And so we embark on what is surely the weirdest journey of Mark Richt’s tenure in Athens – a game against the hated in state rival that’s being overshadowed by what may happen afterwards. The speculation and the wishful pessimism have been almost surreal, but it’s clear that the honeymoon for the coaching staff is over.
Me? I guess I’m still a small picture guy about tonight’s game. I go into every season with Florida and Georgia Tech as my two emotional bookends. I love to see Georgia beat Florida more than any other school and I hate to see the Dawgs lose to the Jackets more than any other school. Nothing’s changed on that front.
So what’s it gonna take to get everything spinning in its properly greased groove again? Well, we all know about the turnover numbers. And we all know that clock control is going to be the mantra for both teams. (And, if anything, limiting the number of possessions is going to magnify the effect of any turnovers.)
But I think it really boils down to this quote from Paul Johnson: “When they don’t beat themselves, they’re a really good football team.” Don’t snicker; he’s right. Sandwiched between three quarters of disastrously played football in their last two games are five quarters when the Dawgs whipped up on two SEC opponents to the tune of 51-16. The problem for tonight’s game is going to be if Paul Johnson believes that more strongly than the Georgia coaches and players do themselves.
This team of ours needs to come out and play four quarters of aggressive football. I don’t mean aggressive in the sense of being reckless, but rather aggressive by playing confidently. It’s not about gambling on a fake punt. It’s about realizing that you’ve got the best kicker tandem in the country and playing to their strengths. It’s not about late hits out-of-bounds or red face guards or fake energy. It’s about playing to the level of your skills and realizing that you’ve got more than enough talent to win. And more than anything, it’s not about playing in fear of the worst thing that could happen at a given moment or relaxing when it feels like you’ve gotten the upper hand. It’s about playing mentally tough football for a complete sixty minutes. Unfortunately, that’s an attitude that’s been missing for some time now. And after the Kentucky collapse, you have to question whether this staff and these players have it within themselves to regroup emotionally.
So I’ll be down at BDS tonight, like most fans, I expect, hoping for the best but fearing the worst.