Not gonna have a lot of depth on the whole Gameday experience this week. I think the holiday weekend, plus a burgeoning cold and a sunburn, should serve to make me less loquacious than usual. However, here are a few random observations and thoughts from the first weekend of the college football season.
Oh, because you were all worried about it all weekend, the extra battery arrived and functioned perfectly when charged. No CrackBerry meltdowns necessary.
On the plane down, a guy was wearing an Auburn shirt. I, of course, was representing my alma mater. Brief deplaning exchange: “I hate your shirt.” “Yeah, I hate yours too.”
Another random plane conversation. Guy talked to me as we were walking toward baggage claim (I guess the earbuds weren’t quite the deterrent I thought they were). He was wearing red, but with no visible UGA logos. Said he was a fan, and going to the game. I asked him when he graduated, and he said he’s a UGA fan because of the football, but went to the North Avenue Trade School because he wanted to get “an education.” I stared at him blankly, stopping in my tracks, and suggested that the days of driving through town and getting a diploma thrown in the window are over. And as a product of one of the nation's finest journalism schools, I was slightly offended. Sigh. I faked a trip to the bathroom to maintain some semblance of manners. Fuckwad. If that’s the bandwagon, get the hell off, ya know?
Two differences between Maryland and Georgia you can instantly spot walking through the airport: the South has far more hot chicks than the Mid-Atlantic. And Southerners like to eat more. (Happily and Sadly, respectively, I can testify to both).
This was the first trip back to the motherland since I became iPod savvy, and I can tell you it makes all the difference in the world. Not only was it great to have background music of my choosing while reading on the plane, it was also fantastic for killing time on the Marta train out to the North Point station. Whereas last year, I just looked around and tried to avoid eye contact and conversation with the huddled masses while reading a magazine, this year I plopped down and watched Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog for the 12th time. Awesome.
On the way in, we stopped at the Dahlonega liquor store and once again found the Inexplicably Priced Tallboys. Price of 12-pack of Lite, 12 oz: $9.99. Price of 12-pack of Lite, 16 oz: $9.99. Why on earth would anyone buy the 12 ouncers? That’s basically 48 oz of beer – four full regular cans – for free. I do not understand the pricing, but at this point, I’m not questioning it either. I just quietly enjoy my extra ounces.
Thank Georgia's state government for the low price of smokes back home. For the next few weeks, I'm going to be a tobacco mule.
Speaking of the inexplicable, I’m fairly handy with technology. At work, I’m known as “the geek squad” because I can generally solve most computer problems that arise, and I definitely know my way around operating and programming software and various consumer electronics. However, the programmable thermostat in the Freebird’s basement remains a malevolent Hal 9000 for me. One time last year, I erroneously put it on "heat" in the middle of a hot September night. This time, I didn’t wind up a c-store rollerdog, but I didn’t put the cooling down in my usual comfort zone of high 60’s/low 70s, and somehow switched all the metrics to Celsius. Nice. They always said that the metric system would catch on.
There was a bit of the morning Bickersons on the way to the game, but nothing particularly antagonistic, and fortunately, no pedestrians were run down and left for dead.
Once we got to the tailgate, most of the usual crew was there. Given the early start, there wasn’t much set up and take down. No Bulldog Bites, no slingbox and game watching. Just a little chit chat and catching up, and quaffing of sudsy beverages.
We did, however, have time to conduct the first annual Geek-Dawg Trivia Challenge. The Freebird completed a clean sweep, winning top honors in the UGA category, the geek category and the overall combined score. (He actually tied with Scrat and The Candidate for the UGA category, but convincingly won the tie-breaker, coming within 15 yards of identifying Herschel’s all time UGA rushing yardage). And while she didn’t actually compete in the event, Gordo’s wife (in a quick post-match quiz) was surprisingly strong in the geek category. I think we may have a sleeper for next year. This year, however, The Freebird’s iTunes account will celebrate his trivia mastery.
I can say with certainty that despite pouring myself some regular cocktails at home, I was definitely not in gameday shape. Perhaps it was the temperature and humidity for a 12:30 kickoff, or assuming that 8 Chic-Fil-A nuggets was a good “base” for the first tailgate, or enjoying one too many pregame Inexplicably Priced Tallboys, but I didn’t make it all the way through the first game flask. Nor apparently, did I make it all the way through the first game, at least coherently. Hey, at least I didn’t continue last year’s bizarre trend of wandering off during the 4th quarter, like someone’s deranged grandpa at the mall. Nor did I show up lost in the shrubbery, screaming for a rescue, when I was on the road behind the frat house where I spent about 5 years of my life. (Google maps on the CrackBerry should prevent that this year).
Someone should probably take my phone away from me sometime in the third quarter.
As nice as it was to finally hear the intonations of the legendary Larry Munson, he did make a few glaring errors (more so than usual), especially calling Kris Durham "Wes Durham." (for the uninitiated, Wes Durham is the play by play guy for the archrival Bugs – but a nice guy and solid broadcaster nonetheless). However, as the Freebird and I were discussing, Larry can misidentify every single player on the field, never get the down and distance right and STILL keep that job until he A. doesn't want it anymore, or B. heads off to the hedges in the sky clutching his microphone in one hand and a coed in the other.
New Game Day Commemorative Cups! I picked up two, one Uga (the pooch) and one Sanford Stadium.
The new "non-smoking" policy for the stadium is all kinds of angst-inducing. Someone should set up a stand to peddle nicotine patches, or at the very least, those old bubblegum candy ciggies.
I have mixed feelings on the game itself. If we weren't ranked #1, I would be extremely pleased about the showing, with the exception of poor Jeff Owens season-ending ACL injury. We took care of an opponent we should have. As is Richt's way, he called off the Dawgs early in the game, once we were comfortably ahead (38-0), and got some work for some key reserves. (While many – including me – often complain about the early insertion of the backups, when you think about what’s happened to Sturdivant and Owens, the strategy seems to make a hell of a lot more sense in terms of getting folks ready to step up when called). He didn't run up the score when he clearly could have. Both Richard Samuel and Caleb King got to strut their stuff with a game well in hand. We put up 45 points.
However, you look around the "ticker" for other scores, and see The Condoms and The Jorts and The Sooners putting up a 50-spot. Will "on the fence" voters be more impressed by a score that starts with a 5? Will they hold a couple of Georgia Southern "garbage time" TDs against us? I'm sure they will, and USC's ass-whipping of the Cavs (after traveling cross-country) was duly impressive, even if Virginia comes from a conference that should now be relegated to Fox Sports Net broadcasts available only on the interwebs.
Same goes for Stafford. Yardage wise, it was his best day ever. He had some impressive frozen ropes down the field. Yet he underthrew and overthrew a few balls, too. First game rust, or ominous portent of things to come?
Frosh kicker Blair Walsh put the first kickoff deep in the end zone, and drilled his first FG attempt from 52 (and that would have been good from Dacula). From this brief sample, he looked to continue the UGA legacy of kickers. (However, his subsequent kicks didn’t really pin anyone back. More of this “directional” stuff? Tired from the heat? Not sure). And every time you hear his name, does anyone else think of this?
Watching games the night before, it was awesome to see the “1” on the ESPN scroll just before "UGA." Last time that was possible, I don’t think the ESPN “bottom line” had been invented yet. However, the new polls are just out, and we won't be seeing that again for a while, since USC leapfrogged us to become the new #1. It was really only a matter of time anyway, as the winner of the USC/OSU tussle was going to get that huge bump eventually.
Hey, the good news is we get to turn around and do this whole thing again in just 3 days! Until then, Woof, Woof.