A Dog fan’s memorable night in enemy territory

Reshad Jones celebrates a terrific interception. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Reshad Jones celebrates a terrific interception. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Saturday night’s Georgia-Georgia Tech game was memorable for me for more than just the unexpected result.

It was the first football game I’d attended at Grant Field since I was a teenager.

Generally, I’ve avoided the campus of the school that pretentiously likes to call itself “the Institute.” I’d been to a few concerts at the old stadium over the years and took the kids to a couple of Atlanta Beat games, but when it came to football I preferred not to mix with the folks in gold and white (and blue, the often forgotten Tech color). I can proudly say I’ve never given their athletic association a penny’s income.

But my son decided back in September to take me to this year’s Tech game as a birthday present. I have to admit that the way the season had transpired, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the game, but I figured it would be an interesting experience. Different, at least.

That was the case right from when we arrived at our gate. I’d never been patted down before entering a football game.

Once we made it up to our seats in the upper deck of the North end zone stands, mostly among folks in red and black, I marveled at two things: First, the view of the nighttime Atlanta skyline was pretty spectacular. And second, how could a school of engineers come up with such a poorly designed stadium? The thing looks like it was just pieced together, with no thought about easy access from one side to the other.

One plus about our location was that the Redcoat Band, located diagonally across from us in a corner of the other end zone stands, could be heard just fine all night, while the Tech band down below us, looking as silly as ever in those all-white uniforms, couldn’t be heard at all where we sat. My son noted before the game that there weren’t as many red shirts as two years ago, when it looked nearly 50-50, but there was still a good representation of UGA fans and we fortunately had plenty of occasion to make noise.

I liked that Tech showed the seniors on the big video screen, introducing themselves and telling their favorite memory from their time with the Jackets. (Predictably, more than half cited last year’s win in Athens, all reciting the score as if it were engraved on their rings or something.) But the silly poses struck by many members of the team in frequent video clips of them clowning around in sweats and urging the fans on seemed kind of cheesy. And the Tech band still has the dorkiest announcer I’ve ever heard.

I thought the folks running the game took a big chance after pregame warm-ups,  letting the two teams come face to face at midfield, jumping up an down with only a thin line of coaches and officials between them. That easily could have gotten out of hand. There was a little shoving at the end of the game, but despite the hatred between the two programs, I also noticed throughout the night players helping opponents up off the ground and patting the helmet of someone on the other team after a play, which brought home the fact that many of the Bulldogs and Jackets grew up with each other and played together in high school.

So a Georgia-Georgia Tech game is sort of like a family squabble. OK, a pretty dysfunctional family.

And in the end, as my brother Tim noted when I called him after the game, Saturday night’s game turned out to be a pretty nice birthday present. One of the best I’ve ever received, in fact.

Some other random thoughts about Georgia’s win over Tech …

Georgia’s offensive line finally lived up to its preseason hype Saturday night. It was great to see the Dogs’ backs racking up yardage like in days of old, but it also made you sigh and wonder why it took so long this season to get the running game on track. And what the season could have been like had that aspect of Georgia’s game come together sooner. Or if the Dogs hadn’t had such a turnover problem all season. Take away the last-minute loss to LSU and the four second-half turnovers against Kentucky, and you’d have the pretty decent 9-3 season that so many folks predicted. …

It’s a good thing the Dogs got off to such a fast start against the Jackets, as the offense sputtered somewhat in the second half, having to resort to kicking field goals too many times thanks to uninspired play-calling in the red zone. And the poor tackling that killed Georgia last season occasionally reared its ugly head on Tech’s successful scoring drives. Vance Cuff particularly had a hard time subbing for the injured Brandon Boykin in that regard. But as I said last night, the middle of the defensive line was magnificent. And that one-handed pick by Reshad Jones was spectacular.

An entire quarter of Mark Richt football without a pass? Who’da thunk it?

Georgia’s special teams play continued to be spotty, particularly on kick coverage, and Blair Walsh had an up and down night, getting three touchbacks but also kicking one out of bounds. I felt sorry for him that he wasn’t able to ice the game with that 55-yard field goal attempt, but the three that he made provided the margin of victory, so he definitely should join Washaun Ealey and Caleb King on the list of the evening’s Bulldog heroes.

The running game, the most productive of the Mark Richt era, was the story of the night, but Joe Cox nearly had a beautiful long touchdown pass to Rantavious Wooten. The ball was perfectly placed; it just wasn’t caught, one of a couple of drops the Dogs had in the game.

All in all, it was the most satisfying win of the season, and not just because it was over the Jackets. Let’s hope that Richt and Mike Bobo aren’t just single-game converts to the running game. It’s still the best way to dominate in college football.

And when you can run the ball better than the No. 2 rushing attack in the country, what could be sweeter than that?

Well, how about this: Tech and Clemson are meeting for the ACC title. Clemson lost Saturday to South Carolina. Tech lost to Georgia. And Georgia beat South Carolina. As the Dogs’ Michael Moore facetiously asked in a postgame Tweet, doesn’t that make Georgia the real ACC champion?

260 comments Add your comment

1eyedJack

November 29th, 2009
12:11 pm

30-24!!! Glad it still hurts!!!!

1eyedJack

November 29th, 2009
12:12 pm

Oh, I guess I was supposed to say FIRST!

22 wins in a row

November 29th, 2009
12:13 pm

Jackets are no Gators. Congrats on a big win, way to represent the SEC and the UGA football program.

where r u st. simons

November 29th, 2009
12:14 pm

30-24 hahahahahahahahaha

south ga dawg

November 29th, 2009
12:17 pm

NICE HANDS # 8.

Kennesaw

November 29th, 2009
12:20 pm

Don’t forget about Russ. An admirable sub for UGA VII. Hope we keep him.

Dawgs2009

November 29th, 2009
12:21 pm

This was one of the biggest wins in recent memory. To just hand to Tech like they did was awesome. Personally, it erases a bad season and gives me hope for the future. All of the other losses could be considered a “Sunk Cost”. Sometimes it only takes one game to turn a program around.

Tybee guy

November 29th, 2009
12:21 pm

Where you at Saint Simons???? I love seeing an arrogant team (and coach) go down!!!!!

DawgEDawg

November 29th, 2009
12:22 pm

4th… I’ve never done this before so I’m proud of myself

BK

November 29th, 2009
12:22 pm

Too bad Butler can’t win with class. Way to tear up the GT on field with your cleats after the game was over – twice. His daddy wouldn’t have done that…

JV

November 29th, 2009
12:22 pm

Heard an interesting take from a Tech fan on the radio this morning. Their failed fourth down pass should have been the third down play (as opposed to the bomb), but Johnson had got it into his head that he is invincible on fourth down. Yes. That’s what they call “hubris.” In recent weeks I have been far less annoyed by tiresome posts from Saint Simons than by the premature coronation of Johnson. It appears that the laws for physics DO seem to apply to him. Who knew?

DawgEDawg

November 29th, 2009
12:23 pm

OK, so I still haven’t done it.

GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Larry

November 29th, 2009
12:24 pm

As a Georgia native, a graduate of neither school, but a supporter of both, I must say reading the blogs today the Georgia Bulldog fans must be the biggest goobers and rednecks I have ever read.

I am completely unbiased and always enjoy watching this game but clearly I don’t think either team was that good last night. Further, had GT not had the false start on fourth and goal, followed by a missed chip shot field goal, and the injury to Nesbitt I think GT pulls this game out in the end.

Saint Simons

November 29th, 2009
12:25 pm

(((UGA ACC Champions)))) ahahahahahaha

UGA>Tech
Fla>Fla St
Sc>Clem

(((( Acc IS GARBAGE)))) hahahahahahahaha

TECH will always choke

November 29th, 2009
12:25 pm

Tech and Clemson lose to SEC teams. Well the debate over whether the ACC is better than the SEC is over. Hope they enjoy the ACC championship, maybe they can get some hats or rings made. I think I hear the tech fans climbing off the wagon.

Hmmmmm

November 29th, 2009
12:27 pm

Hope you went to the Varsity after the game!

SD Dawg

November 29th, 2009
12:27 pm

Larry-

And if we didn’t have all those turnovers and penalties this season, we’d be undefeated. But we did. So were not. Tech couldn’t get it done. They lost. We earned that win. Let’s us be goobers and redenecks. We have endured a lot these last 365.

But no this year! :-)

SD

DawgEDawg

November 29th, 2009
12:28 pm

Obviously, Larry hasn’t spent much time on these message boards over the last year.

1eyedJack

November 29th, 2009
12:33 pm

Stomped a mudhole in the middle of Grant’s Field.

MtnDawg

November 29th, 2009
12:33 pm

ST Simons, stop playing hide and go seek and come on out!!

Whats the matter, dawg got your keyboard??!! 30-24 hahahahahahahahahaha!

DawgNation

November 29th, 2009
12:34 pm

BK,

I suggest you take a look at all opponents especially Tech when they win in Athens. It takes a year to re-grow the hedge and as I recalled the Tech players stormed to mid field stomping and churning the G. So if they can’t take it then stop it when they win.

Love the win and the fact all my Tech “friends” can just STFU now and suck on their thumbs.

AltamahaDawg

November 29th, 2009
12:34 pm

Bill, dead on. Even with the maddening issues, its not hard to “imagine” 9-10 wins this year. And easy to see a 10 win season next year minus half the mistakes. 2011 before we have the horses on defense again.

And what is the deal with half-bro Russ? Same mama? Same Dad would be UGA lineage same as VII. Thought he was a pretty good looking dawg.

D.Ellis

November 29th, 2009
12:34 pm

Larry-We thank you for your “unbiased” would coulda shoulda opinion. I’d also like to add that if the game had 8 downs instead of 4 to get 10 yards Tech would have probably got a first down.

But rules are rules…you only get 4 downs and kickers kick and players get hurt and penalties happen. It;s football, and the State championship trophy is out of the hands of the dark side and in it’s right ful place

UGA

November 29th, 2009
12:35 pm

Didn’t Johnson get a contract extension? Tech looks like they are going to get into the same situation Notre Dame is in. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Dawg Fan

November 29th, 2009
12:35 pm

Enter your comments here

UGA

November 29th, 2009
12:37 pm

Hey LARRY you are a TARD. Move to Florida

Michael

November 29th, 2009
12:38 pm

Isn’t it great how a pretty awful season can be redeemed by one win? I just hope Richt understands that this win doesn’t mean that there aren’t serious problems with the program that need to be addressed, and that he won’t use this win as an excuse not to address them. And won’t it be nice not to hear from that low-life creep Saint Simons for a year?

AltamahaDawg

November 29th, 2009
12:39 pm

Yea Larry, had Tech scored more than UGA, it’s quite possible they would have won. Brilliant! Sort of ignoring the 3 points spotted tech on the fumble or the many mistakes UGA made that kept tech in the game, aren’t you???

Gator Hater

November 29th, 2009
12:41 pm

To Larry….yea sure you’re umbiased. I guess Tech the only team last night that had plays not go their way. You know what they say….if and buts were candy and nuts..

georgiagirl

November 29th, 2009
12:42 pm

BK , Leave Butler comments out, maybe he did not like it last year when the Tech players broken the hedges off and ran around the field with them in their mouth. So he has class, he is a great player. But has the old saying goes what come around goes around. Tech players were taunting Georgia on the videos before the game. But I guess that was okay.

longtimedawg

November 29th, 2009
12:42 pm

Georgia vs South Carolina for ACC Championship?
ACC SUXS!!!!!!!!!!!!
(((((((30-24)))))))) GO DAWGS!!!!

AltamahaDawg

November 29th, 2009
12:45 pm

Michael, I think the chances that Richt would use a win as an “excuse” to not work on improving the team, is pretty low.

Buzz29

November 29th, 2009
12:48 pm

I’ll be the first Jacket fan to eat crow. As hard as it is to say, congrats on the win last night. I have great disdain for the school in Athens but ya’lls O-line was spectacular last night. Only 364 more days to catch the wrath of what Saint Simons brought on. See ya’ll next year in Athens. Remember, Saint Simons isn’t a good representative of the Tech fan base. Yeah we enjoyed the win last year but that damn fool caused us bad karma. THWG!

Saint Simons

November 29th, 2009
12:48 pm

I haven’t been able to post anything because I was arrested for child porn and I was in jail. I am sorry, but I now ready to remind everyone to lock up their little boys.

frank james

November 29th, 2009
12:48 pm

My brother and I rode into town to enjoy a Dawg victory. While waiting for the Dawgs to come into the stadium a Tech fan asked us if we really thought we had a chance? I wish I could have found him after the game. During the game we sat with some Tech and GA fans. I really enjoyed it. The Tech fans and Dawgs showed alot of class. What a great rivalry!

Razor

November 29th, 2009
12:53 pm

BK-

You’re a jerk. Typical Dawg fan…win and you gloat like you’re the Texas Longhorns or something. You beat Tech…whoopy-doo. Miss St beat Ole Miss too. Again, whoopy-doo. Best team doesn’t always win and didn’t this time….you’re season is over except for your crap bowl. Good luck with that. Jerk.

1eyedJack

November 29th, 2009
12:53 pm

There’s a new sheriff in town and the DAWGS just stomped a mudhole in him.

Chris

November 29th, 2009
12:57 pm

What a bunch of thugs…ya’ll cry cause some UF player tries to scratch your running back’s eyes….but I guess it’s ok for you mf’ers to stop and twist the ankle of our quarterback.

F U Georgia thugs…you’ll get yours….I hope stupid Richt and Willie are there for a long time….

AltamahaDawg

November 29th, 2009
12:57 pm

Even worst to lose if you were the “best team”, isnt it?

Dr M

November 29th, 2009
12:59 pm

Wish I had a dollar for every post that mentions “St. Simons”…LOL. What a brilliant game plan- winning by running the ball down their throats! Kudos to CMR, the seniors, the entire UGA team, and, yes, the OC and DC. For this to be the defining game of a very difficult season- priceless.

Dawgs2009

November 29th, 2009
1:00 pm

Chris:

Are we a tad bit upset this morning? I have a tissue and a glass of hot milk for you. Poor baby. You must feel terrible. It will be Ok. Don’t cry poor little chrissy boy.

HAHAHHAHAHHAHHAHAHHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA! EAT IT!

1eyedJack

November 29th, 2009
1:02 pm

Are these the same crybabies who made fun of our beloved mascot dying?

Palmetto State Dawg

November 29th, 2009
1:02 pm

Hey Larry, and if GA would have had AJ Green playing, this game wouldn’t have even been close. Get a clue you idiot.

Dawgs

November 29th, 2009
1:02 pm

Rumor has it that Martinez is resigning today and Rodney Garner who never signed a contract this year may be leaving. Any truth?

All Points Bulletin

November 29th, 2009
1:04 pm

Has anyone seen or heard from Saint Simons?????? Everyone has been looking for him, but to no avail. I guess he/she is still asleep, and hoping last night’s GA win was a nightmare. LOL!!!

UGAfireDAWG

November 29th, 2009
1:05 pm

Why are the patheTECH fans still on our blawg???
((((((((((((30-24)))))))))))))
HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAA
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!UGA ACC CHAMPIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gimmick Offense

November 29th, 2009
1:06 pm

(((((((((((30-24))))))))))) HAHAHAHAHAHA

Mike S

November 29th, 2009
1:08 pm

Last night took the sting out of an otherwise bitter season, but Georgia still has a lot of work to be done.
First order is to get rid of Willie Martinez and that stupid zone. The D-line and LB were fantastioc against the GT option, but Tech’s RECIEVER (as in singular, one, only) was wide open running across the field all night long. We covered the deep stuff ok for once, but the underneath throws were still completely open every single time.

Still, the future on Offence is bright – Tavarres King, Rontavious Wooten, Orson Charles, Caleb King, Washaun Ealey, AJ Green — all Freshmen or Sophomores. Next season we willhave Aaron Murray or Zack Mettenberg stepping up to lead the Offense. Now to get some fresh meat on the defensive side of the ball!

Oh an finally – for the sweet kind wonderful Saint Simons
(((30-24)))) Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

AltamahaDawg

November 29th, 2009
1:08 pm

Dawgs, it’s all rumor till it happens, but logic tells you that Richt and Martinez have already come to a conclusion. The look on Willie’s face after the game tells you all you need to know.

I’d be very shocked if Garner isn’t the HC of some smaller school during the offseason.

ParrisIsland Dawg

November 29th, 2009
1:09 pm

The truth is GA should have scored 40. When the running game is working that well the entire playback is opened up. We could have run play action more, thrown on first down more, thrown in some gimmick plays and caught their safeties cheating up. No problems whatsoever with CWM’s scheme other that the fact that it took us till the 12th game to play assignment football.