September 18, 2010
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Arkansas 31, Georgia 24. If we learned anything about Georgia here, it's that the Bulldogs have a little heart, and an offense that's actually capable of putting the ball in the end zone after being held to a pair of field goals last week in South Carolina. Under the circumstances, though, I'm not sure whether Dawg fans are going to take UGA's sudden, two-touchdown outburst to tie the game in the fourth quarter as a reason to hold out hope, or as the desperate spasm of a team feeling its season begin to slip away. In the end, dangling the carrot in front of a home crowd that seemed ready to abandon all hope at the end of the third quarter made falling to 0-2 in the SEC sting that much more.
On a more practical level, we also learned that the Bulldogs' lingering defensive issues aren't limited to stopping the run: Where they were pounded into submission amid a hail of missed tackles at South Carolina, today they were bombed for 380 yards by Ryan Mallett, who connected on seven completions covering at least 20 yards – including all three of his touchdowns, all of them in the direction of wide, wide open targets – to four different receivers. For all the offseason optimism surrounding new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and the more "aggressive" 3-4 scheme he brought from the NFL, it hasn't remotely stopped Mallett or Marcus Lattimore before him from fulfilling their clippings and then some.
Even with the defensive issues, the story might be completely different if Georgia's star player, A.J. Green, hadn't spent the last two weeks watching from the sideline. Without him, redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray has spent the better part of seven quarters groping for some kind of consistency (while dodging pass rushers: He was sacked six times today, after going down three times last week), and one quarter looking like a championship-caliber quarterback. The schedule sets up for a five-game winning streak going into the Cocktail Party showdown with Florida on Oct. 30. By then, maybe, the new parts will have clicked into place to form something resembling an SEC contender. At this rate, though, the possibility of there being any kind of championship at stake there is looking more and more remote.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.