I have played and watched a whole lot of football in my 40 years. I have cared way too much about the outcomes at times. I have let losses anger me or depress me. I have let wins make me irrationally exuberant. I have spent a small fortune to support my favorite team. I have, in recent times, become a little more balanced in my approach to the whole thing. I haven't thrown any objects, such as toasters, in years. I have learned to enjoy all of it much more as a result. Don't get me wrong, I love the DAWGS and I expect them to compete for the SECC every year. But, I also know that there will be years like this one. And in a year like this one, the number one thing I expect from the players and coaches is that they give the best effort they can. There have been several games this year in which they clearly did not give a maximum effort. However, yesterday, they fulfilled and possibly exceeded my expectations for the level of effort shown.
I hate losing to Florida. I hate that the post 1989 years have been for Dawg fans what the preceding two decades were for Gator fans. Indeed, a Georgia victory in 2007 will make the 1990-2007 series record a mirror image of the 1971-1989 era: 15-3. I reckon that since I got to enjoy those 18 years, the yang to that ying is what has happened the past 17 years. But through it all, I love the Dawgs and always will. The only thing I really ask of the team is that they give a maximum effort. I saw maximum effort yesterday and I am proud that this bunch rose to the occasion and showed some heart and fight. Sure they came up short, but I am a big boy and I can handle that.
This was another of those games where too many mistakes and bad breaks conspired to keep victory out of our reach, despite the effort and resilience of our team. Without recounting all of the contributing factors, I will simply point to two plays that most embodied the ill-fated outcome in this game.
1. The punt that bounced off of Kelin Johnson's leg is one. I know that this has happened to Georgia before, I just cannot remember when. Which makes me think it has been years since it last happened. So naturally, if it was going to happen, it was going to happen in the Florida game at a most inopportune time. The ball careened into a sea of red jerseys but was recovered by the lone Gator player. Sadly, Johnson was giving a Gator hell as he was locked up in a block showing great effort and desire. The kind of block that may have sprung Mikey Henderson for a nice return had the ball not been knocked down short by the stiff wind. The second part of this point is that we were not fortunate enough to recover the loose ball. And so it goes...
2. The second play was when the Georgia defense needed to make a play to give our offense the ball and a chance to tie the game. Tra Battle sacrificed his body as he came screaming into the line of scrimmage and flung his 175 pound body at warp speed into the ball carrier causing a fumble deep in Florida territory. The ball bounded into a part of the field covered with red jerseys, yet a lone Florida lineman recovered the ball, averting disaster for the Gators.
And so it goes...
As someone once said, unless I coined the phrase myself, "That's the way it goes when that's the way it is going."
So what now? Are we supposed to be happy that we fought hard and showed great effort? Well, it actually helps me to accept this loss knowing that our guys never quit and showed signs of maturing as a group. This gives me hope that we will have a few more good outcomes before this season is over. It leads me to believe that this young group will be a force to be reckoned with in 2007-2009. As long as this bunch gives what equates to maximum effort for their particular level of talent and experience, I believe, like Kyle King, that we could close the campaign with a WWW. It would be unlikely, but not impossible.
So, for now, I will be looking forward to the next 4 games and hoping to see the same level of effort. If they show that, I will not whine about the outcomes.