Catching up on my Bulldogs reading after a few days off and away from the blogosphere, I came across the roundtable discussion of UGA football posted at College Football Zealots.
We’ve actually already dealt here in the Blawg with several of the questions posted, including which game is more critical for Georgia to win: Boise State or South Carolina? (To recap: While the Boise game is an opportunity for Mark Richt’s program to get back on the national radar, the South Carolina game a week later looms much bigger for the Dogs in terms of their SEC East hopes.)
But the last question in the roundtable is something I’ve actually been pondering lately as I play out in my head just how likely the more optimistic scenarios are for the 2011 Dogs.
The question: Athlon Sports has rated the Dawgs at #14 and Phil Steele has them at #9 in their pre-season polls. Both have Georgia winning the SEC East and playing in the Capital One Bowl. What needs to happen for Georgia to live up to these lofty expectations?
Well, in terms of wins and losses, obviously, beating South Carolina would be a big step in that direction. You can draw up various scenarios in which Georgia could win the SEC East after losing to the Gamecocks (all of which would require the Dogs to win in Jacksonville), but that definitely would be doing it the hard way.
Are the elements in place for such a season? That’s tougher to gauge. Aaron Murray certainly looks like the class of the conference when it comes to quarterback, the schedule is pretty favorable once you get past those first two games, and Isaiah Crowell has a lot of folks excited. But he still has to run behind a questionable offensive line. And while the arrival of John Jenkins should make Georgia’s defense tougher up front, the secondary still has me worried. And then there are the questions about who steps up at wide receiver to replace A.J. Green and Kris Durham.
Plus, of course, whether the team is going to be able to rise to the occasion in the fourth quarter in big games, something that all too often hasn’t happened recently.
A little luck wouldn’t hurt, either.
So what do you think has to happen for Georgia to live up to those “lofty expectations”? Is this pie-in-the-sky thinking, or do Richt’s 2011 Dogs really have what it takes to be a contender?
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg