Dawgs continue unlikely rise in preseason picks

Aaron Murray seems to be the key to optimistic preseason picks for Georgia. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Aaron Murray seems to be the key to optimistic preseason picks for Georgia. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

If this keeps up, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to keep my inner optimist from taking over.

I’m talking about another national college football preview picking Mark Richt’s Dawgs to win the SEC East in 2011, following on the heels of Phil Steele. This time it’s Athlon Sports, which sees Georgia winning the East and then losing to Alabama in the Georgia Dome.

The Athlon analysis of the conference sees the league’s balance of power remaining “tilted in westerly direction.” In the East, a return to Atlanta for the South Carolina Gamecocks is deemed “far from certain, especially with the ongoing drama with quarterback Stephen Garcia.” Meanwhile, Athlon notes that Richt “is probably one mediocre season away from unemployment. Fortunately for him, he has the horses to win the division, led by quarterback Aaron Murray, who has transitioned from question mark to lead Dawg.”

Georgia, Athlon says, “has perhaps the league’s top returning quarterback … a highly rated recruiting class and a favorable schedule.”

Of course, they do ask, “Has the SEC ever entered a season with less returning star power at quarterback? When a redshirt sophomore (Georgia’s Murray) is arguably the top returning QB, that says something.”

The final analysis is that “this might not be a vintage Georgia team that is capable of competing for a national title, but the Bulldogs should be in the hunt to win the relatively mediocre SEC East.”

OK, definitely a bit underwhelming as votes of confidence go, but when you’re coming off a losing season getting picked to win your division is noteworthy. Even if it does look like an off year in that division.

What do you think, are Steele and Athlon just dazzled by Murray’s freshman numbers and the whole “Dream Team” thing, or are they on to something?

MASCOT SHOWDOWN

It’s a dog fight in SportsNation and EA’s “NCAA Football Traditions” voting as Georgia’s Uga and Tennnessee’s Smokey battle in the first round. As of this morning, Uga was in the lead with 52 percent of just over 30,000 votes tallied so far. You can cast yours here.

RINGING ENDORSEMENT

New UGA spot will focus on ringing the Chapel Bell. (University of Georgia)

New UGA spot will focus on ringing the Chapel Bell. (University of Georgia)

Most UGA alums and fans I heard from thought last year’s low-rent spot promoting the university that aired during football television broadcasts was pretty embarrassing. So a group of alums, including some TV production professionals, decided to offer their services to come up with something better.

Thursday, a couple of hundred volunteers lined up in front of the UGA Chapel in Athens for filming on the commercial, which will show an endless line of students and alums lining up to ring the Chapel Bell. The promotional spot also will feature the song “Oh My Heart” by Athens’ own R.E.M., The Red and Black reports.

“What happened is, I think like a lot of Georgia alumni, I was disappointed with the UGA TV spot,” said alumnus Mike Martin, creative director of the commercial. “Rather than be a voice of criticism, I wanted to do something about it.”

Martin said R.E.M. agreed to have their song used in the UGA spot “because they love Athens so much and they wanted it to be a celebration of the University and the town of Athens.”

The new spot is scheduled to air Sept. 3 during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game with Boise State.

Martin said many college commercials show generic images of professors holding test tubes and students throwing frisbees on campus. For the new video, however, they instead chose to showcase what makes the university and Athens special.

“We want people to choke up a little bit and be proud of being a Bulldog,” he said.

I’m getting a little verklempt already!

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

405 comments Add your comment

KeepDreaming

June 17th, 2011
10:36 am

It Ain't Rocket Science

June 17th, 2011
10:39 am

I am not sure Georgia can take the SEC East this year, But I think they can have a 9 win season. They have a lot of inexperience so the learning curve will have to be high at some positions. I would be happy with a 9 win season and know that they played with heart and dedication to the team and the school.

Go DAWGS

The Mole

June 17th, 2011
10:40 am

It’s ferklempt

Buckeye

June 17th, 2011
10:46 am

I’ll put in a vote for Uga. We had a “Smokey” that lived behind us for a while. The thing howled all day and all night long. I complete pain in the tush.

Still@theBAR

June 17th, 2011
10:47 am

Murray has played in 13 games losing 7 of them.
UGA is a pick because of the Easy Schedule and the facts that the East is a little down. UGA has a coach that has been there the longest and USC can’t ever be good a few years in a row.
I still think The Vols have as much a shot to win the east as anybody in the SEC east.

cantondawg

June 17th, 2011
10:52 am

I’ve been saying all along that i thought this would be a turnaround year. Look at the talent that we have returning plus there should be a lot of motivation to win this year after finishing 6-7 last year

DawginLex

June 17th, 2011
10:52 am

East is wide open. To say anything else borders on insanity.

chilidawg

June 17th, 2011
10:54 am

National champs, right?

Videola

June 17th, 2011
10:54 am

The video should show thousands of drunk students and fans cheering on their dawgs.

Delbert D.

June 17th, 2011
10:55 am

Young Mr. Murray vs. the wayward Mr. Garcia. It’s going to be a strange year in the SEC.

BullDawg Rick

June 17th, 2011
10:58 am

Cannot understand the rise in the polls… Do not care to read or hear about it.. Let the games begin & let the leather then we can get excited about things.. But hey, it’s almost summer & football will be in full swing in 78 days, so any gridiron newz is good newz.. Just do not get hyped over another fishwrap boosting the program till “Toe Meets Leather”…

DollarDawg43

June 17th, 2011
11:01 am

DawginLex (the East is wide open) and Rocket Science (learning curve) are both correct. For me, that means I have a hard time settling on any expectations at this point. I do believe nine wins is attainable but predictions about winning the East make me a little nervous at this point. Its fun to think about but I fear that is getting a little ahead of ourselves just yet. Let the so-called experts make all the predictions they want, we just need to work hard and focus on one game at a time.

Forget Science!

June 17th, 2011
11:02 am

Yeah enough of these commercials highlighting the tireless efforts of academics and researchers. We need to remind more people that REM came from athens. I know I forgot.

marseilles mutt

June 17th, 2011
11:03 am

Hey Buckeye!

Shouldn’t it be “I’m”, or “I am” a complete pain in the tush? First yankee I ever heard admit it!

Congrats, kudos and an A ‘fer honesty’!…..and enjoy (most) of your posts…

Inspector G

June 17th, 2011
11:05 am

I once saw Matthew Stafford rescue a young man from the gripping jaws of an alligator. In spring of 2007 Matthew was on a summer ‘retreat’ with Shaun Chapas and Chris Durham deep in the bayou in Louisiana. This young man, who spoke only Creole, was in the clutches of a big bull gator. Much to the surprise of Shaun and Chris, Matt started speaking perfect Creole and ’spirit talked’ (an old Native American spoken word narrative about the dangers of crossing paths with any gringo with the last name Stafford) that young man out of that gator’s mouth. That young man was none other than the fames Willie Edwards from the smash hit ‘Swamp People’ on the History Channel. He lost his front tooth in the ordeal, but is ever-so-grateful for Matt’s kind gesture, he learned how to speak English and named his first born after Matt, Matthew Elizabeth Stafford Edwards. Who is a female, mind you. Matt then went to Amici’s when he got back to Athens, which he devoured 2 whole (not half, mind you) orders of buffalo chicken garcheemar and bought a round for the entire place to celebrate his gift of life. By all accounts, it was delicious.
-Inspector G

Ropedawg

June 17th, 2011
11:06 am

Who cares about pre-season rankings anyway. All I care about it where we’re sitting in December and January…

Dawg Gone

June 17th, 2011
11:08 am

@It Ain’t Rocket Science I agree 9 wins is a pretty good mark this year, just too many unknowns on this squad and the first two games will give us OTJT but can we learn and win at the same time? I really think if we were healthy and played Boise the 4th or 5th game we would blow their doors off , but starting the year off with a new OL will keep it close.

DUNKER

June 17th, 2011
11:08 am

I think we’re going to see a much improved UGA team with Crowell & Jenkins & Drew leading the way. If you go back and look at the past few years on rivals or scout, you’ll see Georgia is absolutely LOADED with talent. With Murray & 3-4 defense going through 1st year growing pains, with an improved rushing game, and rush defense, a weak schedule, I think LSU will eventually go to Mettenberger as the starter. So the SEC match up might be Murray vs. Mettenberger. I like Mettenberger in that match up, face it, he destroyed Murray head to head last Spring, heck of a QB.

GIVE ME A BREAK

June 17th, 2011
11:11 am

The best of the bottom feeders. Boise and SC will expose this joke.

DawginLex

June 17th, 2011
11:12 am

Mettenberger won’t be the starter at LSU this year.
He has already been recruited over for next year too.

Mettenberger=Daniel Cobb II

He will play some but he is no savior.

WDE

June 17th, 2011
11:13 am

@GIVE ME A BREAK which of your legs should we start with?

Still@theBAR

June 17th, 2011
11:15 am

I think Tech and UGA fans should start being happy with just 7-6 this year. Anything more is a plus. The crazy UGA fans always think you guys are going to win 10 and the east. Why not try something new? Just shoot for a winning season then anything more would make you happy not sad.

Atomicdawg

June 17th, 2011
11:16 am

Bulldogs are gonna win the SEC and they do have the best QB in the SEC, unfourtunatly it’s gonna be the MSU bulldogs. Relf is the best in the SEC and yes I’m a UGA Dawg fan.

claytondawg

June 17th, 2011
11:17 am

Several good, and interesting, posts here this morning. I agree about not getting ahead of ourselves at this point. One game at a time is the best attitude to have when the season begins; however, right now, let’s hope the ‘Dogs’ mindsets (that means all players and coaches) are working toward one goal: RETURNING THE ‘DOGS TO A MORE THAN MEDIOCRE TEAM.

tide roll

June 17th, 2011
11:18 am

Bill, Looks pretty iffy for the Dawgs. If they leave Chris Burnette at OG, then you’ve got a good starting offensive line. The problem is lack of depth. Can you keep a kid motivated when no one is there competing for his position? Really no excuse for a program like UGA to be in this situation. More importantly, it will probably effect your offensive options as well. How physical can you afford to be when one injury to a starter could be devastating. Richt/Bobo were never interested in a physical, ball control offense, but losing that option can’t help. It’s not just about the lack of numbers either. The talent level drops significantly from your 1st unit to 2nd, And at least two back -ups have suffered significant injuries from high school , And another suffers from asthma like conditions. Do these so called experts realize how close you are to playing walk-ons as starters on your offensive line!? They’re like the Richt/Bobo brain trust – an incredible lack of foresight.

It Ain't Rocket Science

June 17th, 2011
11:20 am

Still at the Bar,

What team do you go for in the season? You seem to be obsessed with UGA and Tech. when ever you go on a blog. This much hate and obsession, is bad for your health.

DawginLex

June 17th, 2011
11:21 am

Another line of bull from tide roll

Hey tide troll, has Bama been contacted by the NCAA yet?

If Kentucky has to say Calipari hasn’t really won 500 games because of vacated wins, guess who is next on that list to be contacted?

Nicky Saban-2007 gets vacated
Bama media guide will have to be revised.

CountryBlumpkin

June 17th, 2011
11:21 am

Last year’s promotional video literally made my buddy and I yell at the TV. It was terrible and embarrassing.

Top Dawg

June 17th, 2011
11:22 am

Offensive line. We’re in trouble.

5$ Dawg

June 17th, 2011
11:22 am

Wait – people didn’t like the commercial saying you could one day be a painted super-fan if you attend Chemistry at UGA?

GIVE ME A BREAK

June 17th, 2011
11:22 am

Same story as last year. I wouldn’t mind UGA being undefeaded going into Thanksgiving weekend.

nostrodamus

June 17th, 2011
11:24 am

i see an 8 win season for the bulldogs from athens ga.

Contractor

June 17th, 2011
11:25 am

Well I wouldn’t exactly say having Murray being the best returning quarterback is a mediocre year for the position. The guy put up AMAZING stats in his first year of competition behind an under performing line, and he didn’t even have his best play-maker available for the first four games. The one guy that outperformed him last year won the Heisman Trophy and won a National Championship, plus he had three years of collegiate experience, an amazing O-Line, and a great Freshman running back. I just think Aaron Murray is that much better than most of the others available this year. This year should be a good sign of his athleticism and ability to make it without all world receiver A.J. Green. I think he will drill the rest of the league and show he is an elite prospect for Georgia.

Buckeye

June 17th, 2011
11:25 am

DawgnLex,

Does Lex really care about the 42 wins?

Buckeye

June 17th, 2011
11:26 am

Mutt,

Opps. Caught me and my fat bandaged finger.

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

June 17th, 2011
11:27 am

tide troll, you spend way too much time on these blogs. Do you need a job?

Still@theBAR

June 17th, 2011
11:30 am

It Ain’t Rocket Science
This much hate and obsession, is bad for your health.
Where was the HATE? I just said it is OK to be optimistic, but not Delusional. Don’t go from losing your last games to thinking your team is going to compete for the Conference title. That is like getting fired from Walmart to thinking you are going to be the next CEO at Coca-Cola.

UGA Insider

June 17th, 2011
11:30 am

In his interview with ESPN Will Muschamp said something very true. He said the SEC is an “up-front” league. Which means games are decided by the offensive and defensive lines. This year we will be awesome on DLine and it will help our secondary make plays. Our OLine really worries me however. But UF if you will remember only had 7 total Olineman including walk-ons during spring camp. So they have more issues than we do at present. The best OLine and DLine combo is USCe. They are the easy favorites for Eastern Champ. A team that lost to UCF should not be even mentioned. We need to earn respect by beating Boise badly!!

Truth dawg

June 17th, 2011
11:30 am

Here’s what is real Dawg fans….

UGA has no offensive line (not even close to as good as the last two seasons). Do you even realize how bad our OL’s have been?

We have virtually no WR’s returning that are worthy of commenting about.

Our RB situation is horrid at best and Crowell is gonna be a freshman. He’s no HW#34…not to mention he might be a little slow at picking up the offensive scheme. That lead a lack luster CK and an unproven redshirt…Oh yeah go ahead and build it up agian. Sorry but nothing really here yet.

Our DL? Hmm? let see….we are getting excited over a bunch of freshman here once again? Seriously? Do we not learn from the past?

DB’s once again will struggle with coverage, but mostly due to lack of pressure applied by the less than steller DL that you seem to think with be great overnight.

After SC wins the East again and UF waxes our butts again Mark Richt will be looking for another job. I really don’t want that either beacuse I love the guy. Coach TG I’m afraid is a little overwhelmed by the different offensive looks in the college gaame. Yes…CFB has many more different formation than the pro’s. several in which they never use in pro’s…including triple option(Tech), Spread(true spread), West coast with the pistol grip.

This is the truth and you’ll never face it. Every year we sound more and more like Carolina and they look more like UGA of past years….sad but true…

GO DAWGS! (GATA)

Nomobama

June 17th, 2011
11:30 am

One decent QB does not an east title make. These so called experts are overlooking a very suspect OL, relying on a true frosh RB, and receivers with little exp. Doesnt sound like a winning formula to me.

CountryBlumpkin

June 17th, 2011
11:32 am

I think last year’s commercial and the season mirror eachother. Both were so awful that people (or players or coaches) have stepped up to insure that this year is better. I hope so anyway.

Martin

June 17th, 2011
11:35 am

BSU? That’s funny. This game will be like a video game from EA sports. UGA will do what it wants….when it wants and as often as it wants. Then when the score is out of reach Richt will (by half time) put in walk ons and BSU will bring it close enuff to brag about the final score

Still@theBAR

June 17th, 2011
11:38 am

Martin
Some FACTS to support that claim? Any FACTS?
By the Second Half Ben Jones will be so mad at Murray getting hit he will Jump on and Attack someone on the BSU D-Line. That sounds as likely to happen to me as your prediction.

DIT

June 17th, 2011
11:38 am

Love my Dawgs, but just don’t see it happening. O-Line is too thin and we still do not have a PROVEN running back. To win in the SEC you need a big O-Line and a strong running back. UGA has nether. A strong running game would have scored a TD against UCF instead of a field goal.

DAWGS, PROVE ME WRONG!

It Ain't Rocket Science

June 17th, 2011
11:39 am

Still at the bar,

Come on man, that’s one of your mild comments. Usually you dispute anything good said about UGA. I prefer to think those writers are being optimistic rather than delusional. I temper my beliefs in realism, but I am more of an optimist than a dreamer is all.

CFBFan

June 17th, 2011
11:40 am

Murray is such a great QB. He beats every team with a losing record like any QB should. Now, if he could just beat a team with a winning record without a 1st overall WR.

To say Murray is the best QB in SEC, but he has never won against a team with a winning record is saying something about the SEC as far as QB’s go.

Martin

June 17th, 2011
11:44 am

Nomobama
June 17th, 2011
11:30 am

One decent QB does not an east title make. These so called experts are overlooking a very suspect OL, relying on a true frosh RB, and receivers with little exp. Doesnt sound like a winning formula to me.
===========================================
OL? UGA is always stacked at that position…..RB??? Caleb King was a highly recruited and highly ranked recruit 255 rushes…1271 yards….5.0 average.and a senior. How is running back a question mark? UGA has a ton of highly ranked recruits at wideout and 2 no 1 ranked TEs. Are you drinking today?

AltamahaDawg

June 17th, 2011
11:44 am

Clearly the independant and objective sports writers have been reading the blogs and are banking heavily that the the over the top hypernegativity and whining will finally pay off and bring about good things.

CFBFan

June 17th, 2011
11:45 am

Truth Dawg speaks the truth. Imagine that. Never seen a fanbase get so excited about true freshman in the toughest conference in the nation. One class doesn’t make a complete team, there will be injuries and all kinds of other variables. The “dream team” won’t win it all, you’ll need about 4 of them in a row, wait a minute, UGA has had top 10 classes for like 4 out of 5 years now. Nevermind, the “talent” based on Rivals evaluation has been there it seems like. Coaches at UGA just must not know how to coach.

LagDawg

June 17th, 2011
11:45 am

Bobo’s offense will have to improve 100% in order for this to happen and with his playcalling and the slow boring offense, I don’t see it happening. Sorry, but UGA needs a need OC and some better recruiting on the offensive side of the ball. WRs and OL are needed badly. These guys on the team now, have not proven themselves over the last couple of seasons and it comes from a lack of a good offensive motivator.