ATHENS –If some perspective is needed after Georgia started the SEC season 0-1 and then learned Friday night that wide receiver A.J. Green won’t be around for the next two games, here it is: Ultimately, a football team’s season is not defined by one player. Green will not be a cure-all when he returns, any more than his absence was the reason the Bulldogs lost in Columbia last week.
As you no doubt learned by now from my comrade, Tim Tucker, Georgia’s appeal to have Green’s four-game suspension reduced was rejected by the NCAA. Maybe you believe four games is too harsh of a penalty, or maybe you believe Chris Hawkins is no more of an agent than you are, or maybe you just think the NCAA is out to get Georgia (because we love conspiracy theories, don’t we?).
But here’s the thing: While Green is an amazing player, the Dogs lost to South Carolina last week because their offensive line got pushed around and their defense got punched by the run and at times looked timid (Mark Richt’s words).
A.J. Green doesn’t play those positions.
Beating Arkansas will not be easy. The Razorbacks are led by possibly the nation’s best quarterback, Ryan Mallett, who already has thrown for 701 yards and six touchdowns in two games (albeit, the games coming against Tennessee Tech and Louisiana-Monroe). But Arkansas’s defense is not among the nation’s best. Remember, even the maligned Joe Cox threw for five touchdowns and 375 yards in last year’s 52-41 win in Fayetteville.
Georgia probably doesn’t want to get into another shootout without Green but it certainly can win the game by controlling the clock and the tempo with the running game and by giving a far more physical effort than it did at South Carolina.
For what it’s worth, the Dogs haven’t started the season 0-2 in the SEC since 1993 in Ray Goff’s fifth season, when when they actually lost their first four conference games to South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas. (That team finished 2-6 in conference, 5-6 overall.)
Finally, let’s all give a warm round of applause today to Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino. He hasn’t been seen in this state since a Monday night Falcons loss three years ago. Petrino left after that game, apparently thinking the NFL season was 13 games long. The next time we saw him was on television at a midnight press conference in Fayetteville, doing the woo-pig-sooie cheer. So if the Dogs need any extra motivation, all they need to do is channel Arthur Blank.
OK, that’s it for now. We go live with this blog at kickoff . Ah heck, let’s go live now. Weigh in on anything you like — the game, the NCAA, Green, Petrino’s next job. I’ll be back after coffee. Enjoy your Saturday.
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