The opportunity was there to complete the amazing comeback and finish the fantastic upset on the road. The offense had done what it needed to do. Aaron Murray was the leader Georgia needed him to be and left everything on the field.
(Side note - For all the talk about Johnny Manziel having to carry Texas A&M because his defense is so bad, Aaron Murray deserves the same recognition.)
And the defense couldn’t get out of its own way. Literally. One Georgia defender couldn’t get out of the other defender’s way. The rest is history.
I tweeted last night that yesterday’s 73-yard touchdown pass on 4th-and-forever wasn’t even the most heartbreaking thing that’s happened on the field for Georgia fans in the past 12 months. For me, yesterday was nowhere near as bad as watching the clock run out in the Georgia Dome against Alabama in the SEC Championship game last season.
Yesterday was an opportunity to salvage something great from a nightmare season that’s been comical with some of the injuries and officiating. Even if we’d upset Auburn, this season would still be considered a disappointment.
The loss to Alabama was painful. It was the end of a national championship run. It stung because it felt like the Dawgs really needed just one more play to reach the end zone and go on to the BCS title against an opponent they could have easily defeated.
After the loss to Alabama, I was disappointed and heartbroken. After yesterday’s loss to Auburn, I’m annoyed and disgusted.
I’m so sick of seeing Georgia fans commenting on social media that they’re still so proud of their team because they played a great game and came up just short. That’s ridiculous. It’s been ridiculous all year.
The defense didn’t play great. The defense hasn’t played great in a big game all season. In the five games Georgia played against ranked opponents this season, the Dawgs has given up at least 30 points in each of those games.
The defense is regularly lined up incorrectly and guys are confused about where they’re supposed to be in coverage. The tackling is atrocious. The secondary gets burned repeatedly. And it’s one of the worst units in the country at forcing turnovers.
People expected this at the beginning of the season with such a young group, but the defense wasn’t much better last season with a squad loaded with experience and NFL talent.
Georgia fans can be proud of their team, but this defense is nothing to be proud about.
Against Auburn yesterday, the defense gave up 566 yards of total offense. Auburn threw for 243 yards and ran for 323 yards. The Dawgs did force a turnover in the first half after recovering a fumble, but for whatever reason, the officials ruled Auburn had recovered the fumble. The Tigers were able to regularly gash the Georgia front-seven with big gains in the running game and then Nick Marshall was able to find open receivers when he threw the ball.
The main play that gave Georgia momentum to get back in the game in the 4th quarter was when Auburn had a receiver and running back run into each other in the backfield on 3rd down, which forced the Tigers to punt. Great scheme there by Todd Grantham.
It seems so fitting that Georgia would lose yesterday’s game because of a mistake in the secondary. Because of a guy making a fundamentally stupid play where he doesn’t do the simple thing of batting the ball into the ground. Everyone will point to that one miraculous play, but it’s just another example of the Georgia defense doing something incredibly dumb.
I don’t know what the solution is. I’ve said before that I think Todd Grantham isn’t the answer as the defensive coordinator for this team and I hope the situation is addressed in the offseason, but the defense has been an issue for the Dawgs for the past decade.
It’s not about a lack of talent. It’s not a question of recruiting. The Georgia defense is loaded with talent. It’s full of 4 and 5-star recruits.
Ironically, I don’t fault Todd Grantham for the hail mary yesterday. I didn’t like that Georgia only rushed three guys and that one didn’t even try to get to the quarterback, but it did force Nick Marshall to throw into double coverage. The defenders were in the proper coverage and everything was set up perfectly - until Josh Harvey-Clemons made the stupidest play in UGA history and didn’t knock the ball down. I have a hard time blaming Grantham for Harvey-Clemons doing something so unthinkable.
But this nonsense needs to stop. This is nothing to be proud about. This is nothing short of embarrassing.