Back-to-back challenges loom large for Dawgs

Ben Jones and Cordy Glenn, seen celebrating here last season with Caleb King, are expected back for the opening game but have missed a lot of practice. (John Bazemore / AP)

Ben Jones and Cordy Glenn, seen celebrating here last season with Caleb King, are expected back for the opening game but have missed a lot of practice. (John Bazemore / AP)

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.

Which game do you think will be the bigger challenge for the Dawgs?

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So which game looks tougher for Georgia? Barring a complete reversal of Arkansas’ sorry play on the defensive side last year, I’m more concerned with South Carolina because they’re likely to be a more balanced opponent. And the Dogs usually consider themselves lucky to escape from Columbia with a win.

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.

301 comments Add your comment

yoyo

August 24th, 2010
11:27 am

UGA football team and their redneck fans suck at life. My prediction 0-12.

Lilburn Dawg

August 24th, 2010
11:27 am

Both games are going to be special. I hope the coaches are earning their money with our new QB and new defense or else we could end up sucking eggs after these two games!! But I’m hoping for two wins!!

Very Old Dawg

August 24th, 2010
11:30 am

Welcome back, Bill.

I won’t be happy unless we win both.

TONY

August 24th, 2010
11:30 am

I would be excited two come out 2 – 0 against these teams, but more expecting a split. South Carolina is always a tough game and with a new defense, i just do not know what to expect against Arkansas team.

Andy

August 24th, 2010
11:33 am

The dawgs tend to have issues during the first few games of the season. Sometimes they get worked out as the season goes on, sometimes they don’t. Fortunately other teams tend to have issues at the beginning as well. I would at least like to see a team that does the simple, obvious things right from the very first game–such as keeping the penalties under control, taking care of the ball, kickoff coverage, sound tackling, etc.. Hopefully if we focus on the fundamentals first, the players’ talents and coaches’ creativity will be allowed to flourish and allow for greater success.

Bobby

August 24th, 2010
11:33 am

Not too worried about Arkansas, but the game in Columbia will be a challenge. The Evil Genius has a way of frustrating the Dawgs, and that game could be the difference between being 2nd or 3rd in the East.

Never going to Outback resturant again...

August 24th, 2010
11:33 am

The dawgs should beat both the Arkansas and South Carolins.I’m concerned about Auburn and the gators…

AthensDAWG

August 24th, 2010
11:37 am

CHDawg

August 24th, 2010
11:37 am

I’m with Boling on the idea that getting backups reps and conditioning might be helpful. The line is extremely experienced and the real key for the injured is conditioning, not more training. So, if they are weakened for SC and ARK that will hurt a lot. If the backups step in and do a great job, that makes us even stronger when they return to full strength for the real tough games toward the end. I think the O line is the key to a great season–if they are dominant, the Dawgs will be dominant. If not….we’ll see.

mickdog2010

August 24th, 2010
11:38 am

Murray is the real deal. We will be the surprise of the SEC.

tom

August 24th, 2010
11:41 am

i agree with bobby. taking a redshirt freshmen qb to columbia in week 2 is always scary.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

August 24th, 2010
11:42 am

Well you gotta win the USC game since its a Eastern Divison game. I would love to go 2-0, but realistically a 1-1 split may be a bit more realistic that early in the season.

Dostoyevskiy

August 24th, 2010
11:44 am

UNC will face LSU with its (UNC’s) top two players (Austin on D, Little on O) missing. If UNC plays LSU within 1 TD, it will make a statement. Either LSU is overrated, or UNC can play w/anyone in SEC. Spin it SEC fans!

Destin Dawg

August 24th, 2010
11:45 am

I’m excited about new D coaches… we’ve got 3 with good success plus Garner… they’ll recruit to fill needs… but we’ve got the players allready…. so lets win NOW !!! pass rush.. pressure.. tight coverage.. wrap up tackles.. that we haven’t seen under Willie.. interceptions.. win the turnovers stats… kicking & special teams should put us in better field position… Can’t wait !! Go Dawgs !!

dap01

August 24th, 2010
11:45 am

yo-yo: If UGA sucks so bad, what does that say about a yo-yo that is fist on the blog.

Had a date lately?

Top Dawg

August 24th, 2010
11:46 am

Hey yoyo, get a life! Better yet, go look in mirror if you want to see a true redneck fan of some bogus team.

$750K

August 24th, 2010
11:48 am

Well, one thing’s for sure: we always have money to pay inflated coaches’ salaries for football–and never have money for academics.

Will

August 24th, 2010
11:48 am

Wesley Saunders embarrassed us last season but as reported earlier will not be in uniform that night. Look for a much improved defense to lead to a fairly easy undefeated September. I think we will win both USC and Arkansas fairly easily as a matter of fact. Also, look for Washaun Ealey to be in all Heisman talks by that time as well.

Half Century Dawg fan

August 24th, 2010
11:48 am

@YoYo, name fits

TallyDawg

August 24th, 2010
11:50 am

I’ll believe it when I see it. I believe SC will be the tougher of the two games. Arkansas has a defense that’s almost as horrible as Willie’s setups. SC plays us tough more often than not, plus the visor tossing arsebandit Spurrier always has some trickeration to steal a TD. If we do manage to get through that stretch unscathed, it could very well be a good season.

I know it’s still early on, WE NEED TO STOP OVERLOOKING AUBURN NOW. If we manage to make it to November relatively unscathed, they have a damn good chance of nicking us.

Frankly, I dont give a damn as long as UF and the bugs lose by our hand.

TNDave

August 24th, 2010
11:52 am

Good to see you are taking the Vols for granted again, just like last year.
By the time you get to our game you will already have at least 2 losses.

Applingshire Dawg

August 24th, 2010
11:53 am

Yeah, $750K some professor didn’t get tenure because of Grantham’s salary since they come out of the same pot, dumba$$. Please refrain from commenting until you actually learn something about University finances. Why the hell do you care anyway?

Uga the Ocho

August 24th, 2010
11:59 am

Given the history of close games of late, I’d give the nod to South Carolina as far which game I worry the most about.

As for Arkansas, I still can’t get away from the fact the Dogs won a shoot-out on the road against them with Joe Cox at QB and Richard Samuel at tailback. With an improved defense and offensive roles more settled this year, I don’t see the Hogs making up that difference.

Bama in Atlanta

August 24th, 2010
12:01 pm

With a veteran O-line, solid running backs and A.J. Green, I don’t see putting points on the board as a problem for UGA. I think the factor between splitting the SCar/Ark games or sweeping both falls on the defensive play. The 3-4 isn’t just about putting pressure on the QB but putting pressure quickly and hit him hard and hit him often. Do that and as the game goes on he’s paying more attention to the peripheral vision than downfield.

Also, alot of blitzing means that there will be some times when you give up a couple of first downs because the QB is able to make the quick read and dump it to the TE. The key is to not give up the quick 6 and to create points from what should be a positive turnover ratio. If the dawgs can get all cylinders hitting on D then it wouldn’t be that surprising if it’s a UGA/Bama matchup at the Dome. Of course, we have our own problems to worry about losing so many defensive starters so I would say the SEC Championship game is a “pick ‘em” right now anyway.

Delbert D.

August 24th, 2010
12:01 pm

South Carolina should be a tough game, and if Garcia has a rare really good game, it’s about even. They desperately need to get a running game going. Arkansas will be a big challenge to the revamped Georgia defense. Mallet has the highest Passer Rating,164.9, 15 points better than any returning QB in the top 5 conferences. Garcia had more attempts than any returning QB in the SEC, ACC, Big Ten and PAC-10. Again, they have got to get a running game going.

These games are going to be great to watch on TV, and for the Georgia fans with tickets, the Arkansas game is going to be quite an experience. The defense is going to get serious pressure on Mallett, and the home crowd can help.

Jon

August 24th, 2010
12:01 pm

We are 0-1 right now, before we even start, because we have to play Fla. We must win the first three games to have any chance.

Dawg House

August 24th, 2010
12:02 pm

ENOUGH ALREADY…. about the heat in Columbia on Sept 11th.

Have any of you been to Athens in August? Do you not realize the entire preseason workouts for the Dawgs could be looked at as a “heat acclimation” period? It’s not like we are the CO Buffs coming down to the Southeast to play. It’s not like South Carolina has air conditioned pads to keep them any cooler then we will be. The heat will be a NON-ISSUE!!!! What if it ends up being a rainy, or overcast day? Does that increase the Dawgs chances that much?

The game against SC is always a good game, for both ends. I look forward to it, but I am nowhere neart as worried about the small details, like the heat, as a lot of you on here. You sound like you are prematurely lining up excuses in case we don’t leave Columbia with a W.

GO DAWGS!!!!! 11 short, short days!!!!!

crackbaby

August 24th, 2010
12:03 pm

“Worry” about the next game. It’s the only one that matters.

dawgs01

August 24th, 2010
12:04 pm

SC much tougher game than AR bc SC always plays us tough and AR has no defense i think our defense will stop AR more than they will stop us. I am worried that if we beat both of them then MSU upsets us in Starkville. MSU will get someone they are not suppose to beat this yr i just hope it is not us.

ozzfest

August 24th, 2010
12:04 pm

We will kill ‘em both…..the real problem as it turns out is getting TICKETS TO THE COLORADO GAME.

McDawg

August 24th, 2010
12:09 pm

The USC game for sure-the past few years we have sooooo inconsistient on the O-Line but i do like how ealey will get you that extra yard might be the difference between 3rd&2 vs. 3rd&6

Mike

August 24th, 2010
12:09 pm

Ozzfest: I may have extra tickets to Colorado if you are interested. Email me at mybulldawgs@comcast.net.

If UGA has a competitive team this year, they will have to beat both SC and Arkansas. I’m more concerned with SC as they are always tough on UGA – especially in Columbia …

dawgs01

August 24th, 2010
12:10 pm

MSU is scary bc they will force us to pass bc of their great defensive line. They will stop the run better than SC (who lost some great linebackers) and AR (was actually worst than us last yr on defense). Playing is Starkeville is always tough especially after two games. If we win at SC and against AR the media will be talking us up and i can just see us now getting beat by a team we should beat like MSU it happens everytime we have success. We never seem to put it all together.

ToccoaDawg

August 24th, 2010
12:10 pm

I am more worried about ULL right now

DawginLex

August 24th, 2010
12:12 pm

Sc is going down. We win 24-17

Arkansas is going to be a war. high scoring and a lot if fun.
35-31 UGA

Tenn game will be the most fun of the home schedule. we will destroy them and don’t be surprised if richt goes a little out of character and runs up the score. 38-10 UGA

Carolina Dawg

August 24th, 2010
12:12 pm

Will…..Spurrier is NOT going to have Saunders out for the game against UGA. Spurrier very rarely will have a players sit out when it comes to playing UGA or any other SEC opponent. If the NCAA doesn’t rule him out, then he will play against UGA. Spurrier doesn’t have the b@!!s to make a major player of his sit out SEC games.

dawggirl

August 24th, 2010
12:13 pm

Bama in Atlanta, nice to see you. Your comments are very refreshing. FWIW, I think you guys are in for another spectacular year. Since we unfortunately aren’t likely to beat Florida, I hope you guys do.

SCAR is tough no matter what. It doesn’t matter where it is or what time, or the temperature. Throw those out. It will come down to who wants it more, and who makes less mistakes. We should not be overlooking any team this year, not even the first one. Play smart, and play the fundamentals. We have better special teams than either SCAR or Arkansas, so it might come down to that.

Chris

August 24th, 2010
12:15 pm

I agree with a couple of guys on here that would like to see 2-0 but 1-1 is more realistic. We just don’t know about Murray or the defense.
Bama in Atlanta posted a good descriptions of the fundamentals of the 3-4.
People just dismissing Arkansas here are obtuse. Mallett is a stud. They will score a lot of points. If Murray can keep his head about him,,,man I miss David Greene. When asked by Richt why his road record was so good, his response was ‘you have to have a confident, calm qb focused on just executing the offense, limit the mistakes’. If Murray is competent, limits mistakes, we could be looking at ten wins this year, although 9-3 more likely.

Coachdawg 2000

August 24th, 2010
12:15 pm

South Carolina is much tougher. Their “D” is always tough especially at Williams-Brice and if you’ve watched any of the perview shows then you’ve seent that all of Garcia’s highlights are versus us last year. I mean, we made the guy look like a Heisman candidate. They have really good receivers, a darn good back, and a defense that gives us fits when we are clicking. It has all of the makings for a whoopin’. But as we’ve learned this game does not neccessarily mean mediocrity anymore(’07 lost-finished #2 in America, ‘09 won-worst season under Richt).I want to win them both but a split allows us to live on. Lose both and somebody’s calling “2 men and a truck” and sending out resumes!

mcdawghna

August 24th, 2010
12:17 pm

I agree Dawg House as far as the heat is concerned……Athens, Augusta, and Columbia are the 3 hottest places on earth to me anyway…..The players are used to it…..SC’s offensive line has been their weakest link for years now and is expected to be no better this year so that may make UGA’s new defensive scheme at least even if not better…..The Ark game worries me a little though…..but once again, their defence will be wretched

AltamahaDawg

August 24th, 2010
12:19 pm

I’m actually more worried about the Ark game. Simply from a defensive standpoint. If we don’t get pressure on that guy….not sure we can win another shootout. I just think the team is going to be ready to go for the SC game. I also see where the TE is off their team, and he seemed to be thier best weapon. The thing about winning both, aside from the obviously math, is that to have been able to do that would mean that the boys actually can line it up, run it, and control the clock. That bodes well for every other next big game.

Destin Dawg

August 24th, 2010
12:19 pm

Definitely MUST take ‘em one at a time… Grantham’s intensity is contagious.. we’ll be under Dawgs… I think we’ll see renewed Junkyard Dawg Defense… Richt more hands on with the young QB’s… Go Dawgs !!!

Dawgs Rule

August 24th, 2010
12:21 pm

my sentiments exactly ToccoaDawg!!!

Hunker Down

August 24th, 2010
12:23 pm

Hope for a chance to take both but a split seems likely. As far as which is biggest challenge…hmmm…that is a tough question because SC is first test on the road in a hostile enviroment. OL starters who have been hobbled are not going to have had as many reps and conditioning on a hot spetember day could play a factor. But with SC you kinda know what to expect. A balance of run and pass. Then in comes the hogs and Matt Ryan. Will CTG have the bugs worked out of a pass happy offense. Live by the blitz die by the blitz. That will be interesting and how many big plays Petrino and company can pull on the Dawgs. Yes, the more I talk of it the more I feel like a split might be coming but which team will beat us…get back to me in a few weeks.

just a fan

August 24th, 2010
12:25 pm

The tougher of the two IMHO will be USC east. I am expecting to split the two games but if we pull out a victory in Columbia I don’t see a slip up against Arkansas at home but lately we have had a hard time defending Sanford Stadium i.e. Kentucky,LSU, bama GT the last two years and two of those games being senior day but with new coaching staff and new attitude in town I don’t see us losing at home this year

Dawgs Rule

August 24th, 2010
12:25 pm

Hunker Down,

We will have played both teams in “a few weeks” time.

Still@theBAR

August 24th, 2010
12:31 pm

Anybody heard from CUZ? How is Baylie? Is ACP45 getting ready for the season too?

DawgPound

August 24th, 2010
12:35 pm

Arkansas has zero defense and we can keep him off the field by establishing the run and not turning the ball over. Carolina will give us fits but I still feel good about our chances.

Our new DB Coach Scott Lakatos was the DB Coach at UConn last season which shut down the Carolina passing attack in the Bowl Game last season. I see the same thing happening in this game and a boring, yet effective victory by grinding the run game and a few big strikes to AJ in his final appearence against his home state team.

Coachdawg 2000

August 24th, 2010
12:35 pm

The closer the season approaches the worse I feel about both.I agree w/hunkerdown feast-or-famine defense is scary versus a smart QB. But the one thing about Arkansas is that the “knock” on Mallett is that he is kind of a mental midget. And that last darling of SEC West-old mess 2009 completely wet the bed last year. I think that game comes down to our offense controlling the line of scrimmage and pounding the ball. South Carolina i don’t have a solution other than score more points that them when the clock reaches triple zeros.

Delbert D.

August 24th, 2010
12:36 pm

Not a peep, yet.