Unless you have been bunkered down with Mike Vick discussing legal options, you probably know that the University of Georgia's college football season kicks off in earnest in a mere 12 days. In honor of this auspicious 12th day before kickoff, I'd like to present the "countup" of things you need to know about University of Georgia football as we approach 0 hour. . .
0- The precise number of interceptions thrown by one Matthew Stafford in Firday's second scrimmage of the preseason. His final line of 14-17 passing for 218 yards and 4 touchdowns is precisely what this team needs. With a young defense, we simply cannot afford the type of momentum killing turnovers deep in our own territory that occurred with alarming frequency in the first year of the Stafford era (what? too soon?).
1- The number of seasons Falcons' quarterback and UGA alum D.J. Shockley will miss with a torn ACL and a damaged MCL. Shockley looked to be in command of Bobby Petrino's offense when he went down in the 4th quarter of Atlanta's preseason win over Buffalo, which makes the injury that much more frustrating. D.J. has come back from injury before, and is the consummate workout warrior. But this is the kind of injury that can hamper the career of even a solid NFL veteran. For a guy who (as much as we all admire him) is still an unproven journeyman, it's an injury that could hurt his chances of even getting a long look in the NFL. I hope you'll join me in rooting for and praying for a DGD.
2- Number of parents freshman linebacker Rennie Curran, Jr. has who are working hard to help friends and family from their homeland of Liberia make it in the U.S. Those who follow such things will tell you that Rennie Curran Sr. and Josie Curran should be commended for their efforts. Liberia is probably full of wonderful people, if the Liberian-Americans I've met are any indication. But it is a desperate place filled with desperate people, and geopolitically speaking was for a long time about as close to hell on Earth as you'll likely find. I'm guessing that this knowledge may make young Curran a bit more thankful than your average college freshman.
3- Number of tailbacks who appear set to play now that Caleb King has been hampered by a hamstring injury for most of a week. King showed flashes throughout camp, but in the end he's still our lightest (behind the newly bulked up Thomas Brown) and least experienced tailback. All of that adds up to pass protection liability, the kiss of death in Mark Richt's tailback rotation. Caleb will have plenty of opportunities next season, and will benefit more than even he may know from a year in the system. Three is also the highest number that Reggie Ball can count to, but that hardly counts as news.
4- The jersey number worn by Sean Bailey, who caught a 40 yard TD pass from Stafford in Friday's scrimmage. It is impossible to overestimate how much this offense needs a vertical threat to open up the middle of the field for high percentage short/intermediate passing routes. Here's hoping Sean Bailey can finally become that threat.
5- Number of freshmen who appear set to play on the offensive line. Trinton Sturdivant appears set to start at left tackle, next to guard Chris Davis. Clint Boling is seeing time at tackle and guard as a reserve and Justin Anderson and Ben Harden are both still pushing for playing time. Once all is said and done, I think we'll have good class separation and some great linemen. But the early going is going to be tough sledding up front.
6- The number worn by Kregg Lumpkin, who may have again given up his ceremonial spot as the starting tailback to Thomas Brown. It's really a distinction without a difference, as we'll continue to see both of them regularly, along with a healthy dose of Knowshon Moreno.
7- The number of defensive tackles that substitution-happy position coach Rodney Garner will play. David Ching reports that Jeff Owens and Kade Weston appear to be the starters right now, but that Geno Atkins (who had passed Weston on the depth chart at one time), Corvey Irvin, Tripp Taylor and Jarius Wynn should also see the field. I would add that speedy redshirt freshman Brandon Wood may see the field some in 3rd down situations if he can get over the back trouble he's had this summer.
8-P.M. That's what time you needed to arrive at Sanford Stadium on Friday night if you wanted to beat devoted Dawg fan Joe D'Angelo of Athens to the front of the line for a ticket to get your picture made with UGA VI. D'Angelo said that he camped out all night for his 2 year old daughter, who can't get enough of UGA (the dog, not the school). That's one young lady who should take note of her daddy's fortitude. Just imagine the lengths he could be convinced to go to for a candy apple red corvette . . .
9- Number of times the University of Georgia football team has lost to the University of South Carolina on a football field since 1960 (versus 31 wins). To quote Paul Westerdawg: "Chicken curse my ass. You guys just suck."
10- The perfect score in gymnastics, achieved by UGA great and soon-to-be Circle of Honor member Hope Spivey 27 times during her UGA career. Congratulations are definitely in order for this Damn Good GymDog.
11- Approximate score, on a scale of 1 to 10, of this photo of Florida tailback Kestahn Moore on the Lou Holtz Memorial "You Geaux, Heauxmeaux!"-meter. (HT: Orson Swindle). Side note to Gator fans: [insert Matt Stafford/Talladega joke here. Go ahead, we have it coming to us.]
12- On second thought, I give Kestahn a 12. That picture needs to be blown up and taken to Jacksonville. I'm on my way to Kinko's. I'll be back tomorrow with some recruiting notes, but until then . . .