Albany Herald Guest Columnist Loran Smith
The no-crying-over-spilled-milk attitude is now something which the Bulldog football team must adopt. Nothing can be done about what has taken place, but the future can be rewarding if the Dawgs spit adversity in the eye.
First of all, the season is not over. With a 12-game schedule, anything is possible. Last year at this time, spirits had sagged after an 0-2 start, and the recovery process had brought the Bulldogs to a 4-2 record, which would eventually end with a 10-2 regular season record and the SEC East title — a memorable comeback which healed a lot of emotional wounds.
There are several favorable points to consider at this juncture. Georgia played a good football team — not great, perhaps, but one which at least played bordering on great with a highly-motivated and intense performance at home. It was somewhat akin to LSU coming to Athens in 2004 and getting thrashed by the Bulldogs, 45-16. You don’t think that wasn’t embarrassing to Nick Saban? His team couldn’t do anything right, because the Bulldogs were too peaked, pumped and dominant. The conclusion, therefore, is that the kinds of nights Georgia had in Columbia can happen to any team at any time. Actually, it happens quite often.
There is the view here that the Gamecocks are not that good and that Georgia is not that bad. I’m not a gambler, but Saturday night in Baton Rouge will not be anything like it was for the Gamecocks in Columbia last weekend. If I am wrong, then I’ll take all the slings and arrows. The Gamecocks played near perfect football, while Georgia’s poor performance remains baffling to the Bulldog coaching staff. With a 12-game season, multiple possibilities remain, however.
Although the circumstances are different, you can go all the way back to 1959 when Georgia experienced an afternoon in Columbia which closely resembled what took place this past Saturday night with the Gamecocks. In ’59, with one-platoon football still in place, Georgia fielded a team that included All-Americans-to-be Pat Dye and Fran Tarkenton.
The Bulldogs had opened the season with Alabama in Athens. Bear Bryant was in his second year at the Capstone, and much was being said about the rebirth of championship football in Tuscaloosa under Bryant’s leadership.
He had arrived back home in 1958 and had spawned a positive atmosphere as his team went 5-4-1. When Alabama arrived in Athens in 1959, there was great optimism in Tuscaloosa — where the Bulldogs had lost 12-0 in 1958 but made the case that they should have won the game, based primarily on a blown call by an official.
Opening with Alabama between the hedges, Georgia won, 17-3, completely dominating the Tide. The next week, Vanderbilt, which was very competitive in those days, was a 21-6 victim. Then there was the road trip to Columbia, where the wheels ran completely off just like they did last Saturday night.
The Gamecocks thrashed the Bulldogs, 30-14, and there was much disappointment in Athens — although not quite the gnashing of teeth we are noting this week. Nonetheless, the Bulldogs were embarrassed, but Tarkenton and Dye led their team to the conference championship and a victory against Missouri in the Orange Bowl.
South Carolina was not a member of the SEC in those years, but the results were similar. Georgia could not explain what went wrong, and the Bulldogs were sorely disappointed, believing they were better than they played.
While I am not clairvoyant, I do believe that you learn from your mistakes, and you can rebound from a bad performance. Attitude makes a difference, and we will now find out if the leaders of the team can rally their mates for a reversal of fortunes. The first step is not to get lulled to sleep thinking Kentucky in Lexington will be a pushover.