Georgia needs to take advantage of second chance

dshirley@macon.comOctober 26, 2012 

Could the Georgia football season really hinge on just one game? Saturday’s game against Florida?

Actually, it looks as if the season will come down to two games, and the first one didn’t go so well for the Bulldogs. In its first statement game of the season, Georgia didn’t respond to the situation -- or being punched in the mouth -- and was blown out by South Carolina.

After the Gamecocks lost at LSU and Florida, Georgia has a second chance to control its own destiny in the SEC East in a situation that looks a lot like last year.

Last year, the Bulldogs took advantage of their second chance and won the division before losing to LSU in the conference title game.

That still wasn’t enough for some Georgia fans, who pointed out that the Bulldogs lost to the good teams they faced and beat the lesser teams on their schedule and directed their anger at head coach Mark Richt as the reason for those problems. Still, a 10-4 season is hard to argue with, especially coming off a 6-7 showing the year before.

But if Florida beats Georgia -- even if the Bulldogs win the rest of their regular-season games -- the debate about Richt’s job security will heat up once again and be taken to another level in intensity.

And it’s easy to understand both sides of the argument.

If Georgia loses Saturday and wins out, it will finish 10-2, and that’s a good season by almost anyone’s way of thinking. Imagine an athletics director looking for a head coach after dismissing a head coach who is coming off back-to-back 10-win seasons? That wouldn’t go over well in the coaching circles, and there would be some coaches who would balk at the job because of it.

That said, there would be plenty of coaches who would line up to coach in the SEC at a place like Georgia with all the resources the program has to offer.

Realistically, it’s laughable to complain about winning 10 games in a season, but there are also scenarios under which it’s understandable. That sounds like a contradiction, but it’s true.

Winning 10 games is terrific, but how a team gets there also adds to this debate. If Georgia wins 10 games and loses to Florida and South Carolina, especially if both are blowout losses, there will be fans who again wonder why the Bulldogs can’t win big games or beat high-quality teams.

Georgia has struggled in these kinds of games for years, and the complaints won’t end until it wins one, or more, of these. To make matters worse, Richt has struggled against Florida, and another loss in this series certainly won’t help Richt’s case.

If Georgia doesn’t play well -- it hasn’t its past two games -- things could get ugly Saturday. Florida has been physical this season and is pushing teams around, and the Gators would like nothing more than to do that to the Bulldogs.

Georgia didn’t match that kind of physical play against South Carolina, but it’s getting a second chance to do so in this game. If it doesn’t take advantage of that opportunity, the heat will be turned up on Richt the rest of the season -- no matter how many more games the Bulldogs win.

Contact Daniel Shirley at 744-4227 or dshirley@macon.com

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