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Chris Gay: Still a long season after Georgia’s win over Notre Dame

Posted: September 13, 2017 - 1:06am

The play, at times, wasn't pretty Saturday night.

Too many penalties. Too many turnovers. Still, the final score told all.

Georgia 20, Notre Dame 19.

The Bulldogs played like a champion, their defense and special teams coming up large on an even bigger national stage. Georgia won a road game televised live on Notre Dame Broadcasting Corp.

For all the hype surrounding the Irish, I wasn't that impressed. The team's going to be OK. They'll probably go to some bowl sponsored by a company that sells autos or mortgages or sports apparel.

For all the tradition of the Four Horsemen or Rudy and Manti Te'o's girlfriend, Notre Dame didn't seem to intimidate Georgia, whose fans went up several days early and made their presence known. Bulldogs fans took over the bar - "calling the Dawgs" - where Irish coach Brian Kelly had his Thursday night radio show. The next night at Wrigley Field in Chicago, thousands of folks in red and black shouted "Georgia" on one side and "Bulldogs" on another.

When the football game began Saturday night, thousands upon thousands of Georgia fans clad in red made their way into Notre Dame Stadium. Instead of this being a true road game with fans bunched together in one upper section of the stadium, this seemed more like the World's Largest Cocktail Party 2.0. I haven't seen an approximate count of the number of Bulldogs fans at the contest, but the crowd was large. Rest assured, when Notre Dame comes down south for the return trip between the hedges in 2019, there will not be that many Irish fans in Sanford Stadium.

So what can we take away from this? First, Georgia picked up its first significant road victory in the Kirby Smart era. Second, the defense looks pretty outstanding. Third, the offensive play-calling was mediocre at best - standout running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel should've combined for 50 carries instead of 26. In fairness, a friend mentioned the offensive line isn't that good.

Georgia has Samford this week. The Bulldogs should win big, but there's also the big emotional letdown factor. Georgia has two games - two wins - before heading to Tennessee with a 4-0 record and top 10 ranking. Then, the pressure will be ratcheted up a few levels.

Don't over hype this win over Notre Dame. Last year, Texas defeated the Irish in its opener and went onto finish at 5-7.

Georgia has an unfavorable schedule this season. The Bulldogs play the Champions of Life (Volunteers) on the road before later taking on Jean Shorts U. (Florida), on Oct. 28, in Jacksonville. After playing South Carolina (2-0 this season) at home the next week, Georgia then travels to Auburn, which may or may not find an offense by then. Finally, Georgia has to travel to Atlanta to play Georgia Tech at the end of November.

That's a tough stretch for a Bulldogs team still looking to improve in certain areas. While the win Saturday night was fun, slow down on those visions of playing for a national championship. If Georgia is still undefeated after the Florida game, we can start speculating. There's plenty of obstacles along the way during a long football season.

Still, it beats being 1-1 through two games.

 

BANDWAGON FANS: Among the many talks I have with triplets about a variety of subjects, I like to explain from time to time the difference between a real fan (aka a die-hard fan) and a bandwagon fan.
If you're an Atlanta Braves fan now and still keep up with the team, we can be friends. You're a real fan, a die-hard fan. You're not a bandwagon-jumper like some folks when a team starts having success.

The Braves entered play Sunday in third place in the National League East, with a 63-78 record. Atlanta appears headed for its third consecutive 90-loss season. If you think that's bad, the Braves lost 89 or more games from 1995-90. I still remember those teams.

If you're an Atlanta fan, hang in there. The good news: The Braves will get another top 10 draft pick in June 2018. So Atlanta will be able to stock its farm system with (hopefully) two outstanding players the first two rounds and add more talent in the following rounds.

Next year should be the year we start to see the Braves turning it around. Atlanta absolutely has to find a spot for all-everything outfielder Ronald Acuna. In 139 minor league games on three levels this season, the 19-year-old Acuna hit .325 with 21 homers, 31 doubles, eight triples, 44 stolen bases, 88 runs scored, 144 strikeouts and 43 walks. He got better as he moved up the chain. At Class AAA Gwinnett, Acuna hit .344 with 9 homers, 14 doubles, 33 RBI and 11 stolen bases in 221 at-bats. He is listed as Atlanta's No. 1 prospect, No. 7 overall.

Pitching and third base are where the Braves have to improve most. Will Atlanta sign someone like upcoming free agent 28-year-old Mike Moustakas, the Kansas City third baseman who's having a career year with 36 homers, 81 RBI and a .279 average? The Braves' previous regime got in trouble for signing and re-signing players coming off career years - i.e., B.J. (or Melvin) Upton and Dan Uggla.

Whatever Atlanta does in the offseason, know the future is bright. Those young arms in the farm system are a year or two from being ready. When they arrive, it's going to be a lot of fun being a Braves fan. The bandwagon folks will join us soon enough.

 

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