Like every opening game, the anticipation of everyone from the players to the coaches to fans is excruciating the final few days. And that’s exactly how it was last week just prior to the Appalachian State game. Last Thursday, I happened to be at an event with Kirby Smart’s wife, Mary Beth, and asked her if the Smart family was anxious for the season to finally begin. Her smile quickly affirmed my thinking that the long wait of August is at its greatest in the home of any head football coach.
Well, when toe did, in fact, meet leather against Appalachian State, the deck was quickly reshuffled before the game even reached the second quarter, after starting quarterback, Jacob Eason suffered a sprained knee.
Now entering the game … true freshman, hailing from Warner Robins … #11, Jake Fromm.
Thankfully, for all us who bleed Red and Black, Fromm took the grand stage by the horns, showing poise and moxie to get the Georgia offense clicking. He was far from perfect in his debut, but everyone in the Bulldog Nation left the victorious 31-10 Appalachian State contest knowing the youngster has it in him to lead our proud football team’s offense.
With Jacob Eason sidelined for the Notre Dame game, the 19-year-old Fromm, certainly has a ton of pressure on him. However, the good news is that the Georgia football team in its second year under Kirby showed excellent progress against Appalachian State in all three phases of football. Particularly, on defense and special teams. Throughout the summer when asked about the 2017 Dawgs, I told folks that it was imperative that our defense and special teams play lights out from the beginning of the season to give our young offense time to gel. With Fromm now set to play in only his second game, the need for impeccable defense and special teams is even more heightened.
Against Appalachian State, our team had the benefit of adjusting to their new signal caller in the friendly confines of Sanford Stadium. That definitely will not be the case on Saturday night when Georgia travels north for the much, anticipated match-up versus the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
In the words of legendary announcer Keith Jackson … “Whoa Nellie this is going to be a big one!”
Since the announcement was made that Georgia would face Notre Dame for the second time ever, Bulldog fans have been making their travel plans to South Bend and Chicago.
Of course, you can’t mention Georgia versus Notre Dame without harking back to the greatest day in UGA football history … Jan. 1, 1981. It was on this day in New Orleans that our football team capped off an undefeated season and national championship with a 17-10 Sugar Bowl victory over the Irish.
On page 10, who better to look back at the 1980 season and Sugar Bowl victory than BI’s own, Jeff Dantzler?
JD and I are the same age, so we were eight year-olds that day. Without question, we had long since been christened Georgia fans, but a national championship at that ripe age sky-rocketed our love of the Bulldogs.
The Sugar Bowl victory included several big plays that proved to be the difference in the Georgia victory. On page 25, our junior journalist, Hamilton Culpepper caught up with successful businessman, Chris Welton, who had a crucial fumble recovery that day in New Orleans. The bond of the 1980 team is what made them special and is what made them champions.
Since the road trip to South Bend represents such a historic occasion for everyone in the Bulldog Nation, our team at Bulldawg Illustrated certainly wanted to come up with something special for our cover. After spending all summer thinking about it, I happened to remember that our beloved, mascot, Uga, dons a green UGA jersey each year for the St. Patrick’s Day parade in his hometown of Savannah.
I quickly called Uga’s owner and handler, Charles Seiler to pitch my idea. Charles liked the idea but wanted the night to think about it. Well to my surprise, I heard back from him within 30 minutes. Using the good ole’ internet, Charles unearthed the rich history of Notre Dame wearing green jerseys … a.k.a. the Green Machine.
So it was decided that Uga X would grace this cover in green to mark the grand occasion of Georgia traveling to Notre Damen and to pay homage to the Irish community (particularly in Savannah); while also giving our readers a little history lesson about Notre Dame wearing green.
The tradition was started in 1921 by the famed, coach Knute Rockne who theorized the green jerseys would help his passers better locate their receivers. And then in 1927, down 6-0 five minutes into its inaugural game against Navy, Rockne seeking motivation for his team switched to green, sparking a rousing 19-6 comeback victory.
The Green Machine has been hit or miss as far as victories go (including the 1981 Sugar Bowl loss to Georgia, where the Irish wore white with green numbers), but there is no denying their impact on the Notre Dame players and fanbase. The most famous occasion was in 1977 when the Irish warmed up in their standard blue uniforms only to be greeted with green when returning to the locker room. Notre Dame trounced USC 49-19 that day and won the national championship 10 weeks later. Quarterback, Joe Montana called the game (in green) one of his greatest memories at Notre Dame.
Now, at press time, there was been no mention of the Irish coming out in green against Georgia on Saturday night, but you just never know when the mystique of the tradition may strike, which is why Bulldawg Illustrated is heading north with our own Green Machine.
And while, Uga X will be wearing his beautiful, standard red jersey, you gotta admit, he looks darn good in green.
A special thanks to the Seilers for being such great sports.
Now, the time has arrived for me to say goodbye, but I certainly hope you enjoy this issue of BI, and look forward to seeing you in Chicago and South Bend for one helluva trip.
May everyone in the Bulldog Nation represent the Georgia G with great pride with the ultimate goal of returning south with a 2-0 record. It’s not going to be easy as Notre Dame has a sound football team, but I like our team’s chances because of their support by the greatest mascot and fan base in college football. Go Dawgs!
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