Which game outside Jacksonville will be toughest for the Dogs?

Will the game against Marcus Lattimore and the Gamecocks be Georgia's toughest, aside from Florida? (Associated Press)

Will the game against Marcus Lattimore and the Gamecocks be Georgia's toughest, aside from Florida? (Associated Press)

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.

Which game besides Florida will be toughest for the Dogs?

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Also, Vandy is … Vandy. That’s a game Georgia always should win, but one that can be dangerous if the Dogs don’t show up motivated. Ditto for Kentucky, which has proved a more formidable foe in recent years and knocked off the Dogs (with the help of several crucial Georgia miscues) the last time the Wildcats visited Athens.

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.

Got a question for the Junkyard Blawg? Send it to junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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169 comments Add your comment

DawginLex

July 14th, 2011
10:21 am

Toughest games:

Boise(only because it is 1st)
SC
At UT
Florida
At Ole Miss
MSU
Auburn
Tech
Kentucky
Vandy

DawginLex

July 14th, 2011
10:28 am

Going back and looking at those comments from a year ago, we can at least be thankful for ZERO arrests this year when you write this article.

Last year at this time, Damon Evans had just got fired and Dontavious Jackson and Tavarres King got busted for DUI and we were runaway Fulmer Cup winners.

At least now Auburn and even Tech are stealing those headlines.

Rooster

July 14th, 2011
10:29 am

DawginLex is right. They are all going be tough with the lack of depth at RB and the o-line. Richt has set the team up for a rough season. By late september and october this will become apparent. Richt does not have much foresight.

Win P.

July 14th, 2011
10:29 am

Considering last years’ Liberty Bowl, not sure we can take any team for as a certain win.

Don't Matter

July 14th, 2011
10:30 am

All of them.

Crush

July 14th, 2011
10:31 am

Carolina won’t be tough because it will be over for the Dawgs by half time.

KingDawg

July 14th, 2011
10:32 am

SC is key – win and it’s a big confidence booster. Lose and the season will be uphill.

Pete

July 14th, 2011
10:37 am

What? The Boise state game should be easier than if uga played in halfway into the season, why?

Because uga will have had 7+ months to prepare for it. Well VT prepared for over 6 months and still didn’t get the win, so never mind.

BSU 42-17 ez

SOUTHGADAWG88

July 14th, 2011
10:38 am

A few weeks back folks were saying this was the easiest schedule in years.

Most can be

July 14th, 2011
10:39 am

I see this year’s schedule being as difficult as the Dawgs make it. They are as talented as anyone they face; and in most instances are more talented. The Dawgs were a few plays away from having a totally different 2010. With a little luck regarding injuries, and players making plays;
this year will remind everyone why CMR is OUR GUY!!

bill

July 14th, 2011
10:39 am

It all comes down to the first 2 games…win both, and CMR & staff are set for a comeback year…split the games (1-1), and the discussion about the direction of the team continues…lose both (0-2), and Coach Richt will discover a new level of “Hot Seat” he’s never sat in before.

Dawg_Mike

July 14th, 2011
10:44 am

Hell they are all tough- all of them.

Sam Robards, Dawg Fan

July 14th, 2011
10:49 am

Boise’s the toughest game, even INCLUDING Florida. Getting all the kinks out and playing well that first week will be tough. Yeah, Boise’ll have to do that, too, but this game is their entire season. I imagine they’ll leave it all on the field.

That said, the media is treating Carolina like they’re some sort of juggernaut. Carolina didn’t make it to Atlanta last year because they’re great: they made it because everyone else in the division was worse. They lost three games before December last year and got manhandled in two of them (Kentucky and Arkansas: Auburn was a genuinely close game). Why is everyone putting this team on a pedestal?

As far as I’m concerned, there is no frontrunner for the East this year: it’s a three-team race between Georgia, Carolina and Florida with Tennessee acting as a spoiler. And, in all honesty, I like the Dawgs in that race.

‘Nuff said!

OldFan

July 14th, 2011
10:54 am

It has to be Boise State. Lose that one on a national stage, and the tires could well start coming loose. SC may then knock them off completely.

Martin the Calvinist

July 14th, 2011
10:56 am

The only teams I see not giving UGA trouble is the Citadel and NMSU, our lack of depth at o-line, d-line, and rb will give us fits all year. But somehow, I still see a 9-3 season. We are better defensively overall than last year and will be motivated to play their best all year. At least that’s my take!

Dawg Tired

July 14th, 2011
10:56 am

Richard Samual moving to LB? UGH!! Yet, another player that GA coaches just cannot figure out where to play him. For god sakes Richt, stop moving these kids around. I have never seen another team that does this. Nick Williams comes to mind, along with Brandon Miller. Good grief, just leave the kid at LB. Oh, I forgot about Justin Anderson too. SHEEESH!

UGA '05

July 14th, 2011
10:57 am

Don’t Matter is right. All the games should be considered tough. Don’t take any team lightly. Treat every game like a big rivalry game.

Verlaine

July 14th, 2011
11:02 am

Boise State 222, UGA 0

Buh bye, Saint Mark the Phony!

Greens23

July 14th, 2011
11:02 am

The South Carolina game….If you lose the Boise game, it hurts but doesnt affect the SEC picture. Lose the Carolina game and you are already in a hole….

Ron Smith

July 14th, 2011
11:03 am

Toughest game? Let’s see: Boise State, Florida, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Auburn, Tennessee, Kentucky

Vince

July 14th, 2011
11:03 am

8-4, losses to Boise, SC, Fla and Auburn.

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ugaclassof2004

July 14th, 2011
11:04 am

I hope our football team, with all the hoopla about them winning the SEC East and supposedly “turning the corner”, isn’t taking South Carolina lightly. Because if we are, we will surely get a good arse whipping in our own backyard come Sept. 10th. I don’t think we’ve earned the right to take anyone lightly. And we haven’t done jack squat in the last 3 years to warrant any of this national respect. Potential is overrated. We don’t deserve to be ranked in the 25 until we can prove that we’re capable of handling expectations. Time to put the Big Boy Pants on , go to work; and earn it.

Vince

July 14th, 2011
11:04 am

Home team wins Tenn game last 4 times, this one’s in Tenn, Tenn has strong running game and great WR’s.

JDawg1785

July 14th, 2011
11:07 am

If the Dawgs “eat mor chikin” between the hedges, this could be a special year. Shut down Lattimore and they have a good shot at winning that one. Just watch the 2010 Peach Bowl.

Vince

July 14th, 2011
11:07 am

I like Samuel moving to RB, he averaged 5 a carry and was a tough runner. He’s big & strong, and his time on defense, will help him read defenses and pick up passblocking better. All the Georgia backs fumble, so no difference there, C Thomas, Malcome, Branden Smith…all fumbling machines.

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Columbus Dawg

July 14th, 2011
11:11 am

Bill, It’s the first game of the season for Boise as well.

Vince

July 14th, 2011
11:16 am

South Carolina plays big in big games.

Lattimore runs well against major SEC East foes like Georgia (188 yards) and Florida (212 yards).

Garcia & Jeffery were on fire against Auburn & Alabama.

That’s the difference in Georgia & South Carolina.

Spurrier has his team now playing big in big games.

RxDawg

July 14th, 2011
11:16 am

It’s gota be USC. With a close seccond being the UT (they have been giving us fits in Neyland for years) and MSU (I called the other Dawgs last year, Mullin is the real deal). USC just matches up well against us. They out maned us last year that’s hard to out scheme. I’m not expecting a win against USC this year… hope I’m wrong.

Agreed about Samuel. Leave him at LB. He just didn’t have the technique and balance to play the RB position well. We have to have some other outstanding skill atheletes that can step in and make some plays at RB.

DawginLex

July 14th, 2011
11:16 am

Boise won’t beat us but SC will. I predict low scoring game with no more of a 7 point difference.

8-4-Most likely but I won’t like it
9-3 real possible
10-2 – Dreamland
Anything more-miracleville

JDawg1785

July 14th, 2011
11:17 am

It’ll be interesting to see how Boise’s offense, breaking in a new coordinator and having lost their two best receivers, matches up with that new-and-improved Georgia defense, going into its second year in the 3-4 with personnel better suited for the scheme. Can’t wait!

NoBrainer

July 14th, 2011
11:20 am

Hey Pete, I’ll take some of that 42-17 Boise action. Idiot.

BullDogMike

July 14th, 2011
11:21 am

First two games are by far the toughest. Reason being because of the immense pressure on this program to turn it around. Playing the only game of the night, on national T.V , against a highly ranked opponent, and then against defending East champ. Florida for this season anyway, just became the third toughest in my book. We lose the first two, and I guarenteeee you that the FL game won’t mean a whole lot except for pride.

4th in the WEST

July 14th, 2011
11:25 am

They will all be tough! If I am correct I think AU came back in 9 out of 13 last season.

The question should be which is the most important? BSU because it will set the tone for the season. Win that one and SC looks much more possible.

BullDogMike

July 14th, 2011
11:27 am

Hey Pete, can I get some action on that Boise St prediction of 42-17 too?? I don’t believe They can score 42 points on ANY SEC defense….including Vandy….LOL

RabidDawgFan

July 14th, 2011
11:29 am

Again, everyone putting SC on a freakin’ pedestal. Look, you have to win an SEC title in football before you can even think about being one of the “powerhouses”. I know we’ve had sub par past 2 seasons, but Georgia is an SEC powerhouse and has been for decades. South Carolina STILL lost 5 games, lost their last 2 games of the season, and got completely dominated in the SEC championship game 56-17 vs. Auburn. They lost to Kentucky. Barely beat UGA. Come on folks! It’s not like they went undefeated! They went 9-5. No need for all the hype

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RabidDawgFan

July 14th, 2011
11:32 am

But to answer your question…Boise State is the toughest game outside of Florida. Mississippi State would be my 2nd choice.

Vince

July 14th, 2011
11:33 am

Boise beats Georgia??? How? Who will score points for Georgia? You’ll need at least 5 td’s to beat Boise. Tavarres King gets 1 maybe–not known as a scorer, Charles only scores 2 td’s a season–he takaes a vacation in big games. Crowell maybe gets 1. Still only 14 points. Maybe a field goal or 2, that’s 20 points. Boise will score 30+, they almost always do.

Vince

July 14th, 2011
11:40 am

Boise was 3-1 against top 25 ranked teams last season.

Richt was 0-4.

Boise will win this one, they play big in big games. Richt doesn’t.

RxDawg

July 14th, 2011
11:49 am

Boise is not one of the nations top programs. They do have one of the best W-L reccords in the nation. Their W-L reccord is incredibly inflated thanks to the competetion on their schedule. Can the beat us? Of course they can. But the USC game will much harder to win.

DawginLex

July 14th, 2011
11:53 am

vince will use his oft repeated stats after the UGA win over Boise

Boise record 0-1

Aaron Murray has never beaten a team with a winning record.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

RxDawg

July 14th, 2011
11:54 am

@DawginLex
July 14th, 2011
11:16 am

Lex, I 100% agree with that post.

RxDawg

July 14th, 2011
11:58 am

“USC…Barely beat UGA”

Rabid, USC didn’t barely beat UGA last year. The score wasn’t that indifferent, I’ll give you that. But USC lined up and smacked us in the mouth all day long and there wasn’t anything we could do to stop it. I felt it was the worst beating the Dawgs took last year. Now, add in that Lattimore is a different back then he was early on last year. And USC is playing us early in the season, where they tend to usually do well as opposed to falling apart by the end of every year. Sorry my man, but this Dawg has a hard time seeing a win against the Chickens.

Mtn Dawg

July 14th, 2011
12:03 pm

If we opened with SC then I would say SC would be our toughest game. But, win or lose against Boise St, the Dawgs will undoubtledly answer some questions about themselves and use that to their advantage against SC.

RabidDawgFan

July 14th, 2011
12:10 pm

RxDawg, who are you? Your not a true Dawg fan and say some shyt like that. Yeah, Lattimore was hard to tackle last season, but check this out…they beat us 17-6 right? Ok we had a FRESHMAN QB, a 1st year DC playing in our first year in the 3-4, all kinds of off-field issues, no attitude, no S&C improvements, and we played AT COLUMBIA. Reverse all of that, and tell me if SC is going to just beat the snot out of us like everyone is proclaiming.

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DawginLex

July 14th, 2011
12:13 pm

RX the Sc game last year was lost with the same formula of the other 6 losses:

Turnovers
Couldn’t stop anyone on 3rd down
no beef up the middle to stop the zone read

RxDawg

July 14th, 2011
12:16 pm

I just know what I saw on the field. I feel like USC matches up against very well for them. They have a strong running game, the best WR in the conference to with that running game, and then they probably have the best D-line in the conference. Our O-line is suspect and our secondary is too. Trust me, I hope I eat all kinds or crow on this.

If it helps, I think we will mop the floor with Boise in the Georgia Dome.