Last game of the season. Time for some retrospection and last-game analysis and prediction.
Georgia struggled all year to get their nine-win regular season. We barely won the games we should have dominated. I'll attribute most of that to a young offensive line that couldn't help put points up. That'll change in 2009.
Two of our three losses were to a pair of the best teams in the country: Alabama and Florida. But we weren't just beaten. We were demolished...humiliated.
Attribute those to the same young O line and add in miserable defense. The only game we played well in on both sides of the ball was LSU.
After the Florida loss, everyone ass-umed that we would end the regular season at 10-2. Then came Ga Tech. Tech brought their A game and played great. Our defense didn't even suit up.
Our players, just like the fans, took this one for granted. No one thought Tech would actually come to Athens and play football. Our offense did its job. But there's only so much a team can do when the opposing team puts up 45 points.
At this point, I think defensive coordinator Willie Martinez is gone at the end of the season...UNLESS he pulls off a miracle defensive game and holds Michigan State to no more than 17 points.
Only then MIGHT he have a chance of keeping his job at Georgia. So, do we want him to have a miracle defensive game or do we want a new DC? I'm ready for a new DC.
Now to the Capital One Bowl. Georgia has far more offensive tools, schemes and coaching than Michigan State. Georgia also has plenty of motivational circumstances coming into the game.
They will desperately want to redeem the Tech loss. They have a chance to show that they really are the real deal and will try to make a statement strong enough to get us into a top ten 2009 pre-season ranking.
This will be Massaquoi's last college game. And, if Stafford and/or Moreno bail, this will be their last college game. They, as well as the other seniors, will bring their A+ games. They'll be hungry and ready to fight.
Michigan State's defense is acceptable; but it's not a powerhouse. Practicing defending the run against Ringer is not the same as practicing against Ringer and the entire Georgia offense. They will not be able to stop Georgia's run game.
And with the Massaquoi-Greene-Moore-etc. receiving corps we have, Georgia should rack up some significant pass yardage. We should be able to put up 35+ points.
Without getting overly specific, State has a good offense. It does not have a GREAT offense. Three questions that we will not know the answers to until sometime into the second quarter of the game: Georgia's defense, its special teams and penalties.
If the Dawg defense dominates, we'll make Michigan State look like Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl last year. I'm still enjoying the pressure we put on that highly touted (and undefeated) Hawaii QB.
We made him a non-factor in the first quarter. And that completely shut down the rest of the Hawaii offense.
If we can put that same kind of heat up front early against State, we'll shut down both the run and the pass, and it will be a dominating win. If the D doesn't do this, it'll just be another not-so-memorable win.
Special teams cannot give State short fields like they've been giving most teams all year long. And we have to avoid the penalties that have been all too plentiful all year.
My prediction: Georgia by at least 17 if the defense steps up; Georgia by no more than 10 if the defense plays like they have been all year.
This game is not just the end of our 2008 season; it will set the tone for recruiting and for the 2009 season. With a dominating win, our players and fans walk away feeling great and aching for next August.
With a mediocre win, we'll just walk away and wonder what the 2009 season will bring us (and who the new defensive coordinator will be).
Either way...GO DAWGS!!!