Georgia’s season certainly hasn’t gone the way the Bulldogs — or their fans — would have liked.
And it certainly hasn’t gone the way I thought it would go.
Even with a first-year head coach in Kirby Smart and a first-year quarterback in Jacob Eason, 2016 set up for Georgia to have a special season. An SEC East title and 10 wins didn’t seem out the realm of possibility, mainly because the division is so weak.
But seven games into the season, it hasn’t been anywhere close to special.
The closer-than-needed wins over Nicholls and Missouri, the blowout loss to Mississippi and the heartbreaking finish to Tennessee were bad enough. After a sluggish win at South Carolina, things reached a new low with Georgia’s performance two weeks ago against Vanderbilt.
Despite outgaining the Commodores by 250 yards, the Bulldogs lost the game due to special teams mistakes and coaching blunders, and that loss sent the team into its off week with more questions than answers. The second half of the season should offer many of those answers, and the Florida game could be the big key to what those answers are.
This week, the Bulldogs return to the field in the biggest game of the year. Yes, the Florida game is always huge for Georgia, but Saturday’s game feels more important than usual because the Bulldogs’ season could hang in the balance in Jacksonville.
If the Bulldogs can bounce back from their season-long struggles and somehow beat the Gators, the second-half of the season could be much stronger than the first. Yes, there are still tough games against Auburn and Georgia Tech left on the schedule, but a win over the Gators could give the Bulldogs plenty of momentum to head into those games with a renewed confidence.
On the other hand, if Georgia loses Saturday, especially if it loses badly, the rest of the season could be a mess. Think about the worst case scenario. A bad loss to the Gators could send the Bulldogs’ season spiraling out of control and cause the first-year coaching staff to lose this team.
A fragile team wouldn’t be in much shape to take on Auburn or Georgia Tech, and maybe even Kentucky. That’s a scary thought for Bulldogs fans, but it’s certainly one that has to be faced head on depending on what happens Saturday.
Georgia-Florida. Bulldogs-Gators. It’s always big for the two teams and their fan bases, but Saturday is pivotal for the Bulldogs and what their 2016 season turns out to be.