Cordele Dispatch, Cordele, GA

Local Sports

December 25, 2013

Hard to believe a post-bowl glow will last through August

Rochelle — There are 35 bowl games this season, meaning there have been a least 35 pre-bowl news conferences.

A running theme during many (if not most) has been momentum.

Win your postseason game, and Big Mo will follow you right up to next season.

”We just want to keep the momentum up going into next year,” said Georgia linebacker Amarlo Herrera, whose team will play Nebraska in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1. ”We just want to win and build up momentum.”

Bulldog quarterback Hutson Mason expanded and expounded on that notion.

”That last game, no matter how your season is -- whether it’s bad and you win, or it’s good and you lose -- can either leave a sour taste in your mouth or it can kind of build momentum going into the offseason,” he said. ”So I know just from my standpoint that I want to keep that momentum rolling because we can have a special team next year, and I want to keep that energy and that excitement moving into the offseason.”

I never played college football, and the only bowl game I ever participated in was an event called the YMCA Bowl. There I helped quarterback my junior high team, the L.M. Smith Cougars, to a 26-0 loss to the Arthur Knights.

But I don’t believe gridiron momentum can last for seven months, so I seriously doubt that what plays out in Jacksonville on New Year’s Day will have any bearing on what occurs in Athens when Clemson comes to Sanford Stadium on Aug. 30.

However, Mason might be on to something else.

Georgia might have a ”special” team next year, and the game against the Cornhuskers will, if nothing else, provide something of a sneak peek.

For Mason, it’ll be his second start and a chance to improve to 2-0 in a starting role.

While nothing is promised  it’s certainly his job to lose.

After spending his entire college career as an understudy to Aaron Murray, Mason hopes to have one full season to prove he’s a worthy successor.

Going wire to wire against Georgia Tech was a good start; going four quarters against Nebraska will be more about gaining experience than gathering momentum.

And while the seniors hope to finish up on a winning note, the players coming back want to make a good impression before they have to impress the coaches all over again during spring training.

Todd Gurley will carry the rushing load against the Huskers, and J.J. Green will have a chance to get some carries as well and make a case for a regular spot in the ball-toting rotation.

When Keith Marshall recovers fully from his knee injury in time for next season, the Bulldogs’ rushing attack might resemble a three-headed monster.

Throw in a deep receiving corps and experienced offense line, and Georgia’s offense could be and should be one of the nation’s best in 2014.

Of course the Dawgs must stay healthy, which is something they couldn’t do in 2013.

And a little luck might come in handy, too.

Either way, what lies ahead next fall -- beginning with a visit from the Tigers on the last Saturday in August -- won’t be determined by the results of the upcoming Gator Bowl. That game will simply be one last hurrah for the outgoing Bulldogs and one more game for the underclassmen.

Win or lose, what happens in Jacksonville will be long forgotten once two-a-days begin again in Athens.


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