All this has happened before and will happen again.
reminder of our inability to beat ranked teams. We entered every game with the realistic expectation of victory. We rode that confidence into a SEC championship, and a Sugar Bowl Victory against Richt's former team. It was serendipitous and a long time coming. The Dawgs gained a national respect and a level of success that eventually earned us the (empty) preseason #1 ranking in 2008 based in part by the total annihilation of a vastly inferior Hawaii Team. Expectations were through the roof. This was to be our year... Then Alabama came to town. We pretty much stopped winning those types games that very same year, and our expectations have been playing catch-up ever since.
When exactly did we start to get the feeling that being down meant being out? When did the doubt start? When did that feeling of dread creep into your mind? More pessimistic people than me will point to 2006 as the year we should have seen the signs...losing to Vandy and Kentucky the same year? I still can't believe it actually happened. I've a coping mechanisim for games like that, it's called denial. Is it denial that I still I consider that season to be an aberration? Denial would become a big part of my excuse for the next few years. I think most of us got past 2006 seeing it as just a phase, not a trend. The Peach Bowl victory that year made me believe we'd found our mojo and things were going to be ok. It was a late game come from behind beat down of the Hokies and an epic postgame tailgate recorded by the dawgcast (go to minute marker11:33 for some postgame fun) that was the medicine I needed to believe again. Yes we were invincible.
But reality had a way of ruining my spotless mind. But when did those expectations truly change? When did we come to doubt that last minute victory or that hard fought come from behind upset?
Could it have been 2008? The blowout loss to Alabama dressed in our once invincible black jerseys? Getting blown out that same year by the Gators? Losing to little brother in a tight one to end the regular season? Not me; not you; we still believed. Maybe it was 2009 when we lost our opener to Okie State, a game most of us expected to win with ease, or perhaps it was getting blown out AGAIN by Flordia, or had you come to expect that? Could it have been later in '09 when we got taken to the wood shed by Tennessee or when we lost to KENTUCKY at HOME? No? Were you still expecting victory at times like that? Did you still think the Dawgs could play from behind? I think we all did. I think despite all this we all still believed and expected to win. I'd say our collective expectations didn't diminish until the 4 game losing streak of 2010. Let me refresh your memory a horrific stretch of loses to South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi State and... good god almighty, culminating with a home loss to....Colo..freaking..rado. Nope you say? Headed into a bowl game we were almost embarrassed to be playing in your expectation was that we would still beat UCF right? Yeah ok me too after all it was just central Florida. How did that work out? But still! That was a bowl game and its hard to get up for team like that, and all the time off in between games...and..and....aww hell it was getting hard to deny it anymore.
The confidence was lost; the swagger gone. However, despite all the evidence I've laid out here, despite the history of failures that started as hiccups and became more regular and despite a loss to Central Florida and Colorado in the same year, did we not expect victory in the Dome against the smurfs to start our 2011?
Damn right we did. But what about your feeling about playing from behind...that had changed hadn't it. Once down, did you expect the dawgs to get off the mat? I mean, the hope and confidence that began with the Mark Richt era in that game in Knoxville now so long ago still lingered sure. Why wouldn't we have expected to beat a
Now obviously these things don't change overnight. And even hindsight can't pinpoint the turning of the tides. But the 3rd quarter of Saturdays game is a pretty good bet. That last half of the Mizzou game and looking back to last years streak..I'll be damned if its not starting to feel an awful lot like 2001/2002. A 10 game winning streak and a brilliant first half in the SECG pointed to better days yes but skip ahead to Saturday pre kickoff with me. Once again the press is pointing out that we don't have a great track record against ranked teams. Pundits are picking Missouri, (Davey Pollack excluded) Desmond Howard goes so far as to say Missouri wins big. The spread is 2 points. Questions regarding our man hood surface only this time, we're just a bunch of old men right?
The more things change the more they stay the same..all this has happened and will happen again. Georgia pulls out a victory despite a few sloppy quarters, but remains focused and resolute in the face of adversity. Something happens like a hobnail boot and changes your expectations again. It's sudden yes, but constructed by men behind the scenes and in the trenches who've spent months training for the chance to prove themselves. It's been brewing for while, but the winning ways are back my friends. You can feel it, I can too.
|Jarvis Freaking Jones|
In the end our much talked about old man style of ball won the day. Yes there is much room for improvement and no Missouri isn't a highly ranked team, but those guys were ready for a fight and they gave us a game despite what the final score said. This was a game that I don't think last years dawgs would have won and there is STILL room for improvement. So I say, yes Georgia is all grows up again...Grown men..again. Lets hope we get the same bounce for the next decade, only this time lets grab ourselves a National Championship or two.
And now, changing focus to our opponents. For our new conference brethren. I know I doubted you very early on, even maybe sorta poked fun at you a little but hey Mizzou, you actually, you know, sorta seem like you're going to fit right in.. right into the middle but still... Your fans seem the right amount of crazy or at least look like they could learn how to be the right amount of crazy and with a few thousand more seats in the stands you could rank 9th in capacity among all SEC schools. So you know, solidly lower part of middle. I know you like the fancy spread stuff, but sooner or later you're going to have play some "grown man 'ball." What makes us the "S-E-C" besides the pride and dangerously fanatical nature of our loyalty to our teams is the punishment our teams take each Saturday for a full 4 qtrs and that punishment can add up over the full year. I'd suspect you'll be jumping out to alot of early leads, but (to beat a damn dead horse to death) the game is 4qtrs. You're going to get hurt as the game and the season stretch on, but I think you'll be just fine eventually. I for one am glad you're part of the best damn Conference in college football and I'm looking forward to our rivalry and where it goes from here. Please know that we'll all be cheering for you from now on and especially against SC (that's South Carolina y'all). We expect the same from you. Now, don't forget the S-E-C chant next week when you wipe the floor with Arizona State. Opponents love this, or love to hate it, but no matter what now, you're family so I hope you perform it well.
Thanks for the hospitality Missouri, and welcome to the SEC, now go kick some ass.....