GEORGIA 45 - AUBURN 20: BLACKOUT WIPE OUT
From the Sunday after the Troy game up to the Friday before the Auburn game, I have been either traveling for work or back in the office struggling to catch up. Since Friday, I have had almost no access to the internets. Now, I am back in my office and I want to belatedly discuss the Blackout Game. Forgive me if you have already moved on to the Kentucky preparations, I will join you later today.
First, I want to say that I can never remember being higher than I was for an entire afternoon and evening. I am talking about a natural high! Sure, there was a little gin and tonic to help me along, but mostly, it was a natural high. The electricity in the atmosphere was palpable from the time I stepped out of my truck at Five Points and started walking toward the stadium around 1:30 pm. I arrived in Athens a little later than planned, but still had a great time connecting with great friends at the tailgate in the Tate parking lot. Everyone decked out in black seemed to have everyone feeling a little "special" I think. I was dressed in black from head to toe with the exception of the silver G's on my belt. I chose Miller's Gin and Tonic with lime as my pregame drink because this was my concoction two weeks earlier at TWLOCP and we all know how that turned out! See if you can guess what I will be mixing this coming Saturday. One of my best friends from the Naval Academy, Rob Fryer, accompanied me and helped me with the G&T. As we walked down Lumpkin past the track we could distinctly feel the surging vibe in the air. Man, was that awesome.
ENTERING THE STADIUM
We entered the stadium at the field level from the lower Tate Center parking. We along the UGA bench seconds after the team rushed the field in the black jerseys. As the players were jumping around and up on the benches waving towels at the crowd, we got Chester Adams attention by hollering "Cheese" and he gave us a big thumbs up. The kids were fired up. The energy on this team now reminds me of the 2002 squad as they closed down the stretch.
I cannot state with certainty that I have ever enjoyed a game more than I enjoyed this one. Beating Florida two weeks ago was awesome. I was at Auburn in 2002 for the Micheal Johnson miracle catch. I was at the SECCG when we destroyed Arkansas and at the Sugar bowl snoozer over FSU. There have been many other momentous games I have attended dating back to the 1970s, but this topped every game for me because of the truly unique and special night of the Blackout and how the team performed and how the crowd clearly played a part. Just fantastic from start to finish. The players got after their asses and delivered some spectacular performances: Stafford, Moreno, Brown, Bailey, Massaquoi, Chandler, Boling, Velasco, Ellerbe, Johnson, Curran, Atkins, et al. The Redcoat Band kept the crowd pumped up and twice I heard well-timed intros of AC/DC's Back in Black on the PA. Lastly, in the fourth quarter, when we were rolling along our way to scoring 28 unanswered points, the PA Cranked Dat from Soulja Boy and the players really had some fun with it while waiting for a 10 minute TV timeout to end.
Watching the play develop on the 58 yard TD throw to Massaquoi in the first quarter was poetry in slow motion. As Stafford was sliding out of the pocket to his right looking down field, there was Massaquoi five yards past the last defender. Stafford hit him in stride for an easy strike. It was beautiful. Sean Bailey was sensational against man coverage as Stafford found him several times for big plays. Stafford completely only 11 passes, but they averaged 22 yards per catch and were all at critical times. Moreno and Brown were huge again, but many props to the offensive line for giving them some nice holes and for the receivers blocking downfield. Consider that Moreno (101 yards) and Brown (81 yards) combined for almost treble the yardage gained by McFadden and Jones (67.) That is fantastic production. Here is one last key stat for our offense: Run:pass ratio 41:21. I am counting the two Stafford rushes as passing plays because, if I am not mistaken, he did not have any called runs. Anyway, this 40:20 run: pass ratio has been lethal the past three weeks as we have averaged nearly 43 points per game.
After the game, back at the tailgate, I was so jacked up and was not coming down. A few cold beers did not hurt the mood. My Navy buddy had to return to Atlanta, but I had my great friend Whit Yates to hang with as we walked up to Steverinos for pizza and beer, just like in the good old days. We had a table full of UGA cheerleaders at the table next to us and thanked them for their hard work. While we waited for our pizza, we proceeded to call just about everyone we could think of who was not in Athens for the game. After pizza, we headed downtown and met up with the incomparable Andrew Rothschild and the inestimable Bobby Wilkes at Harry Bissetts. Shortly thereafter, we went the Georgia Theater to watch The Zac Brown Band. My wife, Leslie loves their music and I was sad that she was not there with me. So, I did what anyone else would do at such a moment and called her cell phone so she could hear the music - which sounded more like noise from her end. But, at least I tried. Around midnight we called it a day, a glorious, fabulous, fan-freaking-tastic day.
Quinton McDawg has a commentary at Georgia Sports Blog about how much he enjoyed the Blackout Game. I have heard similar sentiments from many others. GLORY GLORY GLORY, it was a great day for all DAWGS! If every day was that awesome, I would probably combust spontaneously from the energy coursing through my body. I think I am still high from Saturday. And Saturday, I was still high from beating Florida two weeks earlier! Now, I look forward to the Kentucky game maybe more than any game I have been to in several years. For the first time in at least three years, my amazing wife Leslie (below) will come to Athens with me to share in the fall splendor that we will surely encounter next Saturday. She has only made it to two games since our daughter Annie was born 7 years ago. I am so excited that it has worked out for her to come with me next Saturday. And that really makes me high!