A lot of Georgia fans and supporters were bothered by how Georgia played in the Sugar Bowl loss to Texas. The Bulldogs came out flat, as they fell behind 17-0 and lost 28-21. Other than the LSU game, it was pretty clearly Georgia’s worst performance of the season.
And over two months after the loss, Georgia coach Kirby Smart still appears to be bothered by how his team performed in the game.
Smart spoke with Tony Barnhart of TMG Sports about a number of topics. And some of Smart’s strongest comments came when discussing the loss to the Longhorns.
“I’ve been there twice when I was at Alabama that when you went from playing for everything to playing for the Sugar Bowl championship,” Smart said. “That (winning the Sugar Bowl) should be enough. If you’re a competitor and you have inner drive and you have ‘want to’.”
Smart made it clear he didn’t think the loss to Alabama should’ve played any role in the Sugar Bowl. But it almost certainly it did, and Smart doesn’t seem too happy about it, still.
“We’ve can all make excuses for players being out or juniors coming out early or injuries and all that. It doesn’t matter. You’re playing Texas in the Sugar Bowl. You get over your wounds.”
Georgia started the season 11-1 and went toe-to-toe with the Crimson Tide in the SEC championship game. The Bulldogs held a 14-point lead in the second half, but Alabama came back and won 35-28. It was the second straight season where Alabama came back from a double-digit deficit to beat Georgia.
Because of the loss, Georgia ended up missing the College Football Playoff. While Oklahoma and Notre Dame were losing in the playoff, a number of Georgia players fired off tweets stating insinuating the Bulldogs should’ve been a playoff team. Those tweets look very bad, given how poor the Bulldogs played against a three-loss Texas team.
Some might say that it’s on Smart to have his players prepared and ready to go. And while that’s a fair point, Smart and the Georgia coaching staff can only do so much. Some of the blame for the loss to Texas has to fall at the feet of the players. What Smart can take from this is to make sure that the Bulldogs don’t have another performance like this.
As for bouncing back, losing the Sugar Bowl has actually proved to be a good omen for Smart in the past. In the 2009 Sugar Bowl, Alabama lost to Utah, 31-17. The next season, the Crimson Tide completed an undefeated season and won the national championship.
In the 2014 Sugar Bowl, Smart’s defense gave 45 points to Oklahoma in a loss. The following season, Alabama won the SEC and made it into the inaugural College Football Playoff. The Crimson Tide lost to eventual champion Ohio State in Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, but it was still an improvement over the previous season.
It’s also worth pointing out that if Georgia is going to win the national championship game in 2019, it will have to do what that second Alabama team could not and win in New Orleans. The national championship game next year will be played in New Orleans. The exact same town and stadium where the Bulldogs fell to kickoff the 2019 calendar year.
The Texas loss won’t hang over the season like the Alabama one did for the 2018 season. Most Georgia fans have probably already put the loss out of their heads. But based off of Smart’s comments, it sounds like he’s not going to let Georgia’s players forget about what happened in the Sugar Bowl. And it’s going to be on Smart and the players to make sure that something similar doesn’t happen at the end of the season to come.
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