Last week I wrote about the struggles the Georgia Bulldogs have had this football season. Coming into last Saturday’s game against Tennessee, I hoped and prayed that something would energize and fire up the team. Something did. The Dawgs showed up, showed out, and trounced the Volunteers 41-14.
I know Coach Richt and his staff made some changes during practice last week. And I know that he made the decision to lead the team out onto the field at the start of the game and before the second half. Those factors have to have played into the win. But one thing…or 92,000 things, maybe…that made a difference was the fans.
I could tell a difference in the fans’ presence at the Dawg Walk. I’d missed the Dawg Walk by just a few minutes at both of the other games I’ve attended this year, and my brother and I were eager to get there. We got there early and found a good spot right under the bridge, and as the band and cheerleaders took their place, the crowd noise was deafening. It did my heart good to see so many people show up to welcome the team to the stadium.
Once we got to our seats, I paid attention to the crowd. I heard that there were some buzz about people boycotting the game, and I feared that some would stay away. It’s so hard to tell with these early games we’ve had what the crowd will look like…or how many latecomers there will be, and up until right before the game, the crowd in the stands looked a bit anemic.
But something downright magical happened before the Alma Mater and the National Anthem: the crowd filled in, and they were loud. For the Battle Hymn presentation, the “It’s Saturday” video, and the team’s entrance onto the field, the energy was electric, and the crowd was alive! Leading up to kickoff, there was a palpable buzz that was strangely emotional. I could feel all sorts of pride welling up in me and everyone else around me.
The crowd stayed in it the entire game, and with every score, the energy grew and grew. I haven’t seen such a buzz in Sanford Stadium in years…literally. I firmly believe the crowd played a part in leading the Bulldogs to victory on Saturday, and I hope that we continue to see and feel that kind of energy in Athens all season long.
Thank you to all the true fans who showed up to help inject some life into what looked like a dead season…