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Why does it seem to always be the case that someone has to question our manhood before we truly embark upon a year that will prove to be epic for Georgia Football? But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself...
Welcome back, Dawg fans! This is the second entry in the Dawg Sports 2012 football season review. Yesterday, I recapped the high and low points of the Dawgs' Week 1 destruction of an overmatched MAC team, the Buffalo Bulls. And let's be honest, we all knew going into that game that unless something practically unthinkable happened, we were going to win.
Apparently, Georgia's beatdown of poor Buffalo was not sufficiently crushinating in the eyes of the beauty contest judges, though, as the Bulldogs dropped from 6th to 7th in the polls for Week 2. Virtually no one was as confident regarding our week 2 opponent, either: the Missouri Tigers. In fact, many of us were assuming our customary pessimistic stations on the Larry Munson Memorial Wailing Wall® in advance of this one.
Georgia was wandering into enemy territory to inaugurate a team into the SEC in a town named "Columbia" for the second time. (The Gamecocks' first SEC game was a home contest against Georgia in 1992.) On top of that, it was a night game, which would ensure the crowd's rowdiness. And on top of that, the Tigers were much like their Palmetto State Columbia counterparts in that they were a relatively unknown quantity this early in the season. They had some dangerous players, most notably QB James Franklin and DL Sheldon Richardson, and they were certainly excited about their chances against the Dawgs. Combine that with the fact that we were still missing 'Tree, Rambo, and Sanders Commings for this game... and the Red and Black faithful certainly had our fair share of reasons to be nervous entering this match.
In a stroke of good luck for the Red and Black, it turns out that Mizzou had a player on its team that was great at giving opposing teams some bulletin board material, and he came through magnificently during the week prior to the game. The aforementioned DL Sheldon Richardson, who also had the audacity to wear #34, said when asked about the Dawgs that he "wasn't too worried about them.... They play Big Ten football. Old Man Football." Now, personally, I was more pissed off about the "Big Ten" comparison than the "Old Man" thing. Political correctness being what it is, however, the media seized onto the "Old Man Football" remark, and it served as a galvanizing focal point for both players and fans heading into the contest.
Before even talking about the actual game itself, however, I absolutely must revisit the amazing welcome and hospitality shown by the Tiger fans and the town of Columbia, MO, itself.
I have been to every SEC stadium as a visiting Georgia fan (with one swampy exception), and I have also followed the Dawgs to every non-conference road game outside the state of Georgia for the last 10 years. I have no hesitation or reservation in stating definitively that the people of Missouri and the town of Columbia, while ardently supporting their Tigers with all their hearts, also managed to be the most welcoming, friendly, and all-around greatest group of folks to opposing SEC fans that I have ever seen. As I mentioned in my write-up of an unfortunate (and completely unrelated) incident after the game, this gentleman was a perfect example of the hospitality every Georgia fan (to my knowledge) received:
(click to embiggen)
We might now have two Columbias in the SEC, but after 2012, we also have a convenient way to tell them apart. Columbia, MO, is the "the awesome Columbia." Columbia, SC, is "that hellhole Columbia to which I wouldn't send my worst enemy, except for Steve Spurrier."
So, after the most pleasant day of tailgating in enemy territory I've ever experienced (including a great time spent burning the taste buds off my tongue courtesy of DavetheDawg's flaming-hot andouille sausage), we entered Faurot Field and got down to the business of SEC football.
I'm not going to play the revisionist historian and lie to you: it was ugly. And it was close. Our offense had as abysmal a day as one could possibly have while scoring 41 points. Our defense saved our hide time after time, and Jarvis Jones used this game to truly make his first indelible mark on a season that would come to be defined by his (and the rest of the defense's) biggest plays.
The Mizzou partisans were raucous and loud. Louder than one would think an open stadium that small could really get. And I think it had a significant effect on our young offensive players, who struggled mightily the entire game. After a first quarter effort that can only be described as "fugly" on offense (but exceptional on defense), Aaron Murray threw an interception deep in Bulldog territory that gave Missouri the ball at the wrong 25 yard line. The defense held them without a first down, but the Tigers kicked a 38-yard field goal and led 3-0. Marshall Morgan responded two drives later with a 52-yard field goal, tying the game. Then, our defense got beat deep for a 41-yard touchdown pass, and every Bulldog fan in attendance momentarily felt an all-too-familiar sinking feeling in the pit of his/her stomach. Oh no. Here we go again. Those damn suspensions are going to make us lose an utterly winnable game.
Fortunately, it didn't last for too long, as Murray led the Dawgs down the field on the next possession to respond with a touchdown. And then Marshall Morgan, he of the previously-made 52 yard field goal, clanked the PAT off the post, sparking a trend that would stay with him most of the year. Make most of the hard kicks, but miss some of the easy ones. And just like that, Mizzou took a 10-9 lead into the locker room at halftime.
And unlike our week 1 game against Buffalo, we didn't come out with our hair on fire in the second half, either. The Boboffense went 3-and-out on their first possession, and the Tigers lit up our secondary again for a 69-yard touchdown pass on the next possession, stretching their lead to 17-9. (And all the Georgia fans simultaneously cursed the advent of pot brownies on spring break.)
Finally, thank goodness, the Boboffense kicked it into gear on the next possession, marching 80 yards down the field in 12 plays for a touchdown, followed by a successful 2-point conversion. And with that, the game was once again tied.
Our hearts were in our throats again on the next possession, though, as James Franklin just kept picking our weakened secondary apart. We were finally able to stop the Tigers, holding them to a 25 yard field goal, but Mizzou was once again in the lead, 20-17. Aaron Murray found his throwing arm when the Dawgs got the ball back, and punched right back at the Tigers with a fast 72 yard, 5-play drive to score a touchdown, allowing the Dawgs to take their first lead of the game, 24-20, with 1:48 left in the 3rd quarter.
After such an ugly first half, both teams seemed to have decided that playing defense was really overrated in the 3rd quarter. Fortunately, we started stopping James Franklin after that, and we tacked on another field goal along the way to make it 27-20, but we were still one bad play from disaster for most of the 4th quarter.
(Hey, can you cue up that 1980 season review video announcer guy again? Thanks.)
It happened. You know the play. I know the play. It will be part of the Georgia football highlight reel for as long as there is a Georgia football team.
Todd Gurley got the 1 yard rush for a score after that, but we all know whose touchdown that was. It was Jarvis Jones'.
But wait! There's more! On the very next possession (skip ahead in the video to 2:43):
After Boo Malcome cleaned up the mess, Jarvis Jones had earned 14 points for the Dawgs, and a game that had been agonizingly close all night turned into a 41-20 rout in the blink of an eye.
Final Score: Georgia, 41-20
Afterwards, of course, all of the Dawg fans in attendance engaged in a very mirthful chanting of the phrase "OLD MAN FOOTBALL!! (clap clap, clap clap clap)," the Georgia players held up a whiteboard on which was written the more politically-correct "Grown Man Football!!" and everyone went home happy. (Well, everyone wearing Red and Black, that is.)
In a very real sense, though, Sheldon Richardson was correct. Georgia wasn't flashy in this game. We didn't blaze up and down the field, scoring at will and daring the Tigers to stop us. We ground it out yard by yard, possession by possession, and finally won the game with exceptional defense, old-school style. We did indeed play "old man football," my friends. And on this night, due to the magnificent talent that is within Jarvis Jones, it was good enough to win convincingly.
Unfortunately for us, James Franklin got injured, and the demoralizing loss was very.. er, well, demoralizing for the Tigers. If you watched any of their games over the remainder of the year (as I did a couple of times), you didn't see that same Missouri team take the field again all year. They gave us their best shot and barely came up short. Unfortunately, the scoreboard made it look like they got blown out, and they never really recovered.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how a "weak schedule" meme is born.
Personally, I couldn't give a crap about the memes. We got our "W," and we had started 2-0 on the season, which was two wins better than we were at the same point in 2011. We were on our way.
If you'd like to watch the full game in its entirety (or if you'd just like to skip to the 2nd half), here's the video:
And here's the recap of the game as written by Mayor Kyle Weblog.
Tomorrow: DavetheDawg revisits our Week 3 game against the
Howard Schnellenberger-coached (sad_face.jpg) Owls of Florida Atlantic.