Lessons from the Georgia Game: Arkansas Defense Still a Year Away

Donald FincherAnalyst ISeptember 20, 2009

LOUISVILLE, KY - OCTOBER 14:   Bobby Petrino, the Head Coach of the Louisville Cardinals, is pictured during the game against the Cincinnati Bearcats on October 14, 2006 at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky.  Louisville won 23-17.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Well, the Georgia game was very frustrating and very telling.  The offense surprised me at times with how good they were.  Then they turned around and surprised me by how they could be so good one minute and then not so much.  

But it's obvious that there are play makers and that Mallett can throw it just about anywhere on the field.  His height certainly helps, too.

But the defense is, in a word, terrible.  And this was my fear when Bobby Petrino was hired.  I really never was interested in watching Louisville play when Petrino was there but one need only look at the scoreline to see the prevailing trend.  

Petrino's teams are not big on defense.  It seems like their defensive philosophy is to put up enough points offensively to where it won't matter if the other team scores 45 because Petrino's team will score 50.

Well, that won't work in the SEC.  Defense wins championships, and the reason the SEC keeps winning national titles is because they have great defenses.  I knew it when he was hired that this style would be a problem, and we saw tonight why that was.

Obviously, they cannot go recruit better players in the middle of the season.  However, they can make a few scheme changes that might help and there may very well need to be a coordinator change in the offseason.

Georgia has never really been known as a big play offense.  But they put up as much on Arkansas as they did in their first two games combined.  And this was at Arkansas...when Arkansas openly admitted to preparing for this game all summer and got a bye week to boot.

What's really frustrating is that, with the exception of one punt that was actually a "three and out," the other punts only happened because of setbacks in the Georgia drives due to penalties.  Without those penalties, those might have been scores, too.  And what about the turnovers.  Give Georgia those drives back and they might have put up 70.

Perhaps even more frustrating was that they weren't really changing it up that much.  They kept burning Arkansas with the exact same 4-5 plays.

Arkansas is going to score a lot of points this year.  However, they're going to give up as many and maybe more.  For Arkansas to have a 7-5 or 8-4 year (which may sound mediocre but, given the schedule, is actually quite optimistic), Georgia needed to be a win.  This team is now going to have a hard time getting to a bowl game.

Texas A&M just became a monumental game.  It may be the only one of the next five (Alabama, Texas A&M, Auburn, Florida, Ole Miss) that they can win.  If they don't win that one, they'll be 1-6 after the stretch.

The good news is that all the road games become home games next year when Arkansas' offense will be just as hard to stop and the defense will have to be better (can't get much worse).  So, at least by the time we get to 1-6 and start the familiar refrain of "wait until next year" there will be reason for that optimism.