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.