If your Georgia Bulldogs are preparing to host an undefeated SEC for with College GameDay coming to town (again), you could probably use a drink. I can help with that.
I’ve heard a lot of football coaches hold forth over the years on their philosophies. But the most accurate account of how to win football games at any level came from my junior high school football coach, Coach Arnold. Coach Arnold would arrive for practice every day with a jaw full of Red Man and a six pack of Tab diet cola. Even by South Georgia middle school football standards he was not on the cutting edge of offensive theory. I don’t have a clear memory of our team ever actually attempting a forward pass in the two years I played for him.
But Coach Arnold’s teams rarely lost. When I was in the 7th grade we beat our rival from the next county over so badly that people threw glass Coke bottles and bricks at the bus as we rolled out of town. And it was accomplished with an achingly simple ethos.
Coach Arnold gave the same speech, more or less, before every single game. “Fellas” he’d say, “the team that wins the first snap is going to win this game. If every one of you can put the man in front of you on his butt on that first play we won’t have anything to worry about today.”
He was usually right. Some of it is probably confusing cause with effect. Some of it is mistaking correlation for cause. But if the thousands of football games I’ve watched at every level of the sport, I’d wager Coach Arnold was correct 70% or more of the time. If you see one team come out on the first series and physically dominate the other the dominating team is usually the winner.
Things have changed since Coach Arnold was running an endless series of sweeps, dives, and counters with his pint-sized pugilists. But the game is still usually won by the team that comes out and socks the other team in the mouth. Rarely does a team get pushed around in the first half then find their sea legs later. Usually if you’re kind of getting worked in the first quarter you end up really getting smashed in the fourth. Again, win the first few snaps and you usually win the game.
Georgia has been otherworldly this season at coming out of the locker room and punching people in the mouth. The Bulldogs have outscored opponents 147-9 in the first half this season, and there’s probably no other statistic that better encapsulates this team. They start fast, hit hard, and then sit on opponents until they slowly stop trying to get up.
There will come a day when this Bulldog team plays somebody who’s capable of taking an early punch to the mouth and hanging around. Maybe it’s this weekend, maybe not.
But we need to come out punching again. If we do, I expect we’ll be fine. How should you and your closest friends celebrate the Red and Black coming out punching?
With some Wildcat Punch. You’ll need:
8 oz. cranberry juice
8 oz. pineapple juice
8 oz. orange juice
4 oz. lemon juice
10 oz. Bourbon (Take your pick of brands. Kentucky is bourbon country, after all.)
24 oz. ginger ale, chilled.
Directions: Combine everything except the ginger ale, giving it a stir. Just before serving stir in chilled ginger ale. This recipe only makes 6 servings, but that should be plenty. Enjoy responsibly, and...