Athens in August definitely gets a Dog ready for some football!

Tradition is a big part of the appeal of college football. (Olivia King)

Tradition is a big part of the appeal of college football. (Olivia King)

There was certainly no morning chill in the air last week in Athens. In fact, it was hot and muggy when it wasn’t spitting rain on us as we were moving my daughter Olivia into the brand-new Rutherford Hall for her sophomore year at UGA.

But it felt like fall to me.

Even when I haven’t had a child attending school in Athens, an August visit to the campus has been an annual ritual that I’ve looked forward to renewing. There’s nothing like a visit to campus as Athens awakens from a sleepy summer to get your red and black blood rising, what with hundreds of sorority girls taking to the sidewalks doing the rush thing while parents and students trundle handcarts full of belongings and strain to carry couches and futons into the reopened dorms.

And the capper is when Olivia and I have our annual shopping spree at the UGA bookstore. Joining the many other parents and students wandering with arms loaded through the aisles of Bulldog sportswear and memorabilia last week, I was more than ready to be among the cheering throngs packing the cavernous stadium across the street.

Traditions are a big part of the appeal of college football, whether it’s shopping for UGA stuff or the kind of student traditions that Olivia is checking off in her G-Book — getting a photograph of her ringing the Chapel bell, for instance.

My own check list for a new football season is nearly complete now. Bulldog shopping done. Season tickets have arrived. My check has been sent off to the church where I park on game days.

There’s a buzz in Athens come mid-August, even in years when Georgia isn’t expected to field that strong a team. So, naturally, this year, when the media has predicted another SEC East title for Mark Richt’s Bulldogs despite all the personnel losses on defense, the football talk is more intense than ever. So it is that you get fans reacting with despair over something as inconsequential as the coach expressing disappointment about the effort of a tired team in its first scrimmage. And that’s why we’re counting interceptions thrown by the quarterbacks in practice, or lamenting how all those minor injuries on the defensive side in preseason camp might hinder the development of the untested young talent taking the place of the many Dogs who’ve moved on to the NFL.

As John Atkins and the Dogs practice, fans marvel at the rarity of having depth along the lines. (Steven Colquitt / UGA)

As John Atkins and the Dogs practice, fans marvel at the rarity of having depth along the lines. (Steven Colquitt / UGA)

The talk Sunday at a family birthday gathering at our favorite Athens barbecue joint, Butt Hutt, quickly turned to the Dawgs, of course. Like other fans, we’re excited by the veteran, prolific offense that returns and marveling at that rarity in Athens — depth along the offensive and defensive lines — while fretting at the inexperience in the secondary and the killer September schedule.

A lot of folks think Richt’s team will be sitting pretty if it comes out of that first-month gantlet with just one loss, but my brother Jonathan, citing Proverbs 18:21’s admonishment that life and death is in the power of the tongue, didn’t want to hear talk of anything but an undefeated season and a national championship.

If positive thinking has power, Jon is a Red and Black dynamo. Let’s hope this year’s Bulldogs live up to his expectations.

How about you? Are you approaching the first kickoff still full of optimism, or have the impending games against Clemson and South Carolina got you grousing like Munson?

Feel free to share your thoughts on the new season.

Go Dogs!

JUNKYARD MAIL CALL

Got something you want to discuss concerning the upcoming football season or UGA athletics? Or a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Email me at  junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

167 comments Add your comment

ViningsDawg

August 14th, 2013
9:19 am

I’m ready for this season to get going. Headed to watch the UGA-LSU game for my bday. I’d love to be 3-0 rolling in for that one!

Lindsey

August 14th, 2013
9:20 am

I am so excited about the 2013 football season, I think Aaron Murray will have his best season yet! This is the second season of my new tradition, buying my 10 month old daughter a new UGA cheerleader outfit (she was born on the GA vs TN game last year)! GOOO DAWGS!!!

Logan

August 14th, 2013
9:29 am

Optimism reigns supreme in my house. I feel good about this team has whole. I’m slightly less optimistic about our kicking game, and probably more optimistic about our young defense than I should be. But who cares?!! August 31st holds the answers to most of our questions. I can’t barking wait!

Double g

August 14th, 2013
9:43 am

If UGA’ secondary can get by Clemson, especially without Josh Harvey-Clemons, we’ll be on the way towards a special season. The schedule, while difficult, sets up well. USC will be an emotional game in Athens – defense wins that one. After an off-week, we restart with North Texas, then read for LSU. UT will be a trap game, but we get to take a breather before UF. All in all, I think good things happen this year.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

August 14th, 2013
9:50 am

Glad to see our new D line coach believes in rotating players; this will lead to more experience for each ball player and that will help us each year

NCDawg

August 14th, 2013
9:51 am

Careful, some Bammer troll will come on here to berate you for having any hope at all of winning a National Championship. No team EVER improves. No team ever recovers from lsoing players on defense. Might as well hang it up…

I do believe in the power of positive thinking and while some might think it is completely unrealistic to think we can make it through the September Gauntlet unscathed, I think that the orobability that we will is higher than going even 3-2. The key is a good start against Clemson. Dropping that game would put a drag on any momentum that can be built… even if we were to beat SC in week 2.

Our offense CAN outscore people and win shootouts. That is why I am not as concerned about a young defense as I would be normally. If we had an offense like we had in the 2002-2005 era that just got the job done, we would be looking at major ulcers. The young D will give up some points but I think that the offense is potent enough to put points up on ANYBODY. So in my mind it is more likely that we can be undefeated at the end of September than being even 3-2. It is highly unlikely that we even go 2-3.

Keep in mind that Auburn won a National Championship with a great offense and a pedestrian defense. They weren’t terrible but they were certainly the weakest defense to win a title in a long time. If this offense is even 90% as good as I think it can be, we can and will just outscore everybody no matter what our defense does.

NCDawg

August 14th, 2013
9:57 am

If our line can be even a just a little bit more consistent than last year and open holes for our backs… I have trouble even imagining the numbers that array of firepower can unleash. It’s that good.

ARdawg

August 14th, 2013
10:15 am

I’m full of optimism but, wounded reality is not far behind. “If” we make it 4-0, I think our chances are excellent to beat any other opponents we face. All the way to the NC. Starting anything less than 4-0, we likely will not even win the East. I have some logic behind that. I think the SEC East is going to prove the stronger division. Georgia, Florida, SC again will be beating almost everyone. Vandy will beat some they’re not suppose to and the Vols showing improvement

DawgNight

August 14th, 2013
10:24 am

I agree 100% ARdawg…..

I’ll go so far as to say that Kentucky and Missouri will rebound for better seasons. Both teams will ruin someones dreams this season.

GO DAWGS! 12-1 SEC Champions

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

August 14th, 2013
10:26 am

I wish I could agree with that optimism unfortunately Ive seen too many seasons where we were supposed to do this and that but instead under perform

Hopefully this year I can be proved wrong

ARdawg

August 14th, 2013
10:45 am

Flat hopefully you will be proved wrong. Hey, eventually, the numbers play in favor of a good outcome. It would appear, all the tools are in place for it to happen. We could just as easily go flat (pun intended) right out of the gate. It’s time for renewed hope.

Flat, you could be like the Bammers and just think it’s a coronation and we should just hand over the crystal.

Top Row Dawg

August 14th, 2013
10:52 am

Haven’t had a flat tire in Jacksonville for over 1000 days now.

Rick

August 14th, 2013
11:00 am

I am just sitting back waiting for the other shoe to drop. We all know deep down that something is going to go wrong, it always does.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

August 14th, 2013
11:07 am

I hope I am proven wrong

Im tired of watching the best talent consistently under perform every year

Auburn hasnt had the level of talent weve had and they have had 2 undefeated seasons in the Richt era

We have had the same level of talent as Bama; Bama winning 3 national titles and we continue to lose 2 games every year

Yes please prove me wrong

Its my continued hope that at the end of this season everyone on here can come on this blog and say I told you so

I will be more than happy to listen to it

Desert Fox

August 14th, 2013
11:13 am

Like others, I’m optimistic but my gut tells me it could be blind optimism reference the youth on the dawgs defense. I believe the O can play w/any team in the country but will need help from the D to win those close games. Opening against Clemson, then SC the next week and LSU week 4 brings one back down to earth. So much relies on GA’s offense this season to carry the defense early on in the schedule if they expect to get to the 5th game undefeated. It would be a miracle if they do.

ARdawg

August 14th, 2013
11:33 am

I do not recall the talent and depth at all the skill positions including the experienced line on offense that we have now. Nor do I recall the talent and depth (as young as it is) we now have on defense. The defense while young still has some experience to be effective and prove the naysayers wrong. I expect they can’t be as porous as they were with all the talent on it last year. This defense is young but, it’s also hungry. With a solid offense, I like the combination.

This team shouldn’t be what some of you guys are dreading. Don’t expect perfection on D. We didn’t have it last year. We only need one more point than the opposition. We easily have that capability

STICKYYYY

August 14th, 2013
11:38 am

Bill,
What are your thoughts about rap music in Sanford Stadium? Will you be dancing this year like Verne?

Flo-Ri-Duh

August 14th, 2013
11:46 am

Where is that brain dead Milk Dud addict BS35?

Life & death is indeed in the power of the tongue – so watch what you say!

Dawgs are going to take care of business in Clempson. Yes UGA is breaking in new personnel on defense but so is Clempson. DABO ( who names their kid DABO?) has already said that he will start two TRUE freshmen in the secondary. Clempson’s DL is undersized by SEC standards. Look for Gurley & Marshall to have a big day running & receiving. Clempson will be forced to load the box to stop the run leaving UGA’s TE’s, Lynch & Rome open for big gainers. Clempson won’t score if they don’t have the ball and that is a problem for DABO.

THIS IS THE YEAR OF THE DAWG!

Flo-Ri-Duh

August 14th, 2013
11:51 am

Bill King – it’s about time you got back!

My daughter got a Pharmacy Degree from UGA.

I bleed RED & BLACK!

Flo-Ri-Duh

August 14th, 2013
11:53 am

It’s a loverly DAY – no phony impersonators hating on the Dawgs today.

UGA Insider

August 14th, 2013
11:57 am

UGA defense looks really fast and really big. Sterling Bailey and Jordan Jenkins are unblockable and Herrara is going to be the best LB in the SEC this year. Wilson has been impressive all summer as well. Depth on defense as well which we will need.

Don’t worry about the UGA secondary. Boyd can’t complete passes when he is on his ass all day long.

UGA 45
Clemson 17

DAWGS2013

August 14th, 2013
11:58 am

One Game at a time! Normally I love looking at the big picture, but with the upcoming schedule, DAWGS needs to focus on one game at a time and make sure to FINISH THE DRILL!!

& please have someone remind the players to not get cocky even if we are 3-0 going into LSU, or up by 20 points. That is what always bites us in the butt come 3rd quarter.

dawgfan

August 14th, 2013
11:58 am

I’m optimistic that if we score more points than the teams we play that we will win. On the other hand, if we do not score more points than our opponents I am concerned that we will lose. It’s really going to come down to our ability to outscore our opponents. We’ll see.

Thanks.

NCDawg

August 14th, 2013
12:05 pm

Rick August 14th, 2013 @11:00 am – ah there it is… yes something will go wrong..it always will…that is life. BUT how you handle the set-backs is the difference between being good and being great. The nature of the set back has something to do with it as well but it’s all about how you handle it.
Everything isn’t going perfectly this year.. JHC screwed up and he and the team are going to have to deal with that. Fortunately it is only 1 game. There are some injuries… it’s not like the sky is crystal clear without a cloud in the sky. The is some adversity here… maybe it won’t get any worse.

Past outcomes DO NOT always predict future results… either for the good or the bad. No set of circumstances is ever identical. Just because you have been burned before doesn’t mean you will be burned again. Attitude has alot to do with it.

If you expect bad things to happen they WILL happen. Why? Because you MADE them happen. If you say the simple words “I can’t…” it greatly increases the likelihood that you will not be able to do whatever may be. Unfortunately, we get what we expect most of the time.

Just something to think about.

ARdawg

August 14th, 2013
12:06 pm

dawgfan
That is a valid concern

Flo-Ri-Duh

August 14th, 2013
12:06 pm

dawgfan- your knowledge of the game is truly unbelievable!

BigDawg

August 14th, 2013
12:06 pm

Cautious optimism is the play of the day as they say. I remember last year we were expecting the defense to carry that team as they had finished 2011 as the # 4 or 5 defense, but inconsistency aided by suspensions to key players on D left us all wondering what could have been. The offense was surprisingly strong and we won 11 games. Now this year it is the offense that is expected to carry the load and they should, if these guys show up hungry and ready each week to kick butt and take names. But I for one expect that the Dawgs will be much improved on defense simply because they will be hungrier to prove something and will play better as a unit. Hopefully they will take it one game at a time and right now the only teams I am worried about are the Dawgs and the Clemson Tigers.

Go Dawgs

piermontdawgny

August 14th, 2013
12:25 pm

time to bring it home dawgs…national championship is calling…can you answer the Chapel bell?

dawggirl

August 14th, 2013
12:31 pm

I’ve been counting down for months, but as the day draws closer I get more and more nervous. I go up and down, optimistic one day and then full of doubt the next. We need to stay injury-free as much as possible.

For Clemson, I’m thinking the key to winning that game is to keep Tajh and crew off the field. So I hope they aren’t going to do the quick score like they did so much last year. Let Gurley and Marshall run all over them.

LSU doesn’t worry me nearly as much as the first two.

ViningsDawg

August 14th, 2013
12:52 pm

Wow, we’ve really lucked out today. I’ve actually enjoyed reaing these blog comments and there’s solid football talk, positive and/or reserved vibes and actual real contribution here. That’s what these blogs are about. Bring one home for us CMR and Co…. Bring one home…

Freddy

August 14th, 2013
12:53 pm

Dawgs are 1-5 vs. top 10 teams under Murray, so I’m not seeing a bunch of September wins, with his 20% win % there, looking at being either 2-2, or more likely, 1-3 after the first 4 games.

Sorry, but the team doesn’t play well in big games in the Murray era.

Clemson-LOSS
South Carolina, 4th loss in a row
LSU, LOSS, Mett’s revenge

NCDawg

August 14th, 2013
1:00 pm

Sometime talking football is ironic. On one hand it is a given that ANY team needs to score more points than the oponent… that is how you WIN. What we are talking about here is winning shootouts. Does it it get points for domination? NO but a “W” is a “W”. Realistically, I think Clemson’s offense will be better than our defense for the most part. They are pretty explosive. BUT I think our offense will be better than their defense more often. And THAT is all it takes.

SC will be different. Clowney makes this a game… otherwise it’s a sure-fire win. But is Clowney and Co. minus Taylor, Swearinger, and 5 of their top LB’s enough to stop our offense consistently? I think that if the Dawgs slow down Clowney even a little bit the answer is resoundingly NO. Then it’s a matter of our defense being just good enough to not let SC keep up.

NCDawg

August 14th, 2013
1:07 pm

Freddy August 14th, 2013 @12:53 pm – Past outcomes DO NOT always predict future results… either for the good or the bad. No set of circumstances is ever identical.

Murray played an great game against Bama in the SEC CG. If our defense doesn’t give up 350 yards rushing we win. PERIOD. The outcome might have been different if it had been only 300 yards. That’s how close it was.

Chuck the “murray chokes” stuff… if there was ever a game to choke it was the SEC CG and he did not choke. I think he finally got past that after the Florida game.

NCDawg

August 14th, 2013
1:08 pm

Believe it or not , guys DO grow up.

Truthiness

August 14th, 2013
1:45 pm

Well, they’re undefeated until they’re not. There’s plenty of talent on the teams the Dawgs will play, and I believe that this year, maybe more than any other, we’ll see several finishes that come down to 5 yards, 5 seconds. Dawgs will win their share, but I’m not yet convinced they’ll win them all. Let’s see how fast the defense matures and how much special teams have improved. More losses will come from poor play there than from missed opportunities on offense.

NCDawg

August 14th, 2013
2:03 pm

Special teams were not an issue in the SEC CG or the bowl game. Go back and look at those games. We foiled a fake punt and we blocked a punt. No big returns. That is as good as you get on special teams.

ARdawg

August 14th, 2013
2:05 pm

I suspect we’ll hear the Murray doubters even if the Dawgs go 4-0. Most of those doubters are on these blogs and they never leave

Bulldawg35

August 14th, 2013
2:12 pm

Clemson will win…they have sammy fi slama jama! Best WR in the nation! Clemson 41 dawgs 24. Our defense is gawd awful

NCDawg

August 14th, 2013
2:27 pm

Oh boy… just when things were looking really good… Bulldawg35 did you forget your anti depressants today?

No way we only score 24 on Clemson. You have no idea what our defense is going to be like and Sammy Watkins can’t win the game all by himself. The reverse of that score is more likely. If Clemson wins it’s a 45-42, 48-45, maybe even 49-48 type game.

NCDawg

August 14th, 2013
2:37 pm

ARdawg
August 14th, 2013
2:05 pm

I can see where they are coming from… he has pressed in big games before. But something happened at halftime in the UF game. He played within himself and played a great game against Bama.

My objection is that people just assume the stats tell the whole story. They don’t look and see that a guy is improving they just assume that what happened in the past will happen again in the future… as if people can’t correct mistakes and improve.

He will win at least 2 games against Top 10 competition this year… probably in September alone.

LHarding Dawg

August 14th, 2013
2:39 pm

Don’t worry people, the ACC team is not beating Georgia. No defense, plus they can only pass the ball. Well we can stop that. Now the next week with SC, that’s different. But we will worry about that after the warm up game.

Bulldawg35

August 14th, 2013
2:55 pm

NC dawg

Yeah right, we can’t stop any good offense. Plus Murray always takes the first half off. We would do better with malcom Mitchell at qb in the first half

ARdawg

August 14th, 2013
3:35 pm

NCdawg

I don’t disagree. I’ve seen him in a few games where the lights were on but nobody home. Only a few games. That happens to most all QBs at some point. Especially when they’ve started every game 3 years straight. Stats do not even begin to tell the Murray story. Murray just like every player on the field, wins and loses as a team.

AltamahaDawg

August 14th, 2013
3:40 pm

Finally able to walk under the arches!

AltamahaDawg

August 14th, 2013
3:47 pm

What time is the scrimmage? JJ green is over there waiting on a bus.

Bulldawg35

August 14th, 2013
4:25 pm

Yay! Yay! A pathetic scrimmage with a bunch of injured players. I hope we don’t break more hands

PigIron

August 14th, 2013
4:38 pm

Great article, Bill. Enjoy the season. Best of luck!

Freddy

August 14th, 2013
4:40 pm

ok, in real news, Murray threw 3 picks in latest scrimmage.

bodes great for new season.

Freddy

August 14th, 2013
4:45 pm

real news:

since 2008, uga is 3-16 in sec games against teams that finished ranked in the ap poll.

so Clemson, South Carolina, LSU, Florida, will al finished ranked.

UGA has a less than 25% chance of winning those 4 games.

gonna go 1-3.

stats don’t tell no lies.

Heathcliff

August 14th, 2013
4:53 pm

Nice column but important stuff omitted : What is the name of the B-B-Q JOINT ?