It’s time for our annual survey to see which game you think will be the toughest for the Dogs this year, other than the showdown in Jacksonville with Florida, which over the past couple of decades has unfortunately become the Georgia program’s biggest continuing stumbling block.
This time last year, I put this question to Blawg readers and 51 percent of you picked the South Carolina game as the toughest besides Florida on the 2010 schedule. Not surprisingly, the Dogs lost. Next was Auburn, with 22 percent. Dogs lost that one, too. Then came Arkansas with 15 percent of the vote. Same result. But only 10 percent of you were worried about Tech and only 2 percent about Tennessee, and the Dogs managed to win both of those games.
Of course, since at the time we didn’t know that Georgia would enter the season minus A.J. Green, I didn’t even bother to include Mississippi State and Colorado as choices in the poll last July. Few Georgia fans were worried about either opponent, which made those losses all the more galling. (It still boggles the mind that the Dogs lost to the Buffaloes.)
So what about this season? Actually, with the Gators program in a coaching transition, many observers think the Dogs are in a good position to turn things around against Florida. But we’ve heard that before and, besides, it’s still Georgia-Florida. So until a UGA head coach (whether it’s Mark Richt or someone else) pulls a Vince Dooley and flips this rivalry back the way it used to be, the game against the Gators maintains its annual “toughest” designation.
Beyond that, though, is South Carolina again the toughest game not in Jacksonville? Steve Spurrier will bring the defending SEC East champs to Athens with just about everything on paper favoring his team except maybe the unpredictable nature of his fun-loving quarterback. But given the traditional closeness of the match and how much it means to Richt and his program, a lot of folks are rating it a toss-up. Win this one and the Dogs become the favorite in the East.
But you also can argue that the opening game in the Georgia Dome against Boise State, one of the nation’s top programs over the past few seasons, is the toughest obstacle facing Georgia besides the Gators. A win for UGA would be huge in terms of rehabilitating the Dogs’ national reputation, especially after the dismal way last season ended in the bowl game. The prolific Boise attack may be the most difficult test Todd Grantham’s second-year defense will face all year. And it’s in the first game of the season.
Elsewhere on the schedule, even with the memory still fresh from last year of the danger of writing off any opponent, I doubt anyone who reads this is giving serious consideration to Georgia losing to Coastal Carolina or New Mexico State.
But what about Ole Miss? The Rebel Black Bears, or whatever they’re called now, don’t look too imposing this year, but it’s an SEC road game and some folks have labeled it the season’s “trap” game for the Dogs.
Then there’s the rematch with the other Bulldogs, who proved too tough for UGA in a really ugly game last year. A lot of folks who see Georgia losing more than a couple of games pick this as one of them. At least it’s in Athens, so no cowbells.
How about Tennessee? A trip to Knoxville is always a challenge, even though Derek Dooley’s program looks at least a year away from being a real contender in the East.
Then there’s the longstanding rivalry with the defending national champion Auburn Tigers, who will be without Cam Newton and Nick Fairley but nearly always plays Georgia tough Between the Hedges.
And, of course, the Governor’s Cup grudge match in Atlanta with the Yellow Jackets and that quirky option offense that Dogs defenders don’t see very often and have trouble handling. (Thank goodness for turnovers!)
So how do I vote? Well, if we’re picking the most important game for the Dawgs this year, I go with South Carolina. But when it comes to the toughest challenge outside of the trip to Jacksonville, I think it will be the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game against the Broncos.
What about you? Feel free to share your views in the comments as well as voting in the poll.
LEAVE SAMUEL WHERE HE IS
A tweet from Richard Samuel about having to make a “life changing” decision was followed by Marc Weiszer of The Athens Banner-Herald saying he’s been told there “could be a very real possibility” of Samuel switching from linebacker, where he redshirted last year, to tailback, where he had a shortlived tenure as the underachieving starter in 2009. Bad idea. The kid already had a stint in the backfield and ended up with less and less playing time. The consensus on him has been that he’s a natural linebacker. It’s not fair to keep moving him around, and he’s more likely to see playing time in a real game as a sub on defense. Let’s hope Georgia’s coaches leave him there.
RICHT ON PARENTING
Riding herd on a bunch of college football players isn’t easy (some years tougher than others), but what about the head coach’s own children at home? Andy Johnston talks with the head Bulldog about parenting in a two-part blog you can check out here and here.
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