Saturday’s 28-27 win by Georgia Tech at Sanford Stadium was another classic in the much discussed “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate” rivalry.
Yes. A classic.READ MORE: Man who fatally shot Ahmaud Arbery sentenced to life in prison for federal hate crimes
As much as it bruised UGA fans, it was a thrilling game. It was one that could easily push its way into the Top 5. For Tech fans, it was a little payback from November 30, 2013. That was the game at Bobby Dodd Stadium where the Jackets led 20-0 midway through the second quarter, only to lose to the Dawgs 41-34 in double overtime.
But for many Dawgs fans, it will be a scar that will never heal. Much like the one in 1999 with the Jasper Sanks fumble or the 2014 “squib kick” game.
That’s unfortunate because, if I’ve learned anything in my many years on this earth, the players get over things much quicker than fans. No doubt, there will be many workplaces in Georgia this week where co-workers will “needle” each other about the game. It will be a “needle” that will probably go in deep and irritate for another year. Many people who hit the blogs with “feedback” will be out in their cowardly-vile best, if not already.
After cutting through all the emotions, I do have a few take-aways from the game.
Jacob Eason still has a long way to go. We have seen flashes of brilliance in the young quarterback this season, but he is further behind than the nation’s top high school player should be at the end of his freshman regular season. The fact that he played football in the state of Washington is the direct cause of that. High school competition there is not nearly as good as, say, in Georgia, Florida, Louisiana or Texas. So his “learning curve” was much larger. However, his freshman stats are better than those of Matthew Stafford’s freshman year of 2008, and Stafford played his high school football in Texas.
Georgia Tech has a good football team. Although the Jackets will not play for the ACC Championship this coming weekend in Charlotte, the Jackets can play. They finished the regular season with wins at Virginia Tech and Georgia. Their triple option offense (or flex-bone or whatever you want to call it), when executed correctly, is one of the best offenses in the country. It is a version of the old “wishbone” offense used by the great Texas teams in the 60’s and 70’s. Paul Johnson takes plenty of heat for using what many detractors call a “high school offense,” but it works more times than not.READ MORE: China Launches Long-Range Airstrike Drills Around Taiwan On Fourth Day Of Military Exercises
UGA’s offensive line gets better, but at the wrong time. There was no question that on Saturday, the UGA offensive line had its best game of the season. The problem was it was the last game of the season. The good news for Dawgs fans is that help is on the way. Given a full year to recruit an o-line, Kirby Smart and Sam Pittman will bring in some good blockers to Athens, and they have already.
Those calling for the “head” of Kirby Smart are idiots. You know who you are. However, if you think you can judge Smart, his staff, or his program through 12 games using mostly Mark Richt players, then you’re nuts. Now, if we get into the same shape next year, then maybe you’ll have a point. But now? No. So, there. (How about that? I just trolled the trolls). If anything was an indicator that the coaches know what they are doing, it’s the fact they made adjustments Saturday against the triple-option offense and it worked.
Georgia Tech needs to get credit for heart and perseverance. The Jackets scored 14 fourth-quarter points against a very-loud partisan crowd that was pretty much in celebratory mood. That says a lot about the heart of the team and the work of the coaching staff. There was a an idea floated around after the game that Georgia Tech “wanted the game more than UGA.” That’s cliché junk. Both teams wanted the game equally as much. Georgia Tech just played better in the fourth quarter.
Get over the small stuff. Some UGA fans seemed to be more upset that the Georgia Tech players peeled off portions of the hedge or planted their flag on the “G” at midfield, than the fact that the Dawgs lost the game. Look, I understand pride in your school, and I know emotion plays a big part in rivalry. But focus on what’s important. Also, be above doing petty things like that. Let them peel the hedges: they will grow back. Let them stomp on midfield with the flag. It shows lack of class, which is their problem, not UGA’s.
Look past the fact the Dawgs are not going to a top-tier bowl game. I read where some troll called it a “bottom feeder bowl.” Hey, I understand there are too many bowl games out there that have no meaning for most fans. You can thank television (mostly ESPN) for that. But don’t overlook the fact that going to a bowl game, even if it means back to the Belk Bowl or the Independence Bowl is important to the players. Plus, it beats not going to one.
And finally, Dawg fans, UGA lost. Get over it. Move on. Nothing more to see here. The coaches and the players are looking ahead, you should too. Yes, it hurts, and yes, there will be more pain in the future. But that’s one of the things that makes college football so great, or so frustrating, depending upon your point of view.MORE NEWS: The Senate Passes Democrats' Sweeping Health Care And Climate Bill