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Post Things working against Georgia in 2008

Tuesday January 22, 2008

We continue a high-level look towards the football season by acknowledging that winning even an SEC East title in any season is a difficult challenge with very little margin for error. Other than the usual caveats about injuries, these factors will be potential obstacles for the Dawgs in 2008:

» The schedule. It’s going to be tough. In the SEC part of the schedule, you replace Ole Miss with LSU. That LSU trip comes a week before the Florida game. The Dawgs will have three interesting and challenging nonconference opponents: Central Michigan pushed Purdue in the 2007 Motor City Bowl. Georgia Tech will present a unique offensive scheme to challenge the defense at the end of the season. Then there’s the trip to Tempe.

Playing Arizona State will test the Dawgs in three ways. First and most basic, the Sun Devils are a quality program, and Dennis Erickson looks to have injected some energy into the program. The game will also bring a tremendous amount of hype; it’s Georgia’s first regular season trip outside of the southeast since 1965, and that fact alone will add to the circus of a quality midseason lineup. Finally, there’s the human element. The Dawgs must play at South Carolina (often a night game), return, prepare for, and travel to Arizona State, absorb that game and the effects of cross-country travel, and then prepare to host a motivated Alabama team the next week. Should they survive that three-game swing, a bye week awaits before Tennessee comes to town.

Georgia will face nine teams next year that played in a bowl this season. The two 2008 Division 1 opponents that aren’t coming off a bowl trip are South Carolina and Vanderbilt – two teams that gave Georgia plenty of problems in 2007.

There is one bit of good news peeking through the schedule gloom and doom: no SEC opponent will have a bye week before they play Georgia.

» The offensive line. Hear me out. Stacy Searels and his troops were magnificent this season. But we’re not out of the woods yet. As young and inexperienced as line was in 2007, the Dawgs still had a rock to anchor that line: senior center Fernando Velasco. Velasco’s contribution to the success of the 2007 squad might be one of the most underrated stories of the year. Senior Chester Adams was also a key; his versatility at guard and tackle enabled the coaches to experiment until they found the most effective combination of linemen.

Those two seniors will be replaced by another round of newcomers. While the Dawgs might have the "luxury" of using redshirt freshmen instead of true freshmen this time, the difference in experience is marginal. Where the line, and even the entire offense, could look to Velasco as a leader, that role will now fall to sophomores Boling, Davis, and Sturdivant. Vince Vance, a junior reserve tackle, and senior long snapper Jeff Henson will be the lone upperclassmen on the line.

» The hype. There’s no escaping it. There will be no going under the radar. Big things will be expected of the Dawgs next year. Expectations are always high at Georgia, but the Dawgs will have the additional glare of the national spotlight. Teams can wilt easily under that pressure. On the other hand, we’ve seen plenty of instances where a team can get full of itself and try to coast on its ranking. Embracing and coming to terms with high expectations will be a key factor of success in 2008.

I think that Mark Richt has had the right attitude so far when asked about high preseason rankings: it’s a good thing. Teams want to be ranked high, and it’s every team’s goal to play for the national title. Why field a team if that opportunity doesn’t excite you? But Richt is quick to caution that a high ranking entitles a team to nothing. Sure enough, Georgia won’t be the only SEC team with a top 10 ranking. If the team approaches the expectations with the right mindset, the hype will be motivation for the offseason. "We got a taste of just how close we might be to getting that ultimate goal," Mark Richt said. "And everybody’s gonna be really working hard toward that end."

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One Response to 'Things working against Georgia in 2008'

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  • The Georgia Bulldogs have not faired well on Offense in The Coach Richt Era, and finished last season No. 83 in Passing Offense and No. 74 in Total Offense of 119 NCAA teams despite only 12 other teams giving up fewer sacks than our stellar offensive line did. We did well primarily because our running game enjoyed its most production in memory. Thomas Brown is gone, and Knowshon Moreno got hurt in the Georgia Tech Win, gaining only 45 against Tech and then with 38 days to heal, only 61 yards against a porous Hawaii rush defense.

    You describe 9 opponents who played in the bowl games which just ended and South Carolina and Vandie both of whom were significantly better than half the teams who did play in both games instead of them. 1 of the big questions for 2008 will be who will beat a BCS Top 10 team this season, as Appalachian State did last season. What no one seems to remember is that it was good for Michigan that they did not play Georgia Southern either, for Georgia Southern beat Appalachian State– just after Appalachian State beat Michigan. Did you find a patsy on that schedule ? If you did, you have a better magnifying glass than I can afford.

    In direct comparison with our abysmal passing offense and therefore abysmal total offense, The Georgia Bulldogs NCAA Ranking in Total Defense is No. 14 for this past season. These remain important parts of the equation, along with the schedule, on both sides of the ball because we are 1 of the Top 5 Best Football Teams in the Nation – an Elite Football Program – who return our team in large part from last season to next season.

    Couple these with the fact that we also lose our oft-injured Senior Kicker and replace him on extra points in field goals with a frosh face, and lose return men on both punt returns and kick returns, and well, we have a lot on our platter for a Nation’s Elite Football Program this coming season.

    We see, read, and study these analyses of how since 2002 The University of Georgia has averaged the 2nd Best Recruiting Rankings average of both Rivals and Scout.com, 2nd only to Southern Cal. And, now we see we shall have yet another such class join us this season up-coming again which should end up somewhere in the Top 3, 4 or 5 or so in the nation. And, we see, read, and study these analyses of how since 2002, Coach Richt also has 52 Wins against BCS Schools since 2002, validating our recruiting rankings in both Scout.com and Rivals. 52 wins against BCS Schools since 2002 ranks Coach Richt 4th in Wins against BCS Schools since 2002, behind only Southern California, Ohio State, and Oklahoma.

    We find but 3 with more in the NFL on Opening Day Rosters this NFL season, behind only Miami, Ohio State, Florida State and then Georgia.

    These are indeed The Good Ole Days, now for The University of Georgia in this Coach Richt Era with Georgia also ranked in the Final AP Poll 11 Consecutive Seasons and Counting, the Longest Streak of all Football Programs in the nation.

    But, it has been 43 years since The Bulldogs ventured outside the Southeast for a game in the regular season. Georgia won that game 2 October 1965 in the big house in Ann Arbor Michigan doubling up Michigan 15-7. Now, we take on Arizona State among these double-digit bowl teams this past season we face now this up-coming season.

    Georgia has 1 of the nation’s longest winning streaks at 7 games in a row, and we accomplished that against a NCAA Official Strength of Schedule Ranked No. 7 in the nation this past season. Our Strength of Schedule again this up-coming season is supposed to be our downfall ?

    Let’s look at these other Elite Football Programs 2008 by all measures thereof, and see just where their Strength of Schedules are in fact ranked now that we have the full season under our belt and can finally only now today do, shall we ?

    UGA No. 7 SOS, LSU No. 14 SOS, Auburn No. 23 SOS, Oklahoma is No. 22 Strength of Schedule, Ohio State No. 38 Official NCAA Strength of Schedule including getting their butts beat by yet their 9th Consecutive SEC Team in a Bowl Game. Texas SOS is No. 46. Arizona State No. 49 SOS. Wisconsin No. 50 SOS. Florida State No. 60 SOS. Georgia Tech No. 61 SOS and guess what Southern California’s NCAA Official Strength of Schedule is ? No. 73 SOS Southern California.

    Yet Georgia Bulldogs are No. 2 in the Final AP Poll 2007-2008 despite playing the No. 7 NCAA Official Strength of Schedule. Our Coaching and talent can stand up to a schedule of what faces us, for it indeed is why we have the recruits we have. Our players welcome the challenge and the fact of the matter is that Matthew Stafford, true Junior, is a Money Quarterback.

    There are those detractors who say that These are NOT The Good Ole Days now today in the Coach Richt Era for we have not won a national championship.

    What is a national championship ?

    Playing the No. 38 Official NCAA Strength of Schedule and getting your butts beat on national TV yet again, and no better record than UGA who played the No. 7 SOS by direct comparison thereto, like Ohio State ?

    Playing the No. 73 Official NCAA Strength of Schedule and having no better record than UGA who played the No. 7 SOS by direct comparison thereto, like Southern California ?

    Playing the No. 22 Official NCAA Strength of Schedule and losing their bowl game again this season yet again to have a worse record than UGA who played the No. 7 SOS ?

    Those are Elite Football Programs and these are their Good Ole Days, and not ours because we play a better schedule of games which is more compelling and more fun to watch ?

    They can all Kiss My Grits, for we all know we can beat them all – just as we would have LSU in The SEC Championship Game had they based it upon BCS Rankings at the time and not a subset of the season to-date. And, We would have wiped the floor with Ohio State too, just as LSU did; and would have played LSU with all our hearts, minds, bodies and souls – if there were a Plus One (+1).

    So, we get our Plus One (+1) in Baton Rouge.

    We play Heisman Trophy Winner Tim Tebow who lost every single football game against a Final AP Poll Top 25 team he played except the vols. Florida lost to Georgia, lost to LSU, lost to Auburn, lost to Michigan and besides the vols did not play another good team all season long.

    Who did Ohio State beat ? Wisconsin is the only team in the Final AP Poll Top 25 at Number 24 and who did Wisconsin beat in the Final AP Poll ? No one.

    Who did Southern California beat ? Arizona State No. 16 Final AP Poll, both of whom played soft schedules and Arizona State lost to the worst Texas Football Team in Nine (9) years in their last game.

    If Georgia cannot get out there on the football field and handle this schedule, we don’t deserve to be ranked where we most assuredly are before we play the games as a consensus Preseason Pick to be among the Nation’s Elite Football Programs 2008.

    Bring them on. And, The SEC Championship Game. And, The BCS Bowl Game ahead in our schedule of 14 games. I hope we go 12-2 against this schedule. But, don’t bother telling me when we do, that some team playing SOS No. 22, No. 14, No. 38 or No. 73 is in fact better than The Georgia Bulldogs when you did NOT beat us.