Georgia linebacker Reggie Carter said he got word Saturday that the Bulldogs had clinched the SEC East from his mother. Moms just know stuff.
Shortly after Georgia had dispatched South Carolina, Ole Miss knocked out Kentucky with a last-second TD pass. And just like that, the Bulldogs had clinched a spot in the SEC Championship Game nearly a month down the road. Assured was a return to Atlanta after a five-year absence.
And the Bulldogs went wild. Well, not so much. As Carter recalled his reaction: “Yay, we won the East. Now focus on Auburn.” A good two-second celebration, if you count realllllly slowwwwwly.
“My mom told me, and I was like ah, that’s good. I told her we got Auburn next. I was happy, but we got Auburn next and they’re a tough opponent.”
So, c’mon, mom, focus.
“I told her she could do the cheerleading, leave it up to me to do the playing,” Carter laughed.
The trademark of this Bulldog season has been the single-minded pursuit of the next game. It has been a season without let-down. A season devoid of the trap game. The set-up for such consistency doesn’t make for a whole lot of exciting quotation. But it seems to underpin a winning habit.
Thus, you can call it a divisional championship. Kirby Smart calls it a concern.
Yes, when asked Monday about his plans to address this small breakthrough, he said, “That has not been a major concern for us. Our concern has always been on the next opponent.” Like winning the SEC East at this early date was akin to an unexplained rash.
You know there has to be joy in what the Bulldogs are accomplishing. It is written on all the happy faces at the conclusion of SEC games that have been won by such outlandish margins that Saturday’s two-touchdown victory seemed a cliff-hanger by comparison.
You know there has to be a sense of satisfaction as losses just a year ago to Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Florida have been well and truly avenged.
The trick is not to show it.
That forever has been the disguise of champions – affixing the face of a team on an unblinking mission.
That forever has been the burden of big seasons – not being allowed to fully enjoy each glorious step of the way, and mark it with all the Mylar balloons and party noise-makers its deserves.
So, it was a good thing, then, that tailback Sony Michel sounded so unimpressed with being a newly minted SEC East champion. “There was no celebration,” he said. “And now, there is no time for celebration because we have another great team in front of us that we have to prepare for.”
Why, even a punter sounded all solemn, as if borrowing a game face from someone a few lockers down. “Every week it’s always about who we’re playing. We try to drown out everything else,” the Dogs Cameron Nizialek said.
Seeing how Auburn represents the best that Georgia will have seen since the Week Two trip to Notre Dame, the subdued approach is even appropriate.