Nov. 1, 2011
In This Edition
Ten Great Things About Saturday
Richt at the Bat
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President of Who's Fan Club?
Georgia's triumph over Florida Saturday is a testament to the resilience exhibited by the Bulldogs. We handed the Gators the first 28 minutes of the game. We trailed 17-3. We rallied to tie 17-17...only to gift-wrap a field goal and trail again. But...
...our guys didn't break -- mentally or physically. They bucked up and made plays. This game is not complicated. This game is about players making, or not making, plays - especially in critical moments of crucial games. Scott Woerner made plays. David Pollack made plays. Muddy Waters made plays. Paul Oliver made plays. And now you can add Jarvis Jones and a slew of his defensive mates to that roster.
And in their making plays the 2011 season just became a lot more fun. Might we go so far as to claim that it became jump-up-and-down fun for the first time since September 10, five consecutive preceding victories notwithstanding? Until Saturday's win over Florida, the current campaign had been misdemeanor torture in slow motion; crisis averted on a weekly basis.
Since the Dawgs loss to South Carolina the portent of every Saturday has hung over the Bulldog Nation like the Sword of Damocles. The margin of error against a seemingly favorable schedule was as slender as the single hair of a horse's tail. Slip once and 2011 was proverbial toast.
We - as fans -- have played out the past six weeks as though creeping cautiously through one of those commercial haunted houses that, every autumn, profits on the piercing shrieks of teenage girls. Fear of danger lurking around every corner -- our hearts racing at chipmunk speed -- for the past six weeks we've inched along, forcing a crooked smile at our date all the while internally contemplating whether or not this haunted house is, in reality, fun.
And waiting at the end of that five-game slog/fright-fest was the equivalent of Count Dracula, with his beady Alligator eyes and dripping fangs. The 2011 Dawgs did in old Drac, though, Richard Samuel delivering the stake through the heart with a handful of seconds remaining on the clock.
Beating Florida on Saturday is the equivalent of exiting the house of horrors, sweaty palms tightly gripped with your date's, and boasting confidently, "That was awesome! Let's go again!"
No need to make our way through it again, though. This edition of Georgia-Florida goes to the good guys. The Netherworld north of Disneyworld is officially closed for the season.
The Gators are sealed up like Dracula during daylight hours and the 2011 Georgia players are the stars of a new vampire-killing reality show. And remember, kids, if you think that Count Dracula has the scariest teeth on the block - you've never seen a thing till you've seen a Bulldog bite!
Ten More Great Things About Saturday
1. Florida's Total Net Offensive Yards:
First 7:24 of game: 152
Last 52:36 of game: 74
Congrats to the coaches who made the adjustments and to the players who executed.
2. Brandon Boykin's hustle play, catching Jeff Demps on the game's first play from scrimmage. Just attempting to run down the NCAA 60-meter Indoor Track Champion is bold enough. Succeeding -- and keeping points off the board as a result - not only paid huge dividends in victory, but is a play that every youth coach should show to his players to demonstrate never giving up.
3. Georgia's receivers making manly catches:
Q2 Michael Bennett reaches back and hauls in a touchdown. If Texas's rightfielder had displayed half that grit the Rangers would've won Game Six and been World Series champs.
Q3 Tavarres King snatches the ball over the defensive back's helmet for the game-tying touchdown. A senior delivering in the clutch like a senior should.
Q1 Marlon Brown catches a slant two yards short of the first down marker, but twists for one yard and then drives back two Florida defenders for the first down. Drive stays alive. Dawgs net a field goal.
4. After a near-disastrous interception gave Florida first and 10 on the Georgia 13 yard line, the Dawgs defense proceeded to chase the Gators back like Granny Clampett with a broom chasing Jethro out of her kitchen. Rather than grimly trailing 14-zip, the Bulldogs forced a Florida punt and actually gained six yards on the change of possession!
5. Aaron Murray did not have his best game in red and black, but that kid gets up off the deck more than Paul Newman in "Cool Hand Luke." The grass-stained back of his uniform looked like the detergent-testing shirts they use at Proctor and Gamble. Aaron has taken a beating this season and Saturday was no exception. In a relentlessly vulnerable position in an uncompromisingly brutal sport, Aaron Murray keeps getting up. None less than David Greene and Kevin Butler shared with me Monday night that Murray's toughness is helping to unite this team.
6. Third quarter. Georgia's opening drive stalls. The Dawgs punt and special teams impresario, Blake Sailors, while running past the bouncing pigskin and on his way into the end zone, slaps the football away from the goal line and keeps the play from becoming a touchback. Georgia gains exceptional field advantage which it maintains for the next 5:14 until forcing a Florida fumble deep inside Gator territory. If Blake doesn't get to that ball, we might never get that close to paydirt.
7. Richard Samuel IV getting on his horse and taking charge like Charlemagne in battle. Not sure what the statisticians say, but I had King Richard IV for 40 fourth quarter yards. Gallop on, brother!
8. The Mighty Oakletree finally got his shot for 60 minutes Saturday and boy-howdy did Alec show us what all the fuss has been about. Forcing the Florida fumble late in the second quarter gave the Dawgs a chance to not go in at halftime down by two (or more) touchdowns. The offense accepted the gift and made the Gators pay.
9. Fourth quarter. Dawgs clinging to a 24-20 lead. Gators drive starts on Georgia's side of the 50. On third and two at the Bulldogs 37 the Gators hand the ball to Trey Burton up the gut. John Jenkins plugs his 351 pound body into the hole and -- with Christian Robinson's help - stops the play for no gain.
THEN on fourth and two...after a time out by each team...the Gators try to draw the Dawgs off-side. Discipline wears a red and black jersey tonight as the Bulldogs don't jump, Florida takes the penalty and punts.
10. Florida started four drives on the Georgia side of midfield: 13, 26, 45 and 36 yard lines. The Gators accumulated a total of three points off of those four opportunities.
Richt at the Bat
"From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore;
'Kill him! Kill the umpire!' shouted some one on the stand;
And it's likely they'd have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.
"With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;"
Does that passage ring familiar in relation to Saturday's win over the Gators? Ernest L. Thayer's timeless classic "Casey at the Bat" came to mind for me simultaneous with the game's final play.
Richard Samuel had just crashed through a throng of Florida defenders, cinching the game with a nine-yard run for the first down at the one yard line. As the clock wound down my inward eye envisioned that most in the Bulldog Nation were on their feet or hanging their heads out their car windows, screaming at their radios and TV sets, "Go ahead and score! Ram it in, coach! Run it up!" The score that is, not the desired location.
Not unlike the frustrated fans in Casey's case, eh?
It's at a time like this that I'm honored to have a coach at my alma mater who, like Casey, opted for charity - Christian or not. Mark Richt gave an example of what grace in victory looks like.
Unlike the boors who - despite enjoying insurmountable leads in the waning seconds of past Georgia-Florida games -- still called for reverses or requested multiple timeouts, Coach Richt did not ram the ball -- or the victory -- down anyone's throat Saturday night.
Yes, of course, I'm aware that running another play carried the remote risk of a disastrous mistake. But I also know the man. And I know that had we been leading by 20 points CMR still wouldn't have sunk to the churlish low that we've seen from others in Jacksonville games of recent vintage.
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Last summer newly anointed Florida head coach Will Muschamp -- a former Bulldog Captain --guaranteed a 2011 victory over Georgia to his Atlanta contingency. "Coach Boom's" prediction just went "Ker-Plooey" and blew up all over the Gator Nation.
President of Who's Fan Club?
Bobby Petrino. Need I explain?