Dogs’ first two games could make or break Mark Richt

Dogs face a big challenge with their opening game.

Dogs face a big challenge with their opening game.

“None, I don’t feel any pressure. None at all.”

That’s Mark Richt’s not entirely convincing answer to the question of whether he’s feeling pressure coming off a losing season. Richt made the comment when his spring speaking tour stopped at the Savannah Golf Club on Wednesday, as reported by the Savannah Morning News.

I know the guy is supposed to have ice water in his veins, but with most of the football world figuring his job is probably on the line in the coming season, you’d have to figure that maybe, deep down inside, Richt is feeling the pressure. Just a little.

Something Richt also said Wednesday night does a nice job of summing up the enormity of his situation.

“I think the biggest challenge is to be at midseason form for our first two games,” Richt said. “They’re big games for us. [The Boise State game] will help set the tone for our season. The very next week, South Carolina will be big. Since they’re one and two, we have to be ready.”

Beating South Carolina would make Georgia the SEC East favorite.

Beating South Carolina would make Georgia the SEC East favorite.

Rarely has a team coming off a losing season and with a coach considered to be on the hot seat entered a season with two bigger, more important opening games.

One way of looking at it is that Greg McGarity has stacked the deck against Richt by putting Georgia in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game against a high-powered offensive juggernaut the week before the Dogs open their SEC season against Steve Spurrier’s defending SEC East champion Gamecocks. But conversely, McGarity also has given Richt (who agreed to the scheduling of Boise State) a chance to completely turn things around for his program in just two games.

As Richt said in Savannah, the nationally televised game against the Broncos gives the Dogs a chance “to show the college football world we’re still a pretty good football team.”

Win both of those first two games and the Dogs, whom Chick-fil-A’s Gary Stokan seems sure will be ranked in the pre-season Top 25, likely will vault themselves into the Top 10 and put themselves in the driver’s seat in the SEC East in a rebuilding year for the Florida program.

Lose both of them, and even Richt is going to be sweating bullets.

Split the games and the Dogs will have either a quality nonconference win but start out in a hole in conference play, or have a nonconference loss against a well-regarded team and still be favored to take the SEC East.

No pressure? Yeah, right.

So what are your expectations for Georgia’s first two games? Are you dreading them? Do you expect Georgia to take both? Or, if you’d be satisfied to come out of those games 1-1, which game would you rather have as a win? Does a conference game always trump a nonconference one, or is defending the SEC’s honor against Boise State more important this time?

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

317 comments Add your comment

Ryan

April 21st, 2011
10:25 am

chiefdawg

April 21st, 2011
10:26 am

First 0-2 for the Dawgs and Richt is in trouble

Bama in Atlanta

April 21st, 2011
10:27 am

That’s why they play the games……..settle it on the field.

chiefdawg

April 21st, 2011
10:27 am

SouthSide Dawg

April 21st, 2011
10:31 am

It’s all going to come down to whether or not we have a full slate of players for these first two games. If we have 2-game suspensions to start the season, we’re hosed. Gotta stay out of trouble in the offseason.

jablonski

April 21st, 2011
10:31 am

He has to win them both for the sake of national rep and the SEC East Race. Boy o Boy, it will be bad news if he loses both.

Look at it this way. No matter what, it will get worked out this season. Win the games and fans will be happy, lose the games and he is gone. No matter what it will get taken care of this year.

DawginLex

April 21st, 2011
10:35 am

I believe we will beat boise by more than 2 TD’s.

The SC game will be an all out defensive war. Both teams are going to have good defenses. Turnovers will settle it like always. Home crowd in our favor.

I could see it being 13-10 either way

Me

April 21st, 2011
10:36 am

Dear Mark Richt: The majority of the Bulldog Nation doesn’t want the Georgia/Florida game in Crack Alley, AKA the Georgia Dome. Stop making excuses for your football team getting beat every year! Shut up, play the damn game and just win. Thats all we care about.

DawginLex

April 21st, 2011
10:37 am

As far as Richt’s demeanor is concerned:

He is competitive. Folks underestimate that part of him.

That being said, he is driven by his faith. That gives him inner peace and results in his calm demeanor. My guess is he is worried because he is human but he most likely is putting it in God’s hands. Richt will accept the outcome as being God’s will.

But I guarantee you he will go down fighting.

Bubba J. Dawgman

April 21st, 2011
10:38 am

It would definitely be better to win the SC game, but I see us winning both. Wishful thinking? Maybe, but it is possible. These kids are hungry. Don’t let Richt fool you, he’s feeling the pressure and he’s got these kids working harder than they ever have I hope. For his sake and ours.

dawgballs00

April 21st, 2011
10:38 am

Lose to Boise and that will be two games in a row that Richt has lost to a team with every last starter being a lower ranked prospect than Richt has across the line wearing the “G”. If that happens it can only mean one thing. He is being grossly outcoached.

Carew Rowell

April 21st, 2011
10:43 am

Unless we somehow learn to block and tackle, my Dawgs will lose both games. Our defense is still over pursuing and not wrapping. I’m hoping against all hope that it will change this year, but my heart tells me it will be the same.

Some people try to find things in this game that don’t exist but football is only two things – blocking and tackling.

Vince Lombardi

Go Dawgs

Blindog

April 21st, 2011
10:43 am

Considering what happened last year,Richt knows how important the first two games are and he will have the team ready,he must or sadly he will be gone by years end.I for one believe he WILL have them ready to kick butt!

JB

April 21st, 2011
10:44 am

The first two are BIG, and losing both would not be good, but the ten after that are bigger for HIM, because even losing those two, if he could have and nice run of 8 and 9 wins and one being Florida, he’ll be OK. Lose those two and let the press and the circus detract this team and they fall apart, he’ll be lame duck by mid season.

PB

April 21st, 2011
10:44 am

DawginLex…………. most of you, I said most of you dawg fans are realistic about the expectation when playing Boise = losing, and at best by not too much. The fact you think you can beat Boise when you can’t even beat a C-USA team is a complete lack of logic and football knowledge.

Let me put it to you this way…. Boise would have destroyed UCF(or whoever you lost to in the bowl game) by 3-4 td’s. If UGA is lucky, Boise will only beat the lil dawgs by 2-3 td’s and not by a realistic 3-4 td’s.

I’m predicting a 42-13 easy BSU win…….. UGA scores in garbage time after Boise backups are in around midway through the 3rd qtr.

The only reason UGA has a chance to not lose by 3-4 td’s is due to location, distance, home croud, etc. But you’re no, VT, Oregon, Ore St., TCU, and other teams we’ve beat. So enjoy the preseason, come game day, you’ll be wishing it was still preseason where anything was possible.

Cheers!

JB

April 21st, 2011
10:50 am

PB, I don’t believe that for one minute and the Team that got off the bus for that bowl will not be the team getting off the bus in Atlanta You hate the Dawgs, that’s fine. No one outside of Alum/fans give us a chance, and some of them don’t. I kinda like that. Dawgs win, in a upset. Boise plays a crap schedule. I like our chances.

bubba4dawgs

April 21st, 2011
10:51 am

Alright…..here goes……Dawgs will win both games and the naysayers will go off and cowl in their respective corners. Here’s how they will do it….DEE FENCE! First game…keep Boise State offense on the bench watching the game….eat up the clock. Murray and company will do the rest! They CAN do it! Boise is plugging holes on defense as it is. Offense is fine but can’t perform on the bench!
Second Game……Lattimore can’t run thru Dawgs big guys up front and the speed of the linebackers will shut him down. Dawgs are hungry and will be mean between the hedges. They are ready to showcase what they have. I see speed and strength on this team and the “Dream Team” hasn’t even suited up yet! The schedule is stacked in favor of the Dawgs for the first time in a long long time! GO CMR!! GO TODD GRANTHAM! GO BO BO! GO DAWGS!! SIC’EM!! GT Nerds, eat your hearts out! Get your table ready for the Dawgs to feast when they get there! They will still be hungry for your nerdy butts!!!!

chazzo

April 21st, 2011
10:53 am

Note to Dawgs: You will not win against Boise State simply because you are an SEC team. It didn’t work for Auburn win they got shallacked by Southern Ca. You are going to have to bring your A game and play hard start to finish.

swimdawg68

April 21st, 2011
10:56 am

You win with defense. I like what I saw at the spring game. “Tree” and Geathers are going to be a force, add Jenkins to the mix and we will be as strong inside as anybody. Jarvis Jones on the outside is a “beast”. We must get good safety play, we will be ok on the corners.

I like Murray at QB Mason appears to be a good backup. If we receive the infusion of freshman talent we are expecting UGA will contend in the SEC. Our OL must “step up” and perform the last two years were awful. We have the talent to play with anybody, to me the big question is how well will this talent be coached? I am not a fan of Bobo, some of the play calls in the spring reminded me of last year. Richt is placing his coaching career in the hands of Bobo, I think that is a serious error in judgement by Richt. I like Mark, and I hope it works out for him and UGA, but if he is beaten in the opening 2 games he will be replaced at the end of the year. Generally we have a fairly easy schedule when compared to years past. Anything less than a 9 win season will be unacceptable. We just have too much talent to expect anything less.

DawginLex

April 21st, 2011
10:57 am

PB,

I disagree.

Boise does not have Pettis anymore.
they struggled in their own spring game.
We have better athletes
2nd year of defensive scheme-it will improve.
Murray-2nd year
Home crowd-7 points

34-17 Georgia

Carew Rowell

April 21st, 2011
10:58 am

Boise State will not win big…if they win, it will be by at most a touchdown or a mistake by us. just like UFC.

Go Dawgs!

Ryan

April 21st, 2011
10:58 am

Chazzo, how has the SEC done in BCS National Championship games the last several years? Yeah, shut up.

dawgballs00

April 21st, 2011
10:59 am

PB, I personally think the Dawgs will crush the Smurfs about like they did in ‘05. It’s a new year and Georgia’s just got bigger, stronger, faster players.

JB

April 21st, 2011
11:00 am

Tech has a thriller on the Flats that day against Western Carolina about 11. I know that will be a heart pumping nationally watched game. Wonder why these folks didn’t call Tech to play Boise. It’s right next door. Dawgs effected 6 games with other schools to make this happen. I’m sure Tech could have worked it out. Western Carolina. Really?

JaxDawg05

April 21st, 2011
11:00 am

The Boise State game is just like it was in 2005. You win, you’re supposed to and if you lose your program is a sinking ship. Boise State does well when they have 30 days or more to prepare like in the game this year and Bowl games. Trick plays don’t work on a 12 game schedule in a tough conference. Oh, except the jump pass of course.

DawginLex

April 21st, 2011
11:01 am

PB,

and unlike you, if i am wrong, I’ll be here to admit it.

but if I am right, you will go hide and never post again.

and I’ll match logic and football knowledge with you anytime you want to

I have forgotten more than you ever knew I bet……….

Since I’m older than dirt as my kids tell me………….

McDawg

April 21st, 2011
11:06 am

i think our speed size is going to crush them and then we will play a game the following week where maybe 30 pts are scored by both teams

Carew Rowell

April 21st, 2011
11:06 am

How bout this quote from Vince Lombardi:

If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm.

Vince Lombardi

Richt better pay attention to this one!

Don’t get me wrong…I like Mark Richt. I hope he pulls it off this year.

Go Dawgs!

770

April 21st, 2011
11:06 am

Either way, gotta respect Boise for their second “Neutral” opener on the east coast the last few years. Ga Dome vs. UGA and in DC vs. Virginia Tech? Neutral field my arse.

JDawg1785

April 21st, 2011
11:07 am

Bottom line, a hungry Dawg team comes into the season with a chip on their shoulder and wins them both. There’s a new attitude in Athens; they know they have something to prove. CTG has worked wonders with the D and Murray will prove to be among the best QBs in the SEC, if not the country, next season. If they can figure things out at RB (I liked what I saw from Malcome and, at times, from King, in the G-Day game), the offense will be fine.

I agree with some previous posters that defense will be the key to winning them both: Kellen Moore won’t have time to complete many passes with Jarvis Jones in his face all night. Marcus Lattimore is going nowhere when he runs into a brick wall in big John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers.

Go Dawgs!!!

DawginLex

April 21st, 2011
11:07 am

PB,

Since you are all knowing.

How do you compare a team in the current year to the prior year’s team?

Boise lost playmakers.
Georgia has improved defensively in key areas.

How many catches will Austin Pettis make in the GA Dome for Boise?
How many tackles will Justin Houston make for Georgia?

Who made the key plays down the stretch vs Virginia Tech for Boise last year?

How did Virginia Tech do in their bowl game? How did Virginia Tech do the week after the Boise game against a 1-AA opponent?

Other than VT, who did Boise beat last year to warrant such high praise?

Charlie Weis

April 21st, 2011
11:07 am

You’re a loser DawginLex

Innocent Bystander

April 21st, 2011
11:08 am

I’ve never wavered in my conviction that Mark Richt should continue to be our Head Coach. Amazingly it is his public comments that tempt me to waver. I think he could well be fired if the 2011 edition disappoints. I think the Liberty Bowl hurt us more than the 1-4 start. How could he not second guess the Field Goal decision in retrospect? How could he not be aware of pressure? I hope it really is ice water in the veins or faith in the heart. And I admire his faith tremendously unlike some who find it not so appealing while we’re losing. But it sometimes comes off as more of an Alfred E Neuman ‘What Me Worry?’ when he’s not sufficiently troubled over a losing season or overpraises certain coaches when we lose games we should have won. I guess I should appreciate his candor but I’m not sure it was wise to casually remark that “We had him as a tight end” in the midst of Cam Newton’s once a century season. Why admit how much better other programs pegged it? To answer your question I expect us to be 2-0 by week three and I expect Mark Richt to right the ship.If I’m wrong I expect he will finally feel pressure whether he admits it or not.

Alabama Jack

April 21st, 2011
11:08 am

least of the the east

Ryan

April 21st, 2011
11:09 am

You are fat Charlie Weis

Beast from the East

April 21st, 2011
11:09 am

UGA will need to pressure the QB against BSU. Do that and they win handily. If not then they will be in a shootout. I’m picking the Dawgs.
I can’t see the Dawgs beating South Carolina without having at least +2 in the turnover margin. I like South Carolina in that one.
The Dawgs start 1-1, but the schedule gets easier after that.

TallyDawg

April 21st, 2011
11:10 am

Dawgballs00 – Interesting about every starter on Georgia being higher ranked than Boise. Never thought of it that way. Is that true along the lines also? I know Boise has a senior line (can’t remember if it is offense or defense – I think defense?)

DawginLex

April 21st, 2011
11:11 am

Shutup fatboy, destroyer of all you can eat buffets and college football programs.

Here’s hoping you do for Florida what you did for Notre Dame!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

770

April 21st, 2011
11:12 am

@ Ryan –
He wasn’t talking down about the SEC. He was actually complimenting the SEC but also saying that being in the conference won’t guarantee you a win against these guys.

Its funny how UGA fans carry the National Championship banners of their rivals and tout it as some kind of accomplishment.

Bob

April 21st, 2011
11:13 am

I’m not sure how you can put Richt in the dog house if he loses two games where he will be the underdog. Even if he manages to get past BSU we’ll still be underdogs against USC. My dream is that we win 2. My hope is that we split. If we lose 2 it doesn’t end Richt’s tenure, but he’s got 0 wiggle room the rest of the season. If nothing else, it should keep the team motivated this off season. If it doesn’t, nothing will.

OldFan

April 21st, 2011
11:14 am

You don’t prove you’ve turned a program around by winning two games, and you don’t get run out of town for losing them. The only way to judge CMR is to evaluate the team’s play over the entire season with all the oddities, mishaps, injuries, undeserved loses, and upset wins thrown into the mix. The standard has to be what improvement we see in all the areas we’ve criticized the players and the coaches. It took some time to get where we are. It’ll take some time to move on. All that said, let’s start with those first two games!

SSIgator

April 21st, 2011
11:15 am

“None, I don’t feel any pressure. None at all.”

Why WOULD he feel any pressure. The last three years UGA goes 10-3, 8-5, 6-7 and yet he keeps raking in the millions each year that the KoolAid crowd feel he deserves for those kind of results.I guess you are right DawginLex – it must be God’s will or some other kind of devine intervention. What a con artist.

RxDawg

April 21st, 2011
11:16 am

I’m not talking trash during this spring. I didn’t really take any of the poisitive comments coming out of spring to hear (I’ve heard it before). I’m extremely cautiously optimistic about the season. For heaven’s sakes we lost to UCF and Colorado last year!

That said, I think we cream a very ovverated Boise St. Can we lose? Of course, it’s always possible to lose. But I just don’t think it’s going to happen so I’m not looking to that game to be very telling.

Now, South Carolina is a different story. I remember very much how they lined up and punched us in the face last year. The final scores didn’t reflect it, but the USC game was the worst beating put on the Dawgs last season. So if we win against them, or even better if we look good winning against them then I’ll really start drinking some koolaid.

DawginLex

April 21st, 2011
11:16 am

I’m personally sick of hearing about Boise state blah blah blah.

Who did they beat last year?

va Tech? Big deal. They play 1 or 2 tough games a year and we are all supposed to marvel at how wonderful they are?

Put them in a real league and if they go 11-1 or 12-0, then I’ll be impressed. Until then, they play 1 or 2 tough games a year and make their press off of Nevada,Hawaii and New Mexico. big deal

BTW, I don’t claim anything for Georgia based on other’s national titles. I base my assertions on facts like

UGA 45
BSU 17

and Boise is 0-4 versus the SEC

TallyDawg

April 21st, 2011
11:17 am

If you look at Boise’s schedule next year, we are their ONLY game. They will prepare all season for Georgia – not for the season. That is scary. They can trick play all darn game if they want to.

DawgFan

April 21st, 2011
11:17 am

I have all kinds of respect for the Boise State program in their choice of season openers. Going all the way back to playing UGA in 2005. Last year they start with Va Tech. UGA again this year. There aren’t many big conference teams that would do things like that.

All of that said, this Boise team isn’t the same as last year’s Boise team. Same for Georgia. I wouldn’t be surprised if either team wins.

SOUTHGADAWG88

April 21st, 2011
11:18 am

The entire 12 game schedule will determine Richt’s fate.We could win the 1st two and still have a poor season

Rumbo

April 21st, 2011
11:19 am

Boise St lost half its starters, including the QB. The 2011 team will be just a shell of what it was in 2010. An easy win for the Dawgs. Why do you think Georgia chose to play them? The easy 2011 schedule sets the table for Richt. If he can’t win 9-10 games at the least this year, he never will.

wr29te

April 21st, 2011
11:20 am

I you think MR will be fired if he looses both games you are dumber than you sound. Also MR might feel some heat but I think not as he has other things to do later in his life or sooner if AD Mac chooses to let him go.By the way some of you need to know what you are talking about before you run your mouth full of errors/
.

DawginLex

April 21st, 2011
11:20 am

SSI,

Only an idiot would say Richt is not on the hot seat. A con artist? He is doing his job and trying to keep it by improving his staff.

I have supported him because of his success and because of the type person he is. He won’t have anymore get out of jail free cards if he goes 6-6 again.

He will be gone.