It's been a rough week for Bulldog fans, and I think I understand the reason, or at least part of it. This is what I have come to call "reality week." Reality week is the week, which has occurred annually for the past 30 or so years, during week it becomes apparent that the Georgia Bulldogs will not be playing for a college football national championship. It is the week when hopes come crashing down. The week when what we aspire to becomes more humble.
It's a bit of a floating holiday, observed at different points throughout the fall. Generally the later it is observed the better. And sometimes, as in 2012, we get that rare meteorological event, the "false reality week", when we believe we have been eliminated from contention though we really haven't been.
It's a tough pill to swallow, having to reorient your expectations for the season, and it's made tougher when a spate of injuries mean that you're just not fielding the same team you thought you'd be fielding. That's probably the cruelest aspect of the Bulldogs' current plight: like Camus' protagonist in The Stranger, we just can't get people to understand that this is not who we are, man.
Well, to some extent 4-2 really is who we are. It turns out that young defense we thought would bite us once or twice hasn't so much as let go for a moment. If nothing else we've learned just how transcendent a pass rusher even a banged up Jarvis Jones was. And what a luxury it was to have Sanders Commings back there locking people down. And Bacarri Rambo creating turnovers. Leonard Floyd, Jordan Jenkins, Tray Matthews, and Shaq Wiggins will all be great players for us, the kind you need to win a national title. I have no doubt about that. But it won't be this year, and that kind of stings.
About the best that can be hoped for is that at some point the young defenders will turn the corner, that we'll suffer no more injuries to the offense, and that the guys we do have on that side of the ball will continue to gel. There's really no replacing the big play potential of Malcolm Mitchell, Justin Scott-Wesley, and Keith Marshall. But we'll soldier on as best we can, beginning with this Saturday when we face a Vanderbilt squad that's winless in SEC play and will almost certainly be looking to take advantage of this Bulldog squad if it collectively mopes around feeling sorry for itself. It's time to lace 'em up, have a little pride, and get the job done.
In terms of getting the job done I can't think of anything that would help quite like getting Todd Gurley back. Sadly, it is not to be, apparently. Gurley remains listed as "doubtful", along with freshman safety Tray Matthews (the only Bulldog to tally an interception this season, which is a sad little footnote in and of itself).
That means we get another week of J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas trying to get enough on the ground to make room for whoever we have left at receiver to make enough plays to get us out of Nashville with a W. On the bright side, one or two mental errors aside, both of those guys have looked good, and it's a nice sign for the future that next season we'll have to figure out what to do with Gurley, a hopefully recovered Marshall, the likely redshirting A.J. Turman, Green, Douglas, and 5 star incoming freshmen Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. We're just gonna hope that 7 SEC caliber tailbacks is enough to get us through a 2014 spent breaking in a new starter at quarterback.
But for now, while you're shoring up your confidence for a game that a lot of folks don't seem terribly confident about, I recommend you enjoy an Ankle Brace. Mix 3 ounces of cantaloupe juice (which you can find at most health food stores and fancy schmancy groceries), 1.5 ounces of tequila, the juice of half a fresh lime, 1 ounce of simple syrup and a pinch of salt over ice. Then strain it into a glass whose rim has been salted using a mixture of a teaspoon each of chile powder, sugar, and salt. It will hopefully be enough to fortify you until you figure out how much is too much to expect from a battered but battling group of Bulldogs.
Also feel free to use this as home base for tonight's ACC-TION between North Carolina and the suddenly top 10 ranked Miami Hurricanes. Until later . . .