So, it took me a while to detox from the whooping I got in the GA Dome. But I wanted to reflect on the season a little bit. I have this little personal tradition. After a win, I change my computer wallpaper to a play from the game. I try to find a nice picture of the 'play of the game' or at least one of the star of the game. I never put a picture from a loss up there. Do you know how long I had a picture of Justin Houston running a fumble back for a TD against Tech in Athens in 2010? A long time. Having said that, this team gave me great joy this year. I got to change that picture for 10 straight weeks. And in hindsight, a victory over Boise and subsequent lose to USCjr. Would have meant having the pro combats on my screen for 2 weeks, which would have been unfortunate.
We did all I asked of this team of it after an 0-2 start -- we beat our rivals. A season in which you beat UT, UF, Auburn and Tech is a resounding success. There's no other way to say it. On top of that you win your division and it's a really good season. Maybe a great season. We got better as we played. And we did much of it with smoke and mirrors on offense with the running game. Our defense was one of the most fun to watch in recent memory. This season and this team was much, much like the '03 team and in many ways a mirror image. That team was very talented. We lost to LSU and Florida. LSU ended up being a better team. Florida was in our heads. That team played some ugly, ugly games. We played terrible in Nashville and trailed 2-0 at the half. We also struggled against UAB, winning 16-13. Yes, we beat UAB 16-13. But that team also showed flashes of dominance, pummeling UT in Knoxville and beating Auburn into submission at home. We closed with a 34-17 win at Bobby Dodd in a game we controlled from start to finsih, much like our 31-17 win this year. That team had a dominating, dominating defense and a questionable running game. We bounced around with Michael Cooper, Tyson Browning, Tony Milton and Lumpkin came on later in the year. It was sad. We went to the dome and played a deeper, better LSU team en route to a National Championship. We ended up in Florida vs. a Big 10 team. I loved that 2003 team. I loved this team.
Having said that, this bowl game is very, very important. The fact remains that if we lose, we'll have lost to the best 4 teams we played. It'd be great to beat a team with 10 wins. They're good. I feel like we're going come out ready to play. And, their D is good, but I'll hedge my bet that they don't have a guy that can cover #26. I also believe this game is a great opportunity for Isaiah. We need him to be good. But, I'll say this. I left that dome very encouraged. The bottom line is that we're way farther along than we were last year. We played toe to toe with probably the best team I've ever seen us play. I was trying to think about that, but I'm pretty sure it is. And we had them. I'm not one for moral victories, but as far down in the dumps as our program was, it's about steps. And we took a lot of steps this year. A couple of highlights for me:
My favorite freshmen: Malcom Mitchell sure is something.
Players I'm looking forward to watching for their career: Conley and Bennett. Boy, they're going to to make a young Christian LeMay's life a lot easier one day.
My favorite player: Uh, #29. It sure is fun to have a player like that on your team.
Player I'll miss most: Boykin. We got about all we could out of him this year, finally.
Coach of the Year: Olivadotti. What he did w/ our LBs with injuries coming off an August with his daughter in Scottish Rite was pretty amazing.
Favorite game: Auburn. Best I've seen us play in a long, long time. Probably since that '04 LSU game. Or at least since the '08 Sugar Bowl.
Favorite O play of the year: Whew, the TD to TK in Jacksonville was pandemonium.
Favorite D play of the year: Bacarri's INT return vs. Auburn
Favorite moment: Going for it on 4th down from the 50 in Knoxville. To me, it showed a mentality that has been missing with Richt for a while. I truly think he's changed. We saw it time and time again throughout the season.
Play of the year: Drew Butler's game saving tackle. I shudder to think what we turn into if Vandy scoops and scores on that punt block. I think we implode.It sure does seem hard to find a coach these days. I'm really glad we're getting to keep ours and he got his act together. It's nothing short of a miracle, and it might be the last time we see something like this happen in CFB again. And I really like Shawn Williams.