Vince Dooley came to the University of Georgia in 1964. Herschel Walker arrived in 1980. And the 40 Watt Club opened in 1978, helping usher in an explosive music scene an hour northeast of Atlanta. Dooley left the University of Georgia in 2004. Walker left in 1983. 40 Watt Club is still kicking without signs of slowing down. Longevity matters little to a Georgia Bulldog, however, as they take pride in their ability to stay rooted in their best moments, regardless of factors other things and people succumb to…like, you know, time. Much like Bears fans with Ditka and Alabama fans with Bryant, Georgia fans have become so obsessed with finding their next Walker, it has become not only a black mark against their reputation, but also a detriment to their program. Because of this, I think it is only fair to let the least heralded, yet most productive member of this triumvirate offer its opinion on this weeks game. So…what does the music of Athens have to say about Saturday’s matchup? I’m glad you asked.
“Home Field Advantage”
This Drive By Truckers song from their Brighter than Creation’s Dark album is not one of my favorites from the Athens-based band, and that makes it all the more appropriate in this instance. Critical in the SEC, a home field advantage is something that the Razorbacks have gone without in recent years. Consistent almost as the passing of the seasons, big games in Fayetteville seem to come, go, and get checked with an “L”. It’s not that Razorback Stadium doesn’t get loud. It does. It’s just that the crowd has never been given a reason to stay loud. There always seems to be a major catastrophic moment that manages to take the wind out of 75,000 sails simultaneously. Any true Hog fan can tick off the major tailgates they have attended in Fayetteville over the past ten years. Ask us how the victory party after the big game was, however, and all you will get is a dirty look.
This year is different, however. A new coach brings a new attitude. This may be Bobby Petrino’s second season in Fayetteville, but this is his first truly big game. For the first time, he has everything in place. The personnel. The opponent. The setting. Primetime doesn’t get much more primetime than a 6:45 p.m. kickoff on ESPN against the Georgia Bulldogs. A still sparkling Reynolds Razorback Stadium, one of the prettiest settings for football in the country, even has a little new bling to show off. A new LED ribbon board, new stadium speakers, and most importantly, a new playing surface have been installed. Bobby Petrino wants a fast team on a fast surface, and in just his second season, he has accumulated both. If things work out the way Petrino thinks they should, the Hogs’ home field advantage will be as much literal as figurative.
R.E.M. is the king of Athens-born rock bands, and this song from 1992 is one of its biggest hits. It’s also seemingly an anthem for both schools as injuries have already taken a toll in this short season. The Razorbacks lost senior starting receiver London Crawford, one of just a few upperclassmen on the two-deep, for several weeks in their September 5th opener against Missouri State. The Bulldogs have been even more plagued. Just one season after watching a much-hyped Georgia squad underachieve due in part to a decimated offensive line, followers of the Red and Black must be experiencing déjà vu after losing left tackle Trinton Sturdivant and defensive end Rod Battle for the year in the first two weeks of the season experiencing déjà vu after losing left tackle Trinton Sturdivant and defensive end Rod Battle for the year in the first two weeks of the season.
The most excruciating pain the Bulldogs are feeling, however, is likely a vicious case of phantom limb pain. Matthew Stafford gone. Mohamed Massaquoi gone. Knowshon Moreno gone. Hurts, doesn’t it, Dawgs? Very reminiscent of the 2008 Razorbacks, who were suddenly without the services of Darren McFadden, Felix Jones, Marcus Monk, and Peyton Hillis. 5-7 was the result, and with the SEC as brutal as ever, that conceivably could be the result for Georgia.
“Keep Your Hands to Yourself”
Although this Georgia Satellites hit is technically the product of an Atlanta band, it’s just too fitting to pass up. The team that can best keep its hands to itself, namely avoid holding and pass interference penalties, is likely the team that will prevail. What sounds easy in theory, however, is quite another matter when things go live and the x-factor known as “game speed” shows up.
Both teams have plenty of speed at receiver and will look to put opposing defensive backs in vulnerable positions. Joe Adams, Jarius Wright, and Cobi Hamilton all can burn, while Branden Smith of Georgia, while technically not a receiver, can flat out fly. Oh yeah, then there is A.J. Green, who just might be the best receiver in the SEC. Yes, even better than Julio Jones.
In what is likely to be a shootout, an ill-timed holding penalty might be the only thing able to effectively kill a drive and force one team to play catch-up. Conversely, a defensive pass interference call could prolong a flagging drive in a game where every stop is huge. With the Bulldogs next to last in the SEC in penalties with 20 infractions over two games, but first in opponent penalties, enjoying 102 yards per game off of the opponents, it seems likely that nobody, including the officials, will be keeping their hands to themselves.
Try as they might to persuade you otherwise, this B-52s ditty is not nearly as pertinent to the game Saturday as a Bulldog fan would have you believe. Like the psychotic girl with a death grip on her phone awaiting a call three days after a bedfellow slipped out in the murky predawn, Georgians STILL have not forgiven Bobby Petrino for leaving the Falcons. Never mind that the bill of goods he was sold (the chance to develop Michael Vick) never materialized. Never mind that Petrino and Authur Blank had agreed ON THE FRONT END that Petrino could opt out for the college ranks at any time if he felt the NFL wasn’t his cup of tea. Never mind that the Falcons had recently enough had to replace another coach with three games left in the season… Dan Reeves, who Blank unceremoniously fired. And you just thought that smell at Sanford Stadium was sewage. Now we know what hypocrisy smells like.
Of course, I have been told a hundred times before that the Falcon fan base and the Bulldog fan base don’t really overlap. That Bulldog fans don’t hold any grudges against Petrino. Poppycock. I don’t buy it, and the article I linked from Georgia’s largest newspaper doesn’t do much to dispel it. Neither does a trip to any of the UGA message boards. They hate them some Bobby P.
“Shut Up and Get on the Plane”
I fully intended in using R.E.M’s “End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” for my conclusion of a level-headed, just-the-facts-ma’am breakdown of the game. But I got riled up during that last paragraph, so instead I am going with this fantastic song from the Drive By Truckers, who kicked this whole thing off. It’s really better that I am angry at this point. It’s game week. That means I’m breathing. I was ten the last time the Razorbacks beat the Bulldogs in SEC play. The only time the Razorbacks beat the Bulldogs in SEC play. That changes Saturday. As I mentioned above, a new coach. A new attitude. And all that Georgia Bulldogs fans will have to take with them are memories of victories past. And as I pass the dejected Bulldogs following the game Saturday, I’ll smile to myself and sing in my very best Mike Cooley, “shut yo’ mouth and get yo’ ass on the plane.”
We win this one. Big.
For a much better, more in-depth breakdown of this game, head over to my buddy Malvie's. He actually uses stats and names and stuff. And he can actually remember the games he attends. Great job as usual!