The 2009 Georgia Bulldogs: They’ll go 8-4, it says here

Joe Cox takes the reins: It could be a bumpy trip. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Joe Cox takes the reins, and it could be a bumpy trip. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

As rallying cries go, this one is a bit weird: “We’re better off now because nobody thinks we’re the best team in the country.” But this is college football, where anything is grist for the motivational mill.

A year ago the Georgia Bulldogs found themselves ranked No. 1, and they didn’t like the way that turned out. So now they’ve decided it’s better not to have drawn a single vote to finish first in the SEC East. (Florida was a unanimous choice at the conference’s Media Days.) It’s better being considered not nearly as good.

Mark Richt told the Greater Atlanta Bulldog Club last month that he feels he “has a lot more juice” going into this season. Last year, he recalled, he’d gone on a mission trip and had returned to face a barrage of questions on two fronts – the number of off-field incidents involving Georgia players, which hasn’t been an issue this time, and being the first team in school history ranked preseason No. 1, which isn’t an issue, either.

And there is a compelling recent precedent. In 2005 the Bulldogs were picked to finish third in the East for what seemed good reason: They’d lost their longtime starting quarterback. Indeed, that’s what some players chanted during the celebration on the floor of the Georgia Dome after they’d beaten LSU for the 2005 league title: “Third in the East … third in the East …”

We don’t yet know if Joe Cox can do as D.J. Shockley did four years ago – steer his team to a championship after waiting his turn – but the parallel alone gives the Bulldogs hope. So does the return of two anchors from injury: Trinton Sturdivant, the sturdy left tackle, and Jeff Owens, the forceful defensive tackle.

Georgia’s hope this season is to be strong where it was weak in 2008 – up front. Nobody is suggesting Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno won’t be missed, but the Bulldogs should never lack for talent at the skill positions. Cox doesn’t have Stafford’s arm and Caleb King lacks Moreno’s wiggle, but these are still SEC-caliber players.

The 2009 Bulldogs will go:

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That said, this will mark only the fourth time in Richt’s tenure at Georgia, which is entering its ninth season, the Bulldogs have approached a season with an untested No. 1 quarterback. In 2001, David Greene’s first season as starter, they finished 8-4. In 2006, the season that began with Joe Tereshinski III as No. 1 and saw Cox start at Ole Miss and finished with Stafford in control, they were 9-4.

Put another way, the two worst seasons under Richt – not to say that a four-loss campaign is “bad” – have come when the No. 1 quarterback was a relative newbie. The belief here is that 2009 will be a similarly lesser year, that four losses will again be the result, that this will be more like 2006 than 2005.

Then again, I was among those who believed Georgia would be the best team in the land in 2008. So I’m already one of the prime motivators. Glad to be of service, guys.

Bradley breaks down the Bulldogs’ season

Sept. 5, Oklahoma State at Stillwater: Some Bulldog fans see OSU as another Arizona State. Different league, folks. OSU 30, Georgia 20.

Sept. 12, South Carolina at Athens: The Evil Genius marred 2007 season by winning at Sanford Stadium. Not this time. Georgia 24, South Carolina 14.

Sept. 19, Arkansas at Fayetteville, Ark.: Tempting to go with the Hogs, but the Richt road mojo will carry the day. Georgia 21, Arkansas 20.

Sept. 26, Arizona State at Athens: OK, here’s the real Arizona State, and here’s the first easy win of 2009. Georgia 31, Arizona State 10.

Oct. 3, LSU at Athens: Big-time opponent enters big-time environment and leaves with big-time victory. LSU 24, Georgia 23.

Oct. 10, Tennessee at Knoxville: Any letdown potential after LSU will be overridden by the Kiffin Factor. Georgia 24, Tennessee 13.

Oct. 17, Vanderbilt at Nashville: Another road game in the Volunteer State, this one tougher. But still a Georgia “W.” Georgia 27, Vanderbilt 20.

Oct. 31, Florida at Jacksonville: Strange things happen on Halloween, don’t they? Nothing this strange, I fear. Florida 30, Georgia 17.

Nov. 7, Tennessee Tech at Athens: Don’t look now, but Georgia’s sixth victory will be its third in a row over a team from Tennessee. Georgia 42, Tennessee Tech 10.

Nov. 14, Auburn at Athens: Yes, the road team tends to win in this strange series. But not when Gene Chizik coaches the road team. Georgia 24, Auburn 14.

Nov. 21, Kentucky at Athens: Three in a row for the surging Bulldogs, setting the stage for the big game in Atlanta. Georgia 33, Kentucky 17.

Nov. 28, Georgia Tech at Atlanta: Willie Martinez has had a year to figure out Paul Johnson’s offense. He’ll need another. Georgia Tech 30, Georgia 24.

481 comments Add your comment

wiley

August 12th, 2009
11:02 am

bulldog’s(thats how you spell dogs) fans start griping in 4…3…2…1

Mark Bradley

August 12th, 2009
11:04 am

Bradley, you’re an idiot!

(Beat you to it.)

JWC

August 12th, 2009
11:12 am

I see Bob Petrino and his Hogs getting the win in Fayetteville in wk 3. Arkansas is under the radar this year, much like Bama in 08 was although I dont think they will get 12 wins (9 is very feasible IMO). Look for Petrino and Co. to have a breakout year. He has a QB that can throw the football down the field and taller, more athletic recievers he needs to run the offense….

funnymoneyisanidiot

August 12th, 2009
11:25 am

Mark – PLEASE respond your logic to this….

We ONLY score 20 points against Ok ST (terrible defense) but 24 against SC & TN (wasn’t TN ranked 3rd nationally last year in D)?

Please tell me how you came up with that??

Michael

August 12th, 2009
11:26 am

I think we’ll beat Tech along the lines of 35-13, but I can’t disagree with the rest of your picks. Although I think we are going to put up a few more points on some of those opponents than you do (Only 21 on Arky? Only 27 on Vandy?).

Mark Bradley

August 12th, 2009
11:27 am

The difference in time zones, Funny Money.

Nah. I just see Joe Cox taking at least a game to get it going.

Georgia News – 8/12/09 | MrSEC.com

August 12th, 2009
11:32 am

[...] preliminary talks with Army about scheduling a home-and-home series.Mark Bradley of The AJC sees an 8-4 season on the horizon for the Bulldogs. Join the forum discussion on this post – (1) [...]

Andy

August 12th, 2009
11:36 am

I can live with a 4-loss season (except maybe another loss to GT and its fans’ inevitable boasting). However, it seems to me that Mr. Bradley may be compensating for last year’s over-optimistic predictions by being over-pessimistic this year. Then again, maybe I’m the one being over-optimistic this year, given that we have a new QB. I hope at least the defense plays with more vim, and that we don’t allow ourselves to be taken out of games early on, as happened with FL and AL last year.

Herschel Talker

August 12th, 2009
11:37 am

MB – love the blogging, but there’s no creativity here. Picking them to beat all the teams they should and lose to ones that everyone expects really is useless. Come up with something out of the box.

SEC Homer

August 12th, 2009
11:37 am

I know Richt has an unbelievable record on the road, but UGA will not sweep their SEC road games this year. They will lose either @Ark, @UT, or @Vandy. But I’m not convinced they will lose in Stillwater. OSU’s defense is god awful, and I agree with Michael – that game will be much higher scoring. I’m also not convinced they lose to GT. They will be much more prepared and fired up this time around. 9-3 and Capital One Bowl for the doggies. No shame in that with their schedule.

Mac

August 12th, 2009
11:42 am

I think Joe Cox will pull a John Lastinger and lead them to 10 wins, including over Oklahoma State and Florida.

sswinfordawg

August 12th, 2009
11:42 am

Few things.
Not saying we are going to beat Okie Dokie state but they will score much less than Bradley predicts. UGA will run the ball at will on their terrible defensive line and control the clock. The return of our three monster DTs and some changes at DE (see Washington, Tripp, and Gamble) will make an enormous difference in the pass rush. Ultimately their specialty players will make some plays and score a few points but they will be dominated in the trenches. I would be surprised if they put up more than 21. The big question is wether the Dawgs can put the ball in the end zone.

Tech game: I disagree. You will see the Dawgs play with more intensity and passion than you have seen since the original black out. Dawgs humiliate bugs and PJ at home.

That is all.

Thom

August 12th, 2009
11:44 am

GO DAWGS! ADVERSITY WILL BE OVERCOME! GO COACH RICHT!!!!!!!!! http://www.wedgeorgia.com

Blackberry Cobbler

August 12th, 2009
11:46 am

I think 3 or 4 losses is about right.

SEC Homer, I agree. OSU’s defense is god awful………. but, UGA’s offense also has a lot to prove. Early in the season and at their place, you gotta give the nod to the Cowboys.

jeffrey d

August 12th, 2009
11:49 am

Mark – this article isn’t working for Internet Explorer (I had to switch to Mozilla)

4 losses seems reasonable. I’ll hope for better, but over the last few years I’ve learned that my teams aren’t always as good as I perceive them to be. I wish a few more college football fans would learn this lesson because it makes discussing college football with other fans (in person, on blogs, etc) unbearable.

But here’s hoping Cox is more like Shockley and less like Tereshinski.

big dawg 89

August 12th, 2009
11:49 am

mark, i think we hold ok.st. to under 28, which gives us a chance…we probably will lose a few, but in this league, it’s just too hard to predict which ones.. heck, UK could prove a little problem. we all know we struggle against all the georgia boys that play for USC. and i’ve got to say, who knows what the hell to expect from UT.,, but i do think LSU’s qb will struggle some this year, i just wasn’t impressed with him last year…

i do have $$$ on the dawgs playing the longhorns for the NC.. but i would be satisfied with a 9-3 season, winning a bowl game for another 10 win season..

GO DAWGS..

Mark Bradley

August 12th, 2009
11:50 am

OK, Herschel. How’s this? Tennessee Tech wins in Athens. Far enough out of the box for you?

Mark Bradley

August 12th, 2009
11:51 am

Thanks, Jeffrey D. I’ll try to correct the IE problem.

Saint Simons Lover

August 12th, 2009
11:54 am

I don’t see another loss to Tech, sorry. Everybody get on the Paul Johnson bandwagon again. I remember the defending national champion LSU Tigers last trip to Athens. That game was over at halftime. OSU is overrated. You are dead on with the UF pick. They own us and that won’t change this year. 11-1 and a trip to New Orleans!

Dawg Foot

August 12th, 2009
11:57 am

Mark Bradley – you are full of shat

Mark Bradley

August 12th, 2009
12:00 pm

I believe IE and this post have been rendered compatible. Thanks again, Jeffrey.

Preston

August 12th, 2009
12:00 pm

Thanks Bradley, preseason hype is a kiss of death! UF will be the team of disappointment this year. They’re changing their offense to help Tebow’s draft position and it’s going to hurt them.

DawginLex

August 12th, 2009
12:01 pm

We won’t lose the opener. We won’t lose to LSU. The Florida game will be a war. The Tech game will be a war.

Arkiesaw could trip us. Don’t underestimate the trip upon ol’ rocky.

I see 10 or 11 wins.

[...] See the rest here: The 2009 Georgia Bulldogs: Banking on being unloved | Mark Bradley [...]

Michael

August 12th, 2009
12:03 pm

nothing ticks me off more when reading sports writers work than when they decide to pull predicted game scores out of their behind.

you can only go so far when it comes to predicting, especially a football game…it is almost like, you know as a writer how completely uneducated and unlikely the predictions are…yet you still go out and feel them worthy of post.

really?

anyways, Joe Cox knows the system from front to back…and people forget to do their research and remember Cox was supposed to be “the guy” before we even knew Stafford was committing.

Caleb King was the guy before we know what a Knowshon was. AJ Green, Marlon Brown, and Michael Moore could very likely develop into the best receiving corpse in the East.

And, the defense will be much stronger with fewer injuries.

We have a tough schedule EVERY year…who says we can’t go 10-2 just like 2005? Okie State better be ready to run sideways.

Waushan/whaushoff

August 12th, 2009
12:03 pm

Thanks Mark, You just insured us a 10 win season due to your lame predictions.

PMC

August 12th, 2009
12:05 pm

Has Oklahoma State figured out that they have to play offense AND defense?

They managed less sacks than GEORGIA last year. That’s embarassing. A whole lot of hype. I don’t think they are ASU. I think it’s going to look about like it did the last time Boise State and for that matter Oklahoma State looked when they visited Athens. Great WR, Talented QB, Great RB…. oh wait both of those teams lost right?

Otto

August 12th, 2009
12:06 pm

Mark, I am suggesting Stafford will not be missed.

Cox is more accurate and is leading the team something that Stafford was not vocal about. If the lines stay healthy the big challenges are Okie St only becuase it is the opener, Arkansas has tough timing for UGA oultined in Tony’s blog, and UF. All the other games are very winnable. LSU has to replace talent at DL which has been the rock for their team and their new QB did not look that great against GT. Further when UGA lost to UT it was not due to Chavis but when they had Cutcliff.

Auburn will be improved under Chizik. What the media did not see was the Tubberville staff was very splintered as Franklin said. I was posting this on blogs before that article came out. Auburn UGA is a strange game and Auburn is ripe for an upset. They remind me of UGA ‘06, a young team they may mature just in time for UGA/Auburn. The question is do they have OL depth to compete that late in the season. Chizik will outlast Kiffin.

Bama Aaron

August 12th, 2009
12:07 pm

An interesting set of predictions. Only flaw I see is that the ‘hogs will probably beat them. Petrino is in my opinion a better x’s & o’s coach than Richt and will have more talent than most realize.
Only other thing I see is the LSU loss probably won’t be as close as you’re predicting.

Madison Dawg

August 12th, 2009
12:07 pm

Mark if this is true then when will Cox get benched and Gray take over…….

MattInSTL

August 12th, 2009
12:09 pm

Mark, I think the difference in attitude is palpable, that there will hopefully be a relative absence of injuries as compared to their brutal presence last year (knock on wood), and that Joe Cox is a proven winner and an obvious motivator. 11-1 with the only loss to those hated Gators.

Bryan G.

August 12th, 2009
12:09 pm

I think it’s pretty clear that UGA has more questions than answers right now. I think 9-3 is par for the team (I give them the win against LSU at home or Tech on the “road”), but I honestly have no idea what happens.

Like I’ve said all summer: Win in Stillwater and it’s 10-2 or 11-1. Lose, and it’s 9-3 or 8-4.

PMC

August 12th, 2009
12:10 pm

LSU is frightfully unproven given thier generous rating.

ahope3

August 12th, 2009
12:10 pm

All these UGA bloggers saying that u won’t lose to Tech,
What are you smoking. You must not follow college football at all. I know you remember that game in Athens. Guess what………… Almost everyone is back. You have no chance in Atlanta. We didn’t even open up half the playbook all season. All we did is run it down your throat… maybe you’ll learn how to tackle along those sidelines this year, but it won’t be in Atlanta. Tech is on the rise this year and dawg fans no it, they just don’t wanna admit it.

coach smith

August 12th, 2009
12:13 pm

MARK BRADLEY….

answer this

how come LSU has a a QB that has played ONE GAME, they lost a bunch of good players from a sub-par defense, and UGA blew out of their building and you think they are just going to march into Athens and win?

And I distinctly remember a couple years ago when the Dawgs were coming off a 4 loss season with a bunch of uproven skill player and OSU was supposed to have the best offense in the world and they got their rears kicked out of Sanford Stadium (remember OSU lost to every serious team they played last year)

Florida I give you, until they win it you have to count it as a loss

Tech? Come on! They had to have the sun , moon, and stars align to win that game! Georgia will have a chip on their shoulder in that game…not to mention Having OWENS and Washington back to stuff that run (2 all american type d-linemen Owens/Atkins)

The last time people freaked out about UGA like this was coming inot 2005 when Georgia had lost the likes of Greene, Pollock, Davis, Gibson, Brown, Thurman, Moses, ALL IN ONE OFFSEASON and what happened? A fifth year senior QB first time starter and a RB by committie lead the DAWGS to a SEC champinoship

UGA will have one of the best line of scrimmages on BOTH sides of the ball….great skill players Green, Moore, M.Brown, Charles, King, C.THomas, Ealey etc…

Georgia goes 10-2 with an outside shot at 11-1 and a BCS bowl

god and greyhound

August 12th, 2009
12:13 pm

uog: 6-6, loss to Tulsa in the Independence Bowl

Andy

August 12th, 2009
12:15 pm

I have to agree with some of the bloggers who think M. Bradley underestimates the Bulldogs’ chances in the opener against OK St. Historically, the dawgs have done very well in opening games. They have also have also historically done very well on the road. I’m not saying it’s in the bag, but I think they will at the very least give the ‘boys a game.

Volman

August 12th, 2009
12:16 pm

This made my day. Thank you Mr. Bradley. Tech will be UGA. I know it’s easy to take stabs at Kiffin (and it gets you your attention) but I doubt UGA will score that much in Knoxville. This might be the last year that you can pencil in the Tennessee game as an easy victory like you did today. Times are changin’.

Also, looks like Tech is going to stay above UGA for a while.

god and greyhound

August 12th, 2009
12:18 pm

Sept. 5, Oklahoma State L

Sept. 12, South Carolina at Athens: W

Sept. 19, Arkansas at Fayetteville, Ark.: L

Sept. 26, Arizona State at Athens: W

Oct. 3, LSU at Athens: L

Oct. 10, Tennessee at Knoxville: L

Oct. 17, Vanderbilt at Nashville: W

Oct. 31, Florida at Jacksonville: L

Nov. 7, Tennessee Tech at Athens: W

Nov. 14, Auburn at Athens: W

Nov. 21, Kentucky at Athens: W

Nov. 28, Georgia Tech at Atlanta: L

Late Dec. Independence Bowl in Shreveport vs. Tulsa : L

Final Record: 6-7

coach smith

August 12th, 2009
12:20 pm

where are all of these quote unquote “questions” Georgia has to answer?

You have a fifth year senior QB who has played in crunch time and led UGA to a victory and knows the offense

Samuels and King have already had a ton of playing time, and Carlton Thomas and Ealey will add to that

Green is an All-American type, Moore came on at the end of the year, M.Brown will play and be big time, Charles will get in the mix

Owens and Sturdivant and Vance are back to make both lines outstanding (UGA goes 10 deep on the o-line)

Washington is back, Curran and the LBs are outstanding,

UGA returns 16 starters and adds two All-SEC lineman in Sturdivant and Ownes making the number 18

so again…where are all these supposed questions?

Max

August 12th, 2009
12:22 pm

Ga fans have no clue how mediocre their team will be this year coupled with a difficult schedule. They are as delusional as pelousy. I’ll be hearing a lot of cursing out at the sport bars this season from the rednecks. Heard the f bomb 20 times during the Uf game last year in a place where parents go with children. Real classy fans ya know.

Lee Dawg

August 12th, 2009
12:22 pm

I hate predictions before the season starts. I think the key is the 1st 4 games. Win out in September and look out! This Dog can hunt! Split them and we are looking at 3 or 4 losses. Either way, as long as we fight from start to finish. I don’t think the Dogs have played an entire 60 minutes since LSU at UGA in 2005. Would really like to see that!

reebok

August 12th, 2009
12:23 pm

Well, Georgia can at least declare themselves State Champs of Tennessee. And maybe trounce Memphis in the Champs Sports Bowl to go 4-0 against the Volunteer State?

I’m a Tech fan and I think UGA will go 9-3…which is the same record I am predicting for GT, BTW…see you on the Flats in November!

Who Cares?

August 12th, 2009
12:23 pm

coach smith

August 12th, 2009
12:24 pm

isn’t it SOOOOOOOOOOOOO funny how TECH gets all these accolades for going 9-4 while GEORGIA is upset and being slammed for 10-3

Tech goes 9-4 and they are the second coming

UGA goes 10-3 finsihes 10th starts 13th (ahead of Tech) and it is doom and gloom

I caution TECHIES to realize that they stayed in alot of games because of their defense….and their defense is liable to take a STEP BACK with the loss of Johnson and others

mcdawg

August 12th, 2009
12:25 pm

more inclined for 10-2 // i forsee about 7-8 yds a carry in Stillwater and we won’t lose to GT again

1eyedJack

August 12th, 2009
12:25 pm

I’m just ready for toe to meet leather so we can start showing these naysayers how wrong they are.

jrmdvm1

August 12th, 2009
12:26 pm

All I want is for the Dawgs to be “in” every game, mentally and physically, for the entire game. If that happens ( if there is “no quit in ‘em” ), then the record will be ok, no matter what it is. I am very optimistic that if they are “in” every game, the record will be better than most think it will be.

Demosthenes

August 12th, 2009
12:27 pm

Mark, UGA is too good in the trenches on both sides of the ball to not upset at least one of the four teams you’ve picked them to lose to; most likely winning at OSU and vs. LSU. Additionally the talent level isn’t there at Tech to compare with UGA; they lost to Tech last year for execution, not game planning or skill. People tend to forget that Tech was held to 40+ yards in the first half of the 2008 game. UGA should have never lost last year, there is no way they let that happen again this year. They should beat the other 8 you named, but TN, AU or AR could trip them up. I’d think 9 or 10 wins is more likely.

Sanford Drive

August 12th, 2009
12:27 pm

8 – 4 sounds about right. I don’t see Cox throwing for 400 yards per game like Stafford. And if our defense maintains status quo there will be issues. We’ll see. Predictions are for the birds anyway