I don’t get a chance to attend many Georgia games. Most of the time I end up watching on television. But once, or sometimes twice a season, a ticket will somehow find its way into my possession and I’ll make it out to Sanford Stadium. Such was the occasion on November 23rd for the Georgia-Kentucky game. After dodging $30 parking lots, recruiters from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (awesomely nice people, by the way), overflowing port-a-johns, and (I swear!) an Australian guy who showed up at our tailgate and bombarded us with questions about the game, Georgia, Kentucky, and football in general, I settled into my seat in section 106. Here are a few observations I stored away to share with you on this Sunday evening:
-In July of 2012, my wife and I moved to Southern California. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever again get another chance to watch my beloved Dawgs play in person. After moving back to Athens in September of this year, I was at my first game in more than two years. My eyes welled up with tears at the following moments: During the Battle Hymn trumpet solo, at the end of the video montage when Larry Munson says "Go Dawgs!," when stadium public address announcer Brook Whitmire says "and now, if you bleed red and black!," when Aaron Murray was introduced during the senior day program, and just before kickoff when the crowd began the "gooooooo Dawgs!" chant.
-I was at the game with my friend Steve. Steve is the only person I know who was born, raised, and spent his whole life in Florida but is a lifelong Georgia fan. I can only imagine what it must have been like for him in the 1990’s, when Florida owned Georgia. Now that we’ve turned the series around, he lives here, so he can’t really rub it in the way he’d like. But he did take particular pleasure in one score from Saturday: Georgia Southern 26 Florida 20.
-Todd Gurley is one of the best players in all of college football. He is an absolute beast when running the ball, and now he has become equally dangerous as a receiver. Georgia is a completely different team when he’s on the field. Even if he doesn’t touch the ball, the opposing team has to be aware of where he is.
-Kentucky is bad. Real bad. Though Georgia’s season has been below expectations, at least we aren’t in the shoes of Wildcat fans. Imagine being 2-9, and without much hope that things are getting better.
-It’s tough being a visiting fan; especially when your team is losing. I’ve been in this situation myself, and it’s never easy. There were two Kentucky fans sitting right beside me, and while no one bothered them, you could tell that they were dreading the long ride home. They left at halftime with their team down 35-10.
-The injury to Aaron Murray was terrible. For my money, Murray is the best quarterback I've seen play for the Dawgs, and it just isn’t fair that he came back for his senior season and watched practically his entire offense go down around him. And now he gets hurt himself; on senior day, no less. It kind of sums up our whole season. We’ve had to deal with this kind of thing all year. I guess when your number one receiver goes down while celebrating the first touchdown of the year, it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the season.
-Special teams continues to be a problem. Reggie Davis muffed a punt, giving Kentucky the ball deep in Georgia territory. The defense held and forced a field goal, but this kind of thing has cropped up again and again this season. What will it take to right the ship? A special teams coach? But that is another argument for another day.
-The Dawgs didn’t seem to suffer any hangover from the Auburn heartbreak. Georgia came out ready to play and jumped all over Kentucky. There have been times when we’ve let overmatched opponents hang around, but not this time.
-I believe Georgia will be fine with Hutson Mason at quarterback. I still think the Dawgs will beat Georgia Tech next Saturday. Mason has a strong arm, and I love his quick release. Even though he wasn’t facing a stong defense, I was very impressed with his performance after Murray left the game.
-There is something about Georgia football that gets in your blood. No matter where you go or what you do, nothing can dampen the enthusiasm of the true fan. I’ve been a Georgia fan my whole life, and a serious, live and die with every play fan since 1987, when I was twelve years old. I’ll always be loyal to the red and black, no matter what.
It was a great experience, being back "Between the Hedges." I can’t think of a better place to be on a fall Saturday. I’m already looking forward to the next time. Until then, let’s finish the drill and beat Georgia Tech. Go Dawgs! Sic ‘em!