Check the oil, kick the tires and fire up the engines, Nation. It’s time to take the 2012 DAWG show on the road. First stop: Missouri, The Show Me State. Home to the arch in St. Louis, better known as the “Gateway to the West”. For Georgia, this trip to Missouri cracks open the conference slate and starts the long road the every member of the DAWG Nation hopes will be the gateway that will lead Georgia back to Atlanta and a shot at the Southeastern Conference Championship. As I pointed out the other day, this one’s big for the DAWGS in terms of both their season as well as their national perception. We know traveling can get a little hectic and it can be tough to always remember everything, so we humbly offer up this week’s packing list.
*AARON MURRAY’S EXPERIENCE*
Aaron Murray is in his third year as the starting quarterback for the University of Georgia and by most every account, Murray has been stellar. The one knock on Murray so far is that he has not been able to win the big game and that when he makes a mistake or turns the ball over (in those big games), those mistakes have come at the most inopportune times and the results have tended to be catastrophic. The flip side of this is that the man under center for Georgia has been tested by the fires of competing in the nation’s toughest conference and I believe he is better for it. He has learned those hard lessons. This is the game @aaronmurray11 has to prove me right. Saturday night in Missouri Murray will lead his team, depleted by suspensions, into an early season divisional game, being played in a very hostile environment, against a talented football team that feels they have everything to prove. This is the game the DAWGS need Murray to be the type of leader that only a three year starter at quarterback can be, to prove that he can guide his team to a win when the nation is watching. There are other experienced players on this Georgia roster and their leadership will be incredibly important, but Murray’s past experiences in the crucible that is the SEC and how he applies the lessons learned along the way will go a long way in determining whether the DAWG Nation will wake up happy on Sunday morning.
*11 RED HATS*
Coach Mark Richt said earlier this week that every player that travels to Missouri will play. Each of those players making the trip will be wearing a helmet, a red one with a white face mask, a white stripe and a large oval G on the side of it. Now I love those helmets, every one of them, but I’m most interested in the 11 that will line up on the defensive side of the ball. Coach Richt also guaranteed those of us in the DAWG Nation this week that his defense will be better in Columbia against the Tigers, and they will have to be. Coach Todd Grantham’s hit squad is coming in shorthanded due to suspensions and they will be facing a different kind of spread offense than they have seen before. There is nothing they can do about either of those facts. With that said, it is paramount that whoever is behind the mask in the DAWGS defensive eleven get the job done. Part of that is in how you play the game and I have no doubt that Coach Grantham believes in his defensive rallying to the football and in gang tackling, and that is why I want to see 11 red hats running to the football, gang tackling and GATA the way a great defense should.
*HOOK UP THE HORSE TRAILER*
Georgia went from looking like a team with real questions about the state of their running game after the dismissal of Isaiah Crowell to a squad that has a stable full of backs that can get the job done. Being a country boy, I’m very familiar with the old notion that if you’ve got a good horse, you ride ‘em. Well, the DAWGS have got four of ‘em and I strongly suggest they use ‘em. Georgia has a clear size advantage along the offensive line of scrimmage, so why not saddle up your horses and ride ‘em until Missouri shows us it’s a bad idea.
*MERRITT HALL’S HAMMER*
Merritt Hall is continuing the great tradition during the Mark Richt era of a player walking-on to play fullback for the DAWGS and earning a football scholarship. I love this dude. He craves contact and takes great pride in just plowing the road, punishing defenders just because he can. Like I mentioned above, I think Georgia should make the Tigers prove that they can stop our running game. A huge part of that running game is the fullback, Hall. I can’t wait to see #43 leading one of the DAWGS backs into the hole and blasting linebackers or unfortunate safeties out of the way over and over again and over again. Here’s hoping Hall delivers one hammer blow after another to help keep the Georgia offense on track and rolling down the field.
*BIG BOY PANTS*
“SEC! SEC! SEC!” That’s the chant the rest of the nation has grown to hate over the past few years and I can totally understand why. We SEC fans are never afraid to show our conference pride, and if our team isn’t playing in the game, we’ve been known to eschew traditional rivalries and cheer for our league strictly for the bragging rights. It really is US versus THEM. Well now one of THEM has become one of US, even if only in title. Missouri is officially a member of the Southeastern Conference, but they have yet to play a game in the league. Nation, I can buy a surfboard, but that don’t make me a surfer. I say we give them an introduction worthy of entrance into the baddest conference in the land….physical, powerful and unrelenting. Old man football!? I say Big Boy Football! Admittedly, this is more of a fan driven point that would be extremely satisfying to witness, but I am also arguing that if the DAWGS are going to achieve their ultimate goals this season, this is the type game they are going to have to be able to play to get the job done.
So there you have it, Nation. We’ve been farther west in recent years, but those trips didn’t mean nearly as much. This one’s big time for a lot of reasons and the atmosphere will be worthy of the event. We can’t wait to see what happens. We’ve double-checked the list and we feel good about it. Missouri is the “Show Me” state, earning this moniker because it is said you have to prove your point before they will believe it. If you’re making the trip, represent the DAWGS with pride and show ‘em how it’s done in the SEC. Oh yeah, search out some good eats while you’re out there. I hear the barbeque is pretty good. Safe travels, Nation.