Georgia football’s long, hot but relatively quiet summer unfortunately got a bit more eventful this weekend.
UGA announced that redshirt freshman Brent Benedict, a backup offensive lineman who spent last season rehabbing a serious knee injury, is leaving the program for “personal reasons,” and as you’d expect when a vague official statement leaves people wondering, there’s been a raft of rumors and anonymous-sourced online reports about what really went on there.
But whether it was simply a disagreement about UGA’s conditioning regimen or a case of the young man and his father brazenly looking to buy him another year of rehab by transferring to another SEC school, the fact is that any impact on the Dogs’ program likely won’t be felt this year. As recently as late May Benedict himself was talking about not having any feeling in one foot, and reports are he was unlikely to see much, if any, playing time this season.
So, yes, the Dogs’ offensive line is terribly thin when it comes to depth, but that was going to be the case whether or not Benedict was on the roster.
More troubling is the latest sorry story to bubble up from the cesspit that is AAU basketball, which has the eligibility of two UGA athletes in question over benefits they allegedly received that have absolutely nothing to do with the University of Georgia other than the fact that its programs might suffer the consequences.
It’s difficult to know just what the NCAA will decide, especially in the case of transfer linebacker Jarvis Jones, where an apparent “pre-existing relationship” with one of the parties might be a mitigating factor. But chances are both Jones and much heralded basketball signee Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will end up sitting out some games.
For Mark Richt, the similarity to last year’s A.J. Green debacle must be particularly aggravating, as Georgia might lose its starting outside linebacker for those crucial opening games against Boise State and South Carolina. (And, knowing the NCAA, Georgia probably won’t get word on Jarvis until a couple of days before the season begins.)
Speaking of the Gamecocks, Georgia’s game against Steve Spurrier’s team at Sanford Stadium is looking bigger all the time. CollegeFootball News has picked it as one of the Top 5 SEC Games of the Year.
CFN’s Barrett Sallee sums up the game’s importance to UGA pretty well by noting: “For Georgia, this could be the most important game of the season, and possibly Mark Richt’s career. A win here, and Georgia vaults from SEC East also-ran, to SEC East favorite in a matter of just three or four hours. The Bulldogs miss Arkansas, Alabama and LSU this year; and get Auburn and Mississippi State between the hedges. The toughest road game? At Tennessee. In the past, that’s been a problem, but I don’t see it being one this year. A win over the Gamecocks almost certainly makes it ‘Atlanta or bust’ for the fan base, and for Mark Richt’s job. Prediction: Georgia 20, South Carolina 13.”
What do you think? Is the South Carolina game a make-or-break situation for Richt and UGA?
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg