From the Sidelines: Tennessee

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From the Sidelines: Tennessee

Vol running back John Kelly (4) is stuffed by Bulldog d-lineman David Marshall (51) as Julian Rochester (5) comes in to help clean-up - 3rd quarter, UGA vs. Tennessee - Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017
Vol running back John Kelly (4) is stuffed by Bulldog d-lineman David Marshall (51) as Julian Rochester (5) comes in to help clean-up
– 3rd quarter, UGA vs. Tennessee –
Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017

 
 
Well, are you convinced yet?
 
 
I have been talking about culture change in this column since week one, and there should be far fewer skeptics today. During a chat with a photographer friend, while waiting for Kirby’s post-game presser, said, “I’m convinced!” Now is the time to let those nagging doubts and concerns melt away like the hopes of VolNation and join the ranks of the believers.

 
 
Speaking of the Vols, that’s one thoroughly dispirited group. The boo-birds were in full-feather Saturday afternoon. That is until the home folks quit on the team and left en mass in the third quarter. The only thing lovelier than a mass exodus of orange is a South Bend-style takeover.
 
 
Georgia’s performance in Knoxville was impressive but the real impact can be seen when viewed in terms of the victory over a Notre Dame team that is better than we thought and immediately following the woodshedding of a quality Mississippi State squad. This is ‘buy-in’. This is culture change. This is having learned how to win. It sure is fun to watch, isn’t it?
 
 
The 2017 Dawgs still have fleas. Depth is being built (and recruited), but it is not where it has to be to challenge the national elite, yet. However, when depth is no longer an issue, the team will have already established a culture of rock-ribbed, bust-’em-in-the-mouth defense to serve as a counterpart to a highly skilled and equally hard-nosed offense. Georgia will not win every game, nor every championship, but opponents will be glad to have the game behind them each year. The Dawgs are now a VERY tough out for everybody on the schedule
 
 
Interestingly, I didn’t see any difference in the sideline during the game. The same intense focus that brought the team into its fifth game undefeated kept the record intact. However, the post-game celebration pointed to the realization that these guys have found the path and have chosen to follow it. Georgia’s players are a cohesive unit with common goals and a firm belief that they have the skills and direction to seize them. They have become a team – a GOOD team.
 
 
Did your preseason guesstimate of UGA’s record have them 5-0 to start the season? Mine sure did not. Is Vandy looming as a trap game for the high-flying Dawgs? Nope, trap games require that the trapped lose focus and assume that winning is a matter of showing up. Kirby was already talking about Vandy’s prowess in the post-game presser. He will have them ready to play. It is part of the culture (that has changed).
 
 
 


 
 

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Greg is closing in on 11 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.