Dawgs on Top in Season Send-off
According to Hutson Mason, Todd Grantham, while defensive coordinator at Georgia, was known to call the UGA offense a “Mickey Mouse offense.” Well, the Dawgs offense, sans Mike Bobo, Todd Gurley--and quarterback Mason for more than a half--made Grantham and his defense look Goofy in the Belk Bowl Tuesday night.
With rumors swirling all over the internet that Mark Richt would be coaching his last game at Georgia and the Bulldog Nation wondering if their team could snap out of the funk that enveloped them over the last weekend of the season, Georgia put a sound whipping on the 21st ranked Louisville Cardinals and the duo of Grantham and Bobby Petrino—a pair that seem made for one another.
Georgia defensive coordinator proved that less is sometimes more and showed the Louisville athletic department that $1.3 million doesn’t buy as much as it used to while Nick Chubb put on a clinic in how to run the football with a performance—in the Belk Bowl as well as the season—that hasn’t been seen since you-know-who matriculated to Athens from Wrightsville in 1980, after a fortuitous coin-toss on Easter Sunday.
Mark Richt indicated in his post-game press conference that the bowl game was a microcosm of the entire Georgia season. As they had done all season they overcame controversy and bad breaks and did what was necessary to make most of us proud to be Bulldogs on a cold Tuesday night in Charlotte. There are those, of course, who wouldn’t be satisfied if Bear Bryant, Vince Lombardi and Nick Saban were the Georgia coaching triumvirate.
Mason managed the game well until leaving with a concussion just before half-time. He quietly broke Mike Bobo’s record for highest completion percentage in a season and threw a beautiful touchdown ball to Chris Conley. Nick Chubb was Nick Chubb. Sony Michel showed flashes of brilliance and the Georgia offensive line showed why we will sorely miss Will Friend when he joins the recently departed Bobo at Colorado State.
The defense was everywhere—knocking down and intercepting passes, snuffing the Cardinals at the line of scrimmage and pressuring and sacking the opposing quarterback on numerous occasions. It was a Georgia kind of night. The victory didn’t come without drama, however.
There was rampant speculation about the play-calling ability of tight-end coach John Lily. I’d say those fears had subsided by the time Georgia took a 20-7 lead into halftime. The starting quarterback and his leading receiver, as well as one of the best defensive backs, were all out of the game by intermission and with a quarter left to play Louisville was still in striking distance, trailing 27-14 after Georgia failed to capitalize on a couple of scoring opportunities.
Not to worry. Plan B—which, according to Richt was to “give the ball to Nick” worked to perfection and Chubb got stronger as the game wore on. It was appropriate that the game ended with Bobby Petrino calling timeouts and desperately trying to score a meaningless touchdown in the waning seconds of the game—and with Lorenzo Carter knocking the Louisville QB squarely on his ass, twenty yards behind the line of scrimmage, on the last play of the game.
If you get the feeling that I enjoyed what transpired in Charlotte, you would be right on target. Now to address the bigger issue.
I believe that Georgia football is on the brink of greatness—not that nine ten-win seasons in the last 14 is anything to sneeze at. It is the best 14 year stretch in Georgia history. I realize that we play more games now, but the winning percentage is higher, too. I am aware that we have lost many games that most people feel we should have won, but we have won a lot of games that we weren’t expected to win, also.
We have the best back in America and a Heisman frontrunner returning next year. We have two outstanding quarterback candidates—possibly three. We have one of the best recruiting classes in the nation headed our way and a defensive coordinator that has proven he can teach as well as scheme and scream. And we have a strong, loyal, honorable man at our helm who just happens to be a damn good football coach.
Now is the time for the Bulldog Nation to unite behind the program and demand that the administration give the coach the support he needs—in salary, facilities and intangibles—to make what is really a final baby step to the upper echelon of the college football world. We are that close. We really are.
Look for me between the hedges on September 5. I’ll be the good looking guy in the red shirt.
Darrell Huckaby is an author, educator and syndicated newspaper columnist. Visit his website at Dhuck08@bellsouth.net.