When I was in high school, one of my friends who was a year ahead of me was trying to learn how to drive, and it did not go very well. One day he was at a Circle K, and he got in his car and went to back out. Intending to put the car in reverse, he instead put it in drive, slammed on the gas, and smashed into the side wall of the building and knocked out all the power.
A similar thing happened just yesterday at Tin Lizzy’s, a restaurant on Piedmont Road only a couple of blocks down from where I work. Somebody had an accident and went flying into the building and knocked out the gas line. The building did not suffer any damage. The gas line? Not so much. There was a huge gas leak, and all of Piedmont and Roswell Road had to be shut down for a couple of hours while they fixed the leak.
And what exactly does this have to do with Georgia football? Glad you asked.
Tomorrow Georgia travels to Knoxville to take on Tennessee, where they have been known to spontaneously combust for no apparent reason whatsoever. Georgia has not won a game in Knoxville since 787 BC (okay maybe not that long ago but it sure seems like it); they lost their last two games in Knoxville by a combined score of 80-33.
In 2007 Tennessee dropped 28 points on Georgia during pregame warmups before the bands even entered the stadium, and Georgia never bothered to respond. Georgia basically conceded the game from right there in the first quarter, and Philip Fulmer called off the dogs. It was probably just as well; if Georgia had made an attempt at fighting back the final score would probably have been something like 63-28.
In 2009 Lane Kiffin and his boys completely and totally dismembered Georgia. Georgia played so horribly that day that even Jonathan Crompton, then the worst quarterback in the entire SEC, was made to look like Johnny Unitas. And if Jonathan Crompton could look like Johnny Unitas against Georgia, then Tim Tebow would have looked like Zeus against Georgia. Of course that is exactly what happened a few weeks later.
This year? Well, Georgia has done an impressive job of digging out from an 0-2 start. But in the process they showed that they are still quite capable of making the worst possible play at the worst possible time. 1-AA schools and schools from Mississippi generally aren’t good enough to make Georgia pay for those mistakes, but Tennessee is a different state and a different story.
And if this past week is any indication, there is much to be concerned about. Last week Georgia flubbed two field goal attempts, had three interceptions, of which one was run back for a touchdown, and in the third quarter had the ball twice inside their opponent’s 20 yard line and came away with only a measly three points to show for it. Such an effort was good enough to beat Mississippi State by two touchdowns. Against Florida, that will not be good enough. Against Tennessee, that might not be good enough.
Tennessee is light years away from being ready for prime time, but they have been playing better under new coach Derek Dooley since the back half of the 2010 season. They have carried that momentum forward into 2011; they traveled to Gainesville and managed to not get completely and totally embarrassed by Florida, and just this past week they boatraced Buffalo.
This game will be held in Knoxville, where as mentioned previously Georgia has not won since 787 BC. Plus it is a night game. The last time Georgia played at night it didn’t work out very well.
Mark Richt is fully aware of the troubles Georgia has had in Knoxville of late. At this week’s news conference he said, “Both of those games, before it was over, it looked like they beat us to the point where we gave in. We haven’t had many of those since I’ve been at Georgia.” He never said anything like that immediately following the train wrecks of 2007 and 2009. But the first step toward solving the problem is admitting that you have a problem.
This is prove-it week for Georgia. Are they up for the challenge, or will they drive themselves into the wall and explode? And what’s that gaseous smell I smell coming from the general direction of Neyland Stadium?