Hello, DAWG Nation! The BEAST is back and man it feels good. It has been an extremely busy year around our way, but football is back and that gets our attention. What’s more, we look up and find an old rival has invited us over to get the party started…Clemson. In case I haven’t mentioned it before, we grew up about 30 minutes from Clemson, have family that went to and graduated from Clemson, and I will readily state that as a matter of fact, Clemson’s version of Tiger Rag is the one and only true version of Tiger Rag. Period. But enough of that noise. This week those Tigers are nothing more than the first in a long and formidable line of challengers that the DAWGS must conquer to claim the championship mantle they truly desire and make good on their mantra, “New Year. New Team. One Dream.”
And what a way to get it started! A top ten match-up with a prime time national television spotlight. Whew-wee, son! Everybody in the pasture town that is Clemson better strap ‘em on tight Saturday ‘cause they don’t get any bigger than this. I’m serious. Wherever you may be, you better get your head on a swivel. When the DAWG Nation gets this amped up, you just never know where that knockout crack back is going to come from. It might just be that lovely lady on your arm dressed in her best red and black. Man, I can’t wait! It’s coming…tick, tIcK, TICK…and the DAWGS are gonna get loose.
All the big stuff’s already on the trucks, but there are just few things we have to make sure we don’t leave behind before we fire the diesels and roll this show up I-85. Don’t forget to steal a quick look at beautiful Lake Hartwell on the way. 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.
*BIG BOY (SILVER) BRITCHES*
Georgia and Clemson. Dooley and Danny. This is the classic rivalry of my youth that showed me what Georgia football is all about. The one that built the legends and made me understand what silver britches were really supposed to look like and more importantly, represent. I know exactly what I was doing when I saw Kevin Butler kick one 60 yards, plus a foot and a half…hanging in the doorway with the cousins as we craned our necks back inside to see the game as we rambled out the door to play a pick-up game of tackle in the front yard. This one is rooted deep for me and all that makes me the DAWG I am to this day.
That’s why I know Georgia has to bring their big boy britches to this one. Everybody knows there will be more than a few new faces taking the field on Saturday, but that can be no excuse for a team that absolutely expects to do big things this season. The environment will be tough and the stage will be huge, but if the DAWGS are really what we all hope and believe they are, those new faces need to be the next wave of stars for us to cheer and not a handicap that must be overcome. If we’re lucky, we’ll see some silver in those britches and if we do, this Georgia team really could turn out to be something special.
Let’s just put it on the line here. It’s time to break some stuff. What better tool to get that done than a hammer? I know folks are high on Clemson and their complicated and flashy offense, but winning football is a simple concept. You must win. Man on man, eleven individual battles across the field. You must beat your opponent until he don’t want to be hit anymore. So, it’s a good thing that Georgia’s got a few trusty old hammers in the toolbox.
If the DAWGS are going to get this done, that talented backfield of Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall (don’t forget that 6’2”, 257 lb Mack truck of a fullback Quayvon Hicks) will have to grind on the Tigers. On defense, I’m looking at #52 Amarlo Herrera and the rest of the front seven to shut down that unproven Clemson running game…with prejudice. All those young kids we’re going to be lining up on Saturday should grab one of those hammers and bust some stuff up while we’re at it and use it to break out for the world to see. If all goes well, all you people in red and black heading north this weekend better watch your step on the way out ‘cause there’s gonna be pieces of shattered hopes and ACC prestige all over the place.
While there’s no doubt this is a big game on Georgia’s schedule and on the college football landscape in 2013, it really shouldn’t faze this group of DAWGS. Yes, I know. There are some pups on the bus this week. But for a program that has seen the glare from more than a few bright lights over the last few years, this game should not provide too big a stage, especially with veterans at every level on both sides of the ball. The DAWGS must embrace this opportunity like that old familiar hat that’s already broken in and fits just right, and then rock that lid like we all know they can.
Both in 2002 and 2005, Coach Richt’s DAWGS rode experienced offensive lines to SEC Championships. Those groups were more than just veteran though, they were nasty. They lived to gnaw shins, grind lanes and wreck defenders, imposing a championship will as they laid claim to rings. In 2002, I was in the stadium when Coach Richt believed in his men and went for it on 4th and short near midfield late in the fourth quarter against Clemson to put the game away and Jon Stinchcomb and crew bulled the way for Musa Smith to go up and over for the first down to seal the win. I’m certain the young men that make up Georgia’s offensive line unit are wonderful individuals, fabulous students and upstanding campus citizens, but we don’t need to see those guys. We need the angry, play-through-the-whistle and right up to the line guys. By the time they walk off the field in Clemson on Saturday night, Georgia’s O-line better have shown a much darker side to the Tigers and made them understand....we are not friends, we do not like you, and you’re gonna like it. If the DAWGS get that message across to the Tigers, the ride South early on Sunday morning will be a sweet one.
So there it is, Nation. We’re finally here, the long wait is over and we are rewarded with what should be a fantastic, classic match-up. The DAWGS are ready and so are we. If you’re making the trip watch out for those speed traps and fly your colors high. Don’t take too many back roads or you might find yourself in a country traffic jam, sitting behind a few escaped cows in the middle of the road somewhere in the prettiest pasture town in the Piedmont. Safe travels, Nation.