You've read the official report. You've seen Paul Westerdawg's take on G-Day. You've perused Doug Gillett's recap of Bloggerpalooza '07. Now, per a reader request (and with a warm welcome to any of you who may have found your way here from USA Today), it's my turn.
First of all, my thanks go out to everyone who showed up Saturday morning. As Doug noted, it was sunny but chilly and we staked out a tiny triangle on the quadrangle for what appeared likely to be a small turnout. In the end, though, we had several folks stop by, including some old college pals and some fellow webloggers. (For the record, had Doug not already outed him, I had not planned on noting Paul's presence, as he came in the guise of his secret identity. When a guy walks up to you and introduces himself as Clark Kent, it's poor form to start telling everybody he's Superman.)
As Doug also noted, our tailgate was improved immensely by the fact that our pregame festivities were commingled with those of the fine fellows who brought a table, a dog, and an exceedingly drunk friend who provided both entertainment and a cautionary tale for us and for passersby. Even when I was young and spry, I didn't drink before football games, which enables me to appreciate just how enjoyable it is to be the sober guy watching the antics of the inebriated.
The dog and the table are visible here, although I failed to spot the designated drunk anywhere in this photograph, which is a pity. I'm the one on the far left in the black pants, black jacket, and red cap.
That's right . . . I attended the G-Day game stylishly attired in a classic red Georgia cap.
Next to me (wearing a white shirt and red pants covered with small white bulldogs) is the guy who owned the dog. He's a bartender, he's 23, and he's about to graduate, but I'm afraid that, although I remembered his dog's name, I didn't remember his. In any case, he'd had a drink or two his ownself, but he made tremendous good sense in several of the things he said. It always concerns me when a guy who's been drinking says things that make sense to me when I haven't had a drop, but, drunk or not, Truth is still Truth.
He remarked that, at G-Day, he rooted for offense. His theory was that, since he knew the defense would be all right, he was looking for the offense to show him something. I don't necessarily agree with that every year, but I certainly agreed with it on Saturday. I know the 'Dawgs have the defensive personnel to stop people, but, when I arrived in the Classic City, I didn't know whether the offensive line would come together well enough for Georgia to move the ball.
Accordingly, I was only too happy to see the Red Team build up a 27-0 lead, followed by a furious rally by the Black Team to cut the lead to six points, followed by a sustained drive by the Red Team to put the game away. There were enough defensive highlights (primarily involving Reshad Jones, Michael Lemon, and Brandon Miller) to keep me from being overly concerned about that side of the ball and the areas about which I was worried---the offensive line and the special teams---looked good enough to make me feel a great deal better about next fall.
Naturally, any use of the phrase "looked good" must be accompanied by a photograph of Kristin Davis.
Beyond that, here are the impressions I took away from G-Day:
- Although Matthew Stafford's and Joe Cox's numbers were comparable, their performances really were not, as it couldn't be clearer that Stafford is well ahead of Cox, who is well ahead of Blake Barnes. If we need a hard count to draw the defense offside on fourth and short, Barnes is our man. Otherwise, I don't want to see him in a game unless Georgia is comfortably ahead on the scoreboard.
- The running backs' numbers were deceptive, as Knowshon Moreno carried the ball 11 times for 68 yards and Jason Johnson tallied 13 rushes for 48 yards. Had you asked me after the game what their yardage totals were, I'd have sworn Johnson had 75 and Moreno had 100. (I'm still not convinced somebody didn't forget to carry a one in calculating Moreno's numbers.) Kregg Lumpkin didn't look bad, either.
- Moreno also threw a nice block that saved a sack and Johnson had the dubious honor of throwing the ugliest completed pass tossed by a Georgia player since Mike Bobo put up a rainbow against Georgia Tech in 1994.
To be fair, though, Jason Johnson's touchdown pass was far prettier than any T.D. toss of Jared Lorenzen's career.
- I don't know why Georgia Tech needs a student newspaper as long as they have the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- Having Sean Bailey back next fall is going to make a world of difference and the offense made effective use of Tripp Chandler, Kris Durham, and Brannan Southerland.
- The flag corps is not in midseason form, as they had several crucial drops. Hairy Dawg clearly is prepared for the fall, though, and, while the baton twirler making her final undergraduate appearance in Sanford Stadium did impressive work, her last catch was out of bounds and she didn't get a foot down, so it wasn't a reception.
- I'm beginning to believe that Andy Bailey is on this team because he succeeded in convincing someone that he's related to Boss and Champ. I'm also beginning to believe that it's time to turn Brandon Coutu into the best punter/placekicker the S.E.C. has seen since Damon Duval graduated from Auburn with a degree in health promotion. (In Duval's defense, I'd be willing to bet that he scored higher than a four on the Wonderlic.)
I hate Auburn.
- Was it just me, or was the sight of a defensive player wearing the number 26 tackling an offensive player wearing the number 26 a bit disconcerting? Granted, it reminded me of one of my favorite "Star Trek" episodes, but it was a bit weird, nevertheless.
- This year's attendance was quite a bit better than last year's and, while I'm sure the weather had something to do with that, I believe the presence of so many citizens of Bulldog Nation attested to the fan base's confidence in the team heading into the 2007 campaign.
- It is no secret that I was rooting for Willie Martinez to get a head coaching job somewhere else so that Rodney Garner could succeed him as defensive coordinator. If that comes to pass, though, Mark Richt will have to replace Coach Garner as defensive line coach. Doug, Ann, and I discussed this and we were agreed on who the Bulldogs' new defensive line coach ought to be:
With his N.F.L. future doubtful at best, David Pollack may have to pursue other avenues and his stint as a guest coach at G-Day might as well have been an audition.
While hiring Georgia alumni as head football coaches hasn't worked out so well, the 'Dawgs have had a pretty good track record of bringing in former players as assistant coaches. If memory serves, Pollack's career objective outside of football was to be a teacher, which means he likely gave consideration to coaching as a possibility. He is familiar with Georgia's defensive scheme and I don't doubt the ability of a smart defensive lineman to teach other defensive linemen.
Most importantly, Coach Pollack would give Georgia something that has been lacking in Athens since Brian VanGorder left . . . namely, the fire to balance out Coach Richt's ice. The Red and Black had impassioned defensive coaching under Erk Russell and under Coach VanGorder, and Georgia could have that again under Coach Pollack.
Even a bad day in Athens is better than a good day anyplace else, but, even taking that into account, Saturday was a fine day to be in Sanford Stadium and I, for one, saw what I needed to see to give me confidence in the Georgia football team going into next fall. I'll see you in the Classic City on Labor Day weekend . . . and at Bloggerpalooza '08 next spring!