Monday, November 28, 2011

tech over-matched, a puncher's chance v. LSU and hope for 2012

I am surprised how weak Georgia tech looked Saturday. I really thought they'd give us all we could handle, but they looked over-matched from the start. Their decision to repeatedly throw us the football instead of committing to the run merely hastened their doom.

I'm proud of this Georgia team, this program and this coaching staff for getting it done this year. A 10-2 season is impressive, even with a weak schedule. It takes something to reel off win after win in college football, I don't care who you're playing. See the last decade of Boise State football if you doubt that.

That said, I think any fair analysis of this upcoming game against LSU must predict something approaching a crushing. That's not a jab at us. It's recognition that this LSU team is phenomenal. Having 11 defensive starters likely to play in the NFL has that kind of effect, and the Tigers have firepower on offense, too.

We're not going to Atlanta just to get the shit kicked out of us, though. We have what you always have at kickoff: A chance.

This Georgia defense turned a little nasty this season, and it's not unreasonable to expect some turnovers. If we can bottle up the run and keep this a low-scoring affair, the game could turn on special teams play and steady contributions from our offense, which will face its biggest challenge of the season by far.

Of course, if Isaiah Crowell's not at 100 percent Saturday, it's hard to see us rising to that challenge. Nothing short of our best game of the season in all phases will even keep this thing close.

Win, and all questions are answered with a resounding WE ARE AWESOME NOW. Lose and the over-riding question for the coming off-season seems clear enough to me. Was this season the start of an upswing, or an outlier due to what was obviously a down year for the SEC east and Auburn, plus a generous schedule from the SEC West?

Has Richt got us going again or not? Personally, I think he has. And hopefully we'll draw a good bowl opponent, keep the momentum going and douse the easy-schedule meme going into next year. But I also think it's fair to be afraid that Coach Richt just caught an astounding confluence of scheduling breaks this season.

Seriously, review our schedule. Who was the best team we beat? I'm going to go with "none of them."

Look at the Florida game. That team is terrible, didn't have its best quarterback healthy against us, and we barely pulled it out. So, while I'm pretty damn optimistic about next year, what with the talent we have coming back, the defense's gains under Coach Grantham and the litany of recent examples that show how quickly teams can go from pathetic to mediocre to champions, I fear my optimism is misplaced.

Call it a gnawing fear, banished to one small corner of my stomach by a 10-game winning streak. Banished, but not fully uprooted.

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