This game went on forever. The TV timeouts were like root canals. Roller coaster ride all the way. Thank God we have Rennie Curran. As I wrote in the pre-season... when you have Rennie Curran, you have a chance in every game.
For a fan, this game was an emotionally draining marathon and an encyclopedia of things that can happen in a football game: 100 yard kickoff return, fumbled kickoff return, 61 yard reverse for a TD, leaping interception, leaping TD reception, pick six, blocked extra point, blindsided QB fumble, hustling recovery of said fumble, two long field goals for us, 5 field goals for them, and a 4 down goal line stand with the game on the line. I know I wasn't the only one in Sanford Stadium dreading and cursing the memory of Brandon Bennett's last second TD in 1993 or the game-winning, last-minute SC TD pass in 2001. Thank God we have Rennie Curran.
When Rennie batted that final Garcia pass harmlessly to the ground, I realized for the first time that I could hardly breathe and my heart rate was pretty much in the rhythm of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Here we are now... entertain us. That's for damn sure.
Last week I wrote about why we follow Georgia football. Had I waited a few more days, I could have condensed that long essay to this single sentence: "We follow Georgia football for the heart-pounding fun of a day just like today!" From the great lunch at Harry Bissett's, to the stroll through the North Campus tailgating scene, to the Dawg Walk, to the trumpet solo, to Baba O'Riley to the more than four hours of horror, euphoria, horror and finally more euphoria that was the 2009 installment of Georgia's renewed torture of Steve Spurrier, this day had it all and ended beautifully for the Dawgs. Thank God we have Rennie Curran.
This season, I am content to enjoy every win regardless of the circumstances. There are no ugly wins. All wins make me happy. Just win, Dawgs!
Here are the five things from this game I feel most compelled to discuss:
1. Richard Samuel: After a decent game against OSU, the criticism was that he was not breaking tackles. Samuel, who even though a sophomore, is barely 18 years old. He is still learning and he has a great attitude. In his own words, he acknowledged that he needed to break tackles and finish his runs better. Against South Carolina it was obvious that he has listened, learned and stepped up his game a notch. He ran with passion and fire. He also knocked the shit out of a few Gamecocks when he didn't have the ball. He really reminds me of the offense's version of Rennie Curran in terms of heart and desire. For some reason, Bobo only rushed him the 15 times, but he also caught 3 passes and ran hard on those touches as well. I am certain that Richard will continue to grow as our feature back and will create some nice highlights as the season progresses. Big things are coming and soon.
2. Joe Cox: Better. Not great, but he is not going to be great. We only need him to be good. Eliminate the pick six and anticipate the blindside blitz and this would have been a wonderful night for Joe. He made some nice throws and his receivers stepped up for him. Pass protection was excellent most of the night as well. The key for Joe to be effective is to quickly get the ball into the hands of his playmakers the way Tebow got it to Harvin for two years. The playmakers are all around him... just get them the ball.
3. The Brandon/Branden Duo: Wow! Brandon Boykin was electrifying on his leaping interception and the 100 yard kickoff return. He is also coming along as a CB. Branden Smith is scary fast - as seen on his 61 yard reverse for a TD. But he also showed Champ Bailey-like closing speed on one play when he was at corner and the receiver got 5 yards behind him. When the ball was in the air, Smith closed the gap in about two strides and was carpeting the receiver several ticks before the ball arrived. With that kind of closing speed, he will make lots of plays on the football throughout his career. Next year we will have the Brandon/Branden CB tandem. That will be a beautiful thing for CWM to work with if they develop into the shutdown corners that I think they will become. Speed... is it in you?
4. Orson Charles: I love a great tight end. Orson has it all and will only get more and more lethal on opposing defenses as Bobo and Cox figure out more ways to get him the ball. He had two big receptions for 38 yards, both down the seam that could have been even bigger if Cox had hit him in stride. That will happen soon. He will be the biggest reason teams will pay for doubling AJ Green. By the way, would anyone wearing red and black trade AJ Green for Julio Jones or Dez Bryant? All are fantastic players, but I will stick with AJ all the way.
5. Rennie Curran: Heart of a lion. Not just any lion, but the biggest, bulkiest, ballsiest and meanest lion on the savanna. He is the lion that makes lions from other prides shrivel on sight and surrender their lionesses at the first sound of his roar. He is the ferocious lion that makes Marlin Perkins stay his ass in a helicopter while poor old Jim Fowler rides in on an open jeep to get a closer shot of this bad ass King of all Lion Kings. 15 tackles and the game-saving knock down of Garcia's pass on 4th and everything (for the second year in a row.) Thank God we have Rennie Curran.