NEW ORLEANS — Georgia wasn’t the Georgia it has been in 2018 against Texas in the Sugar Bowl on Tuesday night, and the Bulldogs frankly got their butts kicked.
It’d be easy to point to missing defensive starters and the miscues in special teams and on offense (which didn’t help), but simply put, Georgia didn’t come to play, and it didn’t prove itself as one of the best four teams in the country.
It started with a poor handling of a snap by punter Jake Camarda that resulted in his knee being down, flipping the field in favor of the Longhorns.
"It happens sometimes,” Camarda said of the play.”Once it happens, it happens, you’ve just got to move on, its not like its my intent to do that, but it happened.”
It didn’t stop there.
Camarda had another bad punt of only 11 yards, D’Andre Swift fumbled and lost the ball deep in Georgia territory, and all of a sudden, Georgia found itself down 17-0, and it went into halftime down 20-7.
Halftime is a time for adjustments, and Georgia probably made a few, but it didn’t matter early in the second half. Jake Fromm, who rarely makes mistakes through the air, made a big one with ill-advised throw that was intercepted by Texas defensive back P.J. Locke III.
Things just didn’t go Georgia’s way and along with some poor tackling on defense, the Bulldogs were never able to mount any sort of a comeback.
“If you prepare right and go out there and play your best football game, you don’t have those errors,” head coach Kirby Smart said. “You’ve got to be able to overcome those sometimes.”
In the second half, Jake Fromm uncharacteristically struggled. He missed Terry Godwin on a wide-open throw and also missed D’Andre Swift on a quick out route. He simply wasn’t what he was against Alabama in the SEC championship game, or really the majority of the season.
The connection between Fromm and sophomore receiver Jeremiah Holloman, one that has improved over the course of season, was off tonight. Holloman dropped a few balls, there were bad throws, etc.
“It was more of us, not really what they were doing, just us not being on the same page, I guess,” Holloman said.
The fourth quarter saw improvement from Fromm and the offense, but it wasn’t enough, as the Longhorns held on to their lead with their running game. Fromm even brought the Bulldogs within a touchdown, but it was too little, too late.
“It was tough, they did a good job game planning for us,” Fromm said. “They were showing a lot of different looks … they were constantly mixing things up.”
All this is not to say Texas didn’t perform well. The Longhorns were tremendous on defense, stuffing Jake Fromm multiple times, and for the majority of the game, slowed down two 1,000-yard rushers in Swift and junior Elijah Holyfield.
Offensively, Texas also held an advantage due in most part to the play of quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who finished with 64 yards on the ground, 169 passing yards and three total touchdowns, all on runs.
For a team that was on the cusp of an SEC championship victory and a birth in the College Football Playoff, the Sugar Bowl might not be the desired game to play in.
But Georgia’s loss simply was a result of getting outplayed, not necessarily a lack of motivation.
“Texas outplayed us, outcompeted us. They outcoached us. They out-physicaled us. They did a lot of things better than us,” Smart said.