Saturday, September 2
I've been wondering why I'm feeling down . . .
In the four and a half years since I packed up shop in the ATL (or, rather, had it packed up for me) to seek my fortune elsewhere, I've been surprised at how few times I find myself missing various aspects of Atlanta life. Really there are only three main things that I find myself missing on any kind of consistent basis: a decent selection of independent movie theatres, good pubs, and of course an overwhelming UGA-alumni presence. As of this past weekend, though, I'm trading out one of those things for something else. For lack of a better way to phrase it, in Atlanta there's enough variety of distractions that you don't necessarily have to act like the silly stuff is important. This was brought home to me by a semi-exhaustive discussion of the impending Alabama-Hawaii game on the leading local sports-talk station. Over in Atlanta, had that station's counterpart been discussing another football game of comparable local interest -- oh, let's just say the Georgia-Western Kentucky game, for poops and giggles -- they would've simply mentioned the fact that Georgia was playing the Hilltoppers, laughed and made some condescending remarks, then gone on to something of greater significance, like how are the Falcons going to do this year or are the Braves ever going to get to a point where they can consistently find their asses with both hands and a map. In Birmingham, however, without a similar selection of more-momentous alternatives, the guys on 690 had to pretend that Alabama-Hawaii was actually worth giving a flip about. It was an admirable bit of method acting on their part, but still, you had to feel a little sorry for them.
It goes without saying, of course, that Georgia-Western Kentucky barely rated a single mention whatsoever, though in this case maybe that was a good thing. I don't think I've ever felt less enthused after a five-TD victory than I did after Saturday's game, though my frown has turned slightly upside-down since right after the game, when I was fully prepared to write a paranoid, ulcer-informed rant about where our team is headed. On the plus side, our defense showed that, like the Wu-Tang Clan, they ain't nuthin' ta fuck wit, and the running game looked solid -- in particular, it was nice to see Danny Ware's face on something other than a milk carton for once. I even got over the fact that we only had like 280-something yards of total offense, which is a tad more explicable when you remember we began nearly every drive within loogie-hocking distance of WKU territory.
The ulcers came from the fact that my two main predictions from yesterday were taken out back and beaten to death with lead pipes before I'd even polished off my third beer. I said Joe Tereshinski would perform well enough to earn a lock on the starting job; JoeT3 did indeed keep from making any major game-killing fuckups, but while a line of 7-for-17, 90 yards, 1 TD, no picks might be good enough to get you an extra helping of Kraft mac and cheese with cut-up hot dogs in the Reggie Ball household, it's hardly going to cement you atop the depth chart in Athens. I also said Matt Stafford would end up redshirting this season and, well, so much for that.
"No blow-drying, just a tiny little bit of d:fi pliable molding cream. That's how I do it."
Tereshinski, 7-for-17, 90 yards, TD; Stafford, 3-of-4, 40 yards, TD. Cue every Georgia fan south of Chattanooga saying that Stafford should be the starter and the other three QBs should be left to sweep up the stadium. I'm assuming that Mark Richt wasn't intending to blow an entire year of Stafford's eligibility just so that Staff could make the sorority girls swoon in garbage time against the fricking Hilltoppers, so apparently CMR and the fans are at least on similar wavelengths, if not quite identical. This is what caused me to have PTSD-like mental images of Phil Fulmer during the 2005 season, fresh off his regular pregame bowl of pork cracklin's, feverishly shaking his Magic 8-Ball to within an inch of its life to figure out which QB he should start that day. Know how they say if you have two quarterbacks, you really have none? Well, Georgia now effectively has four, so if you extrapolate that out it means we have . . . well, half of none. Which may be mathematically impossible, but either way, it ain't good.
And like I said, I was prepared to flip out over this, but then I did a strangely therapeutic thing and went to check out the Georgia-fan commenters over at the AJC's blog on the game. Every team has its Monday-morning quarterbacks; Georgia has Saturday-evening quarterbacks -- hell, we have people who don't even wait for a play to be blown dead before declaring it a shitty coaching decision. And other than maybe that Glenn Beck knob who got a show on Headline News that precisely nobody is watching, perhaps no single group of people has more to say to fewer people who are actually listening. A substantial group of these folks were insisting that Stafford should be made the starter forthwith, end of sentence, based on four passes against a D-IAA team with H.R. Pufnstuf's illegitimate son as its mascot, and it reminded me of . . .
Last day of August, 2002, Georgia facing Clemson at home to open up the '02 season. David Greene was having a serviceable but unspectacular day -- a few minutes into the second quarter he'd completed most of his passes but had also thrown an ugly pick that led directly to Clemson's first touchdown. Dawgs up 14-7, nine and a half minutes before halftime, Clemson punter Wynn Kopp -- formerly a Georgia player, and we thank God every day for the "formerly" -- booted a ridonkulous shank that ended up with Georgia at Clemson's 15. Richt put in Shockley. Musa Smith rushed for no gain; Shockley rushed to just inside the 10; next play, Shockley finished the job with a nine-yard touchdown run. And the guy behind me says, I shit you not, "THERE'S your starting quarterback!!!"
Yup. Shockley hadn't thrown a single pass, much less completed one, and here's this guy already willing to anoint him the starter over the cat who would lead the Dawgs to 13-1 and an SEC title that year and later become the winningest starting QB in Division I-A history.
Anyway, my point is twofold: 1) We Georgia fans are, quite frequently, retarded, and 2) Mark Richt, to his credit, seems to do a pretty good job of not making team decisions based on what we say, or post to the Internet, or bellow out drunkenly from section 112.
So -- well, I won't say I've stopped worrying, but I'm worrying less. Tereshinski's struggles, after all, were due less to Tereshinski throwing bad balls and more due to the fact that our receivers continue to treat the ball like it's covered with hobo urine. I swear, one more dropped pass by Martrez Milner and he's ending up in a pit in my basement, hearing my voice high above him telling him to put the lotion on his skin. Stafford looked good, but I doubt Richt is basing his life-changing decisions on stuff that happened against a directional I-AA school. I'm guessing 'Shinski starts against the Gamecocks, but I'm man enough to admit it when I'm wrong, and honestly I don't care if our starter is Matt Stafford, Joe Tereshinski, Nastassja Kinski or Zbigniew Brzezinski, I just don't want to be playing spin-the-wheel-o'-quarterbacks for the next two months.
Point is, as I said a few weeks ago, it is time to trust in our great leader Richt. As for this weekend: Georgia won, they were never even remotely challenged, and now it's time to focus on the next task, which is giving the Mensa candidates over in South Carolina another game they can brag they "almost" won.
And as for Mikey Henderson . . . well, sure, kid's a dumbass, but I daresay he won't do that ever again. In my newfound Zen state of contentment, I choose to look at it as a beautiful redemption story.
"I don't care how much you beg me, I'm not gonna fumble this thing again."
· All you Texas fans happy that we can go another few weeks without hearing Oklahoma touted as a national-title contender . . . well, you have UAB to thank. You're welcome. Man, talk about your "almost" games. But my question is twofold: First, how much additional talent do you suppose we would've needed to close that one-touchdown gap against the Sooners (or even last year's against Tennessee) and get over the top? Second, how much money would it take in terms of improved facilities, fancier recruiting visits, etc. to get that? Are you telling me that the McWane family or the Ingalls family or somebody couldn't write the UAB Athletic Department a big enough check that we actually beat Tennessee or Oklahoma the next time around? I'd sure as hell rather have Birmingham be known as the home of a bona fide giant-killing football team than "Where Idols Are Born," and yes, there really is a billboard just a few blocks from my apartment that says that.
Sam Hunt, choppin' heads, boy. It ain't safe no more.
· Speaking of Tennessee, yes, I'm as impressed as anybody that the Vols won the way they did. Even more impressed that they finally came in under the salary cap this year.
· I know everyone's disappointed that the Irish didn't get upset yesterday, but come on -- when ND scored that touchdown right before halftime, did anybody seriously think Tech was going to hold on and pull it off? With Chan Gailey, whose playbook is evidently the size of those safety-information cards they put in the seat-pockets on commercial airliners, you pretty much know by halftime what's going to happen, whether it's an upset win or a crushing loss. And when Brady Quinn barreled in from the five, that was God slapping his forehead and saying, "Shit, that's right! Tech knocked off Miami last year! Well, I can't let that happen again."
Here's lookin' at you, kid. We'll always have DragonCon.