Birds fly. Fish swim. Bloggers blog.
There’s a game tomorrow, so here I am. Georgia, in case you’re wondering, is currently ensconced as an eight-point favorite on the road. We all like to tell ourselves that Georgia struggles with Vanderbilt, historically speaking, but as Mr. Steele records it, if that margin were to hold up, it would actually be the third closest result in the last twelve years. Things, in other words, generally aren’t that tight when these two play.
So the Dawgs aren’t getting much love against a team that they’ve beaten in 13 of their last 14 meetings. And to add insult to injury, this isn’t a particularly strong Vanderbilt squad Georgia is fixing to meet on Saturday.
Vandy is basically Tennessee-lite: solid running game, questionable passing game (yeah, I know), respectable defense. I would expect the ‘Dores to follow the UT game plan on both sides of the ball. And in a normal season, that shouldn’t be enough. After all, this is a team with a twelve-point loss to the next worst team in the SEC. And Vanderbilt lost to Army last week.
But as we all know, this isn’t shaping up to be a normal season.
The two things that have to be of greatest concern tomorrow seem pretty apparent. The first is turnover margin, usually the best way for a lesser opponent to level the playing field in a game. Vandy did a great job riding that through the early part of last season en route to seven wins despite having a sub par offense. This season, the ‘Dores are currently +5 in TO margin, which is actually a better pace than they finished with in 2008. Georgia is -11 in TO margin. Sad to say, it’ll be an above-average game for the Dawgs if they can do better than -2 on the day.
The other area of worry has to be team psyche. There’s no telling how the coaches and players are going to react to the firestorm created in the wake of the Tennessee debacle. But I will say that as bland as Coach Richt sounds in saying this, he’s right.
“I just said, ‘Priority No. 1 is to focus on preparing for Vanderbilt and trying to win this game,’ ” Richt said. “There’s nothing else that’s worth focusing on. There’s nothing more important that we can do right now other than get a plan together and get ready to win. Everything else is really just not important right now.”
Competency and focus would be welcome right now – even against Vanderbilt. And, yeah, on a certain level, I know how bleak that sounds. But Richt’s got a huge, immediate task in not losing his team and he can’t afford to get bogged down in bigger picture stuff. It’s not a time to worry about making a statement – although I’d enjoy a game like that as much as anyone. It’s a time to rebuild confidence.