Arts & CultureFlag Football

End-of-the-Year Awards for the Georgia Bulldogs

We’ll miss you, Richard LeCounte. Credit: Kevin Snyder / UGA Athletics

Thanks to a late Jack Podlesny 53-yard field goal—and an even later safety by Azeez Ojulari, for good measure—the Bulldogs beat Cincinnati 24–21 to claim the Peach Bowl. Thus ends the 2020 season with a final record of 8–2.

While I think we’d all be happy to have the year 2020 wiped from our collective consciousness, we should take a moment before we move on to the promise of the 2021 season to dole out some season-ending awards to some deserving Dawgs.

Dude Who Should’ve Played Sooner: JT Daniels. Our offense turned a corner after Daniels got the nod in the Mississippi State game. His ability to find the open receiver and remain cool and collected in late-down situations was in stark contrast to Stetson Bennett IV up to that point. He also provided us with the opportunity to hit the deep ball for the first time in Kirby Smart’s tenure. Daniels finished the season with 1,231 yards passing, 10 touchdowns and just two picks. Extrapolate that to 12 games, and you’re looking at one helluva full season. I’m excited to see what Todd Monken can cook up for him with an entire offseason as The Guy.

Dude Who Should’ve Been More Involved: Darnell Washington. Big No. 0 at tight end is a matchup nightmare. He finished the season with seven receptions for 166 yards, with five of those receptions coming in the final two games. We’ll have a lot of talented receivers to cover on next year’s team. Washington could be a problem for defenses if he gets lost in the mix.

Dudes I’m Happy Are Just Freshmen: Jalen Carter and Jermaine Burton. For my money, lineman Carter was the standout freshman on defense, while wideout Burton was the standout freshman on offense. Given another offseason of strength and conditioning work—as well as spring practice for the first time in their careers—and they could develop into some of the top players in the country at their positions.

Dude I Hate To See Leave (DGD Award): Richard LeCounte. There are a bunch of dudes from this team I hate to see go: Monty Rice, Azeez Ojulari, Eric Stokes and Ben Cleveland, to name a few. But LeCounte especially, because of the way he went out. The safety was Smart’s first-ever commitment at Georgia and was the backbone of what became the winningest senior class in school history. He was a fixture in the secondary for four years until a motorcycle accident after the Kentucky game sidelined him for the rest of his senior season. By all accounts, he worked his ass off to get back to full health and play again, which he did on the final play of the Peach Bowl.

George Pickens Antic of the Year: Squirting a Tennessee Player. Pickens is childish, in the best possible sense of the word. I love the highlight-reel catches he makes, of which there are many, and I love the chaos he brings to the game. Which brings me to the time he squirted Tennessee QB Jarrett Guarantano with a water bottle following a scramble to the sideline. We’ve only got one more season of Pickens fun before he bolts for the NFL, so enjoy it.

Stadium That Shouldn’t Have Had Fans In It: Sanford. I’ve made my thoughts clear on this a few times, but in case you didn’t catch it, we definitely shouldn’t have had fans at Sanford Stadium DURING A PANDEMIC. But as fate would have it, only three home games ended up taking place last season, which was probably for the best. Let’s all hope we get this pandemic under control and next season we can (safely) pack Sanford with 92,000 hooting Dawgs fans.

Win of the Season: It’s a Tie! All wins are good wins, in retrospect. (OK, that Kentucky game really sucked, but you get my point.) We went through a nine-game SEC schedule and emerged with seven wins, plus a bowl win over an undefeated team. Yes, I’d love to have another crack at Alabama and Florida with Daniels at quarterback, but life isn’t fair and just sucks sometimes. This is the life of a Georgia fan.

But those wins are history, as is the 2020 season. So let’s look forward to the ones we have coming next fall: whipping Clemson’s ass to start with, then 13 more, and then another one.