AltamahaDawg asked for something like this earlier today, and SEC Shorts was so kind as to oblige us with their well played theme of Georgia fans and their relationship with that thing some folks call Hope.
As you may recall, it’s been a rough season between Georgia fans and Hope. Now I can’t speak for what happened around the dinner table this holiday season in the Smart household, aside from I’ve heard their boys got plenty of wonderful gifts and that Mary Beth makes an amazing green bean casserole. I’m pretty sure the inside of the huddles are pretty boring with mostly X jet Z slot numbers numbers before a clap and everyone goes to their spots, and the coaches meetings are filled with empty bottles of Powerades and Five Hour Energys. As for what Kirby dreams about, reports indicate it’s usually about mauling zebras, tigers, alligators, and elephants, or sometimes Halle Berry in her Catwoman suit.
But I digress. We’re here to talk about hope. And to analyze what goes on in Kirby Smart’s mind. Particularly when it comes to quarterbacks.
I get it. This year has been confusing. We wanted to believe we could be in this position right now, but that belief has burned us so many times. Hope can drive a man insane after all. And then the season started, and Clemson was a bit of a dud. Then came the SEC slate, and the defense just curbstomped everyone in sight. And it was wonderful, and glorious, and some of us were conflicted with the thought that maybe, just maybe, “next year” was actually going to be THIS year. The Braves even won a World Series, it’s a new day!
Then came the SEC Championship game, and what most felt was going to fall right in line with the rest of the year. Alabama had struggled, and looked as bad as they had all year the week prior against Auburn. We were still dominant, and had weeks of everyone letting the team know they’d made it to the playoffs starting sometime between the Cocktail Party and beating Tennessee. We were the best. We were an unstoppable force. And then all of a sudden, we weren’t. We’re the worst. We can’t do anything right. And we all remembered that for those of us who love Red, hope is a dangerous thing.
Now we’re back to our where it all began with hope. There are plenty of reasons to feel positive about this Friday. But I just can’t do it. Something in me refuses to do it. Do we have enough hope in the tank to be burned again? (Although as the above video points out at the end, that’s not how Hope works. We’ll look great against the Wolverines while Bama struggles with Cincinnati all to raise our hopes high then to dash them quite expertly in the final game. Maybe even a Bearcat upset so we think it’s a given, as they go on a Cinderella run to make our need for therapy only increase?)
I expect this team to have found the fire they lacked in Atlanta, and be ready for a slugfest against a fellow heavyweight. Smash mouth football all around, and this is where those recruiting rankings Kirby has stockpiled should make the difference. They’re big, strong, and fast. We SHOULD be bigger, stronger, faster. Emphasis on should, because that hope issue is impossible for us to overcome. We can’t be optimistic. Not only that, but our pessimism resorts to tinfoil hat level theories of intentional sabotage.
We’ve had fans actually, and with a straight face, claim that Kirby intentionally plays the inferior option at QB. He doesn’t want to air it out, and open up the offense, despite bringing in Todd Monken to do exactly that, going after big receivers that are excellent at deep balls, having Stetson Bennett sit second in the country in yards per attempt, etc, etc, etc.
The man has an obvious, intense desire to win here. He understands football, and that scoring is a good thing. He’s had to deal with strong passing attacks and talented QBs and can see their value. He has tried to give us that sort of attack every chance he could when the weapons were healthy enough to do so. So why are we assuming he’s sabotaging his own plans by benching what “everyone can see” is the better player in JT Daniels? Smart isn’t going to do that. It makes no sense whatsoever, but fans will still claim he’d rather “play it safe” or prove some weird point about winning without an elite QB taking snaps. It’s strange, but then our weird relationship with Hope and how things perpetually, inevitably go wrong will lead our thoughts to strange places.
I’m not claiming Bennett is a better QB than Daniels, or that Daniels is better than Bennett. And I agree there’s probably something that changed from Daniels being THE guy all spring, summer, and in to fall, only to have Bennett be the man right now. But it’s not some trick or personal vendetta. Despite all the conspiracy theories and claims of inside information or hiding something from reporters by denying their access, we can rest assured that this team, and this staff, have been busting their butts for a month to be at their best come Friday night. Coaches included, and they will absolutely put out the best players they can, in the best positions they can put them in to succeed. And to hopefully get to do it all over again a week from Monday.
Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies. But then also, what is dead may never die. And as a lifelong Georgia fan, with a strong dose of Georgia basketball in that fandom, I’m pretty sure I’ve been dead inside since 1998.
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