Georgia needs to avoid playing catch-up in SEC again

Was Todd Gurley's impressive debut foreshadowing for a special year in SEC? (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Was Todd Gurley's impressive debut foreshadowing for a big year in SEC? (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

COLUMBIA, Mo. – There probably remains some disagreement as to exactly what Georgia’s post-0-2 run last season means for the immediate future of the program and its stature in the SEC. But we’re about to find out.

The Bulldogs played in the SEC Championship game in three of Mark Richt’s first five seasons in Athens. They failed to reach the game in any of the next five. Then came last season’s flop out of the gate, including a second consecutive conference-opening loss to South Carolina. The Bulldogs played catch-up for the rest of the season, won 10 straight and ultimately made it back to the Georgia Dome (albeit, losing to LSU).

“We don’t want to have to look at somebody else’s schedule again,” Georgia wide receiver Tavarres King said. “It wasn’t fun at all last year, having to worry about what South Carolina was doing. I want to relax after a game. I don’t want to have to sit up, biting my fingernails, watching somebody else play.”

For the first time in 21 seasons, Georgia begins SEC play against a team other than South Carolina. (They’re still going to Columbia — but northwest to Missouri, not east, past Augusta.)

There’s probably not a better team for Georgia to open against, if the objective is to prove self-worth in the SEC East. Missouri isn’t the best team in the conference. It’s unranked. But it’s a solid program juiced for its conference debut and playing at home. The Tigers carry in some of that inferior-little-brother, we’ll-show-you-the-Big-12-isn’t-some-Fisher-Price-conference attitude. So it’s not likely to be easy.

That said, the Dogs either win the game and affirm they’re SEC contenders again, or they lose and there’s reason to wonder about a low ceiling again.

“We don’t want to start out behind,” Richt said. “I don’t think anyone wants to be sitting there after the first game in league play relying on people to help us get to the SEC Championship game. It’s huge.”

Richt’s responsibilities might have been lightened this week. There was no need for him to give players a pep talk after Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson took a verbal jab at the Dogs for playing what he termed “old man football” (whatever that is).

Note to SEC newbies Missouri and Texas A&M: It takes roughly three seconds for a spark to explode into a raging inferno in this conference.

Georgia players tend to be well-schooled by Richt in this area. They have generally refrained from firing back at Richardson. King might’ve come the closest when he said, “We’re just going to maintain our thoughts about this game. We’re not going to get into a peeing contest. It’s not about talking. It’s about winning.”

So he doesn’t trash talk?

“Well, yeah, I talk,” he said earlier in the week. “Everybody does. But I talk on the field. I don’t see the satisfaction you get out of talking trash today.”

Senior Richard Samuel said, “I don’t know if it’s extra motivation, but it gives you something to think about it. I mean, I don’t even know where that stems from. How many yards did [Aaron] Murray throw for last year? We all heard about the comment and we were just like, ‘Wow. Really?”

When asked about the “old man offense” reference, Richt at first played dumb (”What was said?”), then he joked, “I’ll say this: Being over 50, I’m getting AARP stuff in the mail. So I look at it as a compliment. I’m like, ‘Yeah, they have a lot of respect for us.’ That’s what I thought.”

In reality, one soundbite isn’t going to swing this game, or this season. But Georgia understands that how things start in the SEC generally is a good indication how they will end.

The Dogs are 7-4 in openers under Richt (all against South Carolina). Only once among those four losses did they go on to play for the conference title. That was last season. It took until the final SEC game against Kentucky — a win by the margin of 19-10 — to clinch the East.

They can’t assume they would be able to climb out of a hole again.

By Jeff Schultz

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128 comments Add your comment

Buckeye

September 7th, 2012
12:42 pm

SEC! SEC! equals the two big boys and the rest. And, yes dogs, you are part of the rest.

Buckeye

September 7th, 2012
12:44 pm

“We don’t want to start out behind”

WIn With is pure genious.

Bhorsoft

September 7th, 2012
12:47 pm

Mizzou will show the Dawgs that they do indeed belong in the SEC. Go Tigers!

GeoffDawg

September 7th, 2012
12:50 pm

Here’s hoping that Grantham has better luck containing this James Franklin than the one of Vandy vintage.

GeoffDawg

September 7th, 2012
12:51 pm

You’re what Buckeye? 0-13 (after the vacated win) against the SEC? Where would that put you in the pecking order?

GeoffDawg

September 7th, 2012
12:54 pm

I have a lot of respect for the job Pinkel’s done over there in Columbia. I have several in-laws that are MU alums so I might have a better insight into their program and fanbase than the typical Georgia fan and I can tell you that they’re very excited and they’re going to play their guts out. I don’t know how well they’ll do after going through the SEC slog for four or five games but getting them early is a dangerous proposition. Hope the Dawgs are equally fired up.

dawggirl

September 7th, 2012
1:01 pm

Anyone that is thinking this game will be a cakewalk is seriously underestimating our opponent. We’re such a Jekyll and Hyde team, I only hope the right team shows up. Go Dawgs!

Dawg Haus

September 7th, 2012
1:15 pm

Start strong! Go Dawgs!

DIT

September 7th, 2012
1:17 pm

Totally agree. Dawgs can’t fall behind. In this game they need to score quickly and early to get the crowd out of it. They need to start off hot!
I’m ready to see if the defense will live up the reputation us fans, yes I include myself on this, has given them as being a top 5 defense. Sorry, but the missing p[layers are no excuse because we should be 2 to 3 deep in every position.
I don’t believe true bulldawg people are taking Mizzou lightly. If so there would not be a lot of nervous Dawgs on the blogs. And yes, I’m one of those nervous Dawgs!

Lou Holtz

September 7th, 2012
1:24 pm

Thufferin’ Thuckatash! Georgia #1 in the Eth-E-C!!!

Dawg Haus

September 7th, 2012
1:32 pm

You tell ‘em, Coath Holth!

Sopwith Camel

September 7th, 2012
1:38 pm

Amen, Dawggirl……..!!!

Benjamin

September 7th, 2012
2:24 pm

Hope TK continues to impress on the field. Georgia needs King to have a big performance with Murray.

Georgia wins this one, but it won’t be easy. I’ll go 24-20.

Heavyweight Champion of the Earl

September 7th, 2012
2:55 pm

UGA will dominate in this game, simply because the media is portraying Mizzou as an equal opponent. UGA usually plays down to its competition, and because of the bulletin board material supplied by the Mizzou player, Dawgs win 45-17.

Spike

September 7th, 2012
2:56 pm

Throw the damn ball to Michael Bennett!!

Crunching the numbers...

September 7th, 2012
3:05 pm

UGA mandates that the penalty for athletes who are caught using illegal drugs is to be suspended for a minimum of 10% of the games for their sport. The regular season for football is 12 games. 10% of 12 games equals 1.2 games. When Richt suspends a player for one game, that’s only 8.3%, not 10%. Assuming that UGA plays in a post-season bowl game, it’s only 7.7%.

So how does Marvelous Mark explain that away?

Huh?

September 7th, 2012
3:17 pm

Anyone predicting the Dawgs to dominate must not have been watching last week against Buffalo. The Dawgs have problems. Will they beat Missouri? Maybe.

Make all the excuses you want (the heat, lack of intensity, suspensions, injuries, vanilla schemes), but the fact is UGA should have DOMINATED Buffalo. Especially if you are the 6th or 7th ranked team in the country.

Crunching the numbers...

September 7th, 2012
3:19 pm

Yes, I’m a Dork Fish!

DIT

September 7th, 2012
3:20 pm

I agree, no dominance on this game. It will end up being a tight game until the end. Might even be the team who has the ball last.

dbc

September 7th, 2012
3:22 pm

I just hope UGA backs this talk up with a win. This game seems all too familiar to the Boise State game last year. Their D line was too small compared to our O line, their secondary was inferior, etc. We all know how that one turned out.

Paddy

September 7th, 2012
3:23 pm

I was just sure we would beat Boise St last year and could not be convinced otherwise. I will not make that same mistake twice. Slug it out until the final horn goes off Dawgs!!!!!!!!!!!!

[...] with Missouri, signaling swith …Online AthensLinks: Weekend Watch, Low on A&MESPN (blog)Georgia needs to avoid playing catch-up in SEC againAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)STLtoday.com -CBSSports.com -Arkansas Expatsall 585 [...]

bh

September 7th, 2012
3:28 pm

Simply put….UGA needs to put up or shut up!

Wet Willie...keep on smiling

September 7th, 2012
3:30 pm

UGA better have their sheet wired tight because Mizzou will give it all no doubt. UGA has to be able to run the ball and shorten the game and keep the defense fresh. #12 for UGA is a fine football player. Mizzou will use all of that 53 yards and UGA best have some LBers that can tackle well in space and more than just the 4 for these guys will get tired and need a break. I say UGA 38 Mizzou 34.

A&M will beat UF in a real close game.

Bama will slop around and win 34 13 over the UWK or is it WKU

Auburn has beat Miss State or it’s 6-6 of 5-7 for that bunch of cheaters.

Joey

September 7th, 2012
3:30 pm

Mizzou’s got a chip on their shoulder, no doubt, from what I’ve read.

The thing is, UGA should also have a chip. The Bulldogs should want to prove the 10-win-streak and first-half domination of LSU last season weren’t just aberrations.

If we go out there and take this game, it will be a huge shot of confidence, and a huge shot of respect in the national media, neither of which we have had in a while.

Damn it’s a long time til 8 PM Saturday.

Go Dawgs!

DIT

September 7th, 2012
3:31 pm

D-Backs need to step up and have a huge game. Jenkins & Jarvis need to be in that QB’s face and head all night. If they can lay a couple of early hard, legal, hits on him maybe that will shake him up and make him a threat to run.
I see the Boise State game as well. Their spread offense is similar to Mizzou’s.

HUH?????

September 7th, 2012
3:35 pm

“first-half domination of LSU last season weren’t just aberrations.”

WTF? Is that like some kind of “moral victory” for UGA fans?

UGA can’t even win bowl games. NO ONE takes them seriously.

HUH?????

September 7th, 2012
3:36 pm

“Auburn has beat Miss State or it’s 6-6 of 5-7 for that bunch of cheaters.”

What is it with UGA fans and jealousy? I know Auburn has 3 Heisman winners and a crystal trophy, but UGA fans need to get a life.

HUH?????

September 7th, 2012
3:37 pm

So when does UGA play a top ranked team? Oh wait, UGA fans think Mizzou and Buffalo are top ranked.

HUH????? The NEW Richard Head

September 7th, 2012
3:38 pm

until 5150 returns!

JB

September 7th, 2012
3:44 pm

They are going to get B****H slapped early in this game. They better respond and be ready. This team,school,town,students have been living for this. I’m very concerned that Richt or Murray have not beaten a good team in a long time. They could remove some doubt Saturday with a good showing

DawginLex

September 7th, 2012
3:45 pm

Crunching the numbers…

September 7th, 2012
3:05 pm
UGA mandates that the penalty for athletes who are caught using illegal drugs is to be suspended for a minimum of 10% of the games for their sport. The regular season for football is 12 games. 10% of 12 games equals 1.2 games. When Richt suspends a player for one game, that’s only 8.3%, not 10%. Assuming that UGA plays in a post-season bowl game, it’s only 7.7%.

So how does Marvelous Mark explain that away?

************************

considering he just left Ogletree, Rambo, Vasser and Commings at home, you have once again been exposed as an idiot TROLL

THE Dixie Redcoat Band

September 7th, 2012
3:46 pm

Boise State almost beat Sparty in his own backyard last week.

Buckeye

September 7th, 2012
3:51 pm

geoff dog,

0-9.Get your facts straight.

1981. Where’s that put you dogs in the pecking order?

Oh, I know that one. In the SEC! SEC! Least.

DawginLex

September 7th, 2012
3:53 pm

Where’s that put you dogs in the pecking order?
****************************

Ahead of Ohio State

Joey

September 7th, 2012
3:53 pm

Huh, a Bama fan (Wet Willie) called Auburn “cheaters” you idiot.

Keep up, doofus . . .

DawginLex

September 7th, 2012
3:55 pm

Joey

HUH?? tried to pose as a Tech fan the other day. Told us that Tech won the BCS bowl it played in in 2009 but had the win removed.

WRONG

He is a big Auburn man who calls people names all day and corrects punctuation and grammar like a 90 year old school teacher

Q

September 7th, 2012
3:57 pm

From a billboard around Ohio State “I ‘d rather shower with Sandusky than wear a Michigan shirt”

Stay classy Yankee. And your woman are atrocious.

Joey

September 7th, 2012
3:59 pm

A Big Ten midget on here yapping about the SEC. You got a lot to cheer about, huh?

Illinois has had five separate probation periods, Wisconsin 4, Michigan State 3, Indiana 2, Minnesota 2, Ohio State 2 (soon to be 3), Michigan 1, Nebraska 1.

Michigan State has spent 10 years on probation, Illinois and Wisconsin 9.

And now . . . Penn St.

Big 10! Big 10!

Congrats . . .

DawginLex

September 7th, 2012
4:06 pm

HUH???
UGA can’t even win bowl games. NO ONE takes them seriously

********************

Richt is 7-4 in bowls and 2-1 in BCS bowls

Auburn has lost 5 out of the last 6 versus Richt

Looks like someone needs to start taking UGA seriously

You spend all your time everyday trashing UGA. You must think it is important enough to spend your time.

Geez, you are so easy to make a fool of.

Joey

September 7th, 2012
4:14 pm

Lex, I wonder if Chitzik took UGA “seriously” last season?

45-7

HUH????? The NEW Richard Head

September 7th, 2012
4:18 pm

Don’t pick on me and Buckeye just because…… well, just because.

DawginLex

September 7th, 2012
4:18 pm

Apparently not

DawginLex

September 7th, 2012
4:19 pm

Damian Swann just sent out a pic on instagram. Looked like Sanders Commings on the plane. Folks still looking trying to see

Hurst

September 7th, 2012
4:23 pm

HAAAAA!!!! HAAAAA!!! Schultz!! Get ready to see Vilma & Smith in the BLACK AND GOLD this Sunday!! Who cares about the Bulldogs! Jeff, help soothe Goodell’s hurt fee-fees by writing up another suck-up to him.

Hey Jeff Schultz

September 7th, 2012
4:25 pm

Hope you are ready to eat your words you HACK!!!

The players suspensions in the supposed Saints “bounty scandal” have been overturned by a federal judge. Remember when you were talking all that noise to Vilma? Now who is the delusional one you moron?!?!?!?! I hope you enjoy that crow tonight and can’t wait til the Saints serve it to the Falcons!!!!!

Joey

September 7th, 2012
4:30 pm

That would be big if Swann is playing, and M Mitchell’s ankle is fine. I may be wrong, but I think this will be our secondary’s biggest test of the season.

HUH????? The NEW Richard Head

September 7th, 2012
4:30 pm

@ Hey Jeff Schultz
_____________

Take a chill pill. Mr. Schultz is like everyone else in that he has an opinion. Don’t take it so personal. Someone buy this guy a live!!! Why would we want to hear about the Saints? Dude, go back to Nawlins if you want to be sucked up to about the Saints! On a BULLDAWG BLOG! we can give two flips about the saints! Leave little one!

HUH????? The NEW Richard Head

September 7th, 2012
4:32 pm

sorry, that’s LIFE not live.

Joey

September 7th, 2012
4:35 pm

That doesn’t mean Shultz was wrong, Hey Jeff.

It only took one Federal Judge to break up AT&T, and just one to do away with Georgia’s Voter ID law.

Obviously these non-elected, position-for-life Federal Judges have too much power.