The Staff of the Calhoun Times has been hard at work this year on their own Letters to Santa. Each Wednesday will feature a letter from one of the staff members. This week, Calhoun Times staff writer Tyler Serritt.
Maybe you should actually forward this letter onto Georgia head coach Kirby Smart because he is the one that is ultimately tasked with providing me the one thing I personally want this holiday season: an early Christmas gift in the form of a SEC Championship victory and CFB Playoff berth for the Bulldogs.
As a college sophomore at UGA in 2012, I vividly remember the agony associated with falling yards and seconds short of SEC title glory and a shot at a National Championship against Alabama in the Georgia Dome. Although the Dawgs were nationally ranked right behind our opponents, the odds of winning that game seemed insurmountable before kickoff due to the fact that the Tide was bigger, faster and stronger and boasted NFL-caliber talent at nearly every position.
However, the prolific passing presence of veteran QB Aaron Murray and electrifying athleticism of Todd Gurley, along with a scrappy performance from a defense that included Bulldog greats Alec Ogletree, Jarvis Jones and Bacarri Rambo, kept UGA afloat. I was filled with a high level of optimism as the game moved along, as it seemed like the team could actually answer anything that Alabama could throw at them. Unfortunately, my optimism was erased in brutal fashion when time expired after a potential game-winning play where Murray delivered an ill-advised pass to Chris Conley that fell five yards short of the endzone and ended in a 32-28 defeat.
Since that game, I haven’t felt that sense of hope when it comes to my alma mater. Over the past handful of seasons, UGA has fielded a disappointing, porous defense and an inconsistent, unspectacular batch of signal-callers that included Hutson Mason, Brice Ramsey and Grayson Lambert. Most fans have spent a good portion of each season since dreading the next excruciating loss to a rival or questioning why UGA players found great success at the high school and pro level, but the team couldn’t even finish atop the mediocre SEC East.
Whether it has been the scheming of Smart and his coaching staff in his second year, an exceptional group of offensive and defensive talent that stemmed from flawless recruiting, a soft schedule, or a combination of all three, this year was different for the Dawgs.
This season featured the re-establishment of a pulverizing rushing attack that flows through Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and D’Andre Swift, the surprise emergence of strong-armed, dual-threat quarterback Jake Fromm and a ferocious pass rush backed by Lorenzo Carter, Davin Bellamy, Natrez Patrick and, in my opinion, most valuable player Roquan Smith. We have already received small gifts along the way with a 121-14 total margin of victory over rivals Tennessee, Florida and Georgia Tech, not to mention climbing to the No. 1 spot in the national playoff rankings for a short stint.
Of course, the one black mark on this season was the crushing, embarassing 40-17 defeat to the No. 4 Auburn Tigers, who UGA just so happens to have a rematch with on Saturday for the SEC, a probable CFB Playoff spot, and a lot of pride of the line. The task ahead is a daunting one. Auburn outmatched the Dawgs in every phase of the game last time out, and the Tigers are currently firing on all cylinders and overflowing with confidence after a decisive Iron Bowl win.
So Mr. Clause, all I ask for is that the team is to take the Mercedes-Benz Stadium field and do anything possible to pull off the biggest Georgia victory in at least the last two decades. This game feels eerily similar to the Alabama clash from 2012, but this time I hope the Dawgs can finish the drill.
More specifically, it would be great if Chubb, who incredibly bounced back from his gruesome knee injury to re-assert himself as a force, and Michel, who quickly evolved from a skilled scat back to lethal offensive weapon, both top 100 rushing yards and punch in a score to cap off their careers. I also wish that Smith will be able to generate a few sacks and a turnover or two to prove that he’s the best linebacker in the nation. Finally, it would be phenomenal if Fromm, who many have doubted his ability to attack the field vertically, could launch a couple deep, acrobatic scores to Javon Wims or Terry Godwin.
This weekend represents a rare chance at redemption and revenge for the Bulldogs. I hope they take advantage of it. Even if they don’t, I hope this season signifies that the UGA faithful will be happy heading into the holiday season for years to come.