It's Monday again, and like me I'm sure you have a lot of things to do. But before we look to the future, let's take a quick look back at the 5 things I forecast you'd see against Western Carolina.
1. No backing down. Western Carolina came out swinging, as you would expect them to. They made some hard hits, displayed solid special teams play, and generally kept things uncomfortably close until a few moments before halftime. Even when Mark Richt and staff began rounding people up from around the concession stands and subbing them in (more on that later), the Catamounts kept fighting, even scoring late in the fourth quarter to make the score a little more respectable.
2. Mmmmm. . . Vanilla. Nothing really earth-shattering scheme-wise, just an opportunity to improve our blocking, tackling and offensive timing. If anything, the playcalling was even more boring than I would have anticipated. That's not a complaint, just an observation.
3. Your game program. The 'Dawgs played 72 players on Saturday, including reserve offensive linemen (Kevin Perez, Josh Davis, etc.), every wide receiver not named Brice Hunter or Lindsey Scott, and even a walk-on freshman tailback. Eastman product Kalvin Daniels had 2 carries for a grand total of 1 yard. As would befit a native son of Dodge County, he won the postgame voting for Player of the Game in a landslide which was inexplicable to everyone except the U.S Justice Department. Thank you, thank you. Please tip your server on the way out.
Clint Boling even got the start at right tackle. Akeem Dent started at sam linebacker. Joe Cox threw a touchdown pass and Blake Barnes saw time. All of this is significant because it means our starters saw a lot less action than they would normally, and most were on the sidelines cooling off and icing down by the middle of the fourth quarter. Contrast this with Nick Saban's Alabama squad, which played one of the most physically punishing offenses in the country for a full 60 minutes, finishing up late Saturday night. While there are few virtues to playing cupcake games, this is one of them. We'll have no excuse for being anything but fresh and rested on Saturday.
4. No. Closure. At. All. This game was indeed wholly unsatisfying to Bulldog Nation. As I warned you, anything but an 84-0 skull-crushing, baby seal-clubbing display of gridiron mayhem was bound to leave some questions. But when you really look at the numbers, you can't be that upset. Matt Stafford was a workmanlike 14 of 20 for 174 yards and two TD's, though he seemed to be on autopilot for most of the day. The numbers could have easily been padded more. But the offense did churn out 362 total yards. With the exception of the play on which Stafford called the wrong protection and fumbled when he was sacked, Georgia commited 0 turnovers. There were only 5 penalties for 30 yards, significantly less than the number we usually rack up in unfocused efforts against the UAB's and Louisiana-Monroes of the college football world.
The defense gave up a puny 63 yards rushing, and a miniscule 201 total yards. WCU quarterback Todd Spitzer remarked afterward that "Georgia has a great defense. Alabama was great, but Georgia was faster and stronger." Objectively speaking, this game was a success. But you'll never be able to convince yourself of that. It didn't take away the sting of the South Carolina loss and it didn't dispell your misgivings about our Saturday night date in Bryant-Denny Stadium. But we all knew that coming in, right?
5. UGA 41, WCU 13. Amazingly, Kyle and I each predicted the same final score without any input from the other. Just as amazing was the fact that we were only 1 point off in the margin of victory. This is not really relevant to our upcoming contest against Alabama, but it is easily the closest I will come to picking the correct outcome of a game this season, so I'm taking the chance to point it out. Until tomorrow . . .