ACC: John Jenkins
November, 24, 2012
By Edward Aschoff | ESPN.com
ATHENS, Ga. -- Judging by the combined 3 minutes, 54 seconds it took Georgia to score its first two touchdowns Saturday, the Bulldogs were more than ready to get the day over with.
The Bulldogs might have been taking on rival Georgia Tech, but this team was beyond ready to send its weaker counterpart back to Atlanta early, as it gets ready for its own trip to the state capital next week.
"They were just a speed bump on our road," said senior safety Bacarri Rambo, who forced two fumbles and grabbed two turnovers Saturday. "We’re trying to get to Miami."
Players insisted they thought only of Georgia Tech this week -- their 42-10 drubbing of the Yellow Jackets proved that -- but everyone knows how important next week is. Now, the Bulldogs can devote all their attention to Atlanta, as they play in what is essentially a semifinal for the Discover BCS National Championship Game.
"We’ll enjoy this win for a couple of hours, but we have to get our minds back on our goal, and that’s to get to Miami, and Alabama is in our way," Rambo said. "We just have to get better and work on them.
"We haven’t reached our highest peak, but we’re playing some pretty good ball, and we’re going to get better."
Georgia’s next opponent likely will be No. 2 Alabama. With the way the Bulldogs have played in the second half of the season, they have a real chance at making it to South Beach.
You can dog Georgia’s recent opponents, but that was the hand the Bulldogs were dealt, and they did everything they were supposed to do. In the three games prior to Saturday, Georgia had averaged 501 yards of offense and scored at least 37 points in all those games against overmatched opponents.
But to the Bulldogs, wins are wins in the SEC.
"We play against good people, man," said defensive tackle John Jenkins, who had a career-high 11 tackles Saturday. "You can never take anything for granted, no matter who you’re playing, because anybody can be beat."
So Georgia Tech entered the afternoon with the nation’s No. 62 defense? Georgia did exactly what was expected and did it quickly, scoring touchdowns on four of its five first-half possessions.
The Dawgs had 28 points by halftime and 13 plays of 10 or more yards through the first two quarters (three went for 20-plus, including a 57-yard pass from Aaron Murray to Malcolm Mitchell).
Starting fast has been this team’s modus operandi for the past four weeks, as the Bulldogs have outscored opponents 87-20 during that span.
The Bulldogs haven’t exactly played top-tier opponents this month, but they will walk into the Georgia Dome extremely happy about how they’ve played of late.
"We’re very confident,” linebacker Jarvis Jones said. “We play this game the same way they do. We put on our pads and shoes and everything just like they do."
The Bulldogs have the right to feel very sure of themselves. The offense is clicking, and the defense is grooving. The offensive explosion is back, and the defense finally resembles the defense that took the field last season in Athens. The overall numbers might be a little different, but the tough, aggressive play that made last season’s defense so deadly has returned.
People laughed at Georgia’s 35-7 loss to South Carolina in October, but it’s a mere blip on the radar now. Atlanta is in sight, and a win there means the Bulldogs will be playing for a national championship.
“Everything we came for, everything Georgia wants to do is next week,” linebacker Christian Robinson said.
The South Carolina loss certainly threw some off Georgia’s bandwagon, but that thing will be full during its short trip to Atlanta. However, the Bulldogs are hoping the Dome is just a pit stop this season.
"With the talent we got, I know we have the potential,” Rambo said. “It’s just going out there and showing it to everybody, and letting everybody know that we got what it takes to be the national champs."