Just how ugly was Georgia’s 21-0 win over Kentucky? Considering how the game played out — the game was scoreless at halftime and the Wildcats did not complete a pass until their last possession of the game — think retro 1970s ugly, minus the tear-away jerseys and six guys playing with concussions.
It was avocado appliances with tangerine counter tops and shag carpet ugly.
It was AMC Gremlin with wood side panels ugly.
It was plaid leisure suit with white shoes ugly.
You can blame it on the weather, miserable even for duck hunting. Georgia coach Kirby Smart certainly had no reservations doing that. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then I suppose so is ugliness. To Smart, there was nothing at all ugly about winning another SEC game, this one pushing the Bulldogs’ record to 6-1 overall and 3-1 in conference play.
“That was one of those parks and rec games, out there in the mud and playing for the love of the game,” Smart said.
The coaches and players knew it was going to be a messy day. They practiced all week with wet footballs. The coaches watched videos of other games played in similar conditions.
“It really boiled down to the kicking game, who could flip the field,” Smart said. “I thought (punter) Jake Camarda did an incredible job with that today... When you play in those types of games, guys, you’ve got to be extremely patient. You’ve got to be patient as a coach, patient as a player, patient as an offensive coordinator because you get frustrated very easily and you can magnify mistakes. Our offense did a tremendous job of protecting the ball. To play in those conditions, not put the ball on the ground, not turn the ball over, was big for us.”
Such was the game, when the highlights were kicking the ball to the other team rather than throwing it to them.
It wasn’t just the game itself that was ugly. Many Georgia fans seeking to purge the South Carolina loss the week before from their memory grew increasingly upset with every run-run-run-punt possession. The refrain of boos grew louder each time, never louder than that awkward 30 seconds when the team retreated to the locker room for halftime. The target was offensive coordinator James Coley, at least according to experts on Twitter.
“If you think it’s easy, you should go try it,” said Bulldogs’ quarterback Jake Fromm, in a rare moment of testiness.
While the extent of the criticism is unfounded — and booing anyone on your own team is utterly classless — the weather did make for a convenient alibi for the Vince Dooleyesque play calling. Eric Zeier seemed to suggest as much several times in his role as Georgia’s radio analyst. Unlike the Twitter experts, Zeier actually does speak from experience. He completed 36 of 65 passes for 386 yards in Georgia’s loss to Florida in 1993, a game dubbed The Mud Bowl. So unless there’s been some unreported molecular change to water, it is possible to throw a wet football with some degree of success.
It should be noted, however, that Steve Spurrier (Coach Fun ‘n Gun himself) was the winning coach that day because he put the game in the hands of his running back, Errict Rhett — 41 times, to be exact.
That’s exactly what Smart and Coley did with D’Andre Swift and Brian Herrien, who combined for 34 carries, 239 yards and all three of Georgia’s touchdowns. Fromm had more than half as many runs (five) as completions (nine) and 35 yards passing. Only one of those completions came in the second half.
This was good enough to beat Kentucky. It won’t be good enough to beat Florida or Auburn, and maybe even Missouri, and certainly not the Alabama-LSU winner. But they have two weeks to worry about the Gators. A win in Jacksonville will go a long way toward restoring confidence in the fan base and hope of returning to the SEC Championship Game for the third consecutive year.
Conversely, though, anything less with a roster this talent could get even uglier. Like, Disco Demolition Night at old Comiskey Park ugly.