By Craig Fields
Saturday – September 21 – 11:21am
Sanford Stadium – Athens
Mean Green, Mean Green, Mean Green. What an enigma this team has been so far. Seven points away from being 3-0 this season, this team has undoubtedly grown collectively in pretty much all aspects of the game from last year. As it is, being 2-1 for the first time in almost 20 years is nothing to sneeze at. The leadership of senior quarterback Derek Thompson is visible on the field. His toughness is unquestionable.
The most recent Conference USA player of the week showed that in last week’s game against a good Ball State team in which he led his team on a 25-0 scoring run to earn a come from behind win. Oh did I mention that during this run, the quarterback dislocated his finger on his throwing hand, popped it back in place, and promptly came back in to complete every throw on the next drive and run for a 26-yard touchdown? Yeah… I’d say that’s leadership.
The running game has improved as well. The triple threat of Brandin Byrd, Antoine Jimmerson, and Reggie Pegram has proven to be more than adequate so far this season. Even Head Coach Dan McCarney realizes that the Mean Green are best when their running game is in tip-top shape. “It’s no surprise that we are at our best when we can get that power running game going,” the coach said. “Its our not so secret weapon.”
The defense has definitely been a pleasure to watch this season as well. Leading the nation in forced turnovers this season with 11 is a heck of an accomplishment. Mean Green defensive coordinator, John Skladany has been preaching turnovers for a while now, and it seems like his kids are listening. Seniors Zach Orr, and Marcus Trice, along with junior Laramie Lee, and sophomore Kenny Buyers, head this feisty and relentless swarm to the ball type defense. The form tackling and hitting prowess of these four football players is impressive.
Now with that being said, the Saturday match-up with #9 Georgia will probably get ugly. A mid-major team against a ranked team hardly ever turns out good for the mid-major. But hey, you do have your astonishing upsets. Take for instance Appalachian State University beating #5 Michigan back in 2007. This is quite possibly the biggest upset in college football history. So it could happen. It probably won’t but it could.
One thing that is for certain is that head coach Dan McCarney and staff will not allow his team to fell or be intimidated. Also with senior leadership on both sides of the ball, losing composure on this team is not an option.