Sunday, October 14
We don't bring them back to life, but we do bring them back from the dead.
Soooo . . . a last-second field goal against Vandy. Wow. This is awkward.
At the beginning of the unrated deluxe-edition DVD of "Knocked Up" -- which I watched with my friend Katie before the Georgia-Vanderbilt game on Saturday -- there's a trailer for the straight-to-DVD sequel "White Noise 2." Among the many sketchy things about this trailer -- the most prominent, of course, being the implication that the world was clamoring for a sequel to "White Noise" -- is the claim that more than 700 people each day are revived after being declared dead at the hospital. Unlike Katie, I thought this claim was bullshit, but after seeing a Georgia Bulldogs team of 113 strong brought back from the dead in the second half in Nashville, I'm thinking maybe it makes a little more sense.
Let's don't mince any words here -- coming off a 35-14 annihilation by Tennessee and down 17-7 at halftime against fucking Vanderbilt, the Dawgs were walking toward the light. And the 10-point deficit wasn't built on horrendous tackling or a general team-wide lack of interest as it seemed to be in the first half of the Tennessee game; we were tackling well, we looked like we were getting into a decent offensive rhythm there early. The problem was that Vanderbilt was drawing up a pretty good game plan and Mackenzi Adams was executing it to near-perfection. And that prompted the uncomfortable question of whether maybe, just maybe, Vanderbilt -- a team that had been outscored 59-17 by Alabama and Auburn -- was better than us.
But then we did what we did all last season when we were down to somebody at halftime: We adjusted. Vanderbilt had 212 yards and 17 points in the first half; somehow they ended up with 98 and 0 in the second. The Georgia rushing attack that had only put up 33 yards in the first half suddenly busted out for 134 after intermission. Earl Bennett, with only three catches on the day, is still chasing the SEC all-time receptions record. The Dawgs go to 5-2 (3-2 in the SEC) and live to fight another day -- well, rest another day with the bye week this coming weekend, and then fight the day after that.
Come here, you game-winning, bushy-eyebrowed hunk of man, you!
So . . . what now? We have five games left in the regular season, and at the moment I'd say three of them look like probable losses on paper, with the other two being possible but not dead-solid locks by any stretch. So that makes for a 7-5 season, maybe 8-5 if we pull off a bowl win. The thing is, though, after the way this season has gone, who knows? I'm not even prepared to write off the Florida game completely at this point; combine the upset-wackiness of the season as a whole with the schizophrenia of Georgia's team in particular, and I would not consider it outside the realm of possibility for Georgia to shock the Gators in Jacksonville in a couple weeks and then come home and get plonked by Troy on Homecoming. Sure, I'd like to see more consistency than that, from our team and from Division I-A in general, but maybe this just isn't the year for consistency. So it goes.
Yes, this was a touchdown. Go figure.
I don't even know if it's possible to take away any overarching conclusions from a Georgia game at this point, but here are a few things I noticed in passing:
· I know a lot of people wrote Tripp Chandler off after his droptastic performance in the Alabama game -- I have to admit it was tempting -- but he has very quietly turned into quite a tight end for the Dawgs, snagging eight passes for 97 yards and a TD since Tuscaloosa; a couple of those were catches that would've been dropped at any other point in the last two-plus seasons.
· He might have even more if the passes were being thrown a little bit better than they are, but the stagnation of Matt Stafford -- who was 9-of-21 for 122 yards going into the fourth quarter in Nashville -- continues to puzzle. Last year, the problems in the passing game could be blamed on dropped passes, and this year, one could blame spotty protection from the young offensive line, but against Vanderbilt there were more than a few passes that weren't dropped or rushed but were just plain overthrown. Last year somebody managed to convince Staff he could just throw the ball away rather than trying to launch something into triple coverage; can somebody maybe have a talk with him about the overthrowing? Has Bobo's new role as the offensive coordinator taken away from his ability to focus on the QB-coach role, or am I making something out of nothing?
· I was really impressed to see Mark Richt giving the team holy hell for celebrating on the "V" logo at midfield after the winning field-goal kick. The celebration was needlessly show-offy, of course, but the subtext to Richt's "message," I think, should've been clear: We're fucking Georgia, so we don't celebrate last-minute come-from-behind victories over Vanderbilt. What's next, a celebratory Gatorade bath for each player for successfully putting their shoes on the right feet?
Mark, I wouldn't mind seeing that kind of passion during the game -- and neither would my sister, who saw your midfield ass-chewing and pronounced it "hott."
· Speaking of my sister, she deserves my props and yours for being an integral factor in Georgia's victory. They say that ninety percent of life is just
showing up, and in her case, that's pretty much true.
For a full 60-minute time of attendance (TOA), Ann is Georgia's Player of the Game.
For Oklahoma State, she didn't go to the game, but did make the trek to Athens with Kristen and me: win. For South Carolina, I invited her to come with me to watch the game at my friend Stanley's but she declined: loss. For Western Carolina, we watched the game together at Loco's: win. For Alabama, she again didn't make it to the game, but did make the trip to Tuscaloosa: win. For Ole Miss, she came over -- at halftime, tellingly -- and listened to the game on the radio: win. For Tennessee, I went to Atlanta to watch the game with some friends and she stayed behind: loss.
And then for Vandy, of course, she came over and watched it with me: win. I'm having her surgically sewn to me the Friday before the Florida game.
So again, it wasn't a pretty game by any stretch, and I'm not thrilled that we're at a point in our program's history when we're sweating Vanderbilt, but I'm not going to begrudge anyone the unbridled joy I felt upon watching Coutu's game-winning field goal sail through the uprights and deal Vandy a loss that was every bit as last-minute and crushing as the one they dealt us a year ago. And I'm going to cross my fingers and hope that the fire displayed by our coaches at various points during (and after) this game is not extinguished but rather stoked during our bye week. This team hasn't been brought back to life just yet -- needing a last-second FG to beat Vandy definitely implies "vegetative state," though not necessarily a persistent one -- but they're no longer dead. I don't know what the prognosis for this particular patient is, but the season isn't completely hopeless.
I don't think.
Rich Brooks: genius. Mind: blown. Worldview: crumbling.
· I hereby dub this football season Warholian -- everybody's going to get to be #1 for 15 minutes. Southern Cal, of course, had it for a few weeks and lost it. So did LSU. By my count, California had it for about an hour and thirty-seven minutes before they blew it. Now Ohio State's got it, which of course means that they're going to find a way to lose to Michigan State this weekend and then South Florida will be #1. Won't that be fun, boys and girls!
· If Georgia needing a fourth-quarter comeback to beat Vanderbilt is embarrassing, then what Southern Cal needing a fourth-quarter comeback to beat Arizona mean? Yup -- they're officially not all that good. My guess is they beat Notre Dame this week and then have two donkeypunchings left to endure this season, one of them in Eugene on the 27th. Here's an artist's impression of Mark May learning that the Trojans have accepted an invitation to the Sun Bowl:
· That was also my reaction to Arkansas getting held to just 67 yards rushing Saturday night, which may have been the most shocking development of the entire evening, LSU's and California's upsets be damned. Of course, Auburn only mustering three field goals against Arkansas's defense was a bit of a head-scratcher, too, but not enough of one to save Houston Nutt's job.
· Nevertheless, a season as crazy as this one calls for an offseason every bit as bizarre. So how's this for a December: Lloyd Carr and Dennis Franchione, fired; Tommy Tuberville to Texas A&M; Les Miles to Michigan; Houston Nutt to Auburn; Nick Saban to LSU? HAVE I BLOWN YOUR MIND YET?!?!?!