Time to answer some Junkyard Mail …
Paul Jackson writes: I seem to recall you doing a blog last summer about which of Georgia’s home games you were most looking forward to attending. What about this year? Is South Carolina a lock for the most anticipated game?
I look forward to all Georgia home games, but, yeah, I’d say the home opener with Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks is by far the game I’m most eagerly anticipating in a home schedule that, frankly, is pretty blah. As we’ve discussed here before, the South Carolina game is probably the most important one on the schedule this year because a win there would give the Dogs the edge in the SEC East race. Georgia-South Carolina is usually a pretty close contest, too, so it should be one of those games where everyone stays to the end.
Beyond that, the only other game on the home schedule that’s likely to get anyone excited is Auburn, and that’s just because they’re one of our traditional rivals and there’s some residual bad feeling from last year’s game against the eventual national champions. Unless Gene Chizik comes up with the coaching performance of the year, the Tigers are expected to be a bit down this year.
The other two SEC opponents coming to Athens, Mississippi State and Kentucky, are by no means guaranteed wins for Georgia, and some fans worry the State game could be a “trap” for the Dogs. But neither game is going to generate a lot of fan excitement.
And then you’ve got Coastal Carolina and New Mexico State, where the tailgate parties probably will be the day’s high point.
Michael Parsa writes: I am going into my third year at Albany Law School (after graduating from UGA I decided to head up to school here having never set foot in NY in my life). Down in NYC for the summer interning though. Anyways, last year I remember reading an article posted by you or another AJC employee concerning the Dawgs. It was a cover of an Orlando Sentinel article which had us pre-seasoned ranked in the 60s(ish I think). Any chance of you comparing THIS year’s team to LAST year’s team based on various papers’ rankings of us? Just a thought. Thanks!
Hope you’re sporting plenty of Red and Black while you’re up there! As for the preseason rankings, we won’t know where the Dogs rank in the AP and coaches polls until August, but Georgia so far have been all over the place, topped by Phil Steele having the Dawgs at No. 9 and Athlon Sports putting them at No. 14. Both see Georgia winning the SEC East. At the other extreme, the Sporting News has Georgia at No. 33 in its preseason ranking. More typical are rankings in the low teens: Lindy’s has Georgia at No. 16 and ESPN’s Mark Schlabach pegs the Dogs at No. 17. The Orlando Sentinel, which drew a lot of attention last year for ranking Georgia 64th in the country, has UGA at No. 18 this year. And Sports Illustrated has Georgia ranked at No. 21. I’d say low teens sounds about right, based strictly on the infusion of new talent.
What about you? Where do you think Georgia should be ranked?
Bruce Hendley writes: Hey Bill, what are your thoughts of Athens doing the same thing that Gainesville, Fla., approved for home games? [The Gainesville City Commission approved a charity's proposal to hold street festivals the night before the University of Florida's home football games similar to the decade-old Downtown Getdown that lures vendors, alumni and fans to Tallahassee's Adams Street near FSU's campus.] Since Dawg fans can’t tailgate on campus until 5 hours before a game, many are staying home. This will get fans to town Friday night for a game and also help downtown Athens economically. Everybody wins.
The idea sounds appealing, though I’m not sure how many more folks downtown Athens could easily accommodate on a Friday night. The place is already pretty packed because of all the bars and nightclubs. But that does tend to be a late crowd and something a bit more family-oriented early in the evening might be a big plus for both fans and Athens merchants.
Would you attend a Friday night street festival in Athens? Anyone in the Classic City want to weigh in on this?
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