Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Schadenfreude

Monday December 4, 2006

Congratulations to Wake Forest for winning Region 4-AAA. Hopefully they’ll play in front of a larger crowd this weekend in the Georgia Dome for the GHSA semifinals.

One of the best parts of being a Georgia fan this year is seeing the implosion in the Georgia Tech program that began with the win in Athens a week ago.

Georgia faced the same situation earlier in the season. They didn’t just lose to divisional rivals Tennessee and Florida; they also lost to Vanderbilt and Kentucky. Fans were beside themselves, coaches were feeling the heat, and both the offense and defense were facing a big crisis of confidence as receivers dropped passes and opponents drove for game-winning scores. At 6-4 with games remaining against ranked teams Auburn and Georgia Tech, a 6-6 finish was not only possible but seen as likely by many. Comparisons to 2005 Tennessee were made as everyone waited for the meltdown.

The Dawgs were able to come together and close out the regular season with two wins. The finish doesn’t erase the tarnish of those midseason losses, but instead of packing it in and waiting for a sweep of coaching changes to start fresh next year, Georgia began building behind a new quarterback and will have a chance to claim quite a bit of momentum heading into next season if they can get past a very quality Virginia Tech team in its bowl game.

Tech was riding high two weeks ago. They had wrapped up their ACC division with weeks to spare and had won four in a row after stumbling at Clemson. Calvin Johnson was magnificent, Tashard Choice was peeling off 100-yard games, and the defense was dominant. Then they played Georgia. Even with a spectacularly bad performance from Reggie Ball, the running of Choice and the defense seemed enough to win that game until Matthew Stafford found Mohamed Massaquoi for a touchdown with less than two minutes remaining.

The loss to Georgia started the grumbling, and the Tech community moved on by noting that they were still playing for a conference title. Oops. Ball followed up his Georgia performance with another so bad that it has his coach considering replacing the four-year starter in the bowl game. Johnson was held without a touchdown catch for the third time in four games. The defense played well most of the afternoon but gave up a pair of long passes that led to two second-half Wake Forest field goals.

With the rare expected win over Georgia and a shot at the ACC title gone, the finger-pointing has begun in earnest. Most noteworthy are statements from defensive leaders KaMichael Hall and Joe Anoai. "It’s a lack of offensive production. The defense can’t do everything," Anoai said. Those senior leaders leave no questions about their frustrations with the offense. The defenders aren’t alone; Choice has grumbled about not getting carries late in the game.

Tech still ends up playing on New Year’s Day as the Gator Bowl must take the ACC runner-up. It sounds as if they’re really thrilled to be headed back to Jacksonville. "Whatever," said Choice. Gator Bowl officials are poised to jump from Jacksonville’s Hart Bridge unless West Virginia brings half the state with them. Without an improbable attitude reversal, Tech will go into the bowl game with a defense distrusting of its offense, an offense at odds with itself and without a leader under center, and an offensive coordinator with one foot out the door as he eyes the Tulane job. Fans jaded by losses to Georgia and Wake Forest will likely pass on another trip to Jacksonville for a game in which they will be clear underdogs. All the while, twilight begins on the Calvin Johnson era and a possible championship and ten-win season.

Georgia came together; Tech is still coming apart.

Hate it for them, I really do.

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