Glory, glory to ol' Georgia. (via media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com)
To the entire Bulldog Nation,
As most of you are now painfully aware, we won the game in Knoxville, but at a heavy cost. We've lost Keith Marshall and Justin Scott-Wesley for the season, and we have several other DGDs who are day-to-day and may or may not play against Missouri.
Yes, it is Mizzou, coming into town on 5-0, undefeated with wins against Murray State, Toledo, Indiana, Arkansas State, and Vanderbilt. They are coming into town as another ranked team at #25. For many people, it's easy to overlook the newcomer Tigers, but I'm here to tell you right now - STOP IT. Right NOW.
I guarantee you that they smell blood in the water, and they are looking for that signature SEC win in their second year as members of our conference (in 2012, their only conference wins came against Kentucky and Tennessee. Now they have beaten Vanderbilt, and I assure you that now they are aiming high at us for a statement win).
This will be our third meeting with the Columbian Tigers in our history, and we are currently undefeated against them, with an Orange Bowl win in 1960 and our win from last year in our first visit to Faurot Field. I think they'd love to snatch win #1 in a big way.
I don't want to hear how their pass defense "sucks", or that they "haven't played anyone." Every game from here on out will be a battle. We need to consider these Tigers as equals to the Bayou Bengals that came to our house just two weeks ago, or else we could easily fall into a trap.
That being said, up to this point, I am incredibly proud of Bulldog Nation. We showed up and raised hell when Spurrier led his squad of Gamecocks between the hedges, and our beloved Sanford Stadium gained some serious respect when even the TV commentators likened the noise to LSU's Death Valley when the Tigers came to town. That kind of comparison is not one to be taken lightly - it means that Bulldog Nation is showing up, and with each game, we are making strides in turning Sanford Stadium into one of the loudest and most intimidating places to play in football.
I'd like to take a moment to share a very poignant, well-stated comment posted by SolidStateMind earlier.
I'll tell you what we need to do...
We need to rally around our boys and support them; we need to show everyone that we believe our youngin’s can beat any team, any time, any place… even if you don’t really believe it, deep down.
Most importantly, I demand that anyone who is going to the game is be prepared to scream their lungs out for a full four quarters! I want to see false starts galore by Mizzou; I want them consistently facing 1st and 15 and 2nd and 15. If you know somebody who is going to the game, get them to commit to it as well. Trust me: even if the Tigers don’t suffer a bunch of false start penalties, a jacked up crowd screaming at them at full volume non-stop will get in their heads. The Dawgs will get jacked up on the noise, too. It will really help give them an extra bit of energy, and will let them know that we believe in them no matter what. (I live in Seattle, and I’ve seen first-hand how the Seahawks benefit from crowd noise. No team in the NFL wants to visit Century Link field.) That is the best way we can deal with the situation, or at least that’s what I think.
And it’s important to show a lot of energy and support for the Mizzou game— it’ll carry over to the rest of the schedule.
...I know that plenty of us feel like an SEC Championship and a National Championship are out of reach now. But if we truly believe that, why are we even taking the field? Are we really satisfied with an SEC Eastern Division Championship? Frankly, I’m not.
Nothing is written in stone, and none of us can see the future. It’s situations such as these where champions rise to the challenges in front of them. Do you believe that we can be champions? Because I do, and I don’t care how much they stack the deck against us, I’m going to keep believing that until the day I die.
Here is my call to arms for Bulldog Nation.
Defend This House.
Missouri can beat us. Vanderbilt and Kentucky can beat us. You know that Florida, Auburn, and Georgia Tech are licking their chops at the chance, and they all can beat us. Even Appalachian State will want to get their money's worth on us.
I say the above as possibilities. But by no means does that mean they will. Let me tell you a simple truth: the outcome depends on us, collectively, as one Georgia Bulldog Nation. It depends on Coach Richt and our Damn Good Dawgs donning the Red and Black, but it also depends on us, the fans.
An open letter to the Team:
No game has come easy this year. We have seen injuries and a schedule that would make Alabama and Oregon cry. You could've let it all go and given up after that heartbreaker at Clemson. Many projected a downward slide from you. The narratives rolled on -- "Mark Richt is too soft, he has no killer instinct, not enough passion to win", "Aaron Murray can't win the big one," "all this team does is choke when it matters".
Perhaps Georgia teams of the past would've fueled these narratives, but you Dawgs have shown more grit, toughness, and passion than several of your predecessors. Don't let those feelings go away. You were the Dawgs that went against the odds in 2011, rolling off 10 straight wins after a disappointing start to the season with a defense that said "to hell with that" and grew up and turned into men before our eyes. You were the Dawgs that showed tremendous leadership among yourselves in 2012, willing your way and creating your own destiny by paving your road to Atlanta. You came tantalizingly close to becoming one of the most celebrated squads in Georgia history if not for a tipped pass. And all this against a team who the pundits said would kick your asses, steamroll you, and send you packing for the bus early in the game, a team who was supposed to be "more talented", "stronger", etc.
In 2013, you have done something that 95% of the teams in the country wouldn't be able to do. You faced three top-10 teams in a month period, and you were 2-1 against them. Another incredible tidbit? You never gave up when you lost most of your offense against Tennessee, and you quashed the rally on the road and came away with the victory, even if soaked in blood, sweat, and tears. You will face two more ranked teams in the next three weeks in Missouri and Florida.
On a more personal note, I came in as a freshman when you seniors started your first year. Watching you guys the past few years has been nothing but a joy, even through all the ups and downs. Admittedly, I have a special admiration and desire for this squad to succeed because this is the squad I've watched through my time at UGA, and in a strange way, it's like I grew up with y'all. This is the group that I had classes with and would see out and about Athens and on campus every day, and I saw firsthand how close we were to bringing glory back to ol' Georgia. You have been incredible ambassadors for this University that I love so deeply, and that alone means the world to a Dawg like me. I didn't know any of you personally, but I know I'd be honored to shake every one of y'all's hands and say thank you to each and every one of you - for the memories, for being Damn Good Dawgs, and for giving your all to UGA, the best school of 'em all.
You should know that you will be fondly remembered as one of the most special squads in UGA history, as some of the greatest warriors to don the Red and Black, but we are far from the last chapter of your story. At least seven more teams have circled their contests with you on their calendars. They know you are great, but they know you are also vulnerable.
Well, I know, and I also speak on behalf of Bulldog Nation when I say that you have the heart of champions. Don't let that sentiment die until you hang your cleats up for the season. You may be ranked top 10, but go into every game from here on out hungry, passionate, and with a chip on your shoulder - to hell with the rankings, consider yourselves the underDawg in every game for the rest of the season. Get angry. Fight for your fallen, and fight for your own legacy.
You are Damn Good Dawgs, and the story is far from over. In fact, the real story of the 2013 Georgia Bulldogs could be just beginning.
To the Students:
I know you've been put on notice in the past, and you have shown up this season and truly made a difference for these men on the field. For that, I am incredibly proud.
Today, I humbly ask that on my behalf and all the other Bulldogs who are unable to travel to Sanford Stadium, we need you to show up early for the Mizzou game again. Again, please consider them on equal footing with the Gamecocks and the LSU Tigers. They are ranked and they are legit, and they need to be treated as such until the clock hits 0:00. Show the visiting fans a good time, but make our stadium miserable for their team.
Let's make it as deafening as Death Valley again. Let's show the world what happens when a challenger steps into the DAWG POUND.
Bring your friends. Hold off on retreating to your frat houses at halftime. Get your non-football literate fan friends with tickets to come and make some noise (I suggest shots, but just know I am not liable for any of your questionable decisions when following my advice.) Get rowdy.
As I mentioned above, the time is now for the team to play with the hearts of champions. Beyond that, the same goes for the fans. You have the chance to do something special - to be a part of the team by getting into our opponent's heads. We've had many a DGD fall to injury this season, and as our Heisman-worthy and record-breaking quarterback has stated, it's time for the next guy to step up. You are one of "those guys".
I wholeheartedly expect to see the stadium full and hear the roar from my TV when I turn it on this weekend. Over these next seven (or more) games, it's time to make Sanford hell on earth for Mizzou, App State, and Kentucky, and it's time to come out strong on the road for our boys against Vanderbilt, Florida, Auburn, and Tech (and any other opponent we may face beyond that).
As the late great Larry Munson says before each of our games,
"And now a new breed of Bulldog stands ready to take the field of battle. To assume the reigns of their Georgia forebearers. To continue that tradition. Understanding that there is no tradition more worthy of envy. No institution worthy of such loyalty as the University of Georgia. As we prepare for another meeting between the hedges, let all the Bulldog faithful rally behind the men who now wear the red and black with two words. Two simple words that express the sentiments of the entire Bulldog Nation…GO DAWGS!"
The time is now for all the Bulldog faithful to rally.
The above video is one full of personal meaning for me - it is one of my favorite inspirational speeches. I've got this on my iPod, and I use it to psych myself up for any challenge that faces me. I present it to you to help you get psyched up and get you ready. Write these words down, commit them to memory, and get ready for these next seven (plus) games - whatever you need to do. Take them to heart.
"What the odds don't know is, this isn't a math test. This is a completely different kind of test. One where passion, has a funny way of trumping logic. So before you step up to the starting line, before the whistle blows, and the clocks start ticking just remember: out here the results don't always add up. No matter what the stats may say and the experts may think and the commentators may have predicted, when the race is on, all bets are off."
Spread the word! Share this letter! Get ready for the next seven, fellow Dawgs! We're in for one hell of a ride if we hunker down!