I highlighted in a previous post how it was sort of odd that of all the SEC Champions we've had, the possibly more talented teams, and unique circumstances that lead to title game entry, it seemed surprising that this team actually had a shot to play it's way into Miami. That was before Saturday. Now we really do control our own destiny.
What's even stranger, is all the circumstances that have taken place this year. It's not necessarily the pedigree you think of when you think of a National Champion. Luckily for us, fate has written a different story, and you're never going to argue that opportunity.
Here's a few things I'm reminiscing on how it's strange that this is the team that has reached this place of fortunate opportunity.....
For one, we lost 35-7 and were absolutely taken behind the woodshed in our biggest game of the year. A la 2007 when a great UGA team seemingly didn't show up in Knoxville and then went on to be potentially the best team in the country, this team has likewise turned the corner. Still seems strange we could hoist a crystal ball with this large black eye on our resume. You're not going to argue with it though, and if we do hoist that crystal, you'll forget about that game real soon.
Hell, we wanted to fire our coach after this game. The man that has won two SEC titles and seems to be a perennial ten game winner was on the brink of losing his fanbase. The man who could lead us to Miami was written off as potentially dead (even I got caught up in this ashamedly) may now lead us to the biggest game in our program over the last 20 years.
For a school that's had such great kickers (maybe sans Blair's last year though I still love the guy), we have guy who makes us hold our breath on every extra point. He's doinked countless ones off the crossbar and shanked a good may field goals. Nonetheless, he like the team seems to be hitting his stride.
We start a freshman on offensive line who seemed to think the world was imploding around him at Missouri in our first road test.
We lost our SEC Freshman of the year at running back prior to the season even starting. I don't think anyone could have been more impressed with the effort Gurshall has put forth.
We lacked potential all-americans on defense in the first 2-4 games due to suspension.
We've lost our two biggest and physical receiving targets to devastating injury. For a corps that prides itself on depth, they've been forced even more to rise to the occasion, and further to that it looks like the passing game has even improved over the last few games.
In our biggest win of the year, our QB who has been one of the constant positive notes, had one of the worst games of his career. Despite the defense's best efforts Aaron Murray almost single handedly lost us the game. Despite great efforts in previous performances where we came up short, this will potentially be the defining game of the season, and one in which he struggled mightily.
Over the past 15 years I'd say UGA has been tight end U of the Southeastern conference. However this year, minus a few glimpses of bright spots, our tight ends have sort of been non-existent. They haven't lit up the stat boxes, but Rome and Lynch have actually done just what's asked of them. Different from the norm.
We started a walk-on fullback to start the season. Merritt Hall actually has made a great deal of his opportunity. Even stranger, he got injured and missed time. Of course, Zander stepped up and has provided a nice spark in the run-blocking game.
We have fallen all-over ourselves in the punt return game. We've had some ugly fumbles, questionable non-fair catches, and really no explosive plays to think of. We've now got Rhett McGowan back their fair catching everything, and he even almost coughed one up versus Georgia Southern.
There have been a lot of weird scenarios that wouldn't lend to thinking this is a National Championship team. Bottom line, who cares. The attitude and resolution (coupled with a nice schedule) have brought this team to the point where no UGA team under Richt has been before having a chance to play for their right to the title, not just back door in. You don't argue with circumstance, you take the opportunity to seize. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. It's not the team we dreamed about, but in a way it's sort of fitting that these guys get the chance.
GATA and Go Dawgs. 1. 2. 3 to go.