It’s been a roller-coaster week in the Bulldog Nation.
From the still exhilarating high of Isaiah Crowell topping off a terrific National Signing Day for the Dogs (good work, Mike Bobo!), we dipped down with the unexpected departure of inside linebackers coach Warren Belin (apparently prompting a reshuffling of the defensive staff), plunged a bit with the quick death of another young mascot (R.I.P, Bruce) and then soared again today with the announcement from badly needed nose guard John Jenkins that he’s signing with UGA.
Jenkins may not be as highly rated in terms of stars by his name as some of his brethren in this Bulldogs recruiting class, but at 6-foot-4 and 340 pounds he looks to be one of the key pieces as the lack of a big nose guard who can command two blockers was the central weakness of Todd Grantham’s debut UGA defense.
Yes, it remains to be seen whether all these guys who signed on with the Dogs will pan out, but there’s no way to overemphasize how important this recruiting class was to the psyche of the Bulldog Nation.
It won’t count in the record book, but Wednesday saw the first victory of the season for UGA, and a mighty big one at that. Just a month ago things were looking pretty bleak, as the Dogs had turned in an excruciatingly bad bowl performance, whiffed on a couple of all star recruits and been dumped on verbally by a big-name football alum.
Then the Dream Team thing got back on track with Jay Rome and Malcolm Mitchell and picked up momentum with Ray Drew, and before you knew it the Dogs were a preseason ESPN Top 20 team and fans had something good to hold them over until the revamped team takes the field.
The offseason turnaround is a biggie for Mark Richt because after a losing season that ended in dismal fashion he was starting to lose even his dwindling hard-core supporters in the fan base. Richt and his staff still have to coach ’em up and somehow put an end to the off-field discipline troubles that have plagued the program, and his job likely still will be on the line this fall. But at least the fan base won’t have been damaged by eight months of nonstop moaning.
As the Sporting News’ Dave Curtis put it after Crowell’s signing, “Georgia enjoyed its best football day since its 2008 Sugar Bowl blitzing of Hawaii.”
The glass-half-empty crowd can note such a statement actually is a backhanded indictment of how bad things have been since that Sugar Bowl team finished No. 2 in the country and Georgia entered the next season atop the rankings, only to disappoint.
The rest of us will enjoy the good feeling engendered by the Dream Team and hope that Richt really does prove to be the next Comeback Kid.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg