Last week’s vacation provided a much-appreciated break from a lot of things, but being a UGA fan wasn’t one of them.
We spent Wednesday through Friday over in Athens, my hometown, and this time of year that’s sort of like Red and Black Immersion Therapy, what with a shopping spree at the UGA Bookstore, a visit to Butts-Mehre while cruising through campus and visits with old friends — which naturally included lots of conversation about the coming football season.
Among the recurring themes in recent conversations with Bulldogs fans is the early-season challenge that Mark Richt’s team faces with back-to-back noontime late-summer SEC games against South Carolina and Arkansas.
With Ben Jones and Cordy Glenn having missed much of the preseason camp and a bunch of other offensive linemen hobbled during August, there’s been concern about what is supposed to be a strength of the 2010 team. As was seen in the most recent scrimmage, as the OL goes, so goes the Georgia offense. And while everyone’s expected to be back by the opening game, I’ve found myself wondering whether the loss of practice reps and preseason conditioning might come into play in sweltering Columbia.
Of course, there’s a positive way to look at this, too, as Clint Boling did on Georgiadogs.com, saying the injuries and illnesses suffered by starters have meant valuable practice reps for the reserves on the OL. “They’ve taken advantage of their opportunity to step in and get the job done,” he said. “The good thing is, we’ve all been together for awhile, so we should be fine when everybody’s back. It’s going to be hot in the first couple of games, but it doesn’t matter when game time is; you’ve just got to be ready to play.”
Still, the game against South Carolina looms large, with the always-tough Gamecock defense providing the first real test of redshirt freshman QB Aaron Murray. And Steve Spurrier’s offense (likely to be led by Stephen Garcia no matter what the Ball Coach is saying) will be a major challenge for Todd Grantham’s new 3-4 defensive scheme.
Then the next week it’s the Razorbacks and Ryan Mallett, who’s expected to rack up gaudy passing stats against just about everyone this season. Can Grantham’s troops slow him down at all? Can the Dogs’ offense keep pace with the Hogs? At least it’s in Athens.
What I’m hearing from quite a few fans is that they’ll be pleased if Georgia comes out of those two games with a 1-1 split. Beat them both, and it could be a special season for the Dogs, but a lot of fans are skittish about openly voicing that thought.
What do you think? Would a win and a loss out of those two games be good enough? Feel free to vote in the poll or share your thoughts in the comments.