1. Georgia's victory over Penn State in Saturday's
"Kill an IRS Agent Bowl" TaxSlayer Bowl was a microcosm of just about every victory we experienced in 2015. Notice I did not say "every victory we enjoyed." Don't get me wrong: I love winning. But outside of blowing out our two scheduled cupcakes and the Fools Gold dismantling of South Carolina, the "W's" on our schedule were always contentious, teeth-gnashing affairs. Yesterday was no different. What a long, strange trip its been...
2. A ton of credit does go to the ad hoc coaching staff and, in particular, Bryan McClendon and John Lilly for dialing up enough offense to beat James Franklin's group from Happy Valley and end the season on a high note. Beating James Franklin alone deserves its own recognition. I loathe the guy and hope he never returns to the SEC in any capacity. Nothing against Penn State's players - those guys showed a lot of character in their 4th quarter comeback - but James Franklin is the absolute wrong coach for that school. It's their burden to bear. I'm thankful we beat the jerk. He is a petulant brat and the poster-child for the "Peter Principle."
3. The Dawgs actually were dominating right up until that pesky 4th quarter. We did enough, and ground out a late, clock-eating drive when it counted that give the Nittany Lions little time with no timeouts to really threaten. We have to convert on those short-yardage situations going forward. Game should have been over right then. Kudos to the defense, especially against the run. We had some weird coverage packages in the secondary that certainly allowed some 3rd and, especially 4th down conversions at inopportune times - again mostly in the late stages of the game. State's backup QB Trace McSorley actually threw a great ball with an even better catch to DaeSean Hamilton that was well defended. Gotta tip your hat there....
4. You cannot say enough about Malkom Parrish and Dominick Sanders. Both of these guys are always around the ball and Parrish is as good an open field tackler as we've had in a while at his position. Sanders' interception on a deflected pass was a heady play and led directly to 3 early points. Rico McGraw was solid as well. These guys are still young, too.
5. Sony Michel, as has been the case all season long, ran hard and protected the ball against a solid (but not the best) defensive front. His 21 yard touchdown run late in the 3rd quarter, while dragging #90 for Penn State into the end zone epitomizes what this kid has been all about - all season long: Toughness.
6. Keith Marshall ran hard when he got his chance as well - nearly breaking a long run on a few occasions. Best of luck to KM going forward. He's got a bright future ahead of him, no matter where his path leads. DGD.
7. We are going to miss Malcolm Mitchell. It was great to see him go out on top. He finished the day with 5 receptions for 114 yards including a perfectly thrown ball from TaxSlayer Bowl MVP Terry Godwin for a 44-yard score. Terry Godwin, just by virtue of playing with #26 and in his own right, has become a real weapon. We have to get someone to compliment him next season. This is one of new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney's most pressing priorities. Anyway, thank you Malcolm. See you on Sundays.
8. Will Muschamp better not get too used to having Bryan McClendon on the Gamecock sideline. I think BMAC is a head coach-in-waiting sooner than later. It will be fun watching his ascension.
9. I feel these words will be the last reference we'll see/hear from Coach Richt until, perhaps, we meet again in a stadium somewhere. Goodbye, Coach.
Congratulations to the Georgia Bulldog coaches and players! Great to see the senior class reach 40 wins! God Bless!— Mark Richt (@MarkRicht) January 2, 2016
10. There is no one working harder anywhere than Kirby Smart at the moment. I don't know what his vacation plans are in 2016. I honestly don't know if he can afford the luxury of time. But after National Signing Day I sincerely hope he can catch his breath and catch a break. He is as involved with Alabama as he can possibly be at the moment and I wish him luck. I also think that he's working just as hard as our head coach.
10A. Thank you, Seniors...and all underclassmen who will be making their dream-jump to the League. Best wishes.
11. I read every word of the post-game threads yesterday. Not just on this blog, but elsewhere. Our fan base is as divided as it has ever been. So is this blog. I suspect in time, some of this will fade, but when long-standing members, blog founders, and good friends come to the point where I think some of us are, it is disheartening.
12. What I have trouble with are some individuals - newcomers, frankly - who are almost gloating about the coaching change as if you won something. We welcome dialogue here at Dawg Sports, but this element has made this (and other Dawgosphere entities) at times less enjoyable. I hope this will change. I suspect it will at least in the short-term.
13. This is not my blog to run. I simply post comments and have the privilege of penning a little something every now and again. But if it were my blog to run I'd ban-hammer anyone who says anything to disparage Mark Richt in a personal way. We've seen a few (emphasis on few) instances of this since the Georgia Tech game and McGarity's decision. The man deserves better from everyone. I don't care about anything he didn't accomplish. I don't care about the Championships he didn't win. That's all way, way in the past. He was the right hire at the right time. My hope is that Coach Smart is coming to town and produces similar results. That is a tall order.
14. We've got a new direction now. I'm an optimist by nature, so, naturally, I'm optimistic. But it's extremely guarded. It has dawned on my - in 2015 - that being a Georgia fan has devolved to an all-or-nothing sum game. Shame on me. And this season is a perfect example of how winning TEN DAMN GAMES still feels hollow. Maybe it was Chubb's injury; perhaps the horrible thing that happened to Devon Gales in our own ballpark. Certainly it was how our Athletic Director handled a certain "transition." Maybe college football has become too big. We've come a long way from those 1:30 P.M. Saturday starts with no television with only Larry Munson providing eyes and ears for those who couldn't witness it in person. I (we?) never had it so good. I suspect that if this was the 1975 season instead of the 2015 season that just passed, with no internet, 24-hour sports channels and the like, the satisfaction level might be higher than it is. At least for me.
You know what? We did beat Auburn. We did beat Georgia Tech. We crushed South Carolina and knocked off a Big Ten opponent, thus exacting a little bit of revenge from the '83 Sugar Bowl, which may only have a certain appeal for an old fart like yours truly. That's good, right? You bet your bulldog it is.
15. It is Kirby Smart's show now. Let us all rally around him and each other.
Happy New Year, Everyone. Go Dawgs!