The 2007 Cocktail Party: A Gator Perspective
That’s the first word that came to mind after watching the Florida Gators lose to the Georgia Bulldogs for only the third time in the last 18 meetings.
Sure, Tim Tebow wasn’t 100 percent and the Gator defense was riddled with injuries and inexperience, but how on earth did Florida lose to a Bulldog team led by the perpetual sleepwalker, Mark Richt?
It wasn’t the week off. It wasn’t the play of Matt Stafford or Knowshon Moreno. It wasn’t the habitual classlessness that UGA players and even head coach Mark Richt displayed throughout the evening.
No, none of that mattered on Saturday.
The only explanation for the Gators’ defeat in Jacksonville is sheer inevitability.
It was only a matter of time before the Florida defense played to their incapabilities and allowed an inferior offensive team to completely dominate and control the overall flow of the game.
It was only a matter of time before the Georgia offense relied solely on one running back in order to sustain a consistent running attack.
It was only a matter of time before Tim Tebow and the rest of the Gator offense looked human.
Most of all, it was only a matter of time before the Bulldogs won a game in Jacksonville when they weren’t expected to.
But how did they pull it off?
Bulldog fans will undoubtedly point to the premeditated post-touchdown celebration in the first quarter as the main reason for their team’s ultimate victory.
However, the 30-yards in penalties that arose from Richt’s seeming ingenuity led to a Gator touchdown and didn’t really spark anything other than a somewhat unenthused Florida squad.
Amid the constant showboating and mocked Gator chomps, the Bulldogs were somehow able to beat a more talented Gator team rather convincingly.
That same question has been asked repeatedly over the course of the 2007 college football season in regards to other upsets.
So maybe the same answer would suffice in the case of the Cocktail Party: nobody knows.
We can analyze the inefficiency of the Gator secondary and the Florida coaching staff until we are blue in the face, but that’s been the case all year for the Florida Gators.
Poor play calling, injuries, and youth have paralyzed the defending National Champs this year. Not to mention the amount of talent that was lost due to the NFL Draft and graduation.
Even with all of these problems, the Gators still entered the game as a heavy favorite but were unable to overcome their defensive ineptitude as they had done two weeks ago in Lexington against a much more potent Kentucky offense led by a Heisman Trophy candidate in Andre Woodson.
Something doesn’t quite add up.
The only thing that is certain about the 2007 Florida Gators is uncertainty.
Unlike last season when the offense would get a comfortable lead early and rely on the defense to hold onto that lead, this year’s Gator squad has simply had to outscore people a much more inconsistent gameplan.
Urban Meyer and the rest of the Gator coaching staff have had to live with the growing pains of an inexperienced group of players and have donned the proverbial target of a defending National Champion.
Nonetheless, Meyer and co. will have to get this train back on track in order to finish the season with a respectable record and a potential SEC Championship game appearance that is still a possibility with a little help from the likes of Auburn and Kentucky.
All in all, losing to the Bulldogs is never acceptable among Gator fans especially ones like me who live in the state of Georgia and have to be subjected to Bulldog nostalgia on a daily basis.
But in the grand scheme of things, what do Gator fans really have to complain about?
Is it the BCS National Championship slaughter of Ohio State?
Is it the back-to-back basketball National Championships?
Is it three consecutive SEC Basketball Tournament Championships and the 2006 SEC Football Championship?
Is it beating UGA only 15 out of the last 18 meetings instead of 16?
At the end of the day, the only thing that we have to complain about is imperfection. I can’t think of any program that wouldn’t happily trade places with the University of Florida and everything that Gator Nation has experienced over the last year and a half.
Bulldog fans can enjoy this victory as long as they want to and they can be happier than a pig in slop when they end the 2007 season at 9-3 with an appearance in the Capital One Bowl against some crappy Big 10 team that they’ll probably beat rather soundly.
And I’m sure that the UGA faithful don’t want to hear me gloat about what the Gators have done in a 15-month span which can only be dreamed of being accomplished in Athens over the next 15 generations.
But that’s exactly what I’m going to do because this 2007 version of the Cocktail Party needs to be put into perspective before I have to listen to any more Bulldog fans tell me how Mark Richt, Matt Stafford, and Knowshon Moreno could supplant the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost in the Bible.
Call it sour grapes or whatever metaphor you like, but the fact is that while schools like Georgia are satisfied with an SEC Championship every five or six years, the Florida Gators are much more concerned with Championships of the National variety and expect to win consecutive SEC Titles instead of occasional ones.
As I previously mentioned, enjoy it while you can Georgia fans because I can assure you that the temporary psychological advantage that might have been gained when the entire Bulldog team stormed the field after their first touchdown on Saturday is simply that: “temporary”.
This subdued and diluted “rivalry” between these two schools has now been reignited by Coach Richt’s condoning of unsportsmanlike conduct and I can only pray for Bulldog fans’ sake that Richt knew what he was doing when he hypocritically told his players to taunt the Florida Gators.
I can guarantee that Coach Meyer and the rest of the Florida players will not soon forget the sheer disrespect that was shown towards them on Saturday afternoon and I hope that the bulletin board material provided by the Bulldogs was worth winning one game.
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