Well, well. Here we are fellow Dawg fans. For the first time since 2005, the Georgia is BACK to Atlanta for the SEC Championship game. Phil Steele was right, once again. Professional and personal responsibilities have kept me busy this week, and this post serves as several I had wanted to do.
I didn’t expect to see this happen preseason, and I sure as hell didn’t excpect it after the South Carolina game. Honestly, the day South Carolina did a Houdini act against Mississippi State, I was certain they would still win the East. But the improbable happened, and Georgia has a chance to give Mark Richt his 3rd SEC title.
“Corbindawg,” you say, “you think we have a chance?” Yes, I truly feel the Dawgs have very good chance to beat LSU. I actually feel pretty good about the Dawgs on Saturday (and by pretty good, I am giving the Dawgs a 35-40% chance of winning, which is better than most!).
You have to look no further than the last time LSU and Georgia met in the Dome for the reason I think Georgia has a shot. Also, read what Phil Steele says about the recent games in this series. A YouTube channel had the highlights of the 2005 game I was going to play to support my case, but that channel was taken down, so you will just have to trust my memory here.
I remember Georgia got the ball to start the game and we did nothing; perhaps went 3 and out. Then we punt to LSU and pin them deep. A LSU 3 and out later, UGA gets the ball at mid field. Then, D.J. Shockley hits Sean Bailey deep in the corner right corner of the end zone-a few yards from where I was sitting. The very next time Georgia gets the ball, Shockley hits Sean Bailey but this time in the left corner on the end zone. 3 UGA possessions, 2 long TD passes. 14-0, UGA. LSU scored again to make it 14-7, but never really threatened on the way to a 34-14 rout for the Dawgs.
There are three keys to UGA victory:
1. UGA has to make big plays in the passing game. Murray has to let King and Mitchell stretch the field and hit the speedy UGA receivers going deep. Yes, the LSU secondary is outstanding, but if Murray can make an accurate throw, Mitchell can outrun anyone in America. It becomes man vs. man then.
In order for Murray to hit the deep ball, and for the deep ball to be open, that is going to take Crowell running effectively. Crowell doesn’t have to get 150 yards, but Crowell has to stay in the game and give John Chavis and that LSU defense something to worry about and keep those elite safeties playing up close to open it up for Orson Charles in the middle and the receivers going down field.
2. I don’t think LSU can score on us when they have the ball on offense. LSU can score from any where on the field at any given time, but I like our defense versus their offense. Yes, LSU likes to run the ball and grind it out, but the Dawgs have proven they are stout against the run. The one game where UGA was suspect to the running game was against South Carolina, and Grantham’s charges held Lattimore in check most of the game, and when Lattimore hurt us, it was when he got to the outside. LSU is a power running team, and our front 7 can stop that. That means the game will have to be in Jordan Jefferson’s hands. Sure, he did well against Arkansas. But “Elite Quarterback” are words that aren’t normally used to described Jordan Jefferson. The adjectives “inconsistent” and “bad decision maker” are more appropriate.
Fans have a short memory, about Jefferson and the LSU offense’s performance against Arkansas, but think back to the Alabama game. Now, the UGA defense is not as good as Alabama’s, but as I documented on Monday-it’s close. Jefferson had a very pedestrian day of 6/10 for 67 yards and 43 yards rushing in 11 attempts. I feel good about it being kept a close game because I think the Dawgs will make LSU’s running game ineffective, and I feel good about making Jordan Jefferson having to beat us.
And I must set up reason three.
I went to the 2005 SEC Championship game. Georgia was ranked 13th and LSU was 3rd and the one point favorite. I sat in the corner of the end zone where Bailey caught his only two passes of the day. It was our section, an aisle, then the LSU section. The LSU fans were LOUD. I was scared for what was about to happen. Then BOOM. Georgia wins. I rode back to Athens and listened to the postgame show on the radio and was smiling like a jackass eating briars. I wasn’t under the influence of any substance except pure joy and happiness. In my state, I made a comment that, at the time, I thought would be true: Mark Richt will never lose another SEC Championship game. He stared down the gullet of the beast, and slayed the dragon.
I certainly didn’t foresee UGA stumbling the way they did. I mean, Georgia had just signed a 5 star QB from Texas and a stud running back from Jersey. The 5 star QB was supposed to be the one who took the program to the next level beyond what David Greene did. 2006 might be a little rough, but I was giddy in anticipation for what the future would bring. What happened in 2008-2010 never crossed my mind on December 3, 2005.
Three months to the day we were embarrassed by Boise State in the Dome, and six years to the day I witnessed the last UGA SEC Title, we’ll have a shot to win. And here is the third reason the Dawgs have a chance:
3. Mark Richt can still coach. He has been there, done that. Richt has gone toe to toe with Les Miles 3 times and is 2-1 against the Mad Hatter, with two decisive victories and one controversial defeat. He has proven this season like he said at the Macon Bulldog club meeting, he “can still coach, and knows what the Hell” he’s doing. Richt’s calm, steady demeanor has been criticized by fans and pundits and Macon talk show personalities, but that calm, steady demeanor was a big factor in keeping this team together and that will be a reason the Dawgs have more than a puncher’s chance to win on Saturday.
It will be a longshot, but a part of me really likes the Dawgs to win.