Monday, November 24, 2008

Two words.....two simple words

State of the BullDawg Nation

Glory, Glory to ol' Georgia! Heroes have graced the field before you. Men with hearts, bodies and minds of which the entire Bulldog Nation can be justifiably proud.......

Gather round faithful readers and let's hunker down to business. There are but 5 days until the game defined best as Clean Old- Fashioned Hate. We've come a long way since the beginning of the season. There have been thrills and chills, ups and downs. We've had highlights and lowlights, TDs and 3 and outs. We've felt the dry heat and survived the cold wind on the plains. Now it's time to evaluate, reflect, reminisce. All to gain a clearer picture of where we stand, together as one nation. In a sea of red and black.

With dreams of a December trip to the GA Dome and even Miami in January proven to be of the pipe variety, many fans turn their thoughts to the 2009 season. Questions about the professional futures of numbers 24, 7, 2 and 95 are argued, debated and blawgged. As awkward as those conversations are, they are a welcome distraction to the red-faced shouts for the heads of coordinators to be sacrificed .......... immediately.

And now a new breed of bulldog stands ready to take the field of battle, to assume the reins of their Georgia forebears and continue that tradition.....

Coach Willie feels the most heat, although CMR has done a fair job of deflecting it. The defense has certainly lacked bite, but (in fairness) has saved us in a handful of tense moments. The main culprit from this blawgger's eyes has been the lack of consistent pressure from a four man front. You can argue that the D has been lacking in producing turnovers, but that is often a result of a heated rush, hands in the face of a QB with a sudden case of happy feet. In BDBs first edition the issue was raised: "Probably my greatest concern is defensive pressure. One sack against CMU - are you kidding me? Did Dooley use up all of Tardit's eligibility? Where's this season's Pollack/Johnson/Moses/Howard? Can Knowshon play from a 3 point stance???" Well, Martinez hasn't gotten so desperate that he's asked to use Knowshon on his side of the ball. But the fans have gotten desperate enough to wonder, "Why all the zone?"

The O line has been in the spotlight since Sturdivant was lost in two-a-days. But has performed well considering all of the juggling. AJ Green has exceeded expectations. And Knowshon seemed to respond to the questions about his substitution practices with a focus and determination that will almost certainly see him eclipse all of his totals from last year (needing just 91 yards and 38 carries to finish it off). And statistically Stafford has certainly surpassed his 2007 season as he looks for just 200 more yards to pass 3000 for the season.

Certainly there has been reason for confidence, optimism. All fans can remember a time when just sniffing another 10 win season was a pipe dream. AHEM!! (raygoff) AHEM!! Excuse me. And yet, there are blisters on the hand of this season that just won't go away.

The two biggest sores aren't just the two losses. It was more the way in which we lost. The build up to the Bama game was immense. It had been more than 9 months since we had ALL gone Johnny Cash on an opponent. ESPN Gameday had returned after a 1o year absence. We'd been to the desert and handily dispatched the diablos de la Sol. Knowshon had leaped into the endzone without a red cape. This was gonna be huge! And yet the game was over before Uga VII had a chance to get cozy with his bag of ice.

Three wins later we were heading down to Jacksonville. All we found was a determined reptile with the memory of an pachyderm. We were outmanned, outcoached and outplayed by our arch nemesis. It was the kind of loss we're not used to seeing under the Richt regime. And it was the kind of loss we never expected from this team that had started the season at the top. We drove back up to Athens with the realization that starting the season ranked #1 only allows you to start the climb at the front of the pack. The spoils go to the team that finishes the climb on top. Worst of all was the realization that we would not be that team, nor would we be the team that danced on the Dome floor in Atlanta.

It hurt.....bad.

The two wins since, remarkably have done little to soothe the burn. Kentucky by a hair and Auburn by whatever fraction was left. The grumbles had grown into shouts. The angst was all out turmoil.

As we prepare for another meeting between the hedges, let all of the Bulldog faithful rally behind the men who now wear red and black with two words, two simple words which express the sentiments of the entire Bulldog Nation......

My friends, we have muddled through a season that we had hoped and dreamed would be a pathway of entitlement. We were wrong. Wrong about our talent level, wrong about what to wear to certain games and wrong about where we stood in the national landscape.

But the season is not over.

Even as these blisters fester and make grasping anything difficult, painful ........we all know that Sanford Stadium will be a welcome sight come Saturday. We know the house will be jumping and the support not just unified but thunderous. As we watch our seniors hug their mamas we know we will cheer as one voice. And when the team bursts through the big G we'll all become unglued.

There will be one focus come Saturday. The memories of Jacksonville will become distant. On the graph that defines Saturday's game, that devastating loss on the first of the month will simply become a remote outlier, inconsequential. The loss at home to Saban's Herd will not only be in the background of our collective memory, it will be irrelevant. A double non-factor in a game that can define so much.

The Yellow Jackets will be visiting. Their bottles of white-out may still be half full, but they are looking to define their own season. The Dawgs will need our voices, our barks and our attitudes. There will be no other option than one of support, fevered fandom and concentrated chaos. It will be time to "tee it up between the hedges."

If you awaken Saturday morning and you ain't got it ......we kindly ask you to not bring it. If you are on your way down 316 and your red and black tank is only half-full, please turn around. Don't wait for the next stoplight. Go right through the median. I'll gladly pay the fine. If you are walking down the tracks towards River Rd and your bark is greater than your bite, you must find the maturity to sit this one out. Because you can only bring us down at that point. No late morning intervention is gonna pull you through. We'll talk you through it during the off-season.

Five days Bulldog Nation. Five days to come to peace with our two losses and embrace our 9 wins. It won't feel cuddly warm at first. But it is necessary and you will feel the rewards when you sit down at 11:30 to watch these seniors get their props. It will feel great when MoMass the Tech killa hauls in that first pass. It will feel incredible when Southerland pancakes a pocket intruder.

And when you do get that feeling, don't look for me. Don't feel like you have some overwhelming desire to thank me. Your attendance will be thanks enough. So don't look around for me.....

Just start barking your ass off!




Howie said...

Bernie - I think the biggest advantage uga has is the two weeks to prepare. Trust me, it has been comical to watch the coach/player interactions on the sidelines of the FSU and Miami games as the defense broke down. It seems that once it does happen it just snowballs.

Again, the two week prep time is huge. Of course uga's penalties and Tech's turnovers will keep it interesting no matter what! - Howie

Bernie said...

Ahh, turnovers and penalties. Sounds like a good lead in to the Friday prediction blog.

Thanks Howie!

namaman said...

Well my friend, excellent work once again. I tell ya, if there was a Alabama or Florida fan next to me (much less a Jacket fan) when I finished reading the State of the Union, I might have insisted that they get down on their knees and BARK LIKE A DAWG before I let them leave... Ahhh.... The memories...

Bernie said...

I cannot recollect the memory of which you speak....