Happy to be Wrong after a Glorious Game
I am not the good-looking guy in the red shirt today; I am the guy with the red face, and I have never been so happy to have been wrong in my entire life! I picked Georgia to lose this weekend. It wasn’t disloyalty or because I believed Georgia to be a one-man show. Nobody in print has been a bigger believer in Mark Richt, Mike Bobo and company. I simply didn’t believe that Georgia was ready to go on the road and beat a Top 25 team under such adverse conditions—and I was guilty of not having enough faith in Hutson Mason. I wasn’t against Hutson Mason, I just wasn’t sure that he could relax enough to get the job done. And I didn’t have faith in our defensive backs to cover anyone.
I was wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong. I was wrong on all counts and I will say again, I have never been happier to be proven wrong in my entire life.
I think it started with the defense. The defense didn’t allow Missouri to piss a drop all day long. I mean all day long. Who were those guys sticking to the Mizzou receivers like stink on ugly? I knew that CJP would bring the wood and put pressure on the Tiger quarterback, but it has been a long, long time since I have seen coverage like I saw Saturday out of a Georgia defensive backfield.
The third Georgia game I ever saw from inside Sanford Stadium was a 9-3 win over Ole Miss in 1966. Bill Stanfield and company were in the Rebel backfield all day long and the Dogs came away with a slew of interceptions. Saturday’s game put me to mind of that one, from a Junkyard Dog perspective. Five takeaways. Five! How bout them Dawgs! Methinks Jeremy Pruitt is actually teaching guys how to play instead of just yelling at them because they can’t and that, my friends, is the definition of a coach.
Mike Bobo deserves a gold star—or a helmet sticker—and a raise. According to Kipling’s classic poem, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you . . .you’ll be a man . . .” Kipling had Mike Bobo in mind when he wrote that poem. No one in college sports has been so unfairly castigated the past few seasons as Mike Bobo and yet he just keeps calling plays, keeps on keeping the offense balance, and keeps on putting Georgia in a position to win. His game plan and play calling on Saturday was just about dead solid perfect.
Hutson Mason did everything asked of him and more. Did you really think he would do so much damage with his legs? When he needed to throw, he threw. What was the line? 22-26-156-1-0? Not too shabby. And man was it ever good to see Malcolm Mitchell catch six balls without breaking anything. Michael Bennett might be the most unlikely receiving star in the land, but on Saturday he was a star indeed.
And what can be said about Nick Chubb? Chubb, Chubb, Chubb! All day long, it was Chubb. We had a term for people like Nick Chubb in Porterdale, where I grew up. He is much a man! Over and over and over, time and time again, they handed the ball to Chubb and passed the ball to Chubb. Bobo didn’t lose his patience. He just let him pound the Missouri defense, over and over and over, until he began to crack the Tiger defense and wear them down. By the fourth quarter, they were done. But Chubb wasn’t. How fitting that he scored from in nine on his last carry. You’ve all seen the numbers by now. 38 carries for 146 yards. 38 carries. Shades of you-know-who. Good thing the ball ain’t heavy.
My highest praise goes to Coach Mark Richt, who notched his 131st career win at Georgia with the 34-0 route of Missouri. The only two Georgia coaches with more wins than Richt are have buildings named after them on the UGA campus and are in the College Football Hall of Fame. Steve Spurrier has won 80 at South Carolina. Nick Saban has won 78 at Alabama. Les Miles has won 100 at LSU. And yet idiots scream “Fire Richt,” not just after every loss but after every close win, or even every play that fails to gain yardage.
When Joel Eaves hired Vince Dooley to coach Georgia football in December of 1963, he answered his critics with this statement. “I can guarantee you one thing about Vince Dooley. He will never panic.”
The same can be said of Mark Richt. (See Kipling poem reference above.) He is solid as a rock as a human being and has always realized that his job did not define him as a person. He has handled the distractions of autograph-gate this week the same way he has handled every situation he has faced as Georgia’s football coach—with calm and grace and common sense. We will never be embarrassed to see Mark Richt wave at a stadium full of opponent’s fans and say on national TV, “I’m glad they are disappointed!” and we will never hear him say on his radio show, “If the fans of Georgia Tech say anything to you just punch them in the face.”
Mark Richt had his team as focused and as prepared on Saturday as any Georgia coach has ever had any team focused and prepared. I would shout “Glory, Glory to Mark Richt,” but he would simply chastise me and say “Glory be to God alone.”
So I will say “Glory, glory to old Georgia and to hell with Georgia Tech.” It was great to be a Bulldog on Saturday night. I’m sure Erk and Larry were lighting up stogies in heaven and Dan Magill was sharing statistics with St. Peter about the last time Georgia shut out a ranked opponent away from Athens.
Look for me Saturday in Little Rock. I’ll be the good-looking guy in the red shirt—but not the one with a red face. I’m picking Dawgs on Top this week.
Darrell Huckaby is an author, educator and syndicated newspaper columnist. Visit his website at Dhuck08@bellsouth.net.