With the likes of unbeaten Alabama, Oregon and Florida State dominating college football headlines, this year’s World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party hasn’t seen the media attention normally afforded to two perennial SEC powerhouses. Georgia and Florida have seen their national title hopes derailed by injuries and innumerable problems on opposite sides of the football, as Aaron Murray struggles to keep the Bulldogs afloat while Florida simply tries to put double digits on the scoreboard.
But regardless of the hype–or the lack thereof–Georgia Bulldogs fans should recognize how important this game remains. A win for the Bulldogs puts them back in the thick of the SEC East title race. While any hopes for a title year have been summarily vanquished by the Bulldogs’ long and harrowing injury list, a victory against the Gators would give the Dawgs a realistic shot at a top flight bowl–if not providing the start to a march for one last chance at the revamped BCS.
Yet what can we really hope to expect from this depleted, youthful Georgia team? You can expect a revitalized offense, courtesy of Todd Gurley, ready to prove their worth once again. You can expect a much maligned defense to do everything they can to pressure the inexperienced Tyler Murphy into bad decisions and ineffective dump-offs. And most importantly, you can expect Mark Richt to bring a team that is both mentally and physically prepared for the first of five more must-win games–five more chances to challenge critics’ expectations with confident conviction and send Aaron Murray out the right way.
For if there is any lack of self-motivation on that Georgia sideline, the Bulldogs need look no further than their senior quarterback. Murray has done everything possible to bring this team from the depths of despair after heartbreaking losses. He’s led them to last second victories and convincing wins over some of the best teams in the country. Yet it is the manner in which he has carried himself that sets himself apart.
Murray has never blamed his teammates for mistakes borne out of inexperience and youth. He has never bemoaned the disappointing turn his final season as a Bulldog has taken, nor has he ever questioned the wisdom of his coaches. Murray’s confidence, poise and class have shown through as his patience and character have been consistently challenged by debilitating circumstances.
In short, the Bulldogs owe their senior quarterback a win on Saturday. There is no doubt that Mark Richt will have his team ready to play. All that remains is a game of inches to be played in Jacksonville tomorrow afternoon–a game that could very well be remembered as the turning point for a team whose fate remains unclear.