The hangover

Admittedly, this is rich coming from a guy who still can’t bring himself to watch a replay of last year’s SECCG, but I’m starting to worry about that game’s lingering effect on the collective psyche of Georgia’s staff and players.

Listen to what Mike Bobo says in Seth Emerson’s terrific piece about the play that would have been called if the pass that wound up in Chris Conley’s hands… er, hadn’t.

“Like probably everybody out here, I don’t think we’re ever gonna get over that game,” he said. “First meeting back with the players back, and the offense, I said: Men, people keep telling you you’ve gotta get over it and get ready to go. The bottom line is you’re never gonna get over it, you gotta learn to live with it, you’ve gotta regroup to play the next game, and get better the next day.

“We’ve all got ‘em, if you’ve been in this sport long enough. I’ve got a couple from high school, a couple from my playing days in college. And you’re gonna have them in coaching too. That’s just part of the game, that’s what makes it great. We were in that situation, we were in that game, and (are) proud of how hard our guys fought, how hard they played.”

Now that’s the right to say as a coach.  And it’s the right way to absorb the disappointment.  But it’s one of those easier said than done things, I’m afraid.  Just check out Keith Marshall’s comments about how last season played out.

But it only got worse a month later when he watched that same Alabama team crush a completely overmatched Notre Dame team in the Discover BCS National Championship.

“That hurt; I’m not gonna lie,” Marshall said. “I feel like we could have done the same thing. Everybody obviously watched the SEC championship — that was the national championship. (The BCS title game) wasn’t even competition.”

What really shook Marshall was how dominant Alabama’s running game was against the Irish. Led by the dynamic duo of Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon, the Tide pounded away with 265 rushing yards.

With how well Georgia’s own rushing tandem of Marshall and Todd Gurley did in 2012, the two could only sulk when watching how easy Alabama’s backs had it.

“I was just looking and thinking that could have been us,” Gurley said. “We could have done the same thing.

“That might have hurt worse than losing (to Alabama in the SEC championship game), just to see how bad they did them and how bad they were running on them.”

Time heals all wounds, of course, and there’s plenty of time to go before the season starts to internalize the lesson from the loss.  But these coaches and players are only human.  Which means that Richt’s got a big job to do with this bunch heading into the Clemson game.  The good thing from my selfish standpoint is that in the past couple of seasons he’s shown he’s more than capable of handling that.

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19 Comments

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19 responses to “The hangover

  1. I wanna Red Cup

    I would think any hangover would have occurred in the bowl game, not a new season in which there are 30 + new players. No worries

    • I agree. Come out hungry, spank Clemson and that SEC Championship memory will start to fade pretty quick like.

      • heyberto

        You and Red Cup are on it. It’s not like we’ve been decimated on any front. We’ve lost some key talent, sure but I think we have just as much reason to be optimistic on the season….. but that all sways with what happens at Clemson, if we lose that one, Mark Richt’s job of keeping the team focused gets tougher facing SC in week two.. but we’ve seen how that’s gone before.

  2. uglydawg

    Knowing that you absolutley could have crushed Notre Dame and knowing that everone else who follows football also knows it is worth a lot. Knowing that most of the teams in the SEC could have given Notre Dame similar treatment kind of diminishes that feeling of accomplishment. Winning the SEC is presently the greatest accomplishment in College Football. Coming up second in the SEC is the second greatest accomplishment, no matter where the phoney final polls place you. It was a great and exciting season and game.

  3. Irishdawg

    Richt has to channel everyone’s disappointment into anger. Get the team pissed off; put up clippings of pundits saying Georgia had a weak schedule in the weight room and get everyone to grind away.

    Men, particularly young men, often react to wounded pride with great determination. Richt just has to get the boys to focus on the new season with a big chip on their shoulders.

  4. paul

    Let’s just take it out on Clemson and move on. Works for me.

  5. Always Someone Else's Fault

    Some teams parlay that bitter ending last season into a sweet ending the next. All depends on how they use it.

  6. Mayor of Dawgtown

    Sorry to disagree Senator but time does not “heal all wounds.” Some wounds never heal.

  7. TomReagan

    As I read that post, I couldn’t help but to think of how unlikely we are to read something similar from the Alabama camp.

    This may be the area where Nick Saban excels the most…. mental toughness. I hate giving that snake credit, but all his talk about “the Process” really does mean something and have an effect. His tunnel vision, and his ability to coach his teams of college boys to share that same tunnel vision, is as important to his success as his recruiting.

    His ability to focus on what is in front of him, and to project that mindset on his players, is what makes them so tough. They’re like robots who learn from what has happened in the past but don’t let themselves think about what could’ve been or how great things were. There aren’t many people who can do that themselves, much less get a college football program to do the same.

    Saban leaves the living in the past thing to the fans, and they do that better than anyone.

    I don’t mean to criticize Bobo or our players, they’re just being honest and being human. And they can still be successful despite thinking about what could’ve been every once in a while, but the laser focus only on what is in front of you and on what you can control that Saban preaches makes teams much less vulnerable to hangovers or letdowns.

    • Cojones

      True words, Tom. Bama fans have come on here and voiced also that it not only was close, but the drive down the field in the last minute got their full respect. If stretched a small bit, remember Saban’s quotes afterwards where he didn’t understand why we didn’t represent in the Sugar Bowl? That was a show of his respect toward the team.

      Yes, Nick focuses with the admission that he fears letdown more than anything so he beats that into their brains. Most coaches who are in the NC running are afraid of a letup more than any other mental interruption and Richt and Bobo are no different. My opinion is that the team gets it and my proof of pudding will come at the end of summer. If they come roaring into Fall practice like they did for Spring, it will be a fine year from the gitgo. Nothing but lack of individual competitive spirit can make it otherwise. Marshall’s and Gurley’s spirit exemplifies how they have to approach this year as a team. Murray is leading in the same manner. He ain’t back for no stinkin’ awards, he has a powered focus on the NC. Think it will be all up to the D.

      Remember. Part of this year relies on fans being rabid at the SC game. Lucy, you got some yellin’ to do.

    • Dog in Fla

      “Saban leaves the living in the past thing to the fans,” leaving more time to celebrate the little things in life

      http://i.imgur.com/HxakQ.jpg

    • Lawdawg567

      08 season: Bama loses a close SECCG to UF and watches UF beat Oklahoma fairly convincingly to raise the crystal

      09 season: Bama throttles UF (ahhhhh Tebow tears) in the SECCG on their way to pounding a McCoyless Longhorn squad in Pasadena

      Now I don’t remember the reaction of Bama after the 08 game, but I bet it was different than what I’m hearing from our coaches, players, and some fans

      • Will (the other one)

        Of course. They got a BCS bowl game, and were destroyed. By Utah. And called out for phoning in said game (when the fans weren’t blaming the loss on one suspended DLineman.)

  8. What he(Bobo) says is true. Anyone who has ever played organized sports has had the games that got away or that they’ll never forget. That doesn’t mean it’ll have some kind of negative effect when you start preparing for upcoming games or seasons. I think most people are good at “forgetting” the bad times when it’s time to go to work.

    I Just don’t see Richt or anyone else having to put in extra work to get them over the past. Preseason and game week takes care of that. Folks always get bent out of shape when coaches talk like this 3-4 months before the season starts. It’s kinda funny. Heck…the offseason is the only time you really have a chance to truly reflect. It’s only natural.

    It’s actually silly to think that the SECC will be used as anything other than motivation and I doubt that the coaches will need to say anything. Just because someone may reflect on it in a negative light, now, doesn’t mean they’re going into 2013 with some kind of loser mindset. In fact, I feel confident that Murray, Gurley, etc are saying “we were one play away….just a little more work….” Might be different if they were perennial losers.

    • 81Dog

      I agree completely. You don’t have to forget a painful experience, you just have to learn to live with it. Let it motivate you, let it infuriate you, let it drive you to do better.

      The only thing you CAN’T do is keep wallowing in it. Sounds like Bobo isn’t doing that, and it sure didn’t look like the team was from the way they put it on Nebraska in crunch time. Me, I don’t mind if they remember it and it burns, as long as the burn pushes them to take it out on this week’s opponent.

  9. Hobnail_Boot

    I’d put the SECCG loss on a constant loop in Athens.

  10. Mike

    Here is a comment from the article

    “What really shook Marshall was how dominant Alabama’s running game was against the Irish. Led by the dynamic duo of Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon, the Tide pounded away with 265 rushing yards.”

    This is a bit ironic. But only a bit, as Marshall does not line up on defense. Because if he did, he might also been a bit shook at how dominate Alabama’s running games was against Georgia The Tide pounded the Dog defense for 350 yards, 85 more than the Irish gave up.

    That was the singular reason Georgia lost to Alabama. In spite of having seven defensive players drafted by the NFL. In fact, Georgia’s run defense was pretty poor for much of the 2012 year.