I was feelin’ good again to leave Jacksonville with a victory. Georgia has now won 5/10, 4/7, and three in a row. I have been present for all but one of those victories, the lone exception being in 2011. Each one is special in its own way, just like each defeat is respectively agonizing. The drive back from SSI sucks, win or lose. But it is exponentially better following a victory. It still sucks, but not quite as bad.
Fair warning, this post will be lengthy, as it will probably be one of the few I get to do this week. Work responsibilities have me off the grid and living out of suitcases and in hotel rooms for the next four days, so posting will be sporadic at best.
First off, I had an awesome time. I don’t get how people can go down to St. Simons or Jacksonville and not go to the game. The game is the reason for the trip, and it should be of paramount importance. However, what is so special about this weekend is the camaraderie of visiting with friends. Our same crew of people has been tailgating at Georgia-Florida in the same spot for 10 years now, and we always have a blast. I got to drink beer and hang out with good friends I now only see once a year. Our circle has gotten spread out, with friends and former roommates all over the country. But this weekend we always come together. I probably won’t see some of the folks again for another year, but in 2014 it will pick up without missing a beat. Just an overall great time and I am glad we can still come together and relive our glory days, laugh and tell old stories again.
I also had great seats. Granite’s dad had a few extra tickets and traded his awesome seats for mine that were almost in Amelia Island. I sat on the 20 yard line 10 rows up. Phenomenal seats.
Now, some thoughts…
-As wild as the game ended up being, I think both teams deserve some credit. I tip my hat to Coaches Richt and Muschamp. Muschamp for getting the team to rally back in the 3rd quarter and for Richt keeping the team together. Florida didn’t roll over and quit, and Georgia showed the resolve that we’ve come to expect from a Richt coached team led by Aaron Murray in handling adversity.
-With that said, if I am a Florida fan, I am pissed today. One, for being a Florida fan. But two, for the way the game ended on Florida getting a stupid penalty to clinch it for Georgia is maddening. Of course, it is appropriate considering Florida leads the SEC in penalties. It is clear reflection of Muschamp. The man has no self-control or discipline and it reflects on his team. Two costly 15 yard penalties in the 4th quarter was a big factor and it shouldn’t have been.
-Georgia made its fair share of mistakes also. The Lynch fumble, the safety and the 12 men penalty were damning for sure. The 12 men might be the most frustrating, but the defense redeemed itself and held strong. Georgia could have come unglued, and I thought they would, but they didn’t.
-Folks around me were cussing Bobo. Why cuss the best coach on staff right now I am not sure.
-In two of Georgia’s five wins this season, they have closed out the game with an 8+ minute drive. Strong.
-Todd Gurley’s return was big. No other way to say it. He led the team in rushing and receiving. Funny, how the best tailback in America and the best to play at Georgia in a generation can make a difference. Though he was gassed, a 75% Gurley is better than most.
-Michael Bennett’s return should not go unmentioned, though. One day I want to go back through game logs and verify this, but it just seems that most of Bennett’s catches convert to first downs. Murray feels much more comfortable with him than the other receivers. Just Saturday, Bennett had 5 catches. 4 of the 5 moved the chains, and 2 of the 5 converted 3rd downs. He was sorely missed as much as Gurley.
-Rhett McGowan had several big catches and should be commended also.
-I agree with the decision to go for it on 4th down. The call was gutsy, but that is what it takes sometimes. It didn’t end up hurting us in the end. One thing that infuriates me about Richt bashers is they say he is too passive or doesn’t want to win. I liked the message it sent they were trying to win, instead of trying not to lose. It didn’t work out, but I still like the guts.
-There were moments of ineptitude, but Georgia’s defense played overall pretty well I thought. Take out the safety and the short field they were faced with after the Lynch fumble, and the defense held Florida to 10-11 points. Now, I can’t say enough how bad Florida is on offense. But the defense played pretty good overall and made big plays when necessary.
-Florida had the ball for the first 7:09 of the second half and came away with 0 points. That stat is as important as any you will see about the game.
-Any further talk regarding the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party that focuses on Georgia losing so much in the 1990s and early 2000s should disappear. The Spurrier mojo is gone.
It is easy to get caught up in what went wrong, and I am sure many will point to the mistakes that made a comfortable half time lead turn into a very uncomfortable second half. But for me, I enjoyed the hell out of the game and result. Glad we won and especially glad to beat Florida. Work some things out against Appalachian State and get ready for Auburn.