Saturday, September 5, 2009

An Ode to College Football...

The first Saturday every September is a feeling like none other. No it's not Labor Day, or the rising of the tides, or the smell of my Mom's cooking before a jewish holiday (though that's pretty damn good too). It's the beautiful aroma of college football returning. Hope springs eternal through college campuses around America (at least the 80% of those who give a damn about their football). It's the sound of engines running as the cars start pouring into campus. It's the sound of the crickets chirping as another beautiful morning awakens. It's the smell of portable grills being fired up for the first time in 8-9 months. The sight of the perfectly green grass from a summer's worth of inactivity. It's the scent of Jack & Coke at 10 in the morning (I'm getting frothy mouth just thinking about this). It's seeing the parade of colors to support your team and the optimism that defies reality, yet feels 100% justified. It's the sight of thousands setting up their tents, tailgates, TV's, chairs, packing the coolers, blaring their "fire me up" CDs. It's the band! It's the face of kids younger than you -- and you remarking to your buddies, "man remember when that was us, life was so easy then." It's the throngs of thousands of strangers who suddenly feel like your best friend or your worst enemy. There is absolutely NOTHING in the world like the pageantry & revelry that is college football. And the beauty of opening day is that EVERYONE is undefeated. I love you, college football and I welcome you back with open arms.

As far as my Georgia Bulldogs, we will find out a lot about this team today as we travel to Stillwater to play the gunslingin' Oklahoma State Cowboys, led by Dez Bryant and Zac Robinson. Joe Cox, will finally get his chance, as a Senior, to lead this team to a place that Matthew Stafford never could. Mark Richt will again get the chance to show why his teams play best and he does his best coaching when the odds are stacked against him. First game of the season, on the road, new QB, young team, inexperience on the line, playing an absolutely insane offense -- no wonder everyone thinks the Cowboys are gonna crush us. Not I, said the Southernfried Guy. The Cowboys are explosive, there is no doubt about that. They will get their points, but we will score ours too. Joe Cox has been waiting for this moment for FOUR, long years. He's a better leader than anyone we had last year and I think his skills are good enough. He doesn't have the same gifts as Stafford (the cannon arm, his size) but I think Cox can read a defense better and he will use what he does have to help make the offense better this year. Our O-line is healthy, young and experienced, which is key for any team's offensive success. Part of the problem last year was that Stafford was constantly under pressure and running for his life. Our WR's are all back, with a year of experience under their belts. AJ Green could become an All-American this year. We have added two potential stud WRs in Marlon Brown and Orson Charles. I think Richard Samuel will lead our running backs, and as long as he can hold onto the football we should be fine with him, Carlton Thomas and Caleb King. Honestly, Joe Cox & our offense are the least of my worries.

I worry most about our ability to consistently get pressure on the QB and our secondary. I'm not a big fan of Defensive Coordinator Willie Martinez and I'm hoping he can improve dramatically from last season, bc this defense was horrible last year. Getting Justin Houston back is crucial (though it won't be until the 3rd game) and hopefully Rod Battle can continue to show what he showed in Summer camps. Hopefully converted LB Marcus Washington can bring some speed off the edge. The return of Jeff Owens in the middle is key, and I think we have some young talent in the secondary, but Bryan Evans, Prince Miller & Rashard "I'm not 1/2 as good as I thought was last year" Jones concern me.

Time will tell, but for this Saturday in September my friends I have HOPE and OPTIMISM. Not so much that we'll be national title hunt or playing for a national championship (relax, Summer I won't be making our new year's plans in Pasadena yet). However, I do think the Dawgs will win 10 games this year and compete for the SEC title. Again, we have a good mix of vets and young guys who can play, and a coach who thrives on doing what people say he and his team cannot do.

Crazy? Maybe. Optimistic? Absolutely. Ready for college football? I can smell the grills and bourbon now! How bout' dem Dawgs!


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  2. Great read, RJ. Insightful and entertaining as ever. Now, let's see the cold, hard reality post: the creeping, seething bitterness and malaise that sets in following loss ...

    ... and, of course, the official SFC Pat's King of Steaks review.