Some folks inside and outside the Bulldog Nation were surprised when the USA Today coaches preseason poll was released Thursday and Georgia was ranked a respectable No. 22 despite coming off a 6-7 season and a horrendous bowl game.
Even the Dogs’ Ben Jones admitted he was “shocked” at Georgia being ranked in the preseason for the 10th consecutive year.
And Abry Jones said he “didn’t think we would be that high since we didn’t do well last year.”
Tavarres King, on the other hand, said, “I’m not shocked that we’re ranked. We’re still Georgia, and I think everybody knows that.”
I think King probably nailed it right there. Despite coming off a bad season and having a lot of question marks, UGA and Mark Richt have enough residual respect to be considered among the nation’s 25 best teams without having played a down yet.
And while preseason rankings don’t mean a whole lot, as Richt said, “I think it’s a good sign for the program. It’s a good sign of respect if coaches feel like Georgia is a Top 25 team.”
Of course, last year the coaches also thought Georgia was a Top 25 team. In fact, the Dogs were ranked a notch higher in last year’s preseason poll, at 21, and briefly made it up to No. 19 before falling out of the ranking for good after the South Carolina game.
And the No. 22 preseason ranking is the lowest of Richt’s tenure since his first year, when Georgia couldn’t quite crack the Top 25.
Still, being ranked at all is encouraging, even if it might be a result of the coaches (or whoever filled out the poll for them) simply listing Georgia out of force of habit.
At the very least, it bolsters the confidence of the Georgia players as they prepare to meet the No. 7-ranked Boise State Broncos.
And another factor is that while Georgia at times looked terrible last year, they also were thisclose to winning some of those games they lost. As Jones put it: “I think people believe in us. They’re not counting us out, because we lost a lot of games by three and seven points. If we would have made the play in the fourth quarter, we would have been the team that’s 10-3 instead of going 6-7.”
Now they just have to see if they can make those fourth-quarter plays this year. If Joe Tereshinski has anything to say about it, I’m betting they will more often than not.
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