The last home game of any season is a bittersweet affair, and this year seems particularly so. I’m packing for my last Athens tailgate of 2017, with the knowledge that I won’t be doing so again for a few months.
That’s a little sad, true, but it almost feels trivial in comparison to what the seniors must be feeling this morning, knowing that in a few hours they’ll be setting foot on the Sanford Stadium field for the last time in their careers. As I posted earlier, this bunch has been through a lot and given a lot to get to where they are today. For that, they are to be commended and celebrated.
And there’s still plenty left to play for to be celebrated, as no doubt both we and the players have been reminded of all week. To tweak a cliche, today is the first day of the rest of the 2017 season. Win out the next three games — admittedly a tall order — and everything any college football team hopes for as it works out in the August heat is still there.
For that to happen, though, starting today, heads and hearts have to be clear and focused, all the way down from the head coach to the lowliest walk-on. If these guys are still suffering from a hangover from the Auburn game, it’s hard to see how they’ll meet that ultimate goal, not to mention avoid being embarrassed in the SECCG.
Sure, there are plenty of on the field matchups and stats that may prove relevant. Benny Snell is having a fine season for Kentucky and clearly has to be an area of concern for the defense. You can also worry about the ‘Cats trying to challenge Georgia’s secondary and whether Georgia’s offensive line has the gas in the tank to reset today and control the line of scrimmage as no doubt UK follows the same script most of Georgia’s opponents have this season in loading the box to stop Chubb and Michel.
Stats and strategy are fine to consider. You can watch tape and look at numbers to get a feel for what each team brings to the table. What you can’t measure or evaluate in advance is whether a team is ready to play. That’s Kirby’s big test today. If Georgia shows up with the same mindset that’s led it to nine wins, the Dawgs will roll. If not… well, I’d rather not think about that right now.
For what it’s worth, I believe their heads will be on straight today, if for no other reason than because of the seniors. They certainly deserve it. GATA, boys.
Consider this your invite to post game day comments. Hopefully, there will be a lot more sweet than bitter.