If you stood on the outside and looked in at Georgia’s final three football games it would be easy to rave about the success of the team. From the outside in:
- The Bulldogs went 2-1 against their closest rival, the eventual National Champion, and top-25 team that was supposed to win the Big 10.
- Georgia dismantled Georgia Tech for the 11th time in 12 years, this time by a margin of 42-10.
- Georgia overcame a sloppy 2.5 quarters to defeat Nebraska (then ranked 16th) by fourteen points.
- Georgia’s lone loss during this stretch was sandwiched between the Tech and Nebraska games and was by four points (of a few yards) to the eventual National Champion.
From the outside looking in, it was one heck of an ending for Mark Richt and the Georgia Bulldogs.
But this was no fairytale for Georgia fans, players or coaches. The points above don’t accurately represent the following facts:
- Georgia was a few short yards (or a number of other breaks) from going 3-0 and beating Notre Dame for the National Championship instead of beating Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl.
- The Georgia Tech rivalry means next to nothing these days as almost every Bulldog fan under the age of 40 would rather beat Florida and Auburn than GT. Yes, Tech fans would still rather see Georgia lose on any given week than see the Yellow Jackets win, but that’s just how annoying little nerdy brothers are. A 32 point win over GT was nice to have, but didn’t add much value to the season.
- The Nebraska game was a harsh reminder of how ugly the season had been at times. Bo Pellini and his staff did a heck of a job with the gameplan, but Georgia came out largely unenthused. Talent and speed ultimately won out late in the game, but the first half was rough.
So, while I’ll always look back on this season with fondness, I’ll look back at it as somewhat incomplete. I can’t take away the accomplishments of this team (namely the impressive 12 wins), and I wouldn’t dare do so, but I also can’t fully be satisfied with the season. I’d love to redo the South Carolina game, I guarantee we wouldn’t see another outcome so favorable for the Cocks. Frankly, I wouldn’t want to redo the Alabama game; I don’t think the Dawgs would be that close again.
But maybe next year. Right?
I’ve put off writing this post-Capital One Bowl recap for a number of reasons. For one, it marks the finale of just the third 12-win season in Georgia history – why would I want that to end? In many ways this season had everything: highs (Florida), lows (South Carolina), thrills (Tennessee) and crushing disappointment (Alabama) all wrapped up in a successful season-long effort. I don’t want that to end. Why would I want to write about that ending – even if it ended in winning fashion?
On the other hand, Tuesday’s game was – at least on the field – largely uneventful. The Bulldogs defense underperformed. Aaron Murray shuffled between atrocious and amazing in as little time as possible before settling down to set a number of Bowl and Georgia records. Gurley racked up yards, Alec Ogletree and Jarvis Jones made plays. In the end, Georgia – the more talented team – pulled away. The Capital One Bowl was everything good and maddening that the 2012 season was. We had seen this game before.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about the game. It was fair and good. I would have preferred a blowout, and Georgia was certainly capable of such. And, for a while I almost thought I wanted the back-and-forthness to match the Tennessee game. But in the end, I was OK with it as all of the things above happened and the game seemed an oddly anticlimactic, but appropriate, final note for the 2013 season.
And I didn’t want that. I didn’t – and I still don’t – want that, because I don’t want the season to end. Alas, the season is gone. And so is Alec Ogletree. Based on his teary-eyed late entry at the post-game Press Conference (and obvious general knowledge), Jarvis Jones is gone. Aaron Murray could not have been more non-committal if he was running for public office. A host of seniors and several other juniors are gone.
The 2012 season is gone, and so are many – if not most – of the figures who made it worth clinging to. And that’s not something I want to write about.
That’s all I got/
I’m about to begin the trek home and will have a full recap of the Capital One Bowl up tonight or tomorrow morning at the latest. In the mean time here is some footage I captured yesterday following the game. Enjoy.
Georgia players celebrate as Geno Smith begins to frantically look for the hats and t-shirts.
Aaron Murray high-fives the crowd on his way out of the stadium.
Jarvis Jones explains Alec Olgetree’s big play during the post-game press conference.
Aaron Murray talks about Georgia’s high-powered offense.
Mark Richt discusses the future of Georgia football.
Is this the end of an era? Mark Richt, Aaron Murray and Jarvis Jones leave the Bulldogs’ final press conference of the season.
That’s all I got/
A few random thoughts and feelings from the Press Box at halftime:
- Aaron Murray’s accuracy has been off this game in the same way it often is in those “big” games that he typically underperforms in. His passes are high and behind more often than not. He’s not leading receivers consistently and he’s knocking heads off on what should be “touch” passes. I don’t know anything that you don’t know, but I wonder if in Murray’s mind this was his “last” game as a Georgia Bulldog. I don’t know that a game of this nature necessitates him coming back – but it certainly isn’t the note that I would think he’d want to leave on. But I’m not Aaron Murray, so what do I really know.
- The defense is furthering my belief that losing all this talent may not result in a statistical drop-off next season. Nebraska has 246 yards of offense, but more concerning is the drives in which Georgia seems to refuse to make plays. It is beyond frustrating as we all know what the Dawgs are capable of and we even see spurts of it, but there is no rhyme or reason to when they execute. And, I refuse to believe that Nebraska has the talent to negate Georgia’s abilities and render them inconsistent – especially when I’ve seen Kentucky do the same thing.
- The loss of Malcolm Mitchell hurts. Rhett McGowan is not a go-to receiver. Ever. Mitchell got knocked on the head and I’m betting that he’s experiencing concussion-like symptoms. He will not return, that much is sure.
- Georgia needs to capitalize on long runs by the backs. Gurley and Marshall each broke a 19-yard drive on two consecutive possessions and put the Dawgs near mid-field. The Dawgs got zero points from those drives. The holes aren’t there everytime. When one opens the backs are finding it, but the offense needs to capitalize off of that momentum better.
- In general, the first half is about what I would expect from Georgia in a bowl game given recent history. Nebraska came in with a little bit more of a chip on their shoulder and the Cornhuskers are making a case to be the better team, at least today. Hopefully that turns around.
- Jarvis Jones is now the single-season record holder for sacks by a Georgia Bulldog thanks to one play in which Martinez rolled out and then fell down and a play in which Martinez was called for intentional grounding. They may be “cheap” sacks but had Martine played each play out according to the rules both would have been sacks any way.
- Aaron Murray now has the single-season passing yardage record for UGA. He also is the holder of most passing yards by a freshman, by a sophomore and by a junior titles.
- Murray needs to complete passes at a higher rate (he was just 11 of 23) to capture the highest single-season passing completion percentage mark held by Mike Bobo.
- Georgia’s 318 yards of offense put the Dawgs at 6,276 for the season – that’s 557 more than the previous school record.
- If the offense keeps moving the ball they could also close in on the highest yards-per-game mark in school history.
How many third-and-longs have the Bulldogs had? I lost count around a thousand. Just kidding, but Georgia did have eight third downs in which they needed more than six yards to convert.
This feels a whole lot like the Tennessee game. And that’s not a good thing. It’s not inherently bad and may mean that a few players want to come back for more as they’re left hungry. But, it is a far cry from a dominant performance. Granted, it’s a blast to cover up here in the booth, especially when the team I root for has no direct consequence for a poor performance.
Keep watching, keep reading and Go Dawgs.
That’s all I got/
I’m going down to the field.
4Q – 4:18: I voted Damian Swann for MVP.
4Q – 9:113: Nice tackle by Damian Swann there. He’s going to be great.
4Q – 11:03: That pass play was the longest in Georgia’s bowl history. And Aaron Murray has 36 passing TDs on the season – a new record. And Christian Conley has SEC Speed. And nobody in the state of Nebraska does.
4Q – 13:00: For the first time today, the Georgia fans seem to be having a noticeable impact on the game.
4Q – 14:52: Beautiful catch by Keith Marhall. Dawgs up by 7! 38-31.
End of Third Quarter
3Q – 1:40: Murray hits Justin Scott-Wesley for a gain of 31. That’s his second catch of the day (first went for 24).
3Q – 2:34: Good job staying home by Christian Robinson there. Results in a loss of two for a scrambling Martinez on third down.
3Q – 5:23: Murray has been out on naked boots more often than a call-girl today. Not sure why.
3Q – 5:30: And Alec Ogletree makes a play forcing and recovering a fumble. Georgia seemed to be out of position following yet another defensive timeout, but he made a play.
3Q – 7:21: The degree to which the defense has leaned on the offense this year is damn-near unfathomable. Especially given preseason expectations. Murray has made mistakes, but he is keeping Georgia in the game as Burkhead continues to manhandle the Dawgs.
3Q – 7:26: Murray hits Conley for a 49 yard bomb. He’s really got a good deep ball. But the catch is under review. The call stands.
3Q – 7:50: Good job by Murray finding King on that third down.
3Q – 9:36: Not to beat a dead horse, but why is 240 pound Richard Samuel IV running kicks back? Is there not anyone else now that Mitchell is out? Damian Swann maybe? Todd Gurley is good at it.
3Q – 10:10: Generic sports opinion alert: Georgia’s defense needs to make a play.
3Q – 11:59: We just had an Alec Ogltree sighting – a rarity today. Unfortunately it was about 20 yards downfield when he tackled a running back,
2Q – 0:16: I’m now jockeying for urinal position. There is no rush like the bathroom rush at the end of a quarter in a press box. I’ll be back shortly with a half-time writeup featuring thoughts and feelings.
2Q – 1:26: Another fruitless drive. On a serious note, I think Georgia needs to target Nebraska safety Damion Stafford. He is celebrating like he’s an all-star. Let’s give him the chance to be one.
2Q – 4:09: Nebraska hasn’t yielded a ton of holes for Georgia to run through. The Dawgs can ill-afford to continue negating long runs by Gurshall by doing nothing after them.
2Q – 5:56: The official stats have Burkhead with 1800 yards rushing this game.
2Q – 7:59: Way too many third-and-longs for the Bulldogs against a very mediocre defense.
2Q – 8:48: The troops respond and hold the Huskers to a FG. 23-17, Georgia leads. Samuel back to return a kick. Again. For some reason.
2Q – 9:34: Hold the Huskers to a FG or less here would be a huge win for the defense and would take some pressure off of Murray and company. Nobody wants this to turn into a repeat of the Tennessee game.
2Q – 10:33: Todd Gurley bursts up the middle untouched for a TD. Georgia leads 23-14.
2Q – 11:42: Damian Swann makes plays. He’s like Rambo but at a position closer to the ball and with a higher upside. But that same knack for getting big plays.
2Q – 13:10: I would never root for Nebraska to do anything well. But if they’re going to run the ball well I hope it’s with Rex Burkhead – the great white hope.
2Q – 14:57: Murray threw for 153 yards and 2 TDs in the first quarter. But he also has only hit on 5/11 passes and has thrown two to the wrong team.
End of First Quarter: Georgia hurries to get a play off. Murray gets sacked. No good effort goes un-sacked.
1Q – 3:22: The Georgia defense continues to play. I continue to be unimpressed.
1Q – 4:04: Murray has two INTs and two TD passes in the first quarter. When was the last time that happened in a bowl? Somebody hit me.
1Q – 4:15: Samuel is again back to return. His shirt is still tucked up.
1Q – 4:15: Murray is struggling tremendously. Playing like the pressure is on him. Playing like this was going to be his last game. Playing like it probably shouldn’t be.
1Q – 5:29: If you watched Georgia’s defense on this current drive you wouldn’t be too afraid of losing everyone to the Draft that’s on the field. They can’t stop Nebraska’s run.
1Q – 7:54: Georgia now leads 9-0 following that 83-ish yard drive.
1Q – 8:45: Georgia seems content to run the ball and take shots deep. We’ve seen more Wildcat formation than mid-level passing game.
1Q – 9:59: Gurley continues to be a hoss with a first down. But there was nothing doing on that second run.
1Q – 11:39: Great stand by Georgia’s defense, followed by a blocked punt courtesy of SEC Speed and a comical safety as nobody could recover.
1Q – 12:49: That’s Murray’s “Stay in School” M.O.
1Q – 14:14: Keith Marshall got the start (along with Gurley) and just did some work on a screen pass on third and long. Gain of 21.
Would have liked that against Bama.
1Q – 15:00: Georgia set to receive. Here we go…
1:04 PM: An announcement just informed me that cheering is not permitted in the Press Box. But crying is good.
12:59 PM: Ball’s in your court guys. Make me proud.
12:54 PM Just found WifeYouCrazy in the crowd. She’s sitting way closer than I am. I’m not mad. Really I’m not.
12:50 PM: I’m settled in and eating my second meal of the day in the Press Box. That means it’s go-time. We’re 18 minutes away from kick-off.