The 2009 football season for the Georgia Bulldogs officially ended Monday with a 44-20 beating of Texas A&M. And while the Dawgs scored nearly as many points as I predicted, this game was not the shootout I thought it would be. The game was tied 0-0 with under three minutes to go before the Bulldogs' special teams took control.
Brandon Boykin's third kickoff return for a touchdown on the season ignited a fire under the Georgia team that would turn this game into an easy victory for the Dawgs. After Asher Allen left early last year, I was not sure who would step up and take over the return duties, but Boykin has been a pleasant surprise this year and I look forward to see him work for the next few years.
After the Boykin return, Georgia forced another 3 and out and looked poised to get the ball back with just over a minute to go. Bacarri Rambo then proved once again while he is my new favorite player on Georgia's defense. Rambo, who also would have blocked a Texas A&M field goal earlier if Geno Atkins had not gotten to it first, blew past the line and blocked the kick. Georgia would punch it in to take a 14-7 lead at half.
Despite the 7 point lead at half, the Bulldogs were actually getting dominated on the field. The main cause was the complete lack of a rushing attack that had been so good late in the season. I think this finally made me realize how good of a player Josh Davis had become at right tackle. Vince Vance was really struggling in the first half, and the coaches made the adjustment (pulling Vance in favor of Justin Anderson) that seemed to fix the problem in the second half. It makes me really excited to know that we will have all five starters back on the line next season.
After the defense looked like it might be falling back into Willie mode by allowing the Aggies to quickly tie the score to start the second half, Georgia answered with another long field goal for Blair Walsh. The kid is money on long kicks and may end up with a better career than both Billy Bennett and Brandon Coutu. After another A&M special teams break down, Cox found Aron White for a 24 yard score and the rout was on. White had two touchdowns in the game and it will be a lot of fun to watch Murray have both White and Charles as safety valves when teams double cover AJ Green.
Speaking of AJ Green, it was great to see him back on the field but clearly he was not 100%. Both of the jump balls that Cox threw to Green would have been catches if he was healthy. We really missed him against Kentucky but I sure am glad he will be back for one more season.
The rest of the game was dominated by the Georgia running attack. The O line had finally worn down the Aggies' D and began opening huge holes for Caleb King and Washaun Ealey. In the fourth quarter, it was Georgia's fullbacks turn to pound the ball, ending with a Shaun Chapas TD. Despite only about 25 yards on the ground in the first half, Georgia once again finished with over 200 yards rushing. In the end it was 44-20 victory for Georgia securing the Dawgs' 13th consecutive season of at least 8.
This season was definitely a disappointment, but perhaps it was just what Georgia needed. We had become complacent, almost comfortable, with the success we had and it was time for some changes to be made. But without a 7-5 regular season and a trip to Shreveport, do you think Mark Richt actually pulls the trigger and gets rid of Willie? I don't think so. It is an exciting time to be a Georgia fan. We will soon know who the new DC will be, we return 10 of 11 starters on offense, and the schedule sets up nicely for a run at the SEC East championship. Year ten of the Mark Richt era will hopefully be the crowning achievement of one of the best decades in Georgia football history.