WARNING: What you are about to read are the frustrated musings of a person who traveled 3,510 miles to only three games this season only to be rewarded with losses to Mississippi State, Colorado, and Central Florida.
First of all, I'd like to say that the Liberty Bowl isn't a bad trip. Memphis is a fun town if you stick to the right areas. The halftime show was the best halftime concert since Kenny Rogers at the 2005 game in Knoxville. My only complaint was that the stadium felt like it was at the center of the American transportation system with trains blaring by at regular intervals and an almost constant flow of low-altitude aircraft. Otherwise, I enjoyed the trip. Well, except for the actual play of my team.
I'm just at a loss on this one. It was the same stuff as all the early season losses, except we seemed intent on getting the ball to A.J. He returned punts. He caught quick passes. We tried to hit him deep. Despite that, the offense sputtered. UCF has a competent defense, but when your OL outweighs their DL by 50 pounds a man and two of its members are considering early entry to the NFL draft, you should dominate the offensive line of scrimmage. But, just like the rest of the year, our line looked weak, or tired, or just slow. UCF played a conservative defense that demanded good execution and methodical play. The Dawgs obliged on some long drives, only to sputter within sight of the goal line. The offense just never seemed in rhythm.
It's frustrating. A losing season is never acceptable. The University of Georgia places a high emphasis on its athletic programs, especially football. So, things have to change, right? Well, there won't be coaching change this season, so let's take that off the table. With that said, how exactly do you see the Georgia Bulldogs improving next season?
I've heard a lot of folks saying that recruiting is the key to next season. Those pleas just ring hollow to me. First, recruiting is important every year. We have to sign great athletes every year because our competitors sure are. Second, the chief deficiencies I see on this team are on the offensive and defensive lines. How many true freshman do you see making an appreciable difference on the line of scrimmage in SEC play? Crowell, Drew, Rome, and the rest of the Dream Team are important, but will they make an appreciable difference next year? I'm not so sure. Long and Benedict should be ready to contribute on the OL, but both those guys are coming off major surgeries.
Georgia will open the season against Boise in Atlanta. We'll be without our top play maker on both the offense and defense from this year. Why should I be optimistic about that game or any game next year?
I was on Beale Street Thursday afternoon before the bowl pep rally. Greg McGarity walked toward me, stopped, and thanked me for coming to support the team. He didn't know me, nor does he have any particular reason to. It was an appreciated gesture. I told him that I was sincerely grateful that he got the job and wished him luck. It seems that our administration is ready to support our program in any way, even thanking some yahoo on the street. We just need to figure out how to improve, and fast.