Russ sleeping at the 2011 G-Day Game. Photo: B. Spoon
"Georgia outplayed us. Give 'em credit. They definitely outplayed us. But we won the game. Sometimes it happens like that." Those were Steve Spurrier's words after South Carolina snuck out a win against Georgia in Athens Saturday.
It's hard to take, but it's true. After an embarrassing week one loss versus Boise State where execution in plays was hindered even more by bad play calling and coaching, the Dawgs seemed to put everything together against the Gamecocks.
The offensive play calling was much better, including a varied mix of I-Formation and shotgun plays (wonder if Bobo caught wind of my 78% stat on the blog...) which worked to almost perfection. UGA was mostly unstoppable on offense, other than a few key halts after good drives in the 1st half that led to field goals rather than touchdowns, and the turnovers, of course.
The defense was phenomenal for most of the game, other than on a handful of critical drives late in the 4th quarter.
And the head coach finally seemed to realize that this was an urgent game, and we had to do everything possible to win. Sure, we still ran a draw play on some long 3rd downs, but we also went for a surprise onside kick (which was barely overturned thanks to our favorite zebra Penn Wagers).
The media (ESPN) tried to convince everyone that this game would define Richt's future, and that a loss could mean his immediate firing. Any realistic UGA fan knew that was false. We know that Richt will likely have until the end of the season, at which point the AD and others will discuss his future as head coach at Georgia. And can you blame them? Would firing a beloved head coach who's presumably loved by the players in the middle of the season really be good for us?
But instead, a loss here actually brought more optimism from fans than even last week's loss. Somehow 0-2 turned out to be better than 0-1, mainly because of the way it happened. Georgia's coaches began to coach, the players began to play, and everything was clicking. Our running game appears to have life, as Crowell looked to be the 2nd coming of Knowshon Moreno while bouncing off of defenders and finding extra yards. Our receiving corps look like they could be even better than last year with AJ Green, if we can just find a way to get the playmakers the ball. Malcolm Mitchell is a speedster, Michael Bennett is the new Kris Durham, and of course we still have Charles, White, King, Wooten, and Brown back there. And the defense not only made stop after stop, but they also made big plays, like a big interception by Rambo.
The media and other teams' fans are still convinced that Richt is done. Maybe he will be. They're convinced that UGA is "average" again, as one Rivals writer put it. Maybe they are. But they didn't look average on Saturday. They looked like a great team, finally with coaching to match it, that made mistakes at just the wrong times to barely lose.
And while some can still rant about being 0-2, remember that is still 0-2 against the #4 and #11 teams in the country. Mark Richt can't afford many more losses, and he certainly can't afford any bad ones, but he's still got a chance to make something out of this season with this team. It's always better to lose early than late, as many teams have learned before.
Losing is bad. We've lost way too much in the past few years, and we shouldn't be complacent with it. We shouldn't be happy about 0-2. If we don't have the type of season that UGA fans expect, maybe we should make some changes. But maybe Saturday's loss shouldn't be weighed as heavily as the others, such as the Boise loss. Because sometimes you can do almost everything right and lose. Sometimes, it happens like that.