pound column

There are no midseason trades in college football.

There’s the bench and the redshirt (or removal of said shirt), but once the season starts, programs simply have what they have. 

University of Georgia football was dealt a difficult deck this year when it comes to quarterback, the most important position on the field. Three-year starter Jake Fromm declared for the NFL, Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman opted out, and Southern Cal transfer JT Daniels had an injury setback over the summer that is probably what has kept him off the field despite fans’ constant clamoring. The 2020 season was a bad one to be a transfer anyway. There was no spring football in Athens and summer workouts were limited. D’Wan Mathis wasn’t what coaches had hoped in the season opener at Arkansas, so they turned to Stetson Bennett, who was at one time a walk-on. He provided some fireworks here and there, and on most occasions did well enough to get the job done with a couple of notable exceptions. 

I say all of that to say this: we pretty well knew Georgia’s quarterbacks weren’t going to dazzle this season. But do you know what else we thought we knew? The defense was supposed to be rock solid and, along with the run game, cover up any QB shortcomings the team faced in 2020. 

Such was not the case Saturday nor in the earlier loss to Alabama. Florida’s Kyle Trask picked apart the Dawgs’ defense on his way to a 474-yard day passing. He had more than 300 by halftime, and his team was up 38-21 already at that point. The Gator offense amassed 571 yards over 80 plays throughout the game. All of those figures are the exact opposite of the winning formula for the 2020 Georgia Bulldogs. Throw in a couple of dropped interceptions, dropped receptions on offense and a handful of overthrows with wide receivers streaking open down the field and you’ve got the precise recipe for disaster. Outside of Georgia’s first play from scrimmage and the pick-six, there were no highlights for the boys in the red helmets. 

Blame is being tossed at the quarterbacks, offensive coordinator and head coach for either execution, play-calling or lack of viable option at signal-caller. Ultimately the onus falls on the shoulders of head coach Kirby Smart, but not because of the quarterback situation. The cards (players) are what they are. You have to play with what you have in college football, and Georgia was supposed to have an elite defense. The defense — no matter how much maligned due to injuries — has to be better in games like the one Saturday where the offense cannot keep up. Todd Monken’s offense actually met its season points per game average Saturday while the defense surrendered more than double what it usually gives up. 

As much as everybody wants to blame Bennett, the Florida loss, and Georgia ultimately missing out on a return trip to Atlanta, belongs to the defense. 

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