Well Bulldog fans it doesn’t get any bigger than Saturday’s battle versus the LSU Tigers. And thanks to the ESPN GameDay extravaganza coming to Athens this sucker is going to be off the hook. It will have all the pomp and circumstance that makes college football the greatest sport on Earth.
But most importantly, it will be the show on the field that will rein supreme.
Les Miles brings his Bayou Bengals to the Classic City firing on all cylinders. As usual, the LSU defense is full of massive players with unreal speed and athleticism. And the same can be said on the other side of the ball, where the combination of Zach Mettenberger’s precise throwing and the power running game certainly have this fan and journalist wondering how in world our Bulldogs will stop them.
Nonetheless, I like Georgia’s chances because of the 12th man that will have Sanford Stadium rocking before, during and hopefully after the game. Yes, sometimes the Bulldog Nation isn’t the loudest in the SEC, but here lately we are certainly trending in the right direction.
A great example of this exuberance was this past Saturday’s game versus North Texas. I think we can all agree that the play wasn’t a thing of beauty, but despite that and a good bit of rain, Georgia fans remained behind the team, which most certainly helped when the score was tied 21-21. Our boys in red and black would respond with the final 24 points of the game to snuff out any thoughts of David slaying Goliath.
A tip of the hat has to go to the Mean Green. They came to play in all phases. In fact, I would be willing to bet that Todd Gurley would admit that North Texas hit him harder than Clemson and South Carolina combined. But you know what? That was just what the doctor ordered as far as I’m concerned. By now, we all know that any LSU team is all about being more physical than its opponent. North Texas gave the Bulldogs a fierce fight that forced them to decide whether they wanted to answer the call and continue towards the making of a magical season. They answered in a big way and this Saturday’s CBS game of the week will be an even greater challenge.
So what will it take to send Tiger Bait back to the Bayou with their tails between their legs?
If you’re a loyal reader of BI, then you know our first requirement will be a healthy does of running the football. Todd Gurley is the best running back the University of Georgia has seen in decades. And what I like best is he is a beast that wants the ball even more as the game goes deeper. So let’s all hope that Coach Richt and Bobo also have this on the top their list.
Next up, is the immediate need to clean up the little things that make a football team complete. Yet again, this is something we at BI have been stressing all 11 years of publishing. Whether it’s shoring up all special teams or addressing clock management, there’s a ton of room for improvement. In 2013, the most frustrating aspect of what I’m talking about has been how our coaches and teams have closed out the second quarter and started the third. In the Clemson, South Carolina and North Texas game, Georgia was most fortunate to be getting the ball to start the third quarter, but in all three games they gave up points in the waning minutes of the second quarter to then go three and out to start the third quarter. They got away with this double whammy twice and didn’t once. You can bet the house that if this nasty trend isn’t righted on Saturday, Georgia will go home with a 2-2 record and will be virtually eliminated in the national championship conversation. Oh yeah, and please eliminate the silly first and second down turnovers. I have no problem being aggressive, but my goodness it’s demoralizing to give the other team the ball after only one or two downs.
Finally, like in most top-notched SEC battles, the victor will be the team that gets the most push from their big uglies on both sides of the ball. On offense, our line just needs to hold their blocks long enough to give Aaron Murray and Todd Gurley the time they need to shine. We have the talent to make big things happen, but it will require thwarting LSU’s monsters just long enough. Defensively, it will all come down to leverage. Our interior is by no means massive, but I’m banking on line coach Chris Wilson’s early Fall Camp drills to be the difference. I was there on Day 1, when he forced his unit to execute a drill under a trampoline until they virtually were out of gas. All that work will come to pass Saturday.
Now it’s time for me to exit stage left and let the cards fall where they may as far as giving free advise to our coaches and team. Give them hell guys, we are definitely behind you and look forward to you making us proud.
Please enjoy this issue of BI. Inside you will find plenty of fans photos from the North Texas game. And don’t miss Murray Poole’s Q&A (page 5) with Coach Wilson’s wife. It was neat to learn that Wilson has quite the sense of humor and great to hear that the Athens community has been so welcoming to UGA’s newest coaching family. And for the Diamond Dog fans out there, be sure to check out Rob Sherrell going one on one with Kyle Farmer (page 21) who continues his pursuit of making it to the majors. And Loran Smith gives a great tribute (page 18) to the giving life that Bulldog and Athenian, Claude McBride lived. And our sports guys have plenty of tidbits to get you ready for the LSU game. Tick, tock … tick, tock.
Finally on pages 12 and 13, be sure to see Cheri’s Q&As with Bulldogs and Golden Isles’ residents, Lexie Love and Stephanie Hooks. Our hope is that by reading their tips for enjoying the coast you will go ahead and make your plans to spend some time there in the coming weeks. Between the St. Simons Island Food Festival, the Brunswick Rockin’ Stewbilee, Georgia-Florida and the PGA Tour’s McGladrey Classic, there is a slew of fun to be had in the Golden Isles.
Gotta run, but it is definitely time to put this silly hiccup of not playing well when appearing on ESPN’s GameDay to rest. Let’s show the nation how the Big Dawg eats! Man, it’s going to be fun.