Here, Georgia showed 30 minutes of football that calmed fears,
increased hysteria, and legitimized the Bulldogs as an SEC favorite and
contender for the national championship.
They were more smooth and efficient than spectacular, almost clinical
at times. A few new plays and adjustments made an appearance, and there
was some bounce all over the place.
Alabama was roadkill.
Then, with the 37-10 halftime score burned into their brains, Georgia
came out in the second half and, well, showed up.
Georgia head coach Mark Richt offered the normal "happy with any win
in the SEC" observation, yet clearly with some exasperation in his
"I'll have to remind myself of that when I watch the second
It was enough to send him into hippie-speak.
"I don't know about y'all," he said in the post-game press
"but the second half was a downer to me."
Yes, Coach, it was a downer. This game came to a crashing halt, as
even Richt felt. It was like Thomas Davis hit it, for when the sophomore
Bulldog hits somebody, they stop.
A Thomas Davis-like ghost powdered the game after halftime. And how
The halftime festivities were goose-bump material no matter your
allegiance or lack of allegiance.
Capt. Chris Carter and Lt. Col. Flip de Camp, a pair of UGA grads and
Bulldog fans, were on hand. They became part of Bulldog lore by
unfurling a Georgia flag in Baghdad in front of the Presidential Palace.
Their story was told again, and Sanford went nuts. They unfurled the
flag, and Sanford went nuts. The big video screen showed a TV interview
of them, and Sanford went nuts.
Then the second half started, and Georgia's offense played like the
sharp green turf had turned to Crimson jello.
Georgia wasn't so much inept as it was drowsy. There was no
inspiration on the field, nor much from the play-calling list on the
Richt confessed firing off a round in the Bulldogs' shooting of
themselves in the paws with a second half of play-calling that was a
little too close to his offense's execution.
"The first series, I mean, you can put that one on me, for
said of a wretched start in the third quarter. "We ran a few plays that
we did not run all week. One of 'em we just invented at halftime.
"Being real geniuses."
Richt still comes up with some head-scratching strategies within a
game. Of course, they're usually overshadowed by the good stuff, like
that first half, when everything clicked.
Then came halftime, where Richt warned his team about sleepwalking
through the second half.
"We had such a great first half," said Tyson Browning, who is
Georgia's best tailback. "I believe we got a little full of
It took Richt five minutes of third-quarter action to see enough.
About five minutes into the third quarter, Richt had had enough. He
gathered the offense together and let loose.
"He wants to finish a team off," explained quarterback David Greene,
owner of an up-and-down day with more interceptions than touchdowns. "He
was telling us, 'You know, we gotta pick it up.' We can't play the way
we were playing.
"I think it was pretty obvious we were flat when we came out in the
Blood pressure checks should've been administered.
Fullback Jeremy Thomas, shockingly the day's big-play receiver for the
Bulldogs, said Richt was hacked.
"He was pretty upset," said the junior from Loganville.
"He showed a
little emotion over there. He's a calm guy, but he was pretty upset."
Unfortunately for Georgia, it didn't work. Greene was picked off for a
touchdown a few minutes later, then a sack helped kill another drive.
And a rout over Alabama - this could've been 50-10 - became a
"If you're going to be a championship team," Thomas said,
play like that. We'll move on, but I'm sure he'll remind us of the flatness
when we do our sprints."
And that lovely first half aside, there will be sprints.