Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The 2016 season in one word


I was prepared to have even more of it when the fourth quarter began last Saturday. The odds seemed in our favorhttps://www.topauscasinos.com.au/online-pokies/ . We had a three game winning streak. But what’s more is that the team seemed to finally be in sync with the coaches and their game planning and play calling. What’s even more is that we had just dominated the third quarter against Tech; the coaches had made adjustments at halftime which had pulled us out of the 14-14 deadlock.

I still have hope. But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t take a hit walking away from Sanford Saturday afternoon.

Before the season began I was on a podcast with CorbinDawg, and Bulldog Bob asked us what we needed to see this season to reassure us for the future. For Corbin it wasn’t a record or a specific win against a specific opponent. It was a moment when it was evident the team (and by default the program as a whole) had taken a step forward. He was looking for Kirby’s stamp on the program that showed better days were ahead.

I took that nugget with me throughout the season and waited. I thought Corbin’s approach to the question was good practice given the new direction under a new coach. So it may not have been crystal clear, but I thought I caught a glimpse against Auburn. That was a team win. It was a tighten the chin strap and go get ‘em game. And they can say what they will about Auburn’s injuries or whatever else they want, but it was a dominant performance by the defense. Best online casinos Johannesburg.

And it could’ve been what propelled the team to a potential 9-4 record and plenty of momentum heading into Signing Day and Winter workouts.

But as we’ve reminded ourselves for nearly a full year now, first year head coaches come with growing pains. They come with moments of both weakness and trepidation. Which has caused a lot of people to question the decision a year ago to run Richt off. And to be clear, I think it’s a fair question. I don’t believe that Richt could’ve won the East with this team, but there’s an argument that the Tennessee, Vandy, and Tech losses might have played out to a different outcome.

It’s all fair and bipartisan analysis. But I won’t spend much time nor energy dwelling on it. Kirby is our coach. I’ve said all along that I’ll support him just as much as I did our former coach and the ones before him. The only caveat is that it comes with a hard and fast deadline. Championship games must be in the near future or it is onto the next guy. That’s just the program that we are now.

So, back to that one word. Do I still have hope? Yes. I do have hope even as the sting of Saturday’s loss strikes so many nerves. I’ve listened to the theories of Kirby playing the long game - forgoing potential immediate highs in favor of doing it his way for the future. And there’s plenty of evidence to back that theory up in game planning and even specific substitution patterns, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

Kirby’s Way is one we’re forced to trust. I have hope for what’s ahead, but like many of you I’m concerned about some problems that Smart inherited, most notably our offensive line depth. And to be perfectly frank it’s talent overall. That in particular is not an easy and immediate fix. There’s no (official) free agent market in college football. And the fact is that any true freshman offensive lineman needs a year to redshirt and develop his body to the size required for this level of football. We lose two linemen to graduation, which means Pittman must develop next year’s rotation and starting five from scratch, again.

Anyway, that’s a big problem for a later date. I think the bigger struggle right now is that the season is over, and barring some huge performance in a minor bowl game, we’re left at the finish line without something definitive to grasp a hold of and say “Yes, this is going to be fun to watch again soon!”

Until then, I think I still have enough hope left.