How Deep the River

To my lady’s chagrin, Justin and I were in bowl mode at the Righteous Room in the Poncey-Highlands section of the ATL hours before kickoff. My brother and nephew and his grandfather had made the long drive north and west to Memphis. The Dawg Nation was ready to put a pleasant 2011 stamp on an up-and-down but mostly down 2010 season. Floridian Aaron Murray put gloves on his hands to protect against the January Tennessee chill and prepared to face a champion, the Central Florida Golden Knights of Conference USA, in his first bowl game and second neural site contest. The first had gone poorly – four turnovers made. He felt he cost his team a Cocktail Party win in Jacksonville. Doing nearly everything right for a 2nd half of football, he had played poorly in overtime when ball protection was of the utmost essence. He was 0-1 against the flagship school of his home state. The team that had recruited him against his now beloved Dawgs. Georgia was his team from the day Zach Mettenberger was booted off campus. He was a leader; leaders take accountability. He went out and tried way too hard in that bowl game and played perhaps the worst game of his career and UGA lost without producing much offense. Then the long offseason saw the expected early NFL entry of his best weapon. But he knew in his heart that good times were ahead on the horizon. All you had to do to believe was look at the impressive stats. And then 0-2 happened. Yet, he believed in himself and his coaches and teammates. And Rambo intercepted that ball and then tipped another away into the Tennessee night. He had done what he set out to do at 0-2 and 6-9 in his career. He had led his team to five straight victories and the precipice of an SEC East title if they could win out while depleted Carolina lost a game. But this was not the time to contemplate future championships. This was the time to focus on Florida where the biggest game of his career was to be played, on the bank of the river.