Be Sure to drink your Ovaltine. Ovaltine? A crummy commercial? Son of a bitch!
I have a few thoughts about the Gator Bowl yesterday, but before I jumped in the specifics, I wanted to touch on some big picture thoughts.
I hate when the Dawgs lose. I hate it so bad. I want, and most years expect, Georgia to win every game. I have as unrealistically high expectations on where I want the football program to be as anyone. I was devastated after the Auburn loss, and in the past, I have been devastated by losses in bowl games.
But not anymore. I saw a lot of venom and angst yesterday on Twitter, but I simply don’t care that Georgia lost yesterday. If Georgia had won, I would have felt good, but not have the same feeling of happiness I have when we beat South Carolina, LSU, came back against Tennessee and Tech, and beat Florida for the 3rd year in a row.
Don’t be confused; I am not one to hate on the Bowls. I love watching these games. I stayed up to 12:30 in the morning last night watching UCF beat Baylor. I was glued to Texas A&M and Duke. These are fun games. But in the end, they are just glorified commercials for the sponsors, ways for local towns to fill up hotel rooms, and ESPN to have content and sell advertising space. That is all. The bowls have no merit other than that. Except the National Championship. And I’ll even say the bigger bowls have luster. Living in the South and having the tradition, you want to say you won the Sugar Bowl. The Rose Bowl is important to the Big 10 and Pac 10/12.
But these mediocre bowls are just exhibition games and fun games to watch. How many times yesterday did they talk about the bad playing conditions on the field, yet they let Junior drive his car out on the field and hand over the coin? It was done for pomp and circumstance, and to let Tax Slayer have their spokesmen get TV coverage. I’m sure if this was game in Sanford Stadium, there would be no way in hell a car would be driven on the field, espeically in those conditions.
I saw stats yesterday that UGA is 1-3 in Bowls the last 4 years, or they’ve lost X number of games the last five years and this and that. I hate these stats, because they are intellectually dishonest. If we had won yesterday, UGA would be 2-2 in their last four bowls. Just like with the beating ranked team argument, those stats are only thrown up after a loss. If we had won, no one would say “Hey, Mark Richt is 47-21 his last five years.” But since they lost, it was “Mark Richt is 46-22 his last five years.”
Previously, a bowl win might help you in the polls for next season. But now with the playoff selection committee, the polls are completely irrelevant. And Auburn and Baylor showed that if you start the season unranked, you can still climb up in the hearts and minds of America if you just win the games.
I am not just saying this as a defense mechanism because the Dawgs lost or having sour grapes. It was nice to get a win last year, but did it matter? I mean, it was nice to close out on a win, but last year I was still hung over from the Alabama game. Losing to UCF didn’t keep the Dawgs from signing the Dream Team or winning the SEC East in 2011. Losing to Michigan State didn’t keep Georgia from signing the “Ring Team” or winning the East in 2012. Beating Nebraska last year didn’t do anything to help us for 2012 against Clemson or keep anyone from getting injured this season.
I opened with a quote from one of my favorite movies. I’ll throw in another 80s movie franchise example. In the Rocky movies, what bout was more important-Rocky beating Apollo Creed for the title in Rocky II or beating Ivan Drago in Rocky IV? Clearly, beating Creed was more important. It was for the belt. Did Rocky’s fight against Thunderlips in Rocky III matter? No, it was a charity exhibition.
Like with Ralphie and his Little Orphan Annie Decoder that was thought to be something more than it was, these bowls are just a crummy commercial. Any more or less emotional investment in them is just a waste of time.
The actions in the game certainly frustrated me. Same old, same old.
-I want to get into special teams more in detail later, but how we can’t be competent in the punt return game is maddening. As I was watching UCF last night, every time they received a punt there was no drama. Remember when we had Damien Gary, Thomas Flowers, Mikey Henderson, and Brandon Boykin would could actually make plays? We can’t even field the punts anymore. Man, I long for the days of Logan Gray.
-I think the defense quietly played its best game of the year yesterday, with one glaring mistake. Of course, the glaring mistake was a big one. For all intents and purposes, a 100 yard touchdown pass is not something you see often, especially from Nebraska. And what sucked so bad is as soon as he let it rip, you just knew it was going to the house.
-Gurley was hobbled, it was clear he wasn’t 100% still. But he still had a very good game. I think that if he was 100%, he would have scored on the 3rd and 10 draw play in the closing minutes.
-It seems like Lynch has had some big drops and other miscues this season, but Lynch is still a good player and will be sorely missed. I wish him nothing but the best in his NFL or other future endeavors.
-Not having Matthews or JHC at safety was evident. I hope JHC can get his act together, because I am not sure his leash is going to be incredibly long going forward. He is reminding me an awful lot like Ealey and King.
-Mason did well statistically, but 182 out of his 320 yards (57%) came on little dump offs to Gurley and Douglas, and the one long pass to Bennett. I get the weather didn’t help any, and the O-line protection was shaky, but it seemed he was a little off, hesitant, and held on the ball for way too long. Like I said last week, hopefully he was able to learn something.
I don’t know if I have ever said this, but I am glad this season is over. I love watching the Dawgs play. I pine for it all year. I talk about it all year with friends. Hell, I take the time to blog about it. Football season is fun, even if the team is not doing well. It is even more fun when they are. But this year was an up and down roller coaster of emotions and I’m glad it is came to an end. I’ll be jacked up for the 2014 campaign soon, but right now, I am just glad this year is over and behind us.