To say that Georgia has played well over the last two weeks would be an understatement. This team has not only played well, they have played better than expected—especially when considering the mistakes and miscues of the previous four weeks that led up to this current streak.
Their success has caused some fans to let down their guards and start wondering what might have been.
You know that game well if you're a college football fan. You start revisiting all the games your team has played, and you begin asking questions about the key moments within each that could have changed that "L" to a "W."
Georgia fans are no different in that regard. In the wake of such above-average play, many have already started to play that exact game in regards to this season: "What if the team had played this well at Colorado?" "What if the defense was this proficient against Arkansas?" "What if the offense was clicking this well in Starkville?" The Dawgs' could be 6-1 right now—right?
Well, the danger in playing the "what if" game is that it can cloud perspective, and there's too much football left to play for any one to start expecting greatness from here on out.
The talk of tie-breakers, SEC Championship possibilities, and bowl games, is irrelevant and, quite frankly, premature right now with Georgia only sitting at 3-4.
So, here's what's real: Georgia has a two-game winning streak on the line as they head to Lexington to take on the Kentucky Wildcats.
They need to win that game first and then see what happens the next week—one game at a time.
That said, there is no harm in discussing the things that have made Georgia look so different the last two weeks.
What have been some of the keys to their sudden surge:
1. The defense has not allowed the opposition to score first.
When an offense can score on their opening drive, it fires up their defense—period. It's not rocket science.
Georgia's defense gave up the first points of a game to their opponent in every loss they've had this season. The last two games saw the opposite happen and that's helped build momentum on both sides of the ball.
2. The return of A.J. Green.
The impact of A.J. Green cannot be understated. Even if he's used solely as a decoy (which he seemed to be for much of last week), he draws a lot of attention. That opens up the other receivers and gives Aaron Murray more options in the passing game.
3. The running game has improved.
Both Caleb King (who played well against Tennessee, but will sit out, at least, one more week) and Washaun Ealey are healthy and running well. Ealey topped the 100-yard mark for the first time this season, and Carlton Thomas is finding ways to make a contribution on offense—scoring twice last week.
A better running game has meant a more efficiently run offense.
4. The offensive line has improved.
The re-congfigured line has made Aaron Murray's job easier. He has not been flushed from the pocket as much and he seems to have more time to go through his progressions than did earlier in the year.
Trinton Sturdivant (LT) has looked more confident each week and Kenarious Gates (RG) has played well since being inserted into the starting lineup.
5. More fire!
During the losing stretch, the team appeared lackadaisical and sluggish. At times they showed flashes of life but, mostly, they looked defeated towards the end of games. It was as if they had no more fight left. Nowhere was this more evident than in the game against Colorado.
The team rallied around A.J. Green as he made his glorious return, but, once he left with cramping, they fell back into mediocrity—on offense and defense.
However, over the last two games, they look more focused, more organized, and more confident—particularly on defense—and that has translated into less mistakes and more big plays on both sides of the ball.
The Biggest Difference:
Confidence. The team finally looks like they are on the same page with the coaching staff.
The defense has given up a few plays here and there, but their tackling is better, their coverage schemes look crisper, and their grasp on the defense looks more sound.
As for the offense, Aaron Murray looks more and more comfortable every week, and he seems more determined to prove that A.J. Green is not the only weapon this offense has on the field. In recent weeks, Tavares King, Aron White, and Orson Charles, have all seen their jersey called on key downs. And, who can speak loudly enough about the contribution Kris Durham has made?
It's tough to say how much of this play will continue once the team leaves the friendly confines of Sanford Stadium, but, it certainly has been fun to watch and, hopefully, that trend continues the rest of the way.