Friday, July 22, 2011

Are these Dawgs ready to turn things around?

Time flies when you're having fun. Not so much when you're not.

When the Bulldogs won 74 games from 2002 to 2008, with really just the one 2006 season being a "bad" year, it didn't really seem like there'd ever be a stretch where Georgia would struggle. It certainly didn't seem like head coach Mark Richt would possibly leave Georgia on anything other than his own terms.

Sure, there were signs here and there. Georgia's defense showing up clueless in games against Tennessee and Alabama. Needing a late fumble recovery in 2007 to beat lowly Vanderbilt before ultimately finishing #2 in the nation. Still losing to Florida more often than not, even when it seemed Georgia had the superior team.

But, after a string of some bad luck, perhaps some bad decisions, and a sort of malaise that slowly seemed to descend upon the program, Georgia finds itself having won just 2 more games than it's lost over the past two seasons, going 14-12. Georgia finds itself coming off its first losing season since 1996. Georgia finds itself having to prove that it's not falling into the pigskin purgatory that teams like Michigan and Miami, two proud and winning programs themselves, have fallen into.

There's plenty to be concerned about going into the 2011 campaign, and while it's the job of the coaches and players to downplay those concerns in the pre-season interviews, nobody else is denying that.

The offensive line is a torn ACL away from becoming a patchwork quilt of freshmen and walk-ons. The most experienced running back redshirted last year so he could learn how to play linebacker. The best receiver in school history left for the NFL, and the Dawgs failed to beat a BCS-conference opponent last year without him.

Yet, despite all the negatives coming into 2011, there's still a sense that this season has possibilities.

Perhaps it was the assembling of the "Dream Team" recruiting class in February that seemed to remind folks that this is still Georgia, and we can still be great.

Or, perhaps it's the new old-school attitude coming from the strength and conditioning program, announcing that the Bulldogs will once again play with the tenacity and ferociousness of their namesake.

Then again, it could just be that football fans are football fans, and everybody's undefeated until September 3rd.

And, while many choose to concentrate on the negatives and soak in the tepid bathtub of pessimism and low expectations, it's important to point out that it was just a couple of years ago when the Dawgs were finishing up a 7 year run that saw them average 10.5 wins per year, win 3 SEC East crowns, and 2 SEC Championships.

Funny, though. Those 7 years sure seemed to pass by a lot quicker than the last 2. Here's hoping Richt and the Dawgs can speed up time once again.

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