The first Cocktail Thursday post went up on August 31, 2006 prior to the Bulldogs' season opening victory over the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. The drink of the day was Abita Turbodog, one of my all-time favorite beers both then and now. I've lost track of how many of these suckers I've done since then (I think we're approaching 50), but the number is less important to me than the sentiment.
And while I may occasionally skip a week of Cocktail Thursday, I will never, ever skip the week of the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Which is precisely what the event which will occur later this week along the banks of the St. John's River in Duval County, Florida is. As I presaged on Monday, Mike Adams can take his paper umbrella and stick it in his eye for all I care. This weekend does not really belong to the University of Georgia nor the University of Florida, nor their respective administrations, nor the professional conventioneers of Jacksonville, all of whom have done their best to change the public image of an event which, were it an organic, sentient being, would not give a tinker's cuss for its public image. This weekend belongs to you, the fans, who in these difficult economic times have squirreled away the money and time to head down to Jacksonville in hopes of witnessing a victory over your hated rival.
Now it should go without saying that those of us here at Dawg Sports encourage you to revel and imbibe in only the most responsible manner this weekend, whether at The Landing or in your living room. Drink responsibly, only if you are of age, and only in proximity to those who are likewise partaking or enjoy being around those who do. Especially those who imbibe then try unsuccessfully to climb trees. Because those are our people.
It should also go without saying that those of us here at Dawg Sports wholeheartedly embrace the dichotomy of controlled partying off the field and reckless abandon on it. When Georgia has emerged victorious in Jacksonville over the past few years (a rare enough event that I recall each occurrence with halcyon clarity) I have been certain of the outcome by the end of the first quarter. The reason in each case was that I saw a Georgia squad emerge from the locker room that was playing without fear or trepidation. A team hellbent on bludgeoning the Florida Gators into submission.
That will once again be the key this Saturday. For all of the talk of Aaron Murray's dazzling passing and A.J. Green's acrobatics, and John Brantley's resemblance to a spastic possum trying to run the spread offense, this game is going to be won or lost along the lines. Urban Meyer says he's tweaked his offense. I believe him. And I think I also have a good idea of what he means. For one, I imagine we'll see copious doses of Trey Burton, who's a sort of miniature, nonlarcenous Cam Newton. Given our problems containing loose quarterbacks this season (Chris Relf, cough, cough) Meyer would be a fool not to unleash Burton in copious doses.
I also expect that Meyer will harken back t the last time he came into Jacksonville with a broken down offense. There will be a fullback on the field for the Florida offense on Saturday. Bank on it. Not on every snap, but enough to force us to defend the run. Florida doesn't have a Marcus Lattimore, but they don't have a Tim Tebow either. Expect Emmanuel Moody, Mike Gillislie, Jeff Demps, Textmaster Rainey, and anybody else who's available to be pressed into service to test the Bulldogs' inconsistent run defense, and potentially open up space for a homerun ball in the process.
The key matchup of this game is going to occur between the Georgia and Florida offensive lines and their counterparts in the Gator and Bulldog linebacking corps. Both squads have shown some weakness on the defensive line. It's too late in the season for either team to really correct that. The only thing either can do at this point to get better is get one year older, and both of them will. But for this week both linebacking corps will be sorely tested, both against the run and pass, and they will likely decide the game.
If you only allowed me to recruit one linebacker from either squad, I would take Justin Houston. But the fact that he's the best 'backer in the group doesn't make him the most important this weekend. I believe that distinction goes to Akeem Dent, who has emerged as a leader on the revamped Bulldog defense and, not coincidentally, begun creeping up NFL draft boards. Akeem Dent and Christian Robinson will absolutely have to control the A gaps against a Florida offense that is going to bide it's time before trying to hit a big play or two. That's one thing smart coaches do during their bye weeks, after all. They find 2-3 wrinkles which will exploit the opponents' weaknesses, and they look for a chance to deploy them.
Stopping that will fall to Akeem Dent, who will have to stay fluid, while playing with reckless abandon. If you distilled Akeem Dent's optimal game into liquid form, it would be A Cream Dent:
1 and 1/2 oz. Bailey's Irish Cream
1 oz. vodka
1 oz. chocolate syrup
coffee of your choice
Pour the Bailey's and the vodka into a coffee mug, then add the chocolate syrup and top with coffee. You could probably put some whipped cream on it if you're looking for the full Starbucks experience, but I'll pass.With caffeine, alcohol and chocolate, anything more is just overkill.
Back tomorrow with the Friday Tailgate. Until then . . .