Yes the play in Columbia was sloppy, but our team secured the victory that now sets up Saturday’s big stick game against the visiting Tennessee Volunteers.
On last week’s cover, I dubbed the road trip to Mizzou as “Operation CoMo” with the hopes of it being a business trip victory executed to perfection.
Well, the good news is that Kirby and company did come home with the W, but unfortunately, my desire for sharpness was marred by sloppy play throughout most of the beautiful Missouri day.
While it’s concerning to see our team continue to make boneheaded mistakes and penalties, I do see some benefit to experiencing the agony of them. It’s safe to say on Sunday morning both our players and fans had some humble pie to the reality that the 2018 season is very much a work in progress. And you know what … that’s exactly what Kirby Smart preached to anyone that would listen throughout the spring and summer as he stressed the need for the team’s leaders to surface.
The good news is that Saturday’s game versus Tennessee in Sanford Stadium presents the opportunity for the team to show that sloppiness isn’t a part of its permanent DNA. That certainly needs to happen because you can bet Jeremy Pruitt will bring his Vols into Athens with nothing to lose. And even though Tennessee appears to be rebuilding in 2018, you can bet the game will be physical from the opening whistle to the final one. It always is no matter either team’s perceived advantages.
For that reason, Blane Marable’s photo of Richard LeCounte holding a bat was perfect for this issue’s cover. It’s a bring your big stick SEC East rivalry game and I fully expect our Dawgs to be ready for the task at hand.
Our team at BI has brought their own big stick with 56 pages of great coverage to get you ready for Saturday’s game.
Highlights on the social side include our Georgia Girls Q&A (pages 26,27) with St. Simons Island interior designer Adrian Johnson and our What’s Cooking feature with Vickie Farmer (pages 32, 33) from Athens. And a few weeks back in Atlanta, I was, once again, blown away by the UGA Alumni Association’s 40 Under 40 awards ceremony (page 28-31). It certainly makes you proud to see the caliber of fellow alums making their mark at such an early stage in their careers.
My favorite part of the issue is the fan photos from Mizzou (beginning on page 41). While the trip to Columbia is the least attended by the Bulldog Nation, the passion of the fans that were there was spectacular. Particularly, the Red Coat Band’s Pep Squad consisting of 45 members of the full band who traveled by bus to and from Columbia. Their non-stop playing throughout the entire Missouri game kept the Georgia faithful engaged in the game for all four quarters. Their support was very much needed as the victory wasn’t secured until late in the 4th quarter versus the pesky Tigers. Kudos to the Red Coats for doing their job with such vigor and passion!
On the sports side of this issue, our regular contributors continue to provide great content each week despite their tight deadlines. Hamilton Culpepper is back in this issue catching up with former Bulldog player and current UGA Alumni Board Member, Mohamad Massaquoi (page 53). MoMass was special during his playing days as a student-athlete, so it’s really not surprising to see him shining in adulthood. In fact, he was one of this year’s 40 Under 40 recipients I spoke about earlier. On page 50, Loran Smith’s column about Hamilton (or Hammy as many folks know him by) could certainly bring a tear or two. I know it did for Cheri. It was a lot of fun strategizing with Loran to prevent Hammy from knowing he was the subject matter for this issue. Even though I didn’t know his grandfather, E.H. Culpepper, I can speak firsthand on the quality of his grandson.
I’m looking forward to being back on campus for tailgating on Saturday before heading into Sanford Stadium for the 3:30 p.m. kickoff. With plenty of time for travel and revelry, I fully expect our team to feel its’ home field advantage as it attempts to exit September unblemished. See you on Saturday with your big stick … Go Dawgs!!