I'm sure that, like me, many of you are still coming out of the sort of deep, dark gridiron depression that only comes about as a result of a heartwrenching loss. Last year at this time we found ourselves in the same position and hoped that a visit from the Vanderbilt Commodores would be good for what ailed us. That didn't turn out so good. Now we again find ourselves in search of an identity.
Like Dante Alighieri, the 2007 Georgia Bulldogs seem to have strayed from the path midway through their journey and wandered into some sort of football hell. Now, like the poet, it's time to climb our way back out and try to learn something along the way.
The 'Dawgs will continue looking for themselves at 6 p.m. on Saturday in an ESPN2 broadcast that the folks at Mickey Mouse Sports have to be just thrilled that they booked. If you tune in, during the breaks between Allstate Insurance commercials at least, you'll see these five things:
1) Vanderbilt's tailback. Vanderbilt's starting tailback is 215 pound senior Cassen Jackson-Garrison. You may never have heard of him, but you will be familiar with him by 9 p.m. Saturday. That's because Vanderbilt has struggled passing the ball with Chris Nickson and may be going to Mackenzi Adams as the replacement at quarterback. On a related note, is there any way that a guy named Mackenzi could be the starting quarterback at any SEC school but Vanderbilt? I doubt it. Quarterback schizophrenia + poor Bulldog defensive execution over the past three weeks= spread 'em out and run it up the middle. Vanderbilt is going to try to run the ball until we show them that we can stop it.
2) Rollouts/misdirections. This is what will happen if we stack up and stop the run. Last year Colorado gashed us by getting the quarterback out on the edge in run/pass options. Vanderbilt did the same 3 weeks later. It will be interesting to see if Willie Martinez can adjust a little more quickly to it this year.
3) Pride. We'll see if we have any, especially on defense. At this point, Coach Richt has made it clear that the season is about winning one game at a time. His players appear to be backing it up. Roger Clarkson of the Athens Banner Herald wrote a story this morning which quoted a couple of members of the defense on their woes right now. Jeff Owens summed it up when he said "To win games, you've got to stop the running game. I take pride in trying to stop the run. We've got to get better and concentrate."
Rod Battle remarked that "It's embarrassing. Especially when they beat us like that, down 28-0 in the first two quarters. Georgia defense doesn't play that way. We've got a tradition to live up to. That's not something we want to happen." These are the kind of things I like to hear from guys on our defense. It's easy for us as fans to sometimes think we can identify with what happens out on the field. But for the players, it's very, very personal and very, very real. It's important that they take losses like Saturday's personally. I'm looking for this defense to come out possessed, because they have a lot to prove. Especially to themselves.
4) Rennie Curran. He continues to play better and better. Mark Richt says he's just "got a knack for getting to the ball." Heaven knows we need that right now. He may or may not start, but he's seriously pushing Darius Dewberry to prove that he belongs in our longterm plans at linebacker.
5) UGA 24, Vandy 17. These teams are each coming off a road game in which they got dominated to the tune of a 28-0 halftime score, and lost by nearly identical final scores (us to Great Pumpkin U. and the 'Dores to the Tommy Tuberville School for Oversized Prosthetic Aural Devices). This one will be a dogfight, and Bulldog Nation's mood afterward is likely to be either continued trepidation (because a close win against Vanderbilt doesn't prove much) or outright meltdown (back-to-back losses to Vandy would send our fans, me included, into spasms of animalistic rage which can only be sated by the destruction of some cheap handtools). Back tomorrow with Thursday's cocktail and some recruiting news. Until then . . .