We stipulate that Georgia was missing key defenders – Richard LeCounte, Jordan Davis and Julian Rochester didn’t play because of injury. Safety Lewis Cine was ejected for targeting against the great tight end Kyle Pitts in the second quarter. (Pitts was hurt on the play and didn’t return.) But let’s be honest: The way Trask was slinging it, the Bulldogs at full capacity mightn’t have slowed his roll.
Say this for Dan Mullen, the impertinent Florida coach. (Florida has had a few of those, has it not?) He outflanked Smart/Dan Lanning all ends up. The Gators kept running a wheel route with their running backs, and Trask kept finding them unencumbered. Pitts caught a touchdown pass over Tyson Campbell before being hurt. Two plays after Pitts was hurt, his replacement – Kemore Gamble – scored a touchdown pass. Eleven seconds before halftime, Trevon Grimes snagged a touchdown over Campbell.
Smart again: “I can live with a guy making a great throw and catch. What I can’t live with is leaving a guy open on a wheel route.”
Note: Florida’s running backs caught 10 passes for 212 yards. Georgia as a team gained 277 yards.
Smart yet again: “We got guys open. We protected the quarterback. We just didn’t make the plays. They did. That’s the story of the game, not (that) the sky is falling.”
The only way to hang with a raging offense is to do some raging yourself. Georgia doesn’t have the quarterback for that. No knock on Stetson Bennett, but there’s a reason he arrived in Athens as a walk-on. There’s also a reason he was No. 4 on Georgia’s depth chart as of Labor Day. Bennett completed four of 12 first-half passes for 70 yards; he missed open receivers three times.
Bennett also sustained a shoulder injury on a hit by Rashad Torrence after delivering a touchdown pass to Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint on Georgia’s second series. (Rosemy-Jacksaint was himself hurt on the play.) Bennett went to the locker room and, according to Smart, got a painkilling shot. He suffered what Smart would describe as an AC sprain. The quarterback felt he could still throw the ball. Georgia opted to let him. This didn’t go so well.
The Bulldogs' final five possessions of the first half ended with punts. Its first series of the third quarter was quashed by a Bennett interception, his sixth in three games. That was all for him. He was replaced by D’Wan Mathis, who lasted only 20 minutes against in the opener Arkansas. Mathis led the Bulldogs to a touchdown to cut Florida’s lead to 41-28. The Bulldogs wouldn’t score again.
For Georgia, these were the unhappy totals: Its quarterbacks completed 9 of 29 passes for 112 yards; Trask completed 30 of 43 for 474 yards. The game’s biggest mismatch came at the sport’s most important position. This doesn’t mean the Bulldogs are terrible. (They should win the rest of their games, too.) It does mean that the program that once figured on having Justin Fields – he’s at Ohio State, as we know – as its No. 1 quarterback suddenly appears outdated.
Smart once more: "I can’t wish myself into an explosive offense.'
When Georgia led Alabama 13-0 at halftime of the national championship game Jan. 8, 2018, it was possible to believe the Bulldogs' moment of deliverance had come. Two years and 10 months later, it’s reasonable to ask if that moment has come and gone.