Further Review

Steve Hummer is a sports writer and blogger for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Thus far this season, Bulldogs know only problems of the privileged 

There are problems. Then there are rich people’s problems. The two hardly ever intersect because the rich are dealing with theirs behind a gate.

Entering Saturday night’s game against Vanderbilt, Georgia is like the CEO ever so slightly displeased with the airspeed of the company jet. And what do you mean we’re out of rose petals and hot towels in the executive washroom?

Other fan bases may concern themselves with: Did we win or did we lose? With Georgia people now, it’s more: How is our portfolio performing?

For instance, the Bulldogs currently are subject to a discussion of whether they are worthy of the country’s No. 2 ranking. Honestly, aren’t they more a No. 3 right now, with Ohio State a legit contender for Best Team in the Country, Non-Alabama Flight? That’s where the CBS Sports 129 pollsters have the Buckeyes. Whatever CBS Sports 129 is. And by the way, it’s wrong.

Anyway, there’s a hot, meaningful debate for you. It’s Bill Gates and Warren Buffett arguing over their places at Nos. 2 and 3 on the Forbes 400 list.

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In the big picture, the difference between these gradients of greatness is hardly worth measuring. Nothing about such subtle shifts in the rankings here in the first days of October says anything meaningful about their ultimate worth come December. We’re doing nothing here but seeking flaws in identical diamonds. Perhaps it’s a worthwhile distraction if that keeps one from contemplating the real problems of our time.  

There are certain other issues of the wealthy with which Georgia, having won its first five games by an average of 30.2 points per game, is faced.

Having just enjoyed the duet of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel – the Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane of running backs – there’s the idea that the Georgia running game just isn’t quite up to last season’s standard. Never mind that Georgia is actually rushing for more yards than it did five games into 2017. It simply doesn’t feel the same. You know, like how the feel of cotton sheets just aren’t right when you’ve become accustomed to silk.

The same goes for the defense. In personnel, especially up front, it does not seem to carry the same authority as a year ago. The D is not getting enough sacks (while the opponents’ pass rush has had too much success). Missouri exposed some weakness when it ran for 172 yards. There’s an inkling that the secondary may be pretty stout, but until the Bulldogs are honestly tested, a vague uncertainty settles upon the privileged.   

Generally, the problem lies in daring not to smash opponents to their atomic level when simply beating has done the job. 

Then there’s the discomfort with how Kirby Smart is going about manipulating his two quarterbacks. Definitely a rich-people problem – fitting a ton of talent into a 10-pound bag.

Where exactly does Justin Fields fit in the offensive scheme? He’s obviously really good. Hard for anyone else to have a clear read on this subject when the Bulldogs themselves don’t. Smart is courting the notion that he’s making all this up as he goes along. And even if that’s just a coach being cagey, it’s not the most reassuring of stances.

Not when the Bulldogs actually struggle in a game – or dare we suggest are even losing. Then, see how quickly Smart is juggling chainsaws rather than quarterbacks.  

Happiness doesn’t naturally spring from intense competition at this position – ask Alabama and Clemson. But take some comfort. If you’re sharing problems with that company, you’re doing something right. And if Smart pulls this off, forget coach of the year. Maybe the Nobel committee will take notice come the next Peace Prize.

You don’t get to pick your controversies, and this is the one Georgia currently is saddled with. At least until the next fool from one of Georgia’s other athletic programs begins to offer his loud social commentary in the stands late in the game.

Then there’s the insecurities that come with being really rich, but living next to someone even richer. Georgia’s good. It knows it’s good. But is it Alabama good?

Thus, no matter how their team may perform on any given Saturday against some lesser SEC opponent, Georgia people find themselves looking beyond the now and wondering: Yeah, that was OK, but was that good enough to beat Alabama?

Frankly, even as the Bulldogs have done all that has been expected of them in remaining unbeaten at this stage, no, they are not playing to a beat-Bama level just yet. 

Time to get there, still. In the meantime, it will require a certain skill to manage the problems of the rich. Hey, Smart does have a finance degree from Georgia. He might just be pretty good at this. 

The Bulldogs’ schedule is about to include a lot more Haves than it has here in the first six weeks, more a chance of a meeting of equals. LSU, Florida, Kentucky and Auburn loom. For now, just get past Vanderbilt, keep the caviar properly chilled and enjoy the relatively carefree problems of the rich.    

About the Author

Steve Hummer writes sports features for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He covers a wide range of sports and topics.

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