Hurricane Irma surged across Florida and into Georgia this week. Having driven nearly 14 hours from South Florida to the panhandle before the storm hit, I can tell you the impact of the storm, even before landfall, was immense. The Florida Turnpike turned into a parking lot from West Palm Beach to Orlando to Ocala.
Lines to get gasoline – when fuel was available – stretched up to an hour or more.
Yet, there was something invigorating about the storm and it was not just the high winds. Not once in all those hours on the road did I see drivers cut someone off, get angry or impatient, or act in any way other than neighborly.
Another surge, less significant and a lot more fun, also occurred over the weekend. For the first time under coach Kirby Smart, the Georgia Bulldogs football program finds itself surging on the field.
This is not the promise associated with hauling in another highly rated recruiting class. This is not the pride accompanying the opening of a sparkling new facility. This is not the simmering swagger attending the addition of yet another support staffer. This feels real.
Could it eventually turn spectacular?
The narrow 20-19 road victory over Notre Dame was not pretty, but its aftermath could be beautiful for the Dawgs.
A national television audience saw venerable Notre Dame Stadium, newly renovated and stunning in the bright lights of prime time, bathed in Bulldogs red as tens of thousands of Georgia fans made themselves at home in the heartland.
The Georgia defense looked fast and ferocious and carried the team to victory. The special teams were excellent. The offense flashed plenty of talent at all the skill positions, and young players contributed in all areas. True freshman QB Jake Fromm, expected to be a clipboard holder for incumbent Jacob Eason until his injury, played steady enough to avoid losing the game.
Penalties marred the performance, but with the win can simply be treated as teaching tools.
The schedule now sets up in a promising way.
Georgia hosts a couple of other Bulldogs programs the next two weeks, first Samford and then Mississippi State. While Georgia is not consistent enough that any game gets taken for granted, the date with Samford is about as sure a bet as remains on the slate. Mississippi State promises to be tougher, but Georgia should enter as a healthy favorite. A win over Mississippi State would leave only a Sept. 30 trip to Tennessee for Georgia in going unbeaten during the opening month of the season.
So what are areas of concern for the Bulldogs and how can they keep this momentum surging?
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