It’s Tennessee week, so better get your mind right.
There wasn’t much that went right about our trip to Oxford, but the Grove was nice. I realized something during the game. I realized how emotionally and spiritually invested I was in Mark Richt. I’m part of an interesting generation of Dawg fans. Dooley was the coach of my childhood. I saw Herschel play, and remember many hard nosed games (and wins) with great defense and Tate, Worley, and Hampton. We never really had a QB in the 80s. We didn’t need one. Goff and Donnan came in my teens and college years, and I was incredibly invested, but it was different than Vince. Vince was honored. They were not. No one was really invested in them.
Then came Richt, the coach of my adulthood. But Richt did so much that was so important so early, he became so engrained in the fabric of every dawg fan. It had been 20 years since we won the SEC. He won it. Gracious, we had not beaten UT in Knoxville since #34 ran over Bates and we made it commonplace. We finally be Florida. Then we beat Florida 3 times in a row. We beat Auburn 8 of 10 times. We boat-raced them several times. We went to 3 Sugar Bowls when I wasn’t sure we were ever going to go to one again. We beat UT 5 times in a row. We owned Tech the way we should for 15 years. And he was a darn good man, and when we lost, it hurt because you knew how good of a man he is and was. Every decent UGA fan wanted Richt to win. The losses that looked a lot like Saturdays became yearly happenings, though. It had to happen.
Kirby was hired on to do something different. It’s going to take time. Everything is new. We’re on our 3rd OC in 3 years, and our senior defenders are playing for their 3rd DC. We are struggling in so many spots due to complete recruiting misses for several years. Think about our WRs.
Stanley, Chigbu and Godwin are all Sophomores.
McKenzie is a Junior.
Reggie Davis is our lone senior. That’s for real. And we know Reggie’s deal.
We’re playing 4 TEs, a junior, sophomore and 2 freshmen.
Briscoe is a sophomore. Mauger is the only senior in the secondary. We’re starting two sophomores and LB.
We have a true freshman QB.
We have a freshman punter. We have no kicker, but the kid that kicked Saturday is a redshirt freshman.
We have been so messed up, that we have had to have transfer stop gaps at multiple key starting positions in the last 2 years (Lambert at QB, Ganus at LB, Smith at Star, and Catalina at LT). When you have to do that, you’ve had a mess. Think “Florida QB position” when you think about transfers coming in to help.
On the flip side, the losses from those teams are tremendous. Detric Bing-Dukes was the leading tackler for Ole Miss on Saturday. Think of a defense that includes Dukes at LB, Shaq Wiggins at Corner and Trey Matthews at Safety. That is supposed to be our defense in 2016, with Matthews and Wiggins being 4 yr starters.
But there is hope. The Kid can flat out play, and he is going to have a moment (Mizzou wasn’t it) where he absolutely lights up a team. We are going to get running yards. I believe we have played the 3 best passers we’ll play (Trubisky, Lock and Kelly). Our secondary and D will magically look better on Saturday, and then they’ll look fantastic the next two weeks. This UT team is no world beaters. Dobbs still can’t throw, nothing like those three kids can, and Malone is good, but they don’t have 3-4 like UNC, Mizzou and Ole Miss had. Defensively, they do not have up front what we’ve faced the last 2 weeks. And we ran the ball ‘okay’ vs. Ole Miss.
The message this week is somehow survive a home game. Guys, if we somehow pull it out, we’re 6-1 headed into the off week and WE are the ones who control our destiny because we’re 2-0 vs. Mizzou and UT. Mizzou is going to give Florida and/or UT fits. That’s all we want. My goal is win the next 5. WIN THE NEXT 5. Go 6-0 in the east, and we win this thing. I’m not sure we even have to beat Auburn. We’d have head to head over Florida and they’d have 2 losses, and there’s no way UT survives A&M, Bama and Mizzou w/o another loss. Mizzou has LSU, Arky, Florida and UT.
In 2012, we went to Columbia and got absolutely blasted. It was 35-0 before I knew it. We scored a garbage TD with Ken Malcom late to avoid a shut-out. That team flipped a switch. I’m hoping Kirby can do just that. But this is going to take a while to build Rome. We just need to find a way Saturday. I expect us to play good.