What a Difference

What a difference a play makes. Ask Justin Scott-Wesley or Murray for Heisman. Had that been a pick instead of a touchdown pass Murray would not be over the hump as a player, UGA would be .500, Richt would be on the hot seat, at least with the fickle fans and perhaps even with the Athletic Director and University President. A goat becomes a hero with the flick of a wrist, a defensive breakdown.

And instead of a 4th down quarterback pressure, what if that was a big hit to Beckham Jr. bent through the UGA secondary toward a touchdown straight out of a Mettenberger dream, or what if Jarvis Landry had eleven instead of ten catches for 200 yards instead of 156? Suddenly, Murray is a total loser in your eyes, the media’s eyes and throats. Not third or fourth on Heisman lists.

What if our backup kicker had bounced that one high into the Piedmont night at Death Valley as say my nephew John John’s high school classmate of just last year Quincy Mauger happened to appear with the football in his young hands? No one has stopped us all year in have-to-drives, and UGA would have scored again and won and would currently be number one in the nation, third at worst.

If we were undefeated, though, would we have had enough have-to in us to beat both South Carolina and LSU in tough losable home conference games? We will never know. I predicted we’d be 3-1 now.

Ousted USC coach Lane Kiffin promised during his tenure with the checkerboard heads that Tennessee would never lose to Georgia: then they ambushed us and blew us out. We finished that year second in the nation and stronger than the national and SEC champion, LSU. What a difference a game made.

Last year’s Red Out was too close for comfort at 51-44. If UGA doesn’t make a stop, the game would have maybe been tied and then lost. Today we’d be back to facing yet another possible losing streak to a Big Orange Machine. We won and played our way to within a play of a national title try.

This sort of smells like an upset alert ambush to me. Tennessee jumps back on the national radar with a big win over UGA on CBS, wearing Smoky Gray uniforms in front of a national audience. That could be the story, and it would also read: GEORGIA not ready for primetime, can’t handle success.

Neal is as strong a runner as we will face this year, and we have not really stopped anybody. Lost in the emotional LSU win is that they shredded us for 41 points with only 77 running yards. UT will run better at home. Clemson got 38 points, a not famous-for-being-explosive South Carolina got a solid 30 Between the Hedges. The Vols blocked us well last year and get that talented O-line back.

We have an unusually young team who did not play to potential on the road at Clemson and flies into Rocky Top – site of previous program glories and way too many memorable bad beat downs – without our best player ready to rumble and having never won a road game together, this team, riding high.

Marshall has gone down on first contact way too much and faces the best linebacker in the best football conference: A.J. Johnson led the SEC in tackles last season, and got no love because he played on a bad team, for a bad program. What if he manhandles Marshall and suddenly a true frosh is alone in a not-so-crowded backfield on the road in the biggest SEC stadium? It could happen.

They got whipped at Oregon and at The Swamp; places we are never exactly begging to visit.

Lil’ Dooley was the worst coach in UT history record-wise. Butch is already looking to be better, and they won’t stay down too long on Rocky Top. What if we hear too much of that song, today, though? The Blawg will virtually write itself next week, and it will have to say fire everybody.

My co-host and I called for “DAWGS BIG” this weekend on our radio show: Sports Joc College Football Pre-View, watch it now at: www.thesportsjoc.com and live on Fridays from 9a-10a EST. But based on the few tendencies I listed, like an inability to play defense well, I’m suddenly slightly nervous. Maybe it’s just too much Munson in me, maybe it’s all those unhappy memories of Peyton’s Place.

Here’s a good one for you: Last team to repeat as SEC champions? Don’t guess LSU or BAMA, it’s the Tennessee Volunteers under big Phil Fulmer. We used to find a way to lose to him every year back then. They even won it all that year, too. Can we?

Next week we get an undefeated Mizzou, if they can win in the state of Tennessee today at upstart Vandy. The SEC East title is not in the bag by any stretch of my imagination. The real rivals, Tech, Florida, Auburn are building and gunning for GEORGIA. So is hated Tennessee. GO DAWGS!!!