The M word

I’ve decided that with regard to the Cap One Bowl, motivation is kinda like the weather – all the pundits talk about it, but nobody does anything about it.  Take ESPN‘s SEC bloggers, for instance.

CAPITAL ONE BOWL (Jan. 1)

GEORGIA vs. NEBRASKA

Chris Low: Missing one of its top players on defense, noseguard John Jenkins, Georgia will be even more vulnerable against the run, and it remains to be seen where this team is emotionally after that crushing loss in the SEC championship game. … Nebraska 28, Georgia 24

Edward Aschoff: This might be one of the SEC’s top bowls, but the Bulldogs certainly aren’t enthused about being in Orlando instead of Miami. But Nebraska is pretty bummed, too, after being blown out by Wisconsin and missing out on the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Vizio. … Georgia 27, Nebraska 23

It looks like the difference between Georgia winning or losing comes down to whether you think Nebraska can get it together emotionally.

David Ching notes that both teams are coming from fairly similar places.

A month ago, Georgia and Nebraska both had their sights set much higher than the Capital One Bowl.

But after each team suffered severely disappointing losses in their respective conference championship games, here they are in Orlando, Fla., trying to salvage the finale for seasons that could have ended under much brighter spotlights.

“To be that close, it’s definitely a memorable season, a season I know I’ll be telling my kids [about] one day, and I know a lot of Georgia fans really enjoyed the season,” Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray said. “But it can definitely hurt us if we don’t win this game, drop out of the top 10 and then it just becomes just another season.”

The winner of Tuesday’s bowl game very well might be the team that takes that philosophy seriously.

No. 7 Georgia (11-2) came within five yards of upsetting Alabama before falling 32-28 in the SEC championship game — the contest that determined Notre Dame’s opponent in the BCS title game. And No. 16 Nebraska (10-3) expected to be playing in Tuesday’s Rose Bowl, but it fell flat in the Big Ten championship game, surrendering 539 rushing yards to five-loss Wisconsin in a 70-31 defeat.

Those letdowns create reasonable questions as to whether either team will be mentally prepared to play in a non-BCS game, but the Bulldogs and Cornhuskers both insist they will be ready.

You could argue that Nebraska comes in as a team that was favored in its conference championship game and was blown out, while Georgia was an underdog that surpassed expectations in its, but the way the SECCG wound up, who knows if that matters?

I do think Richt is correctly focused on what should matter…

“I will be challenging our leadership to finish better than we did a year ago and to solidify the job that they’ve done, because I think they’ve done an outstanding job to this point,” Richt said. “I think they need to put an exclamation point on it or at least finish strong in a manner worthy of the way they led the entire offseason from January until now. That will be a big part of it.

“I’ll be talking a lot to the younger guys — the guys who know they are going to be coming back — to honor those guys with the way they play. Bowl games tend to shape people’s opinion of your team and your program.”

… but what if that matters a lot more to him than it does to his players?

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30 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

30 responses to “The M word

  1. Debby Balcer

    I believe they will be motivated. They remember how bad that loss felt last year more than we do. They want to go out as winners.

    • Carolinadawg

      Do you think that last year they remembered how bad it felt to lose the year before? Did that help last years motivation?

  2. Lrgk9

    Playing to a Standard is important. Hopefully, that approach is starting to pay dividens in this game.

  3. FisheriesDawg

    I’m not going to be there for only the second time since we went to Hawaii in 2000 (I also missed the LIberty Bowl). I know I’m not remotely motivated. For me, the college football season ended in the Georgia Dome save one game left between Alabama and Notre Dame. I’m referring to the 2012 season in past tense just like Aaron Murray is.

  4. Jeff Sanchez

    Oh, shoot, we’ve got a *game* tomorrow?

    Really?

  5. Bubs

    I know most of our fans aren’t particularly excited for this game, but I think the players (especially the young up and comers) will be excited for it. I’m in favor of starting some guys who performed well but didn’t get too many snaps during the season. Then rotate in the guys who are on their way out. It will give some energy to the team with some young guys starting and then having the seasoned vets come in trying to one up them. Sure, this won’t happen, but I think it would provide the necessary energy level needed for the game. Shaking things up gets everyone’s attention

    Or, more than likely, it becomes a shoot out and we have to count on the offense to bail us out while the D surrenders a lot of rushing yards.

  6. Always Someone Else's Fault

    If Nebraska was an undefeated Utah with something to prove, I would be worried. But Georgia has the linebackers to hunt down Martinez, and Nebraska has no answer on defense as long as Murray/Bobo read the Husker defensive schemes correctly. I don’t think it’s even going to be close. At worst, a Missouri game that gets out of hand in the 3rd and 4th.

    • W Cobb Dawg

      Agree. I’d add that we aren’t giving our players due credit. They were motivated enough to win 11. We get less respect than Rodney Dangerfield.

      Classic Rodney: “Somebody stole my wife’s credit card. But I didn’t report it because they spend less than she does”.

  7. Skeptic Dawg

    The 2012 UGA football season ended in the Georgia Dome. This team gave every last ounce of effort and engery during an incredible football game. I can only image the feeling around Athens following such a crushing loss. I was crushed as a fan. However, the 2013 season begins Tuesday for this team. Enjoy the perks of a nice bowl, play in Orlando and take care of business on the field. Set the tone for an exciting 2013. My only concern is the number of defensive players looking ahead to the NFL draft. I hope they have one inspired effort left in them as a Dawg. This group has earned the right to go out on a high note.

  8. Hobnail_Boot

    This all comes from the Herbstreit school of emotion-based analysis, and it’s also total bullshit.

    The team that blocks, tackles, and catches the ball will win.

    • I do think that motivation plays a bigger role in bowl play than it does ordinarily.

      That being said, all the attention being paid to it probably means it won’t matter much at all.

      • SouthGaDawg

        Case in point – Southern Cal yesterday. Was Southern Cal the better looking getting off the bus in El Paso – absolutely +100. Were they motivated to win – absolutely not + 1000. They shouldn’t even get a bowl check for that effort,

  9. Cojones

    I think that most fans ARE excited about this game, if for no other reason, to have a go at another Delany creation. From a report we got here a few days ago, our practice had been a little chippy in Orlando. The only reason for that occurring would be that motivation is high. That would come from the Seniors and others seeking to play in this game and is good enough to cause much positive thinking.

    I think we get it done and every time Neb runs up the middle, think Garner. He didn’t prevent JJ from becoming academically ineligible for his last game.

    SIC’EM DAWGS!!

  10. If it means more to Richt than the players, the motto about “No regrets” ends up as fake juice because we will lose to an inferior, flawed team. If the seniors get everyone focused on playing this game rather than protecting their draft status, we get it done tomorrow. To be the 3rd team in school history to win 12 games should be motivation enough.

  11. DawgByte

    Losing Jenkins hurts. It means Kwame has to step up and the inside linebackers fill the gaps aggressively. I think we’ll be okay.

  12. Macallanlover

    It is so easy to make the case for Nebraska having the greater motivation, and from a “who should be the most embarrassed and have a point to make” perspective, they will. But pride in going out a winner is every bit as significant to top caliber players who want to leave a lasting, favorable legacy, and UGA has that motivation. Jarvis, and a few others who came back for 2012, will not want to leave without having made their mark, 12 wins and a Top 10 ranking is damned good.

    I think we will have to withstand a furious Nebraska start, utilize play-action passes to take advantage of an over aggressive run defense, and take advantage of having the best talent on the field. As much as Nebraska wants to atone for getting their butts kicked by Wisconsin, they have not seen an offense as talented and diversified as UGA will put on the field. I think CTG will have the Dawgs prepared for the running game, even without Big John. Kwame has a lot riding on a big game himself and we have some young pups who want to get a leg up on the 2013 depth chart (can you hear me Ray Drew?) I think UGA wins by anywhere from 7-24 points….that large spread on the margin is totally due to the M word because it is that important in a bowl game. Talent prevails in this one, assuming UGA is focused I see it:
    UGA 38 Children of the Corn 17

  13. I don’t see Georgia scoring that much, (38), but I hope so…

  14. The USC/GT game is effing boring. Can’t believe USC is this bad.

  15. Rebar

    Please, these are competitive athletes on both teams; they will be motivated by pride in their craft, and some by playing on Sunday in the future. Nebraska got plowed by Wisconsin, we stood toe to toe with ‘Bama. This damn game better not even be close!

  16. collegeparkdawg

    I am down here and I am enjoying it! GO Dawgs!