The other day I remarked to Holly that I wasn't sure which outcome of the Georgia-Colorado game would be more frustrating -- to go down in flames, even with A.J. Green back in the lineup, and realize we're just a lousy team, or to win and realize that A.J. Green was the sole difference between competence and utter misery all along. Well, Saturday night we got the worst of both worlds: We realized we're absolutely nothing without A.J. on the field, and lost anyway.
I don't think I've ever seen a single team have such a dramatic contrast based on a single player's presence. With A.J. on the field and a factor in our game plan, we ran 40 plays for 363 yards of total offense. Without him, we ran 19 plays for 46 yards. The absence of one player, one player, dropped our offense's effectiveness by nearly 75 percent. Hell, even our defense played better when he was in the lineup: They averaged three yards a play when they knew A.J. would soon be back on the field, nearly eight and a half when he was gone.
And still we lost. We lost because we whiffed on one too many golden opportunities that were dropped directly into our laps; we lost because we couldn't maintain focus at a time when a win was ours for the taking. But most of all, we lost because somehow, we let ourselves get into a position where the burden of the team -- not just its yardage, not just its hands or its feet, but its heart and its soul -- were placed on one guy. We shouldn't be asking how could we have A.J. in the game and still lose; we should be asking ourselves how we ever let it get to that point in the first place.
And even now, there's a part of me that remains thrilled enough by what we were able to do at times during that game that I've still got hope for the rest of the season. But the larger part of me wonders how in the world the team is supposed to pick itself up off the mat after this. It's bad enough to be losing this much to begin with, a position that none of these guys have really ever had to face while they've been wearing Georgia uniforms. But to have that kind of opportunity to turn the corner, to have redemption sitting right there, only to have it snatched away -- and to have an entire flight from Colorado back to Georgia to stew over it, to dwell on being 1-4 after having so many opportunities for something at least a little better -- I don't know how you come back from that. I'd like to think there's someone on the coaching staff who can lift them up and inspire them to spin the positives from this game into something amazing down the road, but . . . well, I've gone on at length about the doubts creeping in that there's anyone capable of doing that. So I'm not going to belabor the point.
Nor will I drag out any further discussion of Richt's job security -- not at the moment, anyway. I'm sure y'all know any number of places where you can do that. For right now I'm just going to tune into the Pac-10 games, maybe have another drink, and try to let my mind wander off to a fantasy world where this season never happened.
Ahh, yes, it's happening already. Incidentally, in this fantasy world, I've gotten a bestselling novel published and I'm working on my second one; I drive an Audi Q5; and I'm just about to close on a condo in the Gulf. I may pack everything up and head down there for the rest of the fall so that I can work on my second book. I'm not sure if I'll be watching a lot of Georgia football while I'm down there; actually, in this world Georgia football may or may not exist to begin with. I'm still mulling that one over.