The Big Dawg will eat if: The sophomore jinx does not come to Athens to find Aaron Murray and if Isaiah Crowell can duplicate the kind of freshman year that Marcus Lattimore had last year at South Carolina. The defense will be better this year as the Dawgs will have had a year to learn Todd Granthamï¿½s 3-4 scheme. Despite losing Justin Houston and Akeem Dent, Grantham might be getting players that fit what he wants, and team defense always wins out over individual stars on defense. With a pair of all-world kickers, Georgiaï¿½s specials teams will be solid, and that could be the difference in the fourth quarter.
The Dawgs will be headed to the pound if: The sophomore jinx does indeed come to Athens and finds Aaron Murray. With an offensive line that is questionable, especially losing Trinton Sturdivant to another torn ACL, moving the ball might be a problem, especially if Murray and Crowell have to carry the load. The secondary, which was marginal at best last year, must improve as well.
Schedule: Not bad considering they will not have to play LSU or Alabama, unless of course they make it to Atlanta in December. However, right off the bat, Georgia will be tested in their opening game as they play Boise State in Atlanta. A LOT will be riding on that one as not only Georgia pride, but SEC pride, will be at stake. The road does not get any easier as South Carolina comes to town, and that game could be an early season elimination game in the East. After USC, Georgia has the talent and speed to win the rest of the games on their schedule as there are not many scary opponents on the list. Whether or not that happens, remains to be proven on the field.
Intangibles: A couple of really big ones jump out right away. Can UGA get past their lackluster performance in the Liberty Bowl? Losing to UCF was one thing, but to not even score a touchdown against a C-USA team is an embarrassment. The other thing that is lurking around the train tracks behind Sanford Stadium is the status of Mark Richt. Similar to Phillip Fulmer, Jim Donnan and Tommy Tuberville, the SEC is unforgiving when it comes to coaches having down years. If Richt has another season close to last year, or loses to the wrong teams, this might be his swan song. Also, a new UGA will be on the sidelines sometime this year. Donï¿½t know if that will win or lose any games, but you have to mention one of college footballï¿½s best mascots every chance you get.
Coach Scooter's Prediction: 2nd in the SEC East
This is a good year to be in the SEC East if you are not sure what kind of team you have. UGA can easily win this division, save their coachï¿½s job, and return to prominence because nobody else in the division is a clear-cut favorite. The reason I rate the Dawgs second is I am not sure what the offensive line will do, since they have to get better, and the success of every team begins there. Murray and Crowell have to step in and become factors that every team will have to plan for. The defense has to step up, particularly in the secondary, if they will have any chance to win the division. The schedule is in their favor, but the first two games are critical to their season. Win both, and they are in great shape, lose one or both and the national search for a new coach will begin faster than you can say, ï¿½There goes Herschel!ï¿½ If the any of the games comes down to a kick, my money is on Blair Walsh who does a pretty good imitation of Tom Dempsey and Jason Elam every Saturday. Maybe September 10th in Athens will decide things one way or the other for the rest of the year. Stay tunedï¿½
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