Reggie Davis' head was buried in his hands. Not coming down with what would have been a game-tying touchdown hurt, painfully. Forget the fact he recorded three catches for 101 yards and a touchdown, along with a 70-yard punt return for a score. He could have potentially recorded the biggest grab of the game. Georgia could have been in overtime, or maybe could have hit a field goal to win in the final minutes of regulation.
Instead, the ball fell through his hands.
It was that kind of day, and it's shaking out like that kind of season.
Here's what we learned following Georgia's 38-31 loss to Tennessee.
Georgia’s SEC championship hopes take a huge hit
Stating the obvious here, but Georgia’s SEC East title hopes are now difficult to attain. For this to happen, Georgia would need to win out, have Florida to lose another game and hope Tennessee loses a third conference contest. No longer in control of the race, Georgia needs help. But that’s the position it put itself in with Saturday’s loss at Tennessee. It’s one thing to lose to Alabama, considering the Crimson Tide were the much-better team on that day. It’s still tough to think Tennessee has a better roster than Georgia. It just felt Georgia let that game slip away more than Tennessee outright won it. But that’s football at times. If you allow a team to stay in a game, it can make you pay. The Volunteers did that, especially in the second half.
Sony Michel should be able to answer the call
Losing Nick Chubb hurt but Michel showed he can fill his role if needed. Michel carried the ball 22 times for 145 yards, which included a 66-yard run where he broke through tackles and juked at least one defender. Michel took Saturday’s loss hard, blaming himself for losing a fumble on a kickoff play that led to a Tennessee score. However, Michel looked the part of a lead back, regardless of the self-criticism. Georgia’s done a great job of recruiting running backs in recent years, which helps make the loss of guys such as Todd Gurley and Chubb easier to handle from a team and performance standpoint.
If Greyson Lambert can find some consistency…
The one thing that stood out about Lambert’s performance on Saturday was his accuracy on the deep ball. Yes, he was inconsistent and made some questionable throws, especially early on. But when he launched the ball, he looked comfortable. The 28-yard touchdown throw to Malcolm Mitchell was placed perfectly. His 48-yard touchdown toss to Davis was on time and where it needed to be. The deep ball Davis dropped late in the fourth quarter couldn’t have been thrown better. Lambert has pieces to his game that allow him to do put Georgia in good positions at times. It’s a matter of Lambert putting it together for four full quarters. He did it once against a bad South Carolina team. It’s a matter of staying within what he does best against the better teams that Georgia needs to see.
Defense needs to fix numerous issues
One of the biggest story lines in the preseason, and even through the season’s first four weeks, was the fact that Georgia’s defense would see marked improvement in year two under Jeremy Pruitt. However, the last two weeks have shown the exact opposite. Alabama and Tennessee both found success in the passing game using play action. Free receivers ran free during both games, with defensive backs unable to cover various route concepts. There were times it appeared Tennessee even took some plays from Alabama’s playbook, specifically on a run-pass option play-fake that sucked the defensive backs in before Joshua Dobbs hit the defense over the top for a big gain. Against Tennessee, missed tackles were commonplace as well. There are a slew of fundamental issues Georgia needs to worry about on the defensive side of the ball.
Special teams struggle again
Georgia’s special teams has been brutal for Georgia this season. That trend continued again against the Volunteers. Marshall Morgan couldn’t connect on a 41-yard field goal, giving him three misses for the year. Collin Barber’s punting was spotty – he shanked one and hit another into the end zone that never had a shot of being downed. Michel’s fumble came at an inopportune time on a kickoff return. And Georgia’s coverage allowed Evan Berry to average 34 yards per kick return. The Bulldogs need to hope this changes soon.