Five days on it is still impossible to find anything good to say about last weekend's debacle in Jacksonville. Honestly I gave up looking a long time ago. There are some games from which the best option is simply to move on. Certainly you may feel free to express your righteous indignation at the preparation and/or in game decision-making. For my part, I am just ready to see the Georgia Bulldogs take the football field again and get this bad taste out of their (and my) mouth. If you also need to get a bad taste out of your mouth, I might be able to help you with that.
We have reached that juncture in the college football season at which we have a pretty good feel for how things will ultimately shake out. Make no mistake, there is still plenty of time for seismic upheavel. But by and large America's college football teams know with reasonable certainty whether or not they will be in it at the end for a shot to make the college football playoff. As Georgia fans, we have a fairly good notion that the answer to that question will be in the negative. Sure, theoretically there is probably some route via which the Bulldogs can sneak in as a two loss team. I believe this path involves winning out, getting some help from Missouri to reach the SEC championship game, facing an SEC West team ticketed for the playoff, and shellacking them in very impressive fashion. We would also need some other teams with one loss to suffer horrendous second losses much like the two defeats which we currently own.
In other words, it ain't looking good. That being said, Georgia stands a very good shot of finishing the season 10–2 and playing in a solid top-tier New Year's-ish bowl game, maybe even against someone besides Nebraska. As someone who forecast that this team would struggle behind Hutson Mason as he keeps the seat warm for Brice Ramsey, and set the most likely Bulldog ledger at 9–3, I can't really be that disappointed. What rage and cynicism I have felt over the past week is attributable 100% to the expectations I allowed myself to have based upon what we saw against Missouri and Arkansas. In hindsight, those two teams are probably not a great barometer of whether or not anyone is capable of winning it all. In double hindsight, I almost wish we had struggled a little more with them. Maybe it would have paid off with a better effort in Jacksonville.
So what do I want to see going forward generally, and this weekend against Kentucky specifically? For one I want to see a defense that plays like it has something to prove. Because dadgumit, the Bulldog defense has a hell of a lot to prove right about now. First Jeremy Pruitt came out of the pregame locker room in Jacksonville and told us that his team was not ready to play and that was his fault. Bravo. Then Ramik Wilson admitted that he and his comrades probably took the Florida gators a little lightly. Inconceivable, insane, but in line with the visual evidence. Finally, Mark Richt essentially admitted that he wished he hadn't let Ramik Wilson talk to the media. Too late, Coach.
If this team now comes out in plays in Lexington with a fiery passion, it is still not going to erase what I saw last weekend. In a way, it will frustrate me even further that this team continues to be unable to put together great efforts against bad football teams, even though I know last weekend's debacle was a little more complicated than that. But nothing would frustrate me as much as saying this team which two weeks ago had so much to play for once again come out uninspired, as if they have given up on what could still be a pretty darn good season.
The mission is simple, guys. Go to the Bluegrass State, come back with a victory. Is that too much to ask? We just want to see something different than the pile of moving elephant poop we saw last weekend. Not a completely different football team, but the team we know is in there somewhere doing the things we know them to be capable of. Riffing on that theme, this week's cocktail is one that gets the basics right, but isn't afraid to change it up just a little. It's a new take on the classic Whiskey Smash. Place 5 mint leaves and 3/4 of a peeled lemon in a glass, muddle them together and let sit for 1 minute (this actually helps release the oils in the mint and aromas from the citrus, it's worth your time. Make small talk like a grown up while waiting). Then add 2 and 1/2 ounces of bourbon (because...Kentucky) to the mixture, shake together over ice, and strain into a highball glass for serving.
The great thing about these is that after a couple of them you may forget Jacksonville, at least for a little while. Feel free to use this as your open comment thread for tonight's Thursday college football/NFL action. We'll be back with more Georgia Bulldog news later. Until then…