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Post Jacksonville – officially in our heads

Tuesday July 31, 2007

Last night’s Atlanta Bulldog Club meeting was the typical preseason pep rally, but the nagging topic of Florida naturally came up.

Coach Richt didn’t back down to the challenge and matter-of-factly stated that the Gators stood in the way of Georgia’s goals. "If we are going to win an SEC East title, and that is our plan – to win it, we are going to have to beat them," he explained. "If they are in the way, then so be it." That sounded great until the topic of the venue came up.

"Do I truly think it is a neutral site?" Richt said. "No, I don’t. That doesn’t feel very neutral to me. If you want to have a neutral game, let’s have a neutral game in Atlanta. I would not be against rotating the thing around."

Forget about defending the tradition of the Cocktail Party for a second. We’ve got a bigger problem.

Florida is a tough enough opponent without things like the location becoming a mental block for the head coach. In a game of this magnitude with not only a rivalry but often an SEC East title on the line, that’s not good news. When the Top Dawg gets off the plane thinking, "neutral my left toe," you’re at a disadvantage before the game is ever played. The game has been decided by a touchdown or less in the past five meetings, so you can appreciate the significance of the mental advantage when two pretty evenly-matched quality teams play.

I don’t think it’s a reach to suggest that this mental block has manifested itself in Georgia’s offensive performances in Jacksonville. For all of the attention paid to Spurrier and Meyer and their offenses, Georgia’s biggest impediment in Jacksonville has more often than not been on the other side of the ball. In Richt’s six games against Florida, the Dawgs have scored 10, 13, 13, 31, 10, and 14 points against the Gators. It hasn’t exactly taken Norm Chow on the other sideline to beat those meager point totals, and it’s not an accident that Georgia won in the only year in which they broke 20 points. Mike Bobo was under center for a big loss and a big win in Jacksonville, and we’ll see if his promotion to coordinator can do anything to snap Georgia out of this funk on offense.

Maybe I’m wrong for dwelling on this point on a night where Richt confidently praised his quarterback and said "I don’t think we are too far away" from bringing a national title to Athens. It’s just that any national title run in the near future is going to go through Jacksonville. The Dawgs need a dose of that same mental toughness that they bring to Columbia, Knoxville, and Auburn, and dwelling on the neutrality of the site isn’t a positive first step towards building that attitude.

Richt is resigned to play the game in Jacksonville for the time being, "Whatever Damon says goes. The bottom line is we have got to win the game." That conclusion, while true, doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence when we’re reluctant to be there in the first place.

8 Responses to 'Jacksonville – officially in our heads'

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  • Reed Hall Dawg

    July 31st, 2007
    3:58 pm


    I totally agree. Although, I haven’t been to Jacksonville since 1985,I’m from the late 60’s, 70’s and 80’s when the Gators always took a butt whipping. From 66 (my freshman year) until 1990, the Dawgs were 17-6-1 at the Gator Bowl. In fact, after the 1983 game and six straight wins by UGA, the answer to the question “How to you keep a gator from masturbating?” was “Paint his genitals Red and Black and he can’t beat them for six years.” Always appreciate your insight. Keep up the good work.

  • Reed Hall Dawg’s joke, while crude, could easily be turned around on us. Yet we would find that over the last 1 years, we have only won 2 games. That is a far cry from Florida’s success rate from 66 to 90 – and we all know that college football is not the same as it was “back in the day”.

    I say move the liquor party to Atlanta, and see how the Gators like that. Richt is dead on stepping off the plane thinking the site is not neutral and there is only one thing keeping the game in Jville – $$$$.

  • I have a lot of thoughts on the neutral site of the GA-FLA game. First of all, I am a huge dawg fan and I believe it is a great tradition in college football. One of the best in all of college football, as a matter of fact. I do not wish to see it removed from J-ville, regardless of the recent trend. As Reed Hall Dawg said, we dominated them during (the dooley era). In fact, despite the recent UF streak, we still own the series by 11 games. I don’t wish to retreat from the current battle site. If we want to go to a neutral site in GA, currently the ATL is the only option, but I hate the idea of having the game there. I have many thoughts on this rivalry, and where to host the game, but I will post those on dawgbone.net soon. As for now, keep the cocktail party where it has always been. Where it was when Dooley dominated, where it was when Hershchel was undefeated, where it was when Donnan and Goff won their sole game in the series, where the dawgs won the national (and several) SEC title, where the tradition exists, where the fun, the guiness record, and everything else exists. I for one am not afraid and refuse to retreat. If we can’t beat the gators there, what makes us think we can beat them in gainesville, or worse, Athens. That’s not to say we can’t do either of things, but I would rather go with J-ville and keep a great NCAA tradition than go home and home and lose it. That’s just my brief thoughts,

  • Admitting that Jacksonville isn’t a neutral site beyond the 50/50 seating at the game is simply stating the obvious. If he wants to do something about it based on the current state of affairs or even if we were winning our share of the games, it’s a completely logical line of thinking and doesn’t mean the neutrality of the field is in the players heads. The last 15 years of getting beat consistently is what’s in their heads(players and coaches), not where the game is played. That said, the fair and logical solution is to play the game at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville and at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on an alternating basis. Or maybe even home and home along with Jacksonville and Atlanta on a 4 year alternating basis.

    I’ve been going to Jacksonville for 25 years and really enjoy the trip, but I don’t see that breaking the tradition is that big of a deal. Changing venues every year will be exciting and Jacksonville doesn’t really need the game any longer now that they’ve got the Jaguars. Jax seems to be making contingency plans for the eventual loss of UGA-UF by scheduling games like Bama-FSU this year. As for the Gators, they can move one of their home games to Jax if they want to keep a game there every singe year. What they think about the situation is irrelevant since any objective 3rd party would agree that having the game in Jax is an advantage for UF’s players, coaches and fans. We need that advantage at least half the time now that Spurrier put them on the map and they’ve developed into a consistently strong SEC title contender.

  • I know the point of the article was the Jacksonville neutrality/non-neutrality issues, but the big pink elephant in the room is the UF bi-week of prior to playing UGA almost every year. I’d be less worried about the site and more worried about that week off frankly. I also like having a QB that is not from the SE. Stafford knows the importance of this game, but not having watched it every weekend growing up like we have, it isn’t ‘in his head’. I’m hoping that with us having the week off and him being the QB that we can turn the tide this year. Next year will be an all out brawl. It will determine if we are a MNC team or not.


  • Sorry to you folks that live there but Atlanta is a toilet. It is bad enough that we have to go there for the SEC Championship every other year or so and every other year for Tech. Football is an outdoor sport and besides there ain’t no beach in Atlanta(Lake Lanier doesn’t count) and I haven’t seen many boat slips near the Dome either. The fact that we argue this makes us look like a bunch of little sissies. The DAWGS need to just sack up and win the damn game.

  • It is 100% mental in my opinion. UF is the one game the coaches get conservative, the kickers can’t kick, the receivers and TEs drop passes and the RB’s fumble. It is like the Dawgs see the Gator helmets and wet themselves. Because the game is late in the year we have to win. Look at the 2002 & 2005 teams; great years until Jacksonville. Just once I’d like to see an agressive game plan and execution.

    Sometimes a change is good. I’d like to see what would happen in Atlanta.

  • When it comes to Florida it should not matter where we play. In fact playing in Jacksonville should give us more reason to whip them bad in their backyard. So what are we going to say if we move the game to Atlanta and they come here and kick us around like a stray pup? Whenwe get the Vince Young attitude that says “we will not lose” life will be sweet.