Is it Thursday? Are your Georgia Bulldogs taking on the #1 ranked team in the nation? You could probably use a drink.
Allow me to help you with that.
You could be excused for not having this game circled as the game of the year in college football on your preseason calendar. But here we are, with a top three matchup of SEC East contenders. That’s part of the magic of college football. The season unfolds in unexpected ways.
And poetically, I expect the Bulldogs’ matchup with Josh Heupel’s Volunteers to include some twists and turns of its own. The Rocky Top offense is a point a minute affair. When it’s humming the Red and Black attack isn’t far behind it.
To me the two most important Athenians in this game will be Jalen Carter and Stetson Bennett. Carter because it will be up to him to get in Volunteer signal caller Hendon Hooker’s face early and often. The Bulldogs do not have the players to cover the Tennessee receiving corps downfield if Hooker has time to throw the ball. That’s no slight on them. No team in college football does.
Bennett will be critical for two reasons. One of course is that he will be in charge of getting the Bulldogs on the scoreboard. But the other will be his role in keeping the Volunteers off it.
There are two Stetson Bennetts. There’s the one who is calm and in control. And there’s the one who’s calm and….not in control. He’s got a little too much of the gun slinger in him, believes he can make any throw. He’s the one who threw that second, completely unnecessary interception against Florida.
If that guy, I call him “Bad Stet”, shows up, Georgia is going to have a fight on its hands. This game is most likely going to be won by the team that “breaks serve”, getting a stop on defense and a free possession to put up easy points. I’m not concerned about the Volunteer defense stopping the Georgia offense. I’m worried about the Georgia offense stopping itself, primarily through turnovers.
If Georgia is even or positive in the turnover column, this one is in the bag. But if Bad Stet shows up, throws an ill-advised pick in Bulldog territory, then starts pressing to make up for it, well, let’s not even think about it.
Instead we’re going to look for the other Stetson Bennett. The one who’s in charge of the offense, hits key third down throws, and for the love of all things holy doesn’t turn the ball over. And what’s the drink for watching that guy play football?
The Good Stet. You’ll need:
- 2 ounces of bourbon
- 2 ounces of apricot puree (recipe below, or you can use good quality apricot preserves)
- ¼ ounce lemon juice
- 1 and 1⁄2 ounces ginger ale or tonic water (depending on your desired sweetness)
- 3 mint leaves
For the purée:
- 4 apricots (pitted)
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon of turbinado sugar
- In a blender puree the apricots, lemon juice and sugar. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and discard the skins.
- In a cocktail shaker filled with ice combine the bourbon, apricot puree, Ginger ale/tonic, and lemon juice. Tear mint leaves and add to shaker.
- Shake until well chilled and pour into a rocks glass. Enjoy. And….