‘Hold on a second, Georgia is the team to keep your eye on.’

Last night was a great time to be a Dawg fan.  A dominating win over an opponent riding high after its own big win the week before will do that for you.

Today, I find myself thinking of October 3, 2004.  That was the day after Georgia eviscerated Nick Saban’s LSU team 45-16.  It was a dominating win over the defending national champs and it caused some in the media to write stuff like, “Georgia’s offense finally showed up, and the Bulldogs now truly look like a team that’s capable of challenging for a national championship.”

Georgia was ranked third in the country, on the receiving end of a few first place votes.  That all came crashing to a halt six days later when the Dawgs fell to Tennessee.  Georgia didn’t even win the SEC East that season, let alone play for a national title.

Fast forward to today.  Finebaum is lauding Georgia as “the legitimate threat to Bama.”  This SBNation post is similarly breathless:  “Georgia’s the SEC’s last best hope to stop Bama.”  That’s one helluva 180-degree turn in a couple of short weeks.

Welcome to managing the expectations, Georgia edition.  How does Georgia handle the inevitable media narrative?  Well, they at least know the right words.

So now begins the “ignore the praise” portion of the season.

“As long as they don’t start believing all the things that y’all say about them, they’ll be OK,” head coach Kirby Smart said of his defense.

Our defense is capable of being one of the best in the country,” sophomore safety J.R. Reed said. “But as a defense, in order to stay (that way) we can’t read the headlines, we can’t let those guys blow up our heads. We’ve got to keep going, keep our head down, pounding.”

Kirby’s been there before, as he reminded us last night.

You know a team played well when its head coach devotes as much time and energy to deflecting praise as he does providing it himself.

“We’ve got to do a good job managing our team,” Kirby Smart said toward the end of his postgame question-and-answer session with reporters. “If you have a mature team, they’ll handle things well. It does concern me because I do worry about those guys reading it and believing it. But I was around a guy for 10 years who did a good job of managing that.”

That’d be Nick Saban, who has patented “the process” at Alabama.

The catch is that none of his current players has ever set foot in Tuscaloosa.

This should make for an interesting week on the intangibles front.  Georgia is riding high, being taken seriously as a program for the first time under Kirby Smart.  Tennessee, meanwhile, is a mediocre 3-1, with a head coach whose future is the subject of much speculation.  On paper… well, as we all realized on October 9, 2004, the Tennessee game isn’t played on paper.

Every week is a new kind of test, right?

22 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

22 responses to “‘Hold on a second, Georgia is the team to keep your eye on.’

  1. Walt

    Last night was one of the first times in awhile that, when the defense went on the field, I wasn’t (figuratively) holding my breath.

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  2. I don’t think the experienced players on defense are going to allow this team to believe the press clippings. Hopefully, Chubb and Michel do the same thing on offense.

    Honestly, Fitzpatrick wasn’t close to the player that Wimbush was. The ND kid was a much more accomplished passer. Fitzpatrick looked like a poor man’s GPOOE. Maybe our defense made them both look very pedestrian.

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  3. Mayor

    I’m drinking the Kool-Aid!!!!Glug, Glug, glug.

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  4. Lanier Manton

    Senator – don’t you feel a little more comfortable about the Tennessee game given the way last year’s game ended? I figured Eason, and Carter (playing deep safety on the Hail Mary) had this game circled.

    You made the point that the best thing MSU did for us was beat LSU by 30 the week before.

    Similarly, wouldn’t you say the best thing Tennessee did to us was rip our hearts out between the hedges last year?

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    • Merk

      I think these next 2 games will not be a case of not showing up. Both teams beat us last year and I am sure Smart will make sure they think about it every play of practice these next couple of weeks.
      The game I worry about is the Mizzou game. They are crap, but we will be coming off of 2 away games and if we have won both as we should, we will likely be ranked very inside the top 8 and thinking about UF as the game to ensure us the East.

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      • Dawg in Austin

        Mizzou is a dumpster fire and may not have a head coach by the time we play them. And we’ll be at home. Not exactly a game we should be worried about winning. Covering is a different story for the reasons you gave, though.

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  5. Connor

    Great post, Senator. In order to take the next step, consistency is key. I don’t think you have to go back that far, the 2014 team had some excellent performances followed by complete duds. Playing at a high level every play of every game is not something that comes easy, but it’s what separates great teams from merely good ones.

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  6. No Axe to Grind

    I will reserve judgement on this edition of UGA football until after the Tenn. game. If the team and coaches duplicate Ms State against the Hillbillys, term courtesy of Mrs. Milburn Drysdale, and the Tenn. crowd looks like they realize that they are on the Titanic, then perhaps I will think that a little of Saban rubbed off on Smart and the Process may be taking hold. Then I will await the results of the FL game to see if I am right. Hope springs eternal.

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  7. Tronan

    I get the impression that the coaches and team, in very Saban-like “process” form, really are taking the season play by play, series by series, game by game. (In fact, I suspect this was one of the biggest parts of the transition to Kirby ball last year.) I also may not know what the hell I’m talking about. But at least for now, I have confidence this team is going to focus on the task at hand: In the case of this coming week, pulverizing the Vols into marmalade.

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    • Dylan Dreyer's Booty

      Mmmmm…..orange marmalade; I can only hope. We as fans don’t get to play the games – at least not any more – but I sure hope the team doesn’t have a let down against UT. They and Florida seem have horseshoes, rabbit’s feet and four leaf clovers tucked up their butts. In fact, the UF – UT game was one nobody should have won, but the rules make it difficult to have a tie. Just beat these two teams, please, dawgs.

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      • Maybe that three-legged east Alabama jackrabbit Gus used to own has got a few more snickers left in him. He jumped out of Bootch’s ass a couple of weeks ago and crawled right up the nethers of that yaller-toothed sharkhumper. As Scorp’s hats and Bert’s butterface will attest, karma is a bitch.

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  8. None of what I read screams extreme. I’ve not seen anyone down us before yesterday and we are the SEC’s current best hope at toppling Bama.

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  9. Gaskilldawg

    As I wrote before the MSU game it is difficult for a team to play its best on the road the week after a big win.

    We probably will not play at nearly the same level. I am counting on our veteran players to handle the adversity coming from having to play on the road after an emotional win.

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  10. ApalachDawg

    The beat down on UT will be epic. Every game is a statement game for this team and this program. Just like in 2008 for Bama. We are on the ascent folks.
    I know we have been conditioned to expect a pattern of epic let downs and roller coaster rides but that is the program and teams of the past.
    I have bought in and I am confident that the country club atmosphere has been burned to the ground.

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    • Biggus Rickus

      I’m leaning your way, but until they actually show up and beat Tennessee, I’m not fully buying the process talk.

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  11. Samantha

    This year’s Tennessee team is not equal to 2004 Tennessee team by any stretch of the imagination. 2004 was pre-Fulmer demise and was highly ranked already. This year’s team struggled against UMass this week.

    I do think it is a new test to see how our guys respond to the praise, but I think we are not anywhere close to the same level of team they way we were in 2004.

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  12. AusDawg85

    I get the impression Kirby knows how to keep everbody humble. I pity the first player to shake & bake a little in practice this week.

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  13. PTC DAWG

    Dawgs gone pound UT…..

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  14. Mike Cooley

    Senator I think your comparison to 2004 is a valid one but, and I hate to even bring it up, it reminds me of 2007 in a way. You know, one of those other times we went up there and just shit in our britches. That was a Tennessee team that eventually played for the SECC mostly because we forgot to get off the bus that day. We were definitely the better team but, and here is where the similarity comes in, Fulmer was feeling the heat. His back was against the wall and somehow that fat rascal got his team to rally around him and we got blind sided. Without doing a bunch of needless Richt bashing, I do think this team and the program at this point has got a mental edge that we did t have back then. All I’m saying is that I agree it will bei important to go up there with the same mindset and approach we have been playing with and knowing a lack of focus on our part is all Tennessee would need for Butch to have a other “feel good moment” at our expense.

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