‘Bama bookends

If, like me, you perceived the Sugar Bowl loss to West Virginia as the proverbial canary in the coal mine and the second half of the ’07 season as a false spring, it’s pretty clear what the 2008 loss to Alabama was – a clear indication that the program was collapsing due to the rot of complacency that had eaten away its underpinnings.  We saw how that played out over the next two and a half seasons and we watched the program begin to change directions in 2011 and 2012.

Even if the execution wasn’t perfect, the effort and aggressiveness that characterized yesterday’s SECCG play and coaching were light years away from the worst moments of 2008-10.  That it also took place in the context of a game against Alabama – the first since that Blackout blowout – meant that it came up just the tiniest bit short.  But the real question for me is whether it marks a true turning corner for Mark Richt and his program.  If it does, it would signify one of the more remarkable recoveries I’ve witnessed of a major football program headed by a long-tenured coach.  There aren’t a lot of Richt’s peers who could do that, or (let’s be honest about the current state of major college football) even be given the opportunity to do that.

Last night, coupled with the way I saw the team compete in Jacksonville a little over a month ago, gives me hope.  But you know what would give me more?  A solid bowl game.  This program needs to build on trading punches with what’s been the best program in college football over the past four years.  And that starts with not regressing emotionally and mentally.  They’ve done a good job channeling their emotions into a great ride in 2012, with the exception of the South Carolina game.  The next step is to build that into a winning confidence that’s bolstered by a recognition that you’ve always got to work harder to excel than the next guy.  That’s what’s made Alabama Alabama under Saban.  And last night it showed.  Given the way things have played out since that ’08 game, it would be fitting to see Georgia learn that very lesson from those two games.

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41 Comments

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41 responses to “‘Bama bookends

  1. Always Someone Else's Fault

    I was thinking essentially the same thing last night and more importantly this morning after sleeping on it.

    Thanks.

  2. D.N. Nation

    2010 Bama went to Orlando and slapped Sparty around by about 50. It might have been their most dominant performance (against a team with a pulse) under Saban.

    That’s what I’d love to see in our next game. Take whatever overwhelmed opponent we play- Texas, Nebraska, Clumpson, whatever- behind the shed.

    • SouthGa Dawg

      Great response but I’m a little worried about “Senior-itus” or “Going-to-the-NFL-itus” creeping into this team. I do hope they keep it together, have great practices in December, and beat down whoever we play. The Cotton Bowl matchups projected are interesting but the Cap 1 projection vs Nebraska looks like the best matchup with their lack of defensive.

  3. HiAltDawg

    Senator, I thought the same thing on the Treadmill this morning(got a lot of miles to run this one out) after a friend opined that sentiment last night. Seriously, what Georgia Man didn’t want us to cover and have a chance to win with :15 left? Talk about the agony of defeat; wrapped up in woulda, coulda, shoulda and smothered in tomorrow is a brighter day sauce. If I could interject some levity here: “You cain’t pay Coach Richt $500k to spike the ball” might be our new Meme.

  4. sniffer

    Manic Dave (sorry, Doug) says “we have a big and potentially talented recruiting class coming in to join an experienced but young team”. Depressive Dave says, “regression is probable due to the success of this years accomplishments”. I believe you’re speaking longer term than just next year. If, IF, we keep our coordinators for awhile, we should be in good shape. I’m not excepting Grantham to be here three years from now. Bobo, who knows. I think the round robin games between Fl, SC and GA will be the norm. We missed a great opportunity for an SEC title this year.

    Last point, Murray returning would be huge.

  5. Hogbody Spradlin

    I’ve occasionally expressed the sentiment that long term careers have ups and downs. Bear Bryant went 8-3, 6-5, and 6-5 from 67-69. Richt may be entering his renaissance.

    • Hogbody Spradlin

      PS Dean Smith went 19 years before his first NCAA title.

      • Always Someone Else's Fault

        And took an enormous amount of crap from an entitled fan base for not winning one faster. Then an enormous amount of crap for not winning more of them afterwards.

        My favorite coach quote/response ever: Dean, after winning the first national title and being asked if he felt validated, or some such:

        “Do you really think I’m a better coach than I was 2 and half hours ago?”

      • HobnailedBoots

        Tom Osborne went 20 before he won his first of three that he won in a four year period, IIRC.

    • Chopdawg

      Check Dooley’s career…after conference championships in the late ’60s, he went thru some lean years in the early 70′s, then came back with Junkyard Dawgs in ’76; then back down the slope in ’77, back up in ’78 with the Wonderdawgs, down in ’79, then of course Herschel came along.

  6. OKDawg

    Getting our players focused for a second-tier bowl and opponent after last night’s disappointment might be a tougher coaching task for Richt et al than prepping for Bama.

    • mg4life0331

      I wonder the same thing as well. These guys came back for a reason, and they fell just a bit short. I wish them all the very best. However, remember when Alabama played Utah after losing to Florida a few years ago?

  7. IndyDawg

    Exactly! I wanna see full throttle effort and enthusiasm for the bowl game and beyond; whenever and wherever the Dawgs take the field. I don’t expect perfection or championships every year, just give it all they’ve got every game.

  8. Objective Bama Fan

    Wow. What a game. That was one of the best games that I have ever witnessed. The game was fought by two heavyweight contenders, trading blows back and forth. Your team is the best team we have played in over a year. Hat tip to your team. Both teams could have packed it in at different stages of the game but didn’t. I’ll be honest, I knew Georgia had as much talent on the field, but I didn’t think they had the mental fortitude to overcome adversity. I was certainly wrong about that. I think it is a travesty that Georgia will be left out of a BCS game. That team that we played last night deserves one. I will say, though, if Georgia approaches next season like it approached last night’s game, then I believe that y’all will certainly be in a position to play your way to the NC in the SEC championship game

    • charlottedawg

      Great game and thanks for the sentiments. I think it boils down to this: Bama made one more play than Georgia when it had to, by tipping away that pass. Best of luck to you guys against ND. Don’t know how we’ll look next year. If Murray comes back the offense could be record setting but we lose just about every starter on D.

  9. rugbydawg79

    I for one have liked the posts by Bama fans on this blog–classy bunch

    • WF dawg

      No kidding. And for the most part, this is the place to find the sanest wing of the Georgia fanbase. I’ll not enumerate counter-examples. :-)

    • Debby Balcer

      +1 and the fans I saw at fan fare and the game were classy too.

      • heyberto

        The fans I encountered on campus in 2008 were the exact opposite, no offense OBF. I know we have more than our fair share of A-holes, but honestly I hadn’t seen anybody act quite like that. I appreciate your kind words and wish you well. I’ll be pulling for you in MNC. Roll Tide.

  10. rugbydawg79

    maybe Bama is the new Auburn–a classy rival–auburn has burnt those bridges

  11. Bryant Denny

    It’s entirely possible that last night’s game was the fuel for a ’13 championship for y’all. To me, 2011 looked like y’all were just happy to be there. The sting from last night may pay off huge.

    To pull one from the lexicon, that’s not fake juice.

    • charlottedawg

      Our defense graduates this year. Not sure we’re set up for a championship run in ’13.

      • Never know. Maybe the kids on next year’s defense were taught in high school to tackle from waist to ankle. As opposed to shoulder-bumping.

      • Will (the other one)

        Bunch of folks on that Alabama defense were new this season. If Murray comes back the offense (which more than arguably outplayed the D yesterday) could be even better.

      • heyberto

        If our offense has turned the corner, maybe they’ll bail the D out a little bit. Our O-line will certainly be much improved with a year’s experience under their belt. I think the key is if Murray comes back, and I think he will for no other reason than he wants to improve his draft stock.

    • Governor Milledge

      We will have a resemblance on paper to the type of team y’all brought back this year: lots of known quantities on offense, ton of new talent on D. I think the linchpin to that train of thought is whether AM comes back or not.

      • gastr1

        We may have enough everywhere else on offense to be pretty good with Mason too. But yes, if AM comes back there could be a run at a title again even if the D is nothing great.

        Consider that they could simply match this year’s performance, which is certainly not unattainable.

    • This was one hell of a classy and encouraging comment, BD. Good on you. I actually cited Bama as an example to cheer up a friend. After that first undefeated regular season in like 2008 when you guys had such high hopes and an undefeated regular season, before you guys ran into that Tebow buzz saw, and then even lost to Utah. That was probably a pretty dark time, because of how close you were. But you guys were knocking on the door of a dynasty, you just didn’t know it yet. Great game, our Alabama brothers and sisters. Thank you for being magnanimous in victory.

  12. Daniel Simpson Day

    I think we’ll know where the battleship is next year when our schedule becomes more difficult and we lose several stalwarts on the defense. If it takes a long time to turn that ship around, let’s hope it’s equally true that we shouldn’t regress as well and that the momentum can be continued next season.

    At some point prior to the season, I seem to recall the Senator writing a piece that outlined what it took to win it all – and what stuck out to me was two things; some luck in the schedule etc and you had to play at a consistently high level. Now we’re learning how to play at a consistently high level where we can be competitive in the games that it takes to beat the best and if we keep that up, we’ll win another NC.

    Damn proud of what I saw last night form the players and the coaches.

  13. I have to get this off my chest. I am so proud of our team. I am proud of CMR and CMB and CTG and all the coaches and players. If you bleed red and black there is no reason to hang your head. And the future is bright. Imagine our backs next year behind that line who grew up so much over the course of the season. And I’m even proud of our historically demanding – arguable bordering delusional – fanbase, which by and large has echoed these sentiments. This loss hurt, it hurt bad. But part of the reason it hurt is because we felt – rightfully so, as it turned out – that the sky was the limit. I hate it for Jarvis and ‘Tree and our seniors and all the players that presumably won’t be back next year. But they have laid invaluable and formidable bricks in a foundation that appears to point to the unthinkable – a turnaround of a program that perception foretold was circling the drain. They turned the battleship around. We didn’t go out like that. Aaron Murray, bless his heart, played his heart out, and put to bed forever any lingering doubt about his big game ability. I love these guys, DGD’s one and all. We hurt for you, but don’t you dare hang your heads. I can’t wait until next year. Beat those Huskers. Love, one hopelessly addled college football fan.

  14. Will Trane

    CMR was a collected coach on the field. Hot emotion and passion, but totally in control. If you ever doubted how competitive CMR is, he showed it yesterday in that game. But what I liked about the Coach was his punch in the nose of that post game reporter. That was freaking brillant. He politely handed that guy his ass. No doubt CMR did not like losing that game by any means. That game ate at him. Where CMR goes with this and his staff will say where the team goes. No doubt that was just damn brillan t coaching. Their game plan was solid. If Dawgs had just a little more depth on the O line, they control the game.
    Dawgs have come along way with their offense. Other than Carolina and Florida no one came close to stopping these guys. Think Will Friend is putting together the best, deep O line in the SEC. Murray’s performance yesterday was “All American”. That drive is memorblae.
    Score 32 – 28. 4 offensive TDs by Tide, and 3 by Dawgs. Total yards in game by Tide was 512 with a TOP of 38 minutes and 75 plays. Dawgs had 63 plays, 394 yards and 22 minutes of time of possession.. Most of the Dawgs TOP was on the initial scoring drive and the opening second half.. What hurt most was once they got 21, and did not come back build on that number after Bama scores. The no huddle forces the D to be on the field awhile against teams like Bama. If Dawgs answer Bama they take Bama out of their run game. If they could have done that it would have been interesting to see how the game would have went. DAwgs D has been weak all season against the rushing game. Wonder if it is due to what they go up against in practice. The most amazing stat to me this season was the inexperience the Dawgs had on the line.
    They have a lot of work to do before next season and that schedule.

    • Hackerdog

      I’m just at a loss as to the defensive struggles. Alabama has Williams at nose and Mosely at linebacker behind him. And they hold us to under 4ypc. We have Jenkins and Ogletree in comparable positions, who are undeniably better athletes, and they gash us for almost 7ypc.

      As for forcing Alabama to abandon the run, when you’re averaging 7ypc, you can’t be forced to abandon the run. It’s Paul Johnson’s wet dream.

      I liked the effort. If the game lasted 20 seconds longer, we would have won. But I honestly don’t know how we were even in contention when we gave up 350 yards rushing. I guess I’ll blame Bobo.

  15. Lrgk9

    Lot of depth on the UA OL/DL from oversigning. As that finally levels out and UGA rebuilds after Searles – with this finally charged coaching staff – looking forward to the future.

  16. Will Trane

    Can not get over that game. Wonder how many college players and coaches would die to play and to coach in a game like that. It is a classic in SEC playoff history.

  17. Dboy

    Senator,

    I would love this for game / season to signal the resurgence of UGA under Richt as a national force again. However, I fear 2013 is when the years undersigning by Richt / the program + attrition + a more difficult schedule for 2013 is going to bite us in the a$$. I’m just not seeing that many young defenders ready to step in and replace all the ~ 9 exiting stellar defensive starters (although there are a few!). This is where Saban is laughing at the rest of the league. Bama reloaded their Defense this year after mass exit of player to the 2012 NFL draft. I fear we are going to have to rebuild.

  18. Macallanlover

    I accept that getting our guys up after that loss could be a challenge, but the next game isn’t 7 days away, it is a month. I just don’t think this team wants to walk away with losses in their last two games. A win against The Children of the Corn will leave them with 12 wins and a Top 10 finish, that may not be the SEC title and a ring, but that’s some good talking stuff there for bars the rest of your life.

    Here is hoping the Senior class gets all over this, and the coaches promise them a seat on the bench if they don’t have the tude all month long at practice. Would not help anyone’s draft stock to have it reported they were benched for lack of effort…not that long to draft day and all those coins and getting benched could cost some major pesos.

    I was also worried about the defensive starters leaving until I saw how many underclassmen were getting lots of playing time, and the names that waiting in the hopper. It would have the talent level we put on the field this year but we will be decent. Plus, the offense can outscore lots of our opponents. May not be a title run, but we can compete in 2013.