Another week is in the books and once again our Bulldogs performed mightily subduing the home team Tennessee Volunteers in the always rowdy Neyland Stadium. There’s nothing like getting a victory against the Vols, particularly for folks like me who never saw the Dawgs win against UT during my college years.
Despite the lean play on the field in the early 90s, those trips to Knoxville were always memorable and this past Saturday once again lived up. However, that had more to do with the folks in my group, who either had never been to Knoxville or who hadn’t been in several decades. Plus, we had the added bonus of having each one of my friend’s sons with them.
Can you say “men’s trip!”
It was a blast to see everyone in the group take in the sea of orange that takes over the riverfront in Knoxville and at Calhoun’s on the River. Of course, you always see a few burly Vol fans in overalls, which is quite the spectacle. And while Neyland Stadium is getting up there in years, it’s hard not to marvel at the size of the 102,455 at capacity structure. And the home team played well in the first half, so all the newbies in our group got a good dose of just how loud Neyland can get.
Thankfully, our Bulldogs finally took control of the game just before halftime much to the delight of all the awesome Dawg fans, who made the trip. While there wasn’t a red and black checkering out of the stadium, the fourth quarter light show by Bulldog Nation certainly let the hosts know there were tons of damn, good Dawgs in the building. My guess would be pushing 40,000.
Woof, Woof, Woof!
As much fun as the boys and I had on our men’s trip, like every week in college football the memories must be quickly stored away as the next team awaits on the schedule. Just as Tennessee rose to the occasion to play our No. 3 ranked Bulldogs, I fully expect to get South Carolina’s very best shot on Saturday at high noon in Sanford Stadium.
For the folks that haven’t been to a game in Athens this year, the game day experience is the best it’s ever been. This issue’s excellent cover photo by Blane Marable is part of the pregame ritual when the team busts through the banner of the West Endzone. I’m not sure if it’s smoke or fog, but it’s really cool as our players appear through the billowing special effect.
For our cover’s headline, I borrowed from the popular Showtime series called Ballers. The show starring Dwayne Johnson is all about football with the central theme being what it takes to be the very best, thus earning the label of being called a baller. Without a doubt, the 2019 Georgia football team is very close to being all out ballers, but their potential to be even better is what has me so excited about Saturday’s game versus the Gamecocks; as well as, the remainder of the season.
Defensively, our team is playing lights out each and every week. While the secondary has given up some passing yards in spurts, those breakdowns have been corrected at halftime effectively shutting down every opponents’ attempt at getting back into the football game. And the fact that the Georgia defense has yet to yield a rushing touchdown is incredible.
Offensively, the amount of options our team has on the ground and through the air is sick. In fact, my only complaint would be for Coach Smart and Coach Coley to get the ball more to the youngsters like James Cook and George Pickens. Be patient Bulldog Nation, I fully expect that to happen at high noon on Saturday and in the coming weeks.
Inside this issue, everyone on BI’s sports crew made it back from Knoxville safely to deliver excellent content for this issue. Jeff Dantzler (page 10) is, of course, worrying about Saturday’s game. And Hamilton Culpepper (page 53) returns this issue completing his trilogy of former Valdosta High School quarterbacks that went on to excellent years on the Georgia campus for the Bulldogs. This go-round, Hammy talks with Greg Talley. Interesting enough, Talley is law partners with Hammy’s grandfather Wade Coleman in Valdosta. You will love Greg’s answer to Hammy as to why Georgia is so special. Loran Smith (page 23) also is back in this issue with a great piece on former Bulldog Rennie Curran. You’ll love seeing what Rennie is up to these days. Not surprisingly, he’s doing wonderful things to the benefit of others.
On the social front, the BI camera once again produced admirably with over 50 fan photos from Knoxville. And don’t miss our Georgia Girls’ feature (pages 34,35) with Columbus resident Jenn Agnew, who works with my wife, Cheri, at The Southern Coterie. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard the band Dean Dollar that was so popular at Georgia in the 90s. Hilarious. Finally, don’t miss Cheri’s “Dinner with Dawgs and Friends” feature (pages 26-31), where guests enjoyed the always, excellent food of Georgia alum and Athens restaurateur, Peter Dale.
It’s time for this baller to wrap things up as I’m almost out of space and definitely tired from the Knoxville roadie. I do encourage you to find the photos of both Mary Beth and Kirby Smart inside this issue. Gotta love it when your head coach and his bride jump up into the stands with our fans after a victory. Yes, that definitely qualifies as ballin’ … see you at high noon on Saturday … Go Dawgs!!