle.

SPORTS NOTES

Last weekend, local professional golfers were in contention at The Champions Tour’s Pure Insurance Championship held at Pebble Beach in California. Savannah natives Tim O’Neal and Gene Sauers played in the same group during the final round on Sunday and they represented the city in fine fashion. O’Neal finished in 19th at 4-under-par and Sauers came in at 3-under and in a tie for 32nd.

October is right around the corner, and the Atlanta Braves are in a fight for the National League East division crown with the New York Mets. The playoffs begin October 7, and the Bravos are in the dance for certain. Now, the only question is if they’ll get in by way of division champ or as a wild card team. The Braves have seven games left to play from Wednesday onward. They will host the division-leading Mets in a critical three-game series beginning Friday in Atlanta before closing out the regular season against the Marlins.


About The Author

Travis Jaudon

Travis Jaudon has been writing in Savannah since 2016 and is host of Hot Grits Podcast.
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