Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post The anonymous Dawgs

Tuesday July 31, 2007

One of the themes coming out of the Georgia camp from SEC Media Days was the relative absence of Bulldogs in preseason media honors. As Ching wrote,

The Bulldogs were shut out of the first-team balloting for the first time since the Media Days event started in 1992. Only two Georgia players – place-kicker Brandon Coutu and linebacker Brandon Miller – earned second-team honors, tying Georgia with Mississippi State and Ole Miss for the fewest all-conference players in the league.

Georgia was the only SEC team without a first-team player. Sounds pretty ominous, right? Yet the same media also picked the Dawgs to finish third in the tough SEC East, and they were a lot closer in the voting to second place Tennessee than they were to fourth place South Carolina. That apparent incongruity could mean any or all of these:

  • The press is going out on a limb that a proven coach like Mark Richt will put a good team together despite the lack of stars.
  • The press believes that the Dawgs have a lot of above-average-but-not-quite-great players.
  • The press acknowledges that Georgia doesn’t have many all-SEC players based on previous production, but they expect a few to emerge this year.
  • Georgia will be hurt by their lack of star power, but the press isn’t ready yet to move teams like South Carolina or Kentucky into the top half of the division.

Take your pick – you could make a case for any of them. If you ask Coach Richt, the answer might be the third option. "Whether we rise or not is the big question,” he admitted at Media Days. “But I believe in this team. I think we’ve got a chance to do as well as any team that we’ve had since we’ve been here.”

The Dawgs are facing a double-whammy: not many teams have fewer returning starters, and those returning starters are either young or have had average production to this point. Florida, on the other hand, has only eight returning starters, but six of their key contributors are on the preseason all-SEC team. To illustrate the point, think back to 2003. Georgia’s offensive line was decimated after 2002 and gave up over 40 sacks in 2003. At least the Dawgs had a stout defense with proven playmakers on which to lean. In 2007, Georgia has no such glaring strength to carry the team. Instead of Pollack, Davis, Thurman, and Jones, the 2007 Dawgs will lean on guys like Stafford, Massaquoi, Lumpkin, Sturdivant, Owens, Miller, and Johnson.

Those guys are hardly stiffs, but almost all have inexperience to overcome or have spent careers out of the spotlight to this point. Richt’s "whether we rise" question hits the story of the 2007 season dead on. Some talented guys will be thrust into key roles by necessity, and Georgia’s fortunes will turn on their ability to turn preseason anonymity into postseason glory.

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