Here is what I’m NOT worried about for Saturday’s tilt against the Tricorns from the City of Bachelorette Love:
1) It’s Vanderbilt. And not a particularly good version of Vanderbilt. Here’s a quick summary:
109th in Total Offense
107th in Rushing Offense
79th in Passing Offense
125th in Scoring Offense
114th in Turnover Margin
60th in Time of Possession (because I guess they receive lots of kickoffs???)
116th in Total Defense
119th in Passing Yards Allowed
88th in Rushing Defense
122nd in Team Tackles for Loss.
What can I say? Vanderbilt is winless, is not playing well enough to win, have only scored in double digits 4 times, and achieved 1 score or less 3 times. They scored a third of their season’s touchdowns in a single game against Kentucky, which they lost. They’re giving up over 36 points a game. I am not worried about Vanderbilt – I root for them often, and I kinda feel bad about this, but there is nothing to worry about with this SEC East contest.
2) Rinse, repeat. We beat an overmatched, interim-coached, and extremely thin South Carolina team handily. The game was basically over near the end of the first quarter even though we got sluggish and South Carolina found some life. But the game was never out of our control from the kickoff.
You know what sounds familiar? All of the above. I don’t know the last time I felt confident that the University of Georgia football team would face a conference opponent and win easily. That we wouldn’t let them hang around, or that we would inexplicably double our output of interceptions thrown, or that we didn’t get off the bus, or yada yada yada (you’re a Georgia fan, you get it). This week? I have no such illusions or concerns. We will win, it will be a beat down, we will send in 3rd and 4th stringers, we will have a glorified scrimmage, and we will actually accomplish the task of beating or near beating an overwhelming spread. I’m sorry Vandy, this isn’t your year.
3) College kickers, amirite? The game might come down to kickers, and the pony-tailed elephant in the room is the newly installed Sarah Fuller for Vanderbilt. There are a wide range of opinions on allowing a Power 5, and SEC in particular, school to put a female on a live football field. Some think it a public relations stunt, some think it a desperate act of a departing coach and an interim coach looking for a new contract, some think it an interesting opportunity to see what can be done, and some see it as an inspiration to achieve previously unavailable goals. Personally, I love it.
The “halftime locker room pep talk” made the issue more divisive. Did she have the right to call out veteran football players when she was plunked in the middle of them with almost no warning, seemingly little competition, and no earning of the jersey through spring drills and sweaty summer camps? Or did she simply have spirit of competition, and school pride, and using her experience as an elite college student-athlete and leader to inject some much needed fervor in her fellow Commodores?
I’m not worried about that in the least. It won’t affect me past a few conversations with buddies, and I won’t have to worry about it over the offseason (which is approaching faster than I would like). But I will acknowledge it for what it is.
This is 2020 folks. We have fellow Georgians sick and dying by the thousands. We have fellow Americans sick and dying by the hundreds of thousands. We’ve turned on each other for a myriad of misplaced reasons this year more than ever. We also have the gift of renewed faith. Faith that we can beat a global pandemic with ingenuity, incredible resources, and ultimately a vaccine for all humankind. That we can pull together during economic hardships. That we can empathize with others, and recognize their experience is not ours and see the world through their eyes.
That we actually have the gift of college football and that is a gift that keeps on giving the whole year – in weird and wacky ways never seen coming. There’s always something crazy about a college football season, and if a student-athlete is allowed to pursue a first, is allowed to be a record-breaker, is allowed the chance to do something unique, I for one am going to enjoy the living hell out of it. Just like I enjoy a DIII player breaking all the NCAA rushing records, or giving a hat tip to the team that ran over everybody like a freight train including Georgia, or that a University goes out of it’s way to help an opposing team (or player) through tough times, or a rowdy crowd that waves to sick children in a nearby hospital, or that pays tribute to a legend recently passed. It is the thread in the weave, and we just need to keep working the loom to see more and more of these things that make it so special and so worthy of our devotion.
In case you can’t tell, I’m not worried about Vanderbilt. So I’m just going to leave it right there, and am going to sit back and watch the team I’ve loved for decades play the sport they love, and I sure hope we win. So as always…