As I am sure you know by now, our beloved Dawgs came up short in orange Death Valley last night. Members of the Bulldog Nation have been trying to justify the loss in a myriad of ways: we goofed on the field goal attempt (when we should have been going for the TD anyway), too many turnovers (true), referees turning a blind eye to the Tigers' transgressions on an all-too consistent basis (mm hmm), the Clemson stadium crew flashing strobe lights in our offense's eyes before snaps (they really did that?!)... Pick your poison.
I'm not here to harp on that loss, sad as I was last night about it.
I'm here to implore you to get the heck over it and get the heck ready for a game that I consider WAY more important than the ESPN-overhyped evening struggle with the Country Gentlemen whose fans boo injured players (I am bitter about that). Y'all, this game on Saturday against South Carolina is huge. Why?
The Dawgs have somehow lost three straight games to our cocky neighbors to the east. Until last season's third-straight loss in the series, the Dawgs had never lost three in a row to the Garnet and Black. Throw all that "Well, historically, Georgia is still 46-17-2 against them, so it's all gravy" out the window. I do not want to continue ending up on the wrong side of history. Who amongst the the Dawg Sports community, pointing to history, looked the other way when Florida started beating Georgia on a regular basis in the 1990s? I will not allow the Bulldog Nation to make the same mistake twice. South Carolina will not dominate Georgia for two decades. South Carolina must be defeated on Saturday.
This guy has no idea what it's like to beat South Carolina... via cbssports.com
This guy does, but this is ancient history, my friends... via cdn1.sbnation.com
History In General:
Of course, there is a common denominator that connects the modern-day Gamecocks to those Ganja Gremlns (h/t vineyarddawg) of which I just spoke. It is this (complete with genus and species as the creature has evolved):
Doofus arrogantus alligator via 24.media.tumblr.com
Doofus arrogantus abjectus via images.usatoday.com
Doofus arrogantus pullus via blogs.palmbeachpost.com
Doofus arrogantus revoltus via cdn0.sbnation.com
This disgusting creature has taken many forms over the years, but one thing about it is consistent: it loves beating Georgia and devotes every ounce of its sad, slimy being to doing so each and every year. I implore you, Bulldog Nation, do not feed this creature any longer. It dies a little inside each and every time the Dawgs triumph on the field of play. Death to the unholy creature of the underworld! Beat South Carolina!
Origin of the species? Georgia's Bill Stanfill makes life miserable for Doofus arrogantus clericus in the famous 1966 showdown in Jacksonville via 25.media.tumblr.com
As if robbing Doofus arrogantus of its bragging rights weren't enough, I have some more reasons for you to take this game as seriously as a heart attack.
For years, the South Carolina faithful have considered Georgia their primary conference foe while we in the Bulldog Nation, pointing to history and the series record, have turned a blind eye to them while saving our venom for historic conference foes like Auburn and Florida. I'm not saying stop hating those teams. Lord knows, we all do. I'm saying you need to start making room for South Carolina on your hate train, too. Those well-versed in Bulldog history might argue that South Carolina has never been a serious rival of ours, so they never should be. Well, I got news for you. In today's world when Missouri plays in the Southeastern Conference, tradition can sometimes carry little weight. No matter the overall series record, recent history dictates that South Carolina is now a major conference rival and must be treated as such.
I got some history for ya: the last time we beat South Carolina was 2009. 2009! via multimedia.onlineathens.com
If we as fans do not take them seriously, how can we expect our players to?
Do not let the fact that our neighbors do not have a rich football history fool you. Do not overlook them because they have a mascot that resembles Foghorn Leghorn in a dress. Do not dismiss them because they enter their stadium to the same song that many a time escorted Elvis to the stage all those years ago. Do not scoff them because the second part of their team name is a word you would never say in front of your mother. They need to be taken seriously. They need to be defeated.
If you still cannot find it in you to hate the Gamecocks this week, my final argument: Sandstorm.
The 2012 debacle in the bad Columbia was a perfect (sand)storm for the hosts and a night from hell for the visitors. Recall how you felt after that shellacking our boys got last season. Visit some Dawg Sports posts from during and after that game, if you want. In my 10+ years of religiously following Georgia's football team, I have never been so humiliated and deflated after a loss, UCF included. The 2012 game in the bad Columbia was a nightmare. The feathered faithful had been drinking palmetto moonshine all day to make the stadium a madhouse by kickoff, the team had been in preparation all week to add another notch to their Dark Lord's Dawg-hating belt, Sandstorm was cranked to 11. Take a minute and reflect upon how you felt that night. Now imagine how great it would feel for a clucking South Carolinian to have to endure that kind of misery this season. Feels pretty darn good, doesn't it?
There are things you can do to help. If you are going to the game, go wild. Sanford Stadium should be nothing short of a circus when the Gamecocks come rolling into town on Saturday. It's a 4:30 game, so I want to see the place rocking with alcohol-fueled, chicken-hating Dawg fans ready to will their team to the victory. I live more than 600 miles away from Athens and I'm still going to be screaming as if the teams can hear me. The Dawgs have to win this game.
Conclusion: But we just lost to Clemson. The season is over already. Can we beat Clowney?
Yes, we did. No, it is not. And, well... Clowney is a freak of nature, but one player does not a whole team make. South Carolina and Clemson are almost polar opposites when it comes to playing style. I was disheartened to see our touted OL get manhandled by Clemson DLs of whom I had never heard. Clowney will be a huge factor, there's no way around that. But if Bill Walsh's 49ers could stop Lawrence Taylor, Mark Richt's Bulldogs can at least slow down the big, bad quarterback killer. Right?
The OL has some work to do this week. via a.espncdn.com
All things considered, our defense, pointed out as Georgia's Achilles' heel by each and every talking head on the ESPN payroll, performed admirably last night. I expect them to perform even better at home against a less star-studded Gamecock offense. Connor Shaw is not Tajh Boyd. Whoever South Carolina's receivers are are not Sammy Watkins. Proven Dawg-killer Marcus Lattimore is gone. Our defense can stop South Carolina. Last night, I saw flashes of brilliance from players like Ray Drew and Sterling Bailey on the line. Tray Matthews and Brendan Langley showed incredible promise in the secondary. The LBs were as advertised- Jordan Jenkins and Amarlo Herrera will be household names by mid-season, if they aren't already.
Yes, I am worried about the offense after last night, especially about our OL keeping Clowney away from Aaron Murray who, when he has time, is as efficient and precise a QB as I have seen in a long time, but let's all put the OL on watch this week and demand better. We know they are capable of it.
Best be hitting the practice fields hard this week, big fellas via images.morris.com
To beat South Carolina, Georgia must play smart football and stick to their strengths. I'm not going to try to tiptoe around the impact of the potential loss of Malcolm Mitchell, our major deep threat at WR. But Justin Scott-Wesley looked ready for the big-time last night (4 receptions for 55 yards) and Michael Bennett (5 receptions for 60 yards) is as sure-handed a receiver as you're going to find. Rantavius Wooten (2 receptions for 46 yards) and Chris Conley (3 receptions for 67 yards) also had good games last night and should be considered reliable targets. We also have Artie Lynch (1 reception for 18 yards) and Jay Rome (1 reception for 10 yards), the best TE duo in the SEC.
There is a ton of balance in the receiving corps, but I suggest sticking to what works: RTDB! Todd Gurley, who rushed for a career-high 154 yards on 12 carries with two TDs last night, did so on an injured thigh. If Georgia is supposed to live in fear of Clowney, South Carolina should be just as terrified of Gurley, who might even work his way into the Heisman conversation if he keeps doing what he's been doing. Add Keith Marshall, who played a decent game last night, although I continue to question Coach Bobo on the "Marshall up the middle" stuff (43 yards on 16 carries with a TD), and FB Quayvon Hicks, who played out of his mind in orange Death Valley (38 yards on three carries with a TD; one 38-yard pass reception), to the mix and you have a recipe for a healthy batch of pounding the flipping rock. RTDB!
This UGA food services magnet was on my fridge when I was in college, back when we used to beat South Carolina all the time. Let's start doing it again. via bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com
That's it, Bulldog Nation, our team has business to tend to this Saturday. Do your part. Take South Carolina seriously. Get amped up (just don't listen to Sandstorm to do so; it's not 1999 anymore). Get behind your Dawgs as they prepare for a huge showdown between the hallowed hedges of Sanford Stadium on Saturday. South Carolina must be defeated. Let the Big Dawg eat. Eat mor chikin!