Tuesday, August 24, 2010

South Carolina game most important for the Dawgs in '10

OK, we all know the importance of beating Tech, for, as a decorated Georgia alumnus once said, "if you don't think beating Tech is important, try losing to them." Nor is there any reason to pretend that a victory over Florida wouldn't be huge.

I'm not sure what it says about where Georgia is or where South Carolina is when I find myself realizing that the Carolina game is, in fact, the most important game of the season for Georgia, but here's why.

Assuming the Bulldogs handle LaLafayette in the opener, South Carolina becomes the tone-setter for what Aaron Murray is to become, and what Todd Grantham's new 3-4 defense will be. That game is usually important anyway, because, as Richt so often mentions, the winner typically goes on to have a good season (last year notwithstanding), while the loser is immediately fighting an uphill battle just to finish 2nd in the SEC East, never mind having a realistic shot at the SEC Title (well, the Gamecocks really go into every season without a realistic shot at the SEC Title).

This game's been unnaturally close for most of the past 10 contests, and this year figures to be no different. Carolina usually has a steady defense, and unless QB Stephen Garcia pees the bed in their opener, so to speak, he will not yet have drawn the full ire of Coach Spurrier. Furthermore, the 'Cocks haven't realized that they're not a good team when Georgia comes a' callin' in week two.

So, if the Dawgs want to earn the right to treat the 2010 season as anything more than a 'reset button' year, they must beat South Carolina.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Reading Into Fall Practice Reports and Comments

With the anticipation of a new season that's now just a month away, most every Georgia fan is gleaning every last bit of information he can on the 2010 Bulldog football team. Practice reports, player bios, and even the most trivial of anecdotes (I found the "story" of a young Ben Jones catching a snooze atop a potentially prize-winning pig to be particularly enthralling).

Every pre-season period has its story lines, and this year is no different, with a new quarterback, position changes, and the unfortunate off the field issue or seven. But, when it comes down to it, what we're really interested in is hearing about who's made the biggest strides since last season, and what the new recruits and redshirt freshman seem to be making waves. After all, with a champagne cork popped for every 5-star recruit signed, these are the kids that are going to determine the future of Georgia football.

Having said that, it can be easy to put a bit too much stock in what various reporters, coaches, and players are saying about what's going on at the 110 degree practice fields. If I sat down and thought about it, for every player that was going to be "the next big thing," I'm sure I could find at least 50% of those mentioned who ended up making little, if any significant impact when the lights were on.

Seemingly every summer during his time here, when asked who was going to be the impact receiver, quarterbacks unanimously named Bryan McClendon. Later, I can recall both Michael Moore and Mohamed Massaquoi arriving on campus, and though MoMass was the more highly touted recruit, "everyone" was saying how it was Moore that was looking better. That is not to say anything disparaging of McClendon or Moore, but neither was ever an All-American candidate.

Conversely, who really remembers hearing all that much about David Pollack during the fall practices leading up to the 2002 season? Obviously, he was the starter and had a monster game against Clemson right out of the gate, but there was little, if any, talk of "watch out for #47. We can't block him in practice."

In the end, we all like hearing how AJ Green made an impossible catch over three defenders, how Caleb King had two long runs during yesterdays scrimmage, and how Justin Houston and Cornelius Washington have been dominating off the edge. However, I wouldn't place my expectations on what kind of season Aaron Murray's going to have based on his scrimmage stats, and would automatically put a redshirt on Ken Malcome just because his name has not been mentioned yet.

It's still just practice.