The Georgia Bulldogs, in case you didn't know it, are now 0-2 in SEC play after a heartbreaking 31-24 loss to Arkansas today. The team fought hard in the fourth quarter, but fell short as the Razorbacks walked out of Athens, Ga., sporting something they had not since 1993—a win.
It would be easy to make excuses for the team but, in the end, the truth would be simple: Ryan Mallett played like Ryan Mallett, and the Georgia defense had no answer for the quarterback.
All week long, the media and the journalists have tried their best to make Georgia Bulldog fans believe that without wide receiver A.J. Green, this team cannot win. However, in two weeks, the team has proved that it can indeed win—if they can ever get out of their own way.
Today the run defense showed up against the veteran running presence of the Arkansas Razorbacks. Aside from the 1-yard touchdown run by Knile Davis in the first quarter, no other tailbacks made a significant contribution to the running game for the Hogs. As a unit, they carried 20 times for 59 yards (less than three yards per carry).
Unlike last week, the run defense did a nice job of stopping the run and forcing the quarterback to make plays. Unfortunately for Georgia, they couldn't do two things well on defense at one time because Ryan Mallett had a field day with their secondary.
He was rarely pressured into a poor pass and on each of his three touchdowns, his receiver was wide open. By the end of the day, the receivers had all-star numbers: Joe Adams snagged six balls for 130, Greg Childs caught three for 82, D.J. Williams had six for 61—see a poor trend here?
The secondary never seemed to show up today—none bigger than on Arkansas' last possession of the game (a 36-yard, game-winning touchdown).
Truthfully, if you didn't know any better, you might have actually believed that Willie Martinez never left the sidelines because it was deja vu all over again.
But, this article is not meant to be a recap. If you watched the game, you know what happened and you can surmise from your own intelligence how it transpired—no need to do it for you here. That said, what is perplexing is how everyone seems to keep telling themselves that A.J. Green would have been the difference.
While it cannot be denied that Green is a catalyst, a playmaker, and a genuinely wonderful weapon to behold, he cannot play defense. He cannot run block for the offensive line, he cannot pass rush for the linebackers, he cannot punt for Drew Butler, he cannot cover kickoffs for special teams, he cannot play-call for Mike Bobo, and he cannot cover wide receivers for the secondary.
As outstanding a football player as A.J. Green most certainly is, he is one guy and, as much as some outlets would like you to believe it, he is not the only piece this team needs to win on Saturday.
Furthermore, to say that A.J. is the only guy worthy of catching the ball on Saturday is disrespectful to Kris Durham, who has done a tremendous job in A.J.'s absence. No, he doesn't have the speed, the highlight-reel grabs, or the NFL pedigree, but he does have 13 receptions for 260 yards and one touchdown (through the same number of games last season, Green had 17 receptions, for 275 yards, and three touchdowns). Durham may not be Green, but he's done a phenomenal job filling in for him this season.
Even more, a great point was made by the author of this blog following the game on Saturday. He stated that the Alabama Crimson Tide have been without their Heisman winning playmaker for the last two weeks and they haven't missed a beat. His point: great teams can survive the storm—that's what great teams do.
Is this Georgia Bulldog team a great team? No, it's a young one, with a redshirt freshman quarterback, and a new defensive scheme—period.
This loss will lead to a lot of "hot seat" talk—be prepared. Some of the arguments for the inconsistencies of Mark Richt's team this season will be valid, while others could likely be chalked up to the ridiculous rantings of a message-board maniac. Neither argument will make a difference where this season is concerned—that's a fact. Richt is not going to be fired this season, but he could be under a lot more pressure if this 1-2 start turns into a 7-5 or 6-6 finish.
Curious to hear your thoughts after three weeks of play by this Georgia Bulldog team. Where do you stand on them now?
(This article appears courtesy of The Lady Sportswriter)