I begin writing this message seconds after the final ticks of the clock. I don't think there's one sentence that can adequately capture how this game went wrong, but I think we can start with, "We are relying on a freshman quarterback."
Freshmen make mistakes. Patrick Peterson made a mistake that cost us a big gain. Jarrett Lee made some mistakes that cost us turnovers. A corner who makes mistakes gives up yards. A quarterback who makes a mistake gives up the ball. Lee's three big mistakes in this game cost us 17 points, which you may notice is greater than the differential of the game.
Honestly, I'm not all that upset with Lee. I thought we had a great chance going into this game, but this is just one of those games where we underestimated the ill effects of having an inexperienced quarterback.
But moving beyond Lee's struggles, let's keep in mind that the defense gave up 35 points on drives where Georgia did not start with great field position as a result of a turnover. The defense just gave up too many big plays:
- A 49-yard touchdown pass to AJ Green
- A 68-yard touchdown run by Knowshon Moreno
- A 49-yard catch and run by a tight end, when we had Georgia pinned at their 10-yard line
- A 22-yard pass to Michael Moore on 3rd-and-10 on Georgia's first drive, when we appeared to have them stopped. They scored a touchdown on the drive
- A 47-yard run by Moreno to set up a touchdown
- A 37-yard pass to AJ Green to set up a touchdown
Every one of Georgia's points in this game came as a result of either a turnover or one of the big offensive plays above. I am not sure what is wrong with our defense, but I think it has something to do with a lack of speed at certain key positions.
Compounding the problem of giving up big plays, the defense did not get enough big plays in return. We forced no turnovers and got only one sack. It's not like the defense accomplished nothing, because if you factor out the 6 plays above, Georgia got only 171 yards on 56 plays, an average of just over 3 yards per play, factoring out the most crushing plays they had.
Let's face it. Georgia was just better than us today. They got us behind early and we were never able to quite catch up to them. After falling behind 21-7, only once did we get the ball with time on the clock and behind by 1 score or less. I know we are a team that plays well from behind, but you just can't fall behind constantly and expect it not to hurt us.
No phase of the team performed particularly well. The offense scored some points, but gave up too many turnovers. The defense did some things, but failed to force a big play, and gave up too many big gainers. The return team didn't give us any big plays either, and our kickoff coverage had a penalty and a big return out to the 40 against us.
Anyway, now we need help to get the SEC Championship Game, but I don't think we can really even be thinking about that right now. We just need to play our best and improve as a team. We have key players who need to gain experience. I think Lee will eventually be an outstanding player. He shows the flashes of brilliance you expect to see of someone with a high ceiling. We just need to cut down on the costly errors.
We move on now. Just typing right now, I honestly don't know who we play next. I'll be right back...
OK, well, I guess we'll shoot for getting bowl-eligible next week. Winning a national championship became a pipe dream the day Ryan Perrilloux was kicked off this team, but I honestly did not expect the defense to struggle this much. It may be a problem that we need an offseason to correct.