Welcome to a mid-season break, the bye week. The Georgia Bulldogs don’t have a scheduled opponent this week, and reactions to this vary.
There’s the viewpoint that this particular Bulldog roster has been beset by injuries; some incurred last season (George Pickens), some during the summer and fall camps (JT Daniels), and some happening during the season (Christopher Smith). Unfortunately there multiple examples of each. A bye week, especially occurring at the midway point allows players to heal up, get extra treatment, and not subject themselves to the typically short turnaround between hard-hitting games.
Then there’s the fact these ‘Dawgs is RRROOOLLLLLLLLIIINNN!!! Undefeated, double-digit margin of victories since early September, stomping conference teams at historical levels, a game + tiebreaker lead in the SEC East division race, and a #1 ranking. Recruits come to Athens on a Saturday, and they can’t give their commitment fast enough (or at least decommit from our rivals). Who in their right mind wants to slow down the momentum? To break from a winning routine and schedule; to do absolutely anything other than lacing them up and coming out of the West end zone tunnel onto Dooley Field.
As fans with little to zero responsibilities (your game day rituals aside), we’re probably getting feels from both. We can’t wait to see what this team can do fully or even close to fully healthy. We’re enjoying the ride and don’t want to jinx anything by breaking the rhythm. Plus, we only have 12-15 opportunities to see our Bulldogs play live football every year, so it’s hard to push it off for 7 extra days. Then DaveTheDawg reminded us there are other ways to fill this time, many of them not near as rewarding as watching Georgia live or on TV.
So what do the coaches think about a bye week? You’re not going to get anything from Coach Kirby Smart other than the message he wants to send to his players. Logically, he wants players to rest and recover, to heal up from the normal bangs and bruises, and to give healing time to those who are truly injured. And though I imagine the coaching staff had 90% of these two weeks planned out last May, I’m sure they also dread breaking up the routine and program and (dare I say) process, especially riding such a heater.
Because they are human beings, the staff probably allotted a little more free time to the student-athletes, giving them time to maybe visit family at home, catch up on some studies or socializing on campus, and let them decompress from the stress and rigors of playing in an intensely structured and more intensely coached football program. “Free time”... and I bet that worries them more than probably anything else.
And with a self-diagnosed case of Munson, I have to admit I’m worried too. History has provided a wide ranging litany of bad things that happen to Georgia Bulldog players in their “free time”. You know the greatest hits: emerging from an alley on a scooter, inexplicable injuries with fishing gear, less than forthcoming conversations with officers during traffic stops, they just keep coming. 3 things that worry me? More like a kajillion things.
The other side of that coin is my brain, which tries to tell my heart that this is a different year. As a wise Señor said recently, “that was old Georgia. This is new Georgia.” Kirby Smart has his stamp on the UGA program, from facilities to recruiting to schemes to coaching hires to motivation. Things are not like they were just 6 years ago, or 15 years ago, or even during Smart’s first year. So has his message been received by the players, that might guide them when faced with a decision that 18-22 year old males typically go south with? I weren’t no angel, I can assure you of that. Yet maybe, just maybe, CKS has ingrained his charges so much that when that angel appears on one shoulder, the devil appears on the other one, a tiny visor-wearing former safety pops in to help steer them away from trouble.
Where you do stand on the bye week? What worries you since the players aren’t playing, the coaches aren’t coaching, and the referees can’t screw us? Tell us below in the comments, and as always...