In his Georgia-Arkansas preview, Matt Hinton writes,
… Ryan Mallett and his nuclear arm unloaded on the Bulldog secondary for 408 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions last year in Fayetteville, including eight completions that covered at least 20 yards on a 41-point night for the Razorback offense. It was arguably the worst defensive effort in Mark Richt’s nine-year tenure at UGA, the moment the dam holding back anti-Martinez sentiment was permanently breached…
Ehhhh, I’m not so sure about that last bit.
Don’t get me wrong – Martinez’ career trajectory had been on a sadly downward arc for some time before the Arkansas game. Georgia fans had seen a number of cracks in that dam Hinton alludes to (although it seemed for a brief stint in the second half of the 2007 season that some repair work had been effective). But it’s hard to see last year’s game in Fayetteville as The Moment. First of all, Mallett was insanely accurate with his tosses in the first half; I’m not sure any SEC secondary would have had much success defending some of those throws. Secondly, it’s kind of forgotten in the scoring barrage, but Georgia’s defense finally got some traction against Mallett and the Arkansas passing attack in the fourth quarter (he went 2-11 passing for only 18 yards and was sacked once).
So, no, I think there was still something standing, holding back the waters, until Georgia visited Knoxville a few weeks later. That’s when Willie lost Dawgnation for good. (And, I suspect, lost his head coach, too.)