In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell discusses how there are certain areas in life where ability matters only up to a certain point, and after that it becomes irrelevant. He uses the example of basketball, where virtually everyone thinks that you have to be tall in order to be good, and the taller you are the better. This is true only up to a certain point. After a height of, say 6′ 6″, taller does not mean better. Instead, it depends on other things, such as agility, quickness, and the ability to keep track of many different things that are happening quickly and simultaneously. He also uses the example of academics, where schools such as Harvard, Yale and Princeton are on a fool’s errand thinking that they can pick the best and brightest out of a pool of applicants who all have 4.0 high school GPAs and perfect SAT scores. They might as well place all applicants who meet these qualifications into a lottery pool and randomly select the ones that they will admit.
It is the same way with opening-week games against lesser opponents. Beyond a certain point, it doesn’t matter what the final score is, whether it is 35-7 or 75-7 or anywhere in between. If you win by a smaller margin, there is cause for concern, but if the margin is big enough, you really can’t tell anything. The other disconcerting thing about games like this is that you can’t tell if you really are that good or if your opponent is just that bad.
Having said all that, Georgia’s performance this week was quite encouraging.
There were two questions looming large in the minds of Georgia fans and anyone else with an interest in Georgia football: Could the new quarterback throw the ball? And could the new defense stop somebody? Both were answered in the affirmative, early and often.
The new quarterback looked great. Aaron Murray completed 17 of 26 pass attempts, for 160 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. He even rushed for a 19-yard touchdown on the last play of the first half. Ill-advised, but it worked.
The new defense looked great. They held USL to 14 yards rushing, 128 yards overall. Their only score came on a 60-yard touchdown strike that resulted from a busted coverage which left Todd Grantham apopleptic (or whatever the proper spelling for that word is. Suffice it to say, Todd Grantham was not a happy camper). But hey, breakdowns like that are bound to happen when you are trying to install a new defensive system. If it had to happen, better that it should happen on opening week in the second quarter of a runaway game, rather than at the Dead Cockroach or in Jacksonville in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.
Based on what we saw this week, I am not ready to proclaim an end to the domination that Florida has exercised over Georgia for lo these many years. (I’ll believe that when I see it, not before.) But I think that Georgia fans have reason to look forward to the week ahead with at least some semblance of confidence. And if by some chance Georgia should beat South Carolina, then I think we can say that this team is for real.
In other sports news:
–Aloysius is a little bummed this week because UCLA lost. Dude, whatever. Pac-10 football has nothing on the SEC whatsoever. (Aloysius kind of growled threateningly at me when I said that. Okay, sorry!)
–LSU won. But they made it WAY more interesting than they had to. LSU had a 30-10 lead in the fourth quarter against a North Carolina team that was missing half its starters due to academic suspensions and agent-related issues, and North Carolina STILL had a chance–two chances, in fact–to win on the last play of the game. Methinks that it will not be long at all before people start calling this team “Les’s Miserables”. And once that starts, how long can Les Miles expect to last?
–I hear that all of the North Carolina players who were suspended this week were in attendance at the Georgia Dome, and moreover, that they had prime seats. This cannot be a good thing. If the North Carolina administration is on the ball, they will certainly be asking: How did these players get to the ATL? And how did they manage to get such prime seats? Many of them are already under investigation for receiving improper benefits from agents. Surely they do not want this additional scrutiny if they value their collegiate eligibility. Of course, they may try to spin it like they were there to support the team. If they really wanted to support the team, then they should have not done the things that got themselves and North Carolina into this situation in the first place.
–Ole Miss: EPIC FAIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!