These past two weekends have seemed like pre-season games. No matter how much I tried to attach significance to the games, the plays, and the results. Still, ultimately, I had not even a twinge of doubt or fear that we could lose either game. Well, those days are over. As I write this, I am confident that the Dawgs will beat South Carolina. But... I can't say that I don't have that nervous excitement that comes from the knowledge that we could get beat if we don't play well. And that makes it more real. So, yes, I have an overwhelming sense that this is the real season opener and I cannot wait.
CMR Pep Talk
If I was Coach Richt, after Thursday's practice I would have said something like this (without trying to sound at all like crazy Lou Holtzth):
Men, you have worked hard. In two games, you have shown that you understand what we want to accomplish as an offense and defense. On offense, you have shown that we have the players to strike quickly. On defense, you have shown that you can shut down the other offense. Now, it is time to take this preparation on the road to open our SEC season. There are high expectations for what you guys can and should do this season. It all starts in earnest this Saturday against a team that beat you last year and kept you out of the SEC Championship Game and the National Championship Game. But, this is a new year. This is our year. And I promise you this... If you go into this game absolutely determined to execute on every down... absolutely determined to whip the other guy on every play... if you will do that... I will let you score 50 points if you can. If you guys want to go over there and hang 50 on South Carolina... I will not call off the Dawgs if you are giving this kind of effort on every play. Gentlemen, it is up to you. Do you want to go over there and just win this game? Or do you want to make a statement that WE are the best football team in the land? 50 points men. It is up to you. Now let's get after their asses!
What do I expect to happen? I think we will run the ball 40 times and pass it about 25 times. The result will be around 200 yards rushing and 250 yards passing. We will score over 30 points. Our defense will shut down their running game and force them to pass. They will have some success passing underneath to their tight end and running back out of the backfield, but they will have trouble sustaining drives and will struggle in the red zone. They will score no more than 17 points.
Final score: Dawgs 34 - Gamecocks 13