“What do you think when someone says, ‘Second-and-26’?”

To my mind, one of the questions that won’t be answered until they set foot on the field tomorrow is what Georgia’s mindset will be.

On the one side, you’ve got the story the media has been obsessed about — the way the national title game ended — and how this year’s team has internalized whatever lessons there are to be learned from both the loss and how it continues to be pushed in their faces.  This is a perfect summation of that:

“Last year has nothing to do with this next game coming up,” Bulldogs tailback Elijah Holyfield said.

The end of the previous meeting between the teams was so sudden and dramatic — the Bulldogs had a 23-20 lead when Ledbetter and linebacker Davin Bellamy sacked Tagovailoa on the play prior to second-and-26 — it took a while for the losers’ pain to truly sink in.

“That’s something you’ll never get over,” cornerback Deandre Baker said.

I hope that’s not the case, Deandre.

Isaac Nauta had more to say about that.

“It’s always tough to look back on, watching the film from last year brought up some bad memories,” said Nauta, referencing the Bulldogs’ 26-23 overtime loss to the Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff Championship Game last January in Atlanta.

“We used that game as a learning tool to see what we could have done better, and I think that’s a lot of stuff we focused on in practice this week to fix and make sure we capitalize on those drives and make sure that we execute and get that extra first down and extend more drives.

“We’ve been working on it, we don’t forget.”

It’s an interesting motivational thread Kirby has to pass through the needle’s eye this week.  Alabama is the defending national champ and this year’s team is better overall than the team Georgia fell to last January.  You’ve got to prepare your team and that means looking at tape of that game, along with Alabama’s 2018 steamroll act.

On the other side, your team is the defending conference champ, something that shouldn’t be sneered at.  That Georgia is playing in back to back conference title games, something that’s never happened before happened after being away for several years, is another indication that this program has arrived.  It’s been playing as well as pretty much any team in the country of late.  And Kirby Smart is someone I trust to do his best to get his team mentally prepared to face ‘Bama, relying in part on a damned solid resume to this point.

So, where are everyone’s heads at rolling into Saturday?  Beats me.  I mean, I like to hear ain’t skeered talk like this

Just ask junior running back Elijah Holyfield. He appeared genuinely dumbfounded this week when a reporter asked him if Georgia was anyway intimidated by the No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide, which has beaten opponents by an average margin of 35 points a game this season. So thrown off by the question was Holyfield that he repeated it back to his inquisitor.

“You’re asking are we intimidated by them?” Holyfield asked, his raised eyebrows indicating incredulity.

Holyfield’s eyebrows furrowed, and he shook his head hard as he offered his one-word reply. “Nah.”

… but, to be honest, I don’t remember the Dawgs feeling any differently when they went to Baton Rouge.  Of course, that LSU team was stomped by the Tide, so any way you look at it, this is a major step up in class for Georgia.

So, there’s pride, disappointment, respect, awareness, concern and no doubt a host of other emotions all swirling about in a sort of mental stew.  There’s also the reality that this will show out on a stage that this team now has familiarity with.  What the final product looks like, though, I have no idea.  I doubt anyone on Georgia’s sideline really knows for sure, either.  We’ll all find out together in another day and a half.

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82 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

82 responses to ““What do you think when someone says, ‘Second-and-26’?”

  1. FisheriesDawg

    2002 and 2003 were b2b title game appearances.

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  2. Jim

    Weren’t we in the SECC game in both 11 and 12?

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  3. gastr1

    I don’t know. We had the upper hand most of the game despite not being expected to have a chance. Doesn’t that leave you with a different outlook than, say, being expected to compete and getting blasted?

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  4. RangerRuss

    I’m so weary of “Wait until next year.” GO DAWGS!

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  5. MDDawg

    I wonder how much we’ll hear about UGA “playing with a chip on their shoulder” in the pre-game commentary. Alabama deserves all the accolades for the historic season they’re having, but we’re not exactly Northwestern going up against Ohio State here.

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    • Mayor

      Northwestern has a pretty good D. I don’t think they are a total walkover for the Bucks, either. We’re talking about a tOSU team that got beat by Purdue.

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      • mwo

        Got the shit beat out of them by Purdue, who lost to the Akron Zips. In everything but the scoreboard they lost to Maryland also.

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  6. Derek

    I think all of that motivational, “mind set”, “game face” stuff is a lot of bullshit.

    What happens after you get hit in the mouth is what’s going to matter. What team is going to impose its will on the other in the 4th quarter? Who is going to own the LOS when it comes to crunch time?

    That’s going to decide the game. We’re either running the damn ball in the 4th OR we’re watching cut ups next week of our guys getting rag dolled by Williams and Davis.

    No play from last year or pregame speech or anything else is going to matter.

    Just GATA and don’t let up until the horn sounds and then look up to see what the score is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Navin Johnson

      This. You just got beat; what do you do on the next play? Learn, re-set, go.

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    • Uglydawg.

      I agree, on a team level. But for certain individuals (Tyler Simmons and DeAndre Baker) it could be the extra fire that sharpens their focus and determination.
      What would you give for Tyler Simmons to block another punt? Wouldn’t that be the greatest thing?!
      Consider last years re-match with Auburn. That turn around wasn’t solely due to mind set but a lot of it was based on being pissed off that you let someone beat you that you could have bested. Auburn’s rb being hampered didn’t hurt either.
      But I agree..once you get punched in the mouth, your focus narrows.
      Also consider that Bama is sort of in the same situation Auburn was in before the SEC game last year. They knew Georgia that the Dawgs weren’t intimidated, were talented, well coached and inspired. That describes both of these teams.

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    • Got Cowdog

      Yeah. The “mental stew” is familiar to anyone who’s ever been in physical competition. Then the ball is snapped, the punch is thrown, the takedown happens and it all goes away. Then it’s on and you do what you do without tension or fear and it doesn’t matter who’s across from you.You will beat him or he will beat you.
      Let’s tee it up. Time to find out what we are.

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  7. Navin Johnson

    I think moving on is an area where Kirby learned The Process ™ very well. I can’t remember which Bama title run it was (ugh, too many), but maybe 5-7 years ago, there was a year where there was a lot of media attention around the idea that Saban had brought in sports psychologists to work with the team. Basically the idea was to help the team learn the mental habits to not dwell on the past or the far future, but to focus on the next play, the next practice, the next game. Stating the obvious here, but I think that is a huge part of Bama and Saban’s sustained success. There are schematic and teaching reasons to review past performances, but in Saban-world, these are not big, dramatic, who-wants-it-more Life Lessons; these are mistakes that can be improved the next time. All indications are that Kirby internalized this way of working and has done a nice job of instilling that in his players. I sure hope so.

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    • Derek

      One trend that’s getting very little focus is that Kirby is yet to lose a revenge game. And in fact every revenge game has been a beat down.

      Every loss has been avenged at the very next opportunity and soundly.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Chopdawg

        Absolutely!–but this Bama team is a beast, better than any other team we’ve gotten our revenge against.

        We got to play reckless, over the top, like we’ve got nothing to lose. This is a game in which we might find ourselves behind by more than one score, like OK last season. How will we respond? How will Bama react, when they find themselves in a tight game in the fourth quarter? Hasn’t happened all year.

        We’re not favored, but I’ve seen us win as a bigger underdawg (Fla ’97).

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        • ugafidelis

          We saw last year how they’ll respond if they get down. Slamming Fromm’s head into the turf, players fighting coaches on the sideline, trying to pull De’andre’s head off by the facemask… They don’t know how to handle adversity; all they know how to do is win.

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      • J-DawG

        My thoughts exactly. Kirby doesn’t state it but he wants revenge as much as the players. If ever there was a time for Bama to take some rat poison and be overconfident, it’s now. Bama needs to be de-throned, not just for us, but for the overall health of college football.

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  8. illini84

    It’s a goofy shaped ball and you don’t know which way it will bounce until it’s kicked off. Go Dawgs!

    psd . Ticket prices have risen in the last 12 hours.

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  9. Spike

    My head is about to explode from all the stats and analysis…

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  10. Atticus

    I just don’t want to lose bad. If we do and have lost two years in a row to them, the concern is the pressure builds and everything next year will point to another match up with Bama.

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  11. Biggus Rickus

    I’m not worried about Georgia being ill-prepared or intimidated or anything of the sort. My worry is that they have not improved enough to beat Alabama. Honestly, unless they get some breaks, I don’t think they’ll win this game if both teams play well. Alabama may even cover the spread, ultimately.

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  12. Gravidy

    Senator, do you know how this year’s Georgia team compares to last year’s in the world of advanced stats? My quick impression of the game tomorrow goes like this: Georgia and Bammer played an extremely close game last year, but Bammer is better now while Georgia isn’t quite as good.

    I’m just wondering how accurate my thumbnail assessment of Georgia is.

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    • Advanced stats say UGA’s offense is better, but defense is not as good.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Gravidy

        Well, that’s what my old eyeballs told me as well. Thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Derek

        I wonder though if we’re better at what we need to be tomorrow. What we’ve given up in qb pressure and run stuffing we’ve replaced with being stingier on the back end.

        If we limit Tua to”human” status and they’ve got to take 12-15 play drives to score, I like our chances. I think our best hope is a game of attrition. I don’t think we can win a “shoot out” and I don’t think we can just send the house at Tua and pray.

        We need to do what Belichick did to the Bills and the Rams in the SB. Both teams came in with high flying offenses and they took away what they wanted to do and gave them what they didn’t. Both close, low scoring games…. and wins.

        Shorten the game. Get TD’s when we’ve got the chance. No big plays. Make them earn FG attempts. Hope we can lean on them in the 4th with our big uglies on the OL.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Biggus Rickus

          LSU demonstrated that you can limit their points with that strategy, but Georgia’s offense will have to make them pay for not scoring TDs.

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      • Lutz Dawg

        yes, IMO the Bama offense is better but their defense isn’t as good. We have to keep them from hitting home run TD’s and make them drive the field to score. We also need to consume clock time on offense and get points. the blue print was made last night by the Dallas Cowboys beating the Saints. They kept Brees off the field and didn’t let him get comfortable or hit long plays.

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        • Macallanlover

          Think just the opposite, our defense is full of holes but our offense is equal, or better. The difference is the defensive talent they each will face. Our STs are slightly better, especially the kicker.

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    • Biggus Rickus

      Georgia’s also been trending up in a big way the back half of the season, with their overall S&P+ rating going from 19.7 heading into the Florida game to 27.1 at the moment. Improving by more than a TD is a pretty gigantic move over five games when you’re already good. That’s my one reason for hope. It’s possible they’ve improved enough to be almost on par with Alabama. My eyes tell me that they aren’t there, though. I hope I’m wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Bigshot

    Hate to say it, but UGA loses by 2 TD’s. I’ll be back hopefully to eat crow.

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    • James Stephenson

      My heart, it disagrees. But my brain, it agrees. Hope my head is wrong and my heart is right. Either way, I am going to enjoy one more game of UGA football this year.

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  14. Shewdawg

    A quote often attributed to Mike Tyson, but maybe it was Joe Louis: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
    Both teams (I hope) will feel that at some point in this fight. How they respond respectively will determine how this it plays out.
    I am 100% certain that Kirby is preparing the team with that in mind.
    If the Dawg’s will to win remains strong in the face of those moments, we may have a finish that would generate the most epic of Munson calls. And oh what joy it would be if he could be here to top the “hobnail boot” call. God rest his Red & Black soul.

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  15. David

    I’m focused on one bellwether game: Our defense is good, though not as good as Missy State. Our Offense is light years better than Missy State. Therein lies all my hope.

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  16. Skeptic Dawg

    Win or lose Saturday, and I fully expect to lose and lose big, we should not get down on this group. What this team and coaching staff has done this season is impressive. The Dawgs have dominated the East two years in a row. This is exactly what we were begging for during the latter part of Richt’s tenure in Athens. We are squarely in the playoff conversation for the sending straight year. These are good times for Dawg fans. Enjoy the ride, root like hell on Saturday, and be proud to be a Dawg!

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    • Gurkha Dawg

      All you can ask of any coach or team is to be in the playoff hunt going into the conference championship game. Anything can happen in a given game. Alabama impresses the hell out of me but fuck that lose big shit. This is college football man. Get fired up. What the fuck is a crimson tide anyway? Some kind of algae bloom? Fuck Alabama! Go Dawgs!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Texas Dawg

    I think (hope) that Kirby and Chaney learned their lesson from last year. When we get ahead (I’m an optimist), DO NOT take your foot off the gas.

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  18. Russ

    I’d be intimidated to ask Holyfield if he was intimidated. Props to the reporter that asked that question.

    I like our chances. Dawgs aren’t expected to even compete, but as we know, they’ve played much better since the LSU fiasco. I think the coaches learned as much in that game as the players and they are all now fully in synch. I think we move the ball and keep it close, maybe get them out of their rhythm a bit. If it’s close late, we win.

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    • Salty Dawg

      I thought the reporter who asked that must have ‘never lettered in shit’ (props to @3YearLetterman) because it was a completely dumb-ass question and an insult.

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      • Russ

        I was giving props for the courage to ask the question. Because it’s so stupid. Plus, if I just dropped in from Uzbekistan I think I’d still be able to tell the Holyfield doesn’t look like someone who would be intimidated by anyone or anything.

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  19. Macallanlover

    My first thought now, and then: Time Friggin Out!!!

    Since that didn’t happen our guys have to remember having outplayed Bama when everyone said it couldn’t be done last year. Playing our best gives us a pretty good chance again this year. If both have their A game and limit mistakes, we will probably come up short from what I have seen. But there is no reason to think we cannot make it hard to find their A game when faced with the best team they have seen since January. Rise up and smite their asses!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. W Cobb Dawg

    I think we have a heckuva better chance than the world is assuming. Last year we were beaten pretty soundly by aubie and came back 2 weeks later to take the secc. The only reason bama wins in January was by getting lucky a truly desperate move to change QBs went their way, along with lousy officiating.

    Seems to me Kirby’s done well against mobile/running QBs. So what happens if Tua has to dink & dunk all game, and big hitters are hard to come by? What if our talented OL gives Fromm time to pick bama apart? I count at least 25 UGA players who saw substantial playing time in the post season last year, along with almost all of our coaching staff. I’m thinking we give bama a much tougher fight than people are anticipating.

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  21. There are two things I am hanging my hat on in hopes of a win. One, Tua has not faced a defense this year with the same caliber of back-end speed that we have. He will have to throw his receivers open. Two, our O-line should be good enough at this point to give Jake time in the pocket. If neither are true we are in deep shit.

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    • Lutz Dawg

      The LSU and Miss St. defenses are probably better than our D. However, their offenses aren’t even close to UGA’s. therefore, we should be able to move the ball and keep Tua on the sidelines; whereas those teams had to trot the defense out their more often because their offense couldn’t move the chains. Our best defense is our offense! the longer Tua stands on the sidelines the better. Control the line of scrimmage, control the ball, control the clock, and score points…that is the recipe!!

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  22. Mayor

    The Dawgs are good enough to win. My only real concern is game officiating. After what happened last season that is a reality based concern.

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    • We can only hope that our secret overlords have decided that Bama doesn’t need help. But to be honest, until Saban gets one more than the Bear, the conspiracy theorist in me says they are going to continue to cheat for Bama. That 1st half in the Miss St. game was about as bad as I have ever witnessed blatant cheating for one team over another.

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  23. AusDawg85

    Think how dangerous we could be running the triple option in this game. 😜

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  24. From hearing all of the talking heads this week, we shouldn’t even show up at MBS tomorrow. Bama has been anointed, and the argument is about OU vs OSU for the 4th spot. I hope the rat poison is working overtime in T-town with their team. The Bammers are already their obnoxious, arrogant selves.

    It sort of feels like last year when everyone was talking about Auburn as the first 2 loss team to make the playoff. Let’s go shock the world tomorrow, Dawgs.

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    • stoopnagle

      I have the opposite thought: I think a lot of the chatter has been about how we’re the best team Bama’s played this year, etc etc. If anything, what I’ve heard/read is feeding Bama by talking us up.

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      • That certainly hasn’t been the talk on satellite radio this week when I’ve been listening. McElroy in particular hasn’t given any lip service to the possibility of a Bama loss tomorrow.

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        • Macallanlover

          McElroy is a Bama cheerleader, not a professional in he broadcasting business. For him to say there is no chance for UGA is absolutely stupid, even his own network has us at about 34%, that is 2-1 underdog. How does that equate to “no chance”. He is also dumb enough to be buying the Central fla BS, how do you respect his knowledge after hearing that. Awkward clutz/nerd.

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  25. junkyardawg41

    I am always amazed by the way the media brings up 2nd and 26. It is good for the fans but if you think about it, both teams have 20-25 players who weren’t there last year. (i.e. freshman and/or didn’t make travel squad). Furthermore, you have two new coordinators on both sides of the ball for Alabama. Looking back at the NCG for extra motivation is one thing for those players who were there last year. Looking back on that game to find how Alabama operates is crazy. I totally understand why the team doesn’t really focus on that.

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  26. Charlottedawg

    On paper, Alabama is better, like double digits better, that’s also not a knock on Georgia, Alabama is just that good.

    We’re slightly better if not as good as last year’s team and are legitimately the 3rd best team in nation unfortunately Alabama got a whole lot better and is the clear cut best team in the nation.

    I don’t know that our secondary can cover four elite receivers, especially long enough for our not fantastic d line to get home against tua. Also Alabama still has its usual ground game.

    Do we know that our o line can win in the trenches against an elite Alabama d line and give Fromm time to throw and space for holyfield and swift?

    We’re also kind of dinged up, especially on the o and d lines.

    Not to mention Alabama is going to get all the calls, sorry that’s just the way it is.

    That being said you play the game for a reason and we’re not exactly chopped liver. Let’s hope we come out inspired and ready for a fight. We’ve got a tremendous opportunity and nothing to lose, let’s play the game of our lives and take down the best team of Alabama dynasty.

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    • Damn you just bummed the F out….

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        • “Not to mention Alabama is going to get all the calls, sorry that’s just the way it is” . Come on everyone….follow the money . How does the SEC make the most money? By getting two teams in the playoffs. How does that happen? Georgia wins and gets in the playoffs as the SEC champs and Bama gets in with only one lose. Because the way the SEC maximizes revenues is to have the officiates slant the field in UGA’s favor and get two teams in the playoffs, It follows that the officials are on the DAWGS side for just this one game. It still may not be enough but I don’t think the dawgs will be fighting the officials this time. SHOW THE SEC THE MONEY.

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  27. Tony Barnfart

    Anybody seen the movie No Country For Old Men ? I think the Dawgs mindset has to be like the scene when he calls the ruthless bounty hunting killer from the hospital and says “I decided to make you a special project of mine. You ain’t gonna have to come looking for me at all.”

    Not so much a We Want Bama. But they’re gonna have to play their best game too or we just might kick their ass.

    And then I tell them about 2004 LSU.

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  28. Go Dawgs!

    I’ve always preferred the term “reigning national champ” or “reigning SEC champ” to “defending.” Alabama doesn’t have to defend anything. If Georgia wins on Saturday, they get to keep their rings from last year. We don’t really get to redeem January 8th. That’s something we’ll carry forever. 1995 didn’t erase the pain of 1991 for the Atlanta Braves. That’ll bother me forever. And January 8th is going to hurt worse than that, and forever.

    No, it’s more than just a talking point, the 2018 Dawgs and Tide are truly different teams from the 2017 versions. The contrast is more stark and obvious on Alabama’s side of the coin with the Tide playing an almost completely different brand of offensive football than they did last year, including the second half and overtime of 2017. This game is about winning the SEC Championship, and everyone that lives here knows that’s a big enough crown to covet. This is a new year and a new day and last year doesn’t affect this game. Let’s go get this win.

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  29. Hogbody Spradlin

    You don’t want to know what I think when somebody mentions that.

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  30. Bulldog Joe

    In life, very few people earn a second chance on this type of stage.

    Cut your ass loose and make it count!

    Liked by 1 person

  31. PTC DAWG

    When I hear that comment, I know I’m talking to an ass hole Bama fan.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Randall Adams

    Prick Bama Fan or Prick Tech, Auburn, Florida, UT fan who tries to use that, since the Dawgs have ‘owned’ them.

    I think the Bama nation is coming in thinking they are going to rule this game supreme. I don’t know – maybe so… But my gut tells me that for the first time this year, they are up against running backs that stack up quite well against them, especially when getting into the secondary.

    And for the first time all this year, banged up or not, they are coming up against an O-Line that is just as big or bigger that has ‘no problem’ hitting them right in the mouth.

    My wife and I are going and sitting on the Bama side… We’ll have ‘fun’ regardless..

    Go Dawgs!

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  33. ASEF

    It will be a well played game by both teams. Georgia’s special teams is going to have to offset Alabama’s advantage on the line of scrimmage – a tiny one when Georgia is on offense and a large one when Alabama is on offense. Beating this Alabama team without NFL players on the DL is a really, really y’all order. Everywhere else, Georgia has the pieces to make it happen.

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  34. Bulldog Joe

    “How about ‘Fourth-and-11’?”

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