Look, we here at the blog have been big fans of Grantham. Even when the national media banged on the UGA defense back in 2011 for playing a weak schedule, I pointed out that UGA actually played a similar schedule to LSU and Alabama, and had comparable performances against the same competition. I even did a series looking at how well the defense played but was skewed statistically due to special teams and offensive miscues.
The UGA defense was as good as LSU and Alabama’s.
But now the defense has taken a step back. You can bang on Murray and his poor decisions at time, or Mike Bobo’s play calling. But the reason we lost to Clemson wasn’t Murray or Bobo. It was that the defense gave up 38 points. If we had lost to South Carolina or LSU, you couldn’t point fingers at the offense.
Even when the “UGA and Murray can’t beat ranked teams” meme was going in full force, the defense played poorly in those games. We weren’t losing 17-10 folks.
If Georgia loses again or even misses out on the SEC Championship game, I have no doubt fans will point fingers at Bobo and Murray. Grantham seems immune from any critics because he yells and cusses. That’s fine. But if the Dawgs fall short of the goals and expectations we all have then it will be the defenses’ fault.
I am not a cold hearted person. I am reasonable. I understand the youth on the team and also realize the daunting task of having to play a tough schedule early in the season. There were growing pains and bumps in the road to be expected. Georgia has played so far three teams with the some of the best offenses in college football. The Dawgs won’t see any QBs as good as Shaw, Boyd or Mettenberger again until (hopefully) the Dome December 7. So I am not going to hit the panic button just yet.
However, Tennessee is awful on offense. If the Vols hang more than 20 on the Bulldogs, then it will be time to hit the panic button.
As excited as I am about seeing Murray and company light up the score board Saturday, I am even more anxious to see how the defense plays. Consequently, the offense has played well against the elite competition. I am not worried about they are capable of doing going forward. But, even in this league, you are going to have to win an ugly game at some point. Georgia-Florida last year. Alabama-LSU Part I in 2011. LSU-Florida last year. There are times when you are going to have to win a 17-10 type game in the SEC, no matter how good Murray, Gurley, Lynch and the rest are.
So Saturday will be a big test for the defense. If they dominate Tennessee like they should, then it bodes well for Georgia to run through the rest of the schedule. If they continue to struggle, then it is going to be a bumpy ride.