Before delving too deeply into the despair, I’d like to take a moment to spare some thoughts on my friend and coworker, Jim. You see, earlier this week, Jim discovered that he has a lacerated colon. But Jim’s tough. He’s served our country as a Marine, after all. Still, I have to say, that’s got to be a real pain in the ass. But at least now his problems are behind him. So, take care of yourself, Jim, and here’s to a speedy recovery (before you go thinking I’m some sort of caring person or anything, I just mentioned that last bit because I’m tired of picking up his slack).
On a side note, although I’m familiar with splicing a comma or fragmenting a sentence, I didn’t even know one could lacerate a colon. I guess that’s just one more thing I can add to my bag of literary tricks that I like to call “Creative Punctuation”. For those of you playing along at home who would like to learn more, “Creative Punctuation” requires one part ignorance, two parts indifference and just a dash of mixed martial arts (remember, the pen is mightier…).
Alright, with that pleasantness out of the way… Sigh, where to begin? Let’s start with the fumble. To my recollection, Washaun Ealey has fumbled the ball three times since starting his running back career at UGA. Each of these fumbles have proven to be quite costly. The first was on the goal line, late in the Kentucky game last year, as we were driving to tie it up. His second fumble came a few weeks earlier this season against South Carolina. Again, the fumble occurred on the goal line as we were driving to bring the game to within one point. And, finally, his third fumble last night, occurring once again on the goal line as we were driving to equalize early in the game.
The NFL instituted a new rule this past offseason which states that when a ball carrier loses his helmet, the play is blown dead and the ball is spotted where the helmet came off. While this new rule will negate memorable plays like this one from taking place in the future, I think it’s an important step in the right direction as far as player protection goes. With this in mind, I really wish the NCAA would look into adopting a similar rule.
If you’ll recall, Ealey’s fumble last night on the goal line occurred when he was sandwiched between two defenders as he was rumbling in for a touchdown. His helmet came off after the big hit and the ball squirted just across the goal line, where it was dived on by a State player. Here’s the thing. Ealey was in the best position to pick up the ball because it was just inches from him as he sat up from the tackle. In fact, he looked right at the ball but didn’t react to it at all. This, to me, shows a player who is clearly in a daze and should be protected from further contact.
While Ealey’s fumble certainly didn’t help matters, I can’t say that it was the sole reason we lost the game. I saw problems with our team all over the place, on both sides of the ball. On offense, our highly touted line once again remained inconsistent in pass- and run-blocking. This situation has been a frustrating mystery to me all season and, like our coaches, I don’t have an answer for why it is so. And I believe this statement by Coach Richt sums up how the play-calling went last night:
“We just, at times, called a couple running plays just blindly and just said, ‘Hey we’re going to run this no matter what.’”
Why, Coach? I assume you guys have a thinking when it comes to game planning and play-calling but I’m really starting to question some of that thinking. And while the play-calling has done him no favors, quarterback Aaron Murray reminded us at times that despite the poise and composure he’s shown us so far, he’s still a redshirt freshman on only his fourth collegiate start. I’m not worried about our quarterback though because he’s only going to get better. And he’s pretty damn good right now. But I do worry about the play-calling. I worry quite a bit about the play-calling.
On defense, to say that it’s a work in progress is quite the understatement, I’m afraid. While we have shown improvement from game-to-game and certainly from the defenses of the previous five seasons, we continue to make some of the same mistakes each week. I know it’s early in the adjustment to the new scheme and that we just do not have the prototypical players suited for the 3-4 Defense in our system yet. But I still find it hard to believe that we cannot stop a quarterback from consistently gaining four to six yards running the ball right up the middle. If we don’t address this issue right now, we will not win another game this season.
You know, I brought my buddy Jim up earlier in this post for a reason. Because, like he’s done, we need to put our problems behind us. And we do this by solving them and leaving them in our wake. But what can we do when the problems surround us, seemingly choking the life from this team we all love? Well, I believe the answer is that, like all good Dawgs, we hunker it down one more time. And like the Few and the Proud in the Frozen Chosin, we don’t retreat. We just advance in another direction.