Georgia Bulldogs Fall to Vanderbilt Commodores

The Georgia Bulldogs fell to the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday in a 17-16 loss. Last week Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason was the poster child for the an SEC truth: you can play terribly and, because the Southeastern Conference has talent all over the field, you may still win. This week, he was the poster child for the flip side of that coin: you can have fantastic game but, and for the same reasons, you may still lose, as UGA did yesterday. Especially if you’re facing a defense that can shut down your running game.

When UGA rather abruptly let longtime Coach Mark Richt go last year to snatch up new coach Kirby Smart from Alabama, much was made of what many saw as a new era for the Red and Black. But college football is a fickle beast. Following the loss to Vandy, #fireKirbySmart was trending on Twitter.

But Smart — even while acknowledging the loss to Vandy was “unacceptable”, and taking heat from Twitter for play-calling that stopped Isaiah McKenzie from gaining the one yard needed to set up the field goal to win the game — is still in good shape. Why? Because keeping expectations low is precisely what the UGA fan base needs while the team builds.

The truth is Eason looked 110% better. He’s learning when to throw the ball away, when to run for his own first down (even if he’s a little quick out of the pocket), and how to take a hit. He even made some of those passes he couldn’t seem to hit last week (even if he still needs to learn to finesse the throw a little). So, he is being coached. Soon he won’t need to rely so much on the play-calling off the field. He’ll be able to make some of those calls on his own.

The pain of losing to a team that only puts up 173 yards on offense, as Vanderbilt did, when your team posts 421 total offensive yards, must have been acute for the Bulldogs. The fans certainly noticed. While some tried to see that as a salve, former star UGA quarterback Buck Belue cautioned against that on Twitter:

And it’s wise to not let some of the positive stats distract from a loss, because Georgia has a lot of problems, not the least of which includes a rookie quarterback, two rookie tight-ends (although TE Isaac Nauta is looking pretty good) and, as usual, an offensive line that refuses to give Eason enough time in the pocket. The number of penalties and the continuing saga of less-than-stellar special teams contributes to why Georgia lost to a team they usually dominate. It didn’t help that Georgia’s usually aggressive defense took a long time in finally stopping the Vanderbilt run game. Which they ultimately did, but only after the half.

Georgia fans are consoling themselves by remembering that the great Saban only won seven games his first year at Alabama, and that current Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford had a similar loss record at UGA his freshman year:

That’s as good a reason as any to stay positive. That and the kicking game, like the quarterback, improved dramatically in a week. So there seems to be some coaching going on. And there will be some recruiting, too. Georgia’s future still looks very bright despite the bumps along the road.

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