It’s a big night for Georgia tomorrow night.
Mark Richt seems to know as much–that is why he closed practice all this week. Which brings to mind the question: Why? Was it because Nick Saban is known to be a disciple of the now-documented signal thief Bill Belichek and he did not want anything from practice this week to end up as the latest YouTube special? Or was it because he is realizing just how sorry his team really is and he doesn’t want anybody at Alabama–or anywhere else–to find out before tomorrow night?
With a devastating loss to South Carolina during which the offense was dreadfully pathetic and the defense spent an entire evening getting torched by running back Cory Boyd, and a win over Western Carolina that didn’t look a whole lot better (45-16 looks a whole lot better against LSU than Western Carolina), Georgia now finds itself in a position where it must win–and win soon–in order to salvage any chance at respectability whatsoever this season.
With only three games gone, I think it is far too early in the season to classify any game as must-win. But the sad reality is that Georgia is in a must-win situation this week. Lose this one, and Georgia loses all chance at being anything better than a middle-of-the-road SEC program–at least for this season.
The bad news: It’s in Tuscaloosa. Only once previously has Georgia ever won in Tuscaloosa–and that was with a better quarterback than what we have now. Matthew Stafford is a serviceable, competent quarterback, but he is no David Greene–Mark Richt’s words to the contrary a couple of weeks back notwithstanding. I don’t see Matthew Stafford leading his team to victory in the closing minutes, a la David Greene at Tennessee in 2001 or here in Tuscaloosa in 2002. We already got a sample of what he can do in the final minutes with the game on the line just a couple of weeks ago, and he did not impress me very much. And that was right in the friendly confines of Sanford Stadium, with over 95,000 fans roaring in support of him. Do you really think he’s going to do any better here in Tuscaloosa, with over 90,000 fans roaring against him?
Another issue: Alabama just overhauled Arkansas last week with a 41-38 win. A lot of analysts are questioning whether Alabama will be able to continue to play at that level or whether they will be too emotionally drained to keep it up. And that is certainly a real possibility. Back in 2004, Georgia overhauled LSU 45-16 but was unable to maintain that level of play the next week and lost to Tennessee 19-14. But the real question, I think, is whether Georgia, which looked pathetic against South Carolina and only marginally better last week against Western Carolina (which exists primarily to make everybody in Division 1-A look good by comparison), can raise their level of intensity to match Alabama’s.
Alabama looks eminently beatable this year, to be sure. But at this point in the season, Georgia looks even more beatable.