The 2018 season got off to an excellent start for the Bulldog Nation as both our team and its awesome fan base did their part securing a 45-0 victory over Austin Peay. And man was it hot and humid, so extra kudos go out to everyone in Sanford Stadium on Saturday.
Now the scene quickly changes from the friendly confines of Athens to the always, hostile environment of Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C. And if you think the Classic City was burning up this past Saturday, brace yourself because the Gamecock cooker for the 3:30 p.m. kickoff will feel tenfold.
Of course, a visit to South Carolina isn’t complete without the constant rooster crow and Sandstorm song blaring over and over again. To say it is highly annoying is an understatement. But give credit where credit is due as all that commotion makes it very difficult for the visiting team to operate.
For this reason, I decided the cover for this issue needed to highlight a Georgia player who provides a spark on the field but more importantly has the ability to silence the home team.
Mecole … Mecole … Mecole!
That’s what I personally love to yell when Mecole Hardman is about to receive the ball via a kickoff or punt. Or catching a pass in open space, for that matter. It’s a fun way to let folks around me know to be on alert because whenever #4 is about to get the ball, an explosion play often awaits.
I’m not going to lie Saturday’s game scares me because it sets up so well for South Carolina. Their fans will be absolutely bonkers with the thought of knocking off our No. 3 Bulldogs. However, beyond the challenges of playing on the road, this South Carolina team is very solid on the field of battle. Gamecocks’ head coach, Will Muschamp always brings a physical defense to his program, but this 2018 unit also possesses a potent offense with lots of playmakers.
Does that sound familiar? It should because it resembles this Georgia team under the awesome leadership of Kirby Smart. And unfortunately where Georgia has the likes of Mecole and others on offense and special teams, South Carolina counters with the awesome, Mr. Everything, Deebo Samuel. The dude is an absolute stud, so minimizing his dazzling stats is certainly the duty that lies nearest for the Georgia defense on Saturday. And the same goes for stifling Carolina’s gun-slinging quarterback, Jake Bentley.
This one is going to be fun Georgia fans and the winner will probably be the team that has the most electrifying plays.
A great road trip issue of Bulldawg Illustrated always includes a fun rallying call for our team, and I hope you will agree this one does that. The issue is also full of excellent sports from our BI crew.
Since the season has started back, Murray Poole returns with his Stats that Matter (page 21) from the Austin Peay game. Both Jake Fromm and Justin Fields (seeing his first playing action at Georgia) were ultra, efficient in both their decision-making and throws. While tons of people want to make the asset of having two stellar quarterbacks a controversy, Kirby remains steadfast in his approach of using each signal caller in situations that best benefit the team. And can we agree that what both Fromm and Fields bring to the Georgia offense is an endless potential that’s going to be a blast to watch?
Also back in this issue is Greg Poole’s From the Field and Kevin Butler’s Players of the Game. Our designer, Hannah Groseclose brilliantly revamped both of these pages visually with the help of excellent photography by Greg Poole and Rob Saye, who hung in to the very end of one of the hottest opening games ever in Athens. Well done job, gents and Hannah!
And as I mentioned at the beginning of this column, the Georgia fans also shined on Saturday. It was great to get back out there with our camera to capture so many happy folks at tailgates and in the stadium. Enjoy those photos and the rest of our social coverage beginning on page 25. And don’t miss our Proust Q&A with Athens banker Bill Hopper (page 38), who understands “how much lies in laughter: the cipher-key, wherewith we decipher the whole man (Thomas Carlye, Sartor Resartus). “
While the South Carolina faithful will dwarf the Georgia contingent making the trip to Columbia on Saturday, there’s no doubt in my mind that our team will feel the Bulldog Nation’s support and love. It’s going to be a battle, so I encourage everyone to get some rest because here comes the Georgia Sandstorm … Cock-A-Doodle Mecole … Go Dawgs!!