Friday, September 3, 2010

The Game

Today is a day unlike any other day a Georgia Fan will face in 2010. This is the day when all of last year's disappointments are at their most distant. This is the day when optimisim for a coming season is at its highest. The unknown stretches out before us, and we are on pins and needles for that first kickoff.

But let us pause.

Tommorrow the libations will be flowing, tailgates will empty, fans will rush into Sanford Stadium and get their first glimpse of a brand new team, and reality will set in.

But today, today we can project. Today we can use memories of former greatness to spark excitement and hope for the upcoming season. Some will look back to 2002, the last time Mark Richt was coming of an 8-win season. Some will think back to 2007, when a pair of solid runningbacks was set to share carries. Some memories will drift back even farther, to a time when a three-down lineman set on defense was the norm for Georgia. People will remember these days for far more than what they were - saturdays of entertainment. They will remember these days as days that made their lives better. Excitement will rush in today, and hope will be at its highest. Memories of the past and and unknown future will build in Georgia Fans everywhere until it reaches a crescendo, just at the moment when the kicker's foot hits that pigskin for the first time, and the crowd yells "DAWGS! Sic 'Em! WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!"

In that moment, it will all be lost. In that moment, we will hang in the air just as that ball does...and when it finds its way to the hands of a waiting player, The Game will be ON.

By The Game, I'm not referring to the UGA-ULL matchup. Though the scene I've just painted does tie directly to it. No, by The Game I mean the season we've waited for - when all of the offseason moves and all of the player prospecting and all of the speculation finally plays out. This game began in earnest over a year ago. Mark Richt decided to keep Willie Martinez aboard to give his defense a shot at redemption. The 2008 campaign was very sub-par, but injuries and inexperience made for a fitting excuse. That excuse would vanish in 2009. So would Willie. Richt chose last year not to burn a red-shirt on his Blue Chip 5-Star Freshman Quarterback. He chose to stick with a fifth year senior, who had statistically one of the better seasons for UGA quarterbacks - if not for that pesky interception column which completely undid much of the positive work. Over the course of the season, Murray was never thrown into the fray - never given snaps which would have yielded vital experience. This was Richt's Game. He simply bet that a year of learning the system would be more beneficial than taking his lumps.

Those who believe Richt is too conservative and not a gambler should think twice. Richt has gambled quite a bit on this season. He has put the fate of his team in the hands and head of a redshirt freshman quarterback. Can this kid make the right decisions - or better, keep from making the wrong ones - and lead his team to victory in the toughest conference in America? He has put the fate of his team into the hands of an unproven defensive coordinator - though Grantham had limited success in some areas with the Cleveland Browns, his defense was not seen as high-quality. These are big gambles, and I believe they're going to pay off.

Many of the Georgia faithful out there have lost their way. They are no longer faithful. They are bitter, cold. They talk of Richt being on a hotseat. They say he'll never be on par with Miles, Meyer and Saban. They do not see how this team can be successful. But today, even they are excited...because tomorrow is brand new. Tomorrow is what we've been waiting for. Tomorrow, The Game is On.

Go Dawgs!

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