Georgia vs. Kentucky, 11/8/2008

UGA at Kentucky, 12:30 PM, Raycom Sports; Lexington , KY

It’s been a long week for the Bulldog nation following the hangover from last weekend, but it’s time for us to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and get ready for Kentucky. Hopefully, nobody’s forgotten what happened the last time we visited Lexington. It was at this point that the team hit the proverbial rock bottom. This was also the the most horrific game of Matt Stafford’s career, last week not withstanding. I essentially see this game as the defining game of this team’s season. It’s time for us to take charge and send our seniors out the right way (by beating Auburn 3 out of 4 times, never losing to Tech, and going 3 of 4 in bowl games). On the note of seniors; we are going to really miss MoMass next year. The guy has been a warrior and he really stepped it up his senior year. I hope the rest of our young guys will grow into their roles as well as he has over the last few years. We’re going to find out how they handle the adversity of having their goals absolutely demolished last weekend in Jacksonville. We’re going to find out about the senior leadership, if any, on this team this weekend. At this point, the team can still win 10 games and go to a bowl in Florida to take on the second or third best team in the Big 10. Certainly, not the bowl game we originally wanted to attend in Florida, but 10 wins is nothing to sneeze at. It’s certainly encouraging as a fan base to see the disappointment and hurt coming from the Bulldog nation. We now expect to contend for SEC and national championships on a yearly basis. That is a far cry from when I came of age as a fan during the early to mid 90’s when we were just happy to win 6 or 7 games and have the occasional upset.

Here are some of my keys to the game:

-Short memory: The Dawgs need to forget what happened last week and move on. No doubt last week was an utter disappointment, but they need to make sure the same team doesn’t beat them two weeks in a row. This team’s playing for pride right now.

-Contain Randall Cobb: If you haven’t heard of him, you will on Saturday. He’s a freshman currently rotating with Mike Hartline at the QB position. He’s also fifth on the team in rushing, active leader in receiving yards after the injured Dicky Lyons, and second on the team in punt returns. This guy can do it all. The defense has got to keep him from using his athleticism to beat them.

-Ball Control: Kentucky has a pretty atrocious offense up to this point in the season. If Georgia can hold the ball with healthy doses of Knowshon and Caleb King, they can keep the Kentucky defense (which is its strength??) and not give them a chance to ever get in this game.

-Turnovers!!?!?!: I only have one request for the Dawgs this weekend. Please hold onto the ball and throw it only to your teammates. Anyone that watched the game last week realizes that Florida was the better team out there. Were they 39 points better? I don’t think so. You can win by 39 points if the team gives you the ball inside their 20 twice though. Turnovers at inopportune times have been the Dawgs Achilles heel this year. They’ve got to shore up the turnover/takeaway ratio or we could be in for a long game.

-I’m tired of repeating this, but will one more time for emphasis: Quit kicking field goals and turning the ball over in the red zone!! This has been painful to watch. It’s been a combination of miscommunication, poor execution, predictable play calling, and a young offensive line all rolled into one. For whatever reason, the Dawgs can’t seem to put it together once they get inside the 20. This has got to change as we need to put Kentucky away early and often.

What I think will really happen:
I’d like to be wrong, but I really think last week destroyed this team’s will. They have nothing of major significance left to play for except to beat an average team in an average bowl. Sure, GA Tech is still a big game, but only for bragging rights. With all the expectations heaped on this team this year, anything short of the ultimate goal was going to be deemed a disappointment. I don’t think Georgia will blow out this Kentucky team as many fans want to see. It will probably be a sloppy game that Georgia wins ultimately due to talent. Since the game’s in Kentucky, Macondawg has provided a nice concoction for those so inclined. I suggest drinking it because this one is going to be ugly. I don’t see Georgia going down in an upset, but I don’t see them covering the 11 points either.

My prediction: Dawgs 21, Kentucky 17

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