There has been a lot of talk about whether the 2009 edition of the Georgia Bulldogs are more like their predecessors from 2006 or 2007. Of course, the optimists will tell you that this is just like 2007. The 'Dawgs are going to bounce back from this heart wrenching defeat and curb stomp everyone remaining on the schedule including the hated Gators and their sainted quarterback. Then, there are those who believe this is 2006 all over again. We have some average Joe lining up behind center, we're undisciplined, but we're young and, gosh darn it, we sure have shown some heart. Unfortunately, even the latter scenario is too optimistic for me, and I fall into a third camp.
When A.J. Green scored with 1:09 left on the clock, I said to myself, "we have to get the 2pt. conversion, and we have to stick them on the kickoff. There's way too much time left." To me, the waning moments of Saturday's game played out like a Greek tragedy. The stage was set for the hero to take a huge fall due to his tragic flaw. Only in our case this flaw wasn't hubris or narcissism, but it was really awful kickoff coverage.
A visual aid for those of you who don't know what hubris is
From the moment Walsh teed it up for the final time, I had a sinking feeling that we were going to find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I knew I had felt this feeling before, but it wasn't until I was walking home from the stadium and LSU fans were waving corn dogs in my face (I really wish this wasn't true) that I was able to put my finger on why this all felt so familiar. Watching this team is just like watching a team from the Donnan era.
More specifically, this team is almost exactly like the 1999 Georgia Bulldogs. They had talent running out of their ears, but poor coaching and poor discipline kept them from ever reaching their full potential. Just think about it. The '99 team had a pair of dominant defensive tackles (Stroud and Seymour) a disgustingly talented linebacker corps (Will Witherspoon, Tony Gilbert, and Boss Bailey), a talented young receiver who wore #8 (Terrance Edwards), and pair of supposedly talented halfbacks who spent most of the season splitting carries (Patrick Pass, and Jasper Sanks).
Like the 2009 'Dawgs this team had some inexplicably close games against teams they should have completely blown out of the water. They beat Central Florida and a very bad LSU team by a combined 2 points, and the 10 point margin of victory against Vanderbilt belies how awful the team played for most of the game (much like Arkansas this year). Finally, and most painfully, they seemingly always found a way to lose against big time opponents. Whether is was getting blown out of the water in the first half against Auburn or Sanks' "fumble" against Georgia Tech, you just knew that they were never going to come out on top in the end, and that's exactly how I feel about this year's team.
Yup, we almost lost to a team coached by this guy.
Like the '99 'Dawgs, this year's edition seemingly has the horses to run with anybody, but their sloppy play and poor coaching kept them from ever being anything more than mediocre. If you take a look at the '99 roster you will scratch your head in disbelief of how we did so little with so much talent. I have a feeling we're going to be asking ourselves the same question about this team 5 or 6 years down the road.
It took a wholesale change of the culture in Athens to finally get all the talent we had stockpiled to play up to its great capabilities, but hopefully it won't take that much this time around. The only thing that gives me hope that a turnaround won't be as difficult this time around is the fact that Richt isn't Donnan.