Auburn was the team that slapped the smile off Lorenzo Carter’s face.
Carter, one of many senior leaders for the Bulldogs, rarely is seen unhappy. Even media personalities rave about Carter’s charisma and honesty.
Which is why Nov. 11 was so different. Carter didn’t have much to say after the game, left defeated 40-17 by the rival Tigers. Uncharacteristic mistakes and being physically beaten – not something these Bulldogs were accustomed to – left players pondering what could’ve been.
“It always sucks to have that feeling leaving the field,” Carter said. “Because you put in so much. That’s a rivalry, it’s one of our rivals and it’s a deep rivalry. So just losing the game like that, I felt horrible. I think that’s motivation for everybody not to feel that way again.”
He and his teammates get a chance to avenge themselves on a bigger stage, seeing Auburn again in the SEC Championship game. No stranger to taking advantage of additional opportunities, Carter is relishing it.
“It really didn’t matter who we played, but getting the chance to play Auburn again, it was big,” he said. “Because they’re the one blemish on our record.”
Carter turned down the NFL after last season. He returned not only to improve his game, but to help deliver a championship to a community where few remember what the pinnacle is like.
“We really wanted a chance to play for a championship, and now everything’s on the table,” he said. “We know what we had to do to get this far.”
Coach Kirby Smart has repeatedly praised his seniors for bypassing the draft to improve their skills. He echoed that about Carter earlier in the week.
"The biggest thing is that he's become an every-down player," Smart said. "He's gotten a little bigger and more physical, and he's been able to play some in nickel packages. We have moved him around so that he could play field boundary. He can do different things. He can stand up and match patterns. He's improved that part of his game, and that's the part that he probably needed to improve the most. I'm glad he came back to do it."
It will be the fifth time the Bulldogs face an opponent twice in a season, but it will be the second time Carter does so.
In 2013, Norcross High School lost to North Gwinnett in mid-September. Carter and the Blue Devils came back to defeat the Bulldogs in the state title game.
Carter recalls a different sense of comfort and better feel for the game the second time around. He hopes for a similar occurrence against Auburn, when his team hopes to have a renewed emphasis on setting the edge after the Tigers gashed them a few weeks ago.
Since then, Georgia has outscored Kentucky and Georgia Tech 80-20. Smart said the Bulldogs are a more physical team than they were against Auburn, but they have to prove it.
“That game slipped away,” Carter said. “But we did a good job not letting that define us.”
Saturday might be the defining point of Carter’s collegiate career, when he could once again help defeat a rival in a championship rematch.
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