Wednesday, November 28, 2012

This season's Daryl Gamble?

There have been a lot of comparisons recently between this 2012 run and the 2007 season when Georgia closed strong and was truly the hottest team in America. Given the way the defense is playing right now is especially reminiscent of that 11-2 team that ended up whipping upstart Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl.

The season hadn't started that way though. A close loss to South Carolina and an inexplicable showing in Knoxville had left the 2007 team on the brink of imploding. And to further the drama, they then found themselves in Nashville, tied late in the game with the Commodores driving for the win. Luckily, Daryl Gamble caused a fumble and Dannell Ellerbe pounced on it. Georgia drove 73 yards and put Brandon Coutu well within range to win it.

Without that play by the defense, the season likely would've be sent into a tailspin.

So I began to wonder, what play (on the field) turned this season around. The game in Lexington is the most congruous to the '07 Vandy game. So I would give the nod to Connor Norman's recovery. With about four minutes left the Wildcats had just scored and surprised us with a pretty well executed onside kick, one that dribbled straight down the middle of the field and the kicker followed along waiting for it to go ten yards. With most of the front line Dawgs getting de-cleated by oncoming Wildcats, Norman was the only player with a chance to derail the Kentucky plan, and he lunged in to recover the free kick just in time. Here's what Richt said post-game:
“Connor was heads up to go in there and snatch it and be strong enough to convince the officials that it was his. So it was a huge play,” a relieved Georgia coach Mark Richt said after the game. “It was a lot of huge plays in the game, but Connor did a great job.” 
Norman's recovery saved the game. And without that play, whatever Shawn Williams said the following Monday would've carried a lot less weight. The differences between that 2007 team and this one is that the 2012 Bulldogs have a trip to Atlanta and control their own destiny in terms of both a conference title and a national one.

In short, Herbstreit can't lobby against us this week like he did five years ago. Thanks in no small part to that play in Lexington KY, this season is right where it should the Dawgs' crosshairs.

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