I'm certainly not the college football expert the owner and operator of this outstanding web-blog is nor the noted notables who frequent it. I'm just a loyal Dawgs fan, an alumnus, and, like Al Bundy, I played high school football. I don't keep up with what is happening with other programs around the conference and nation, but I do try to keep up, during the off-season, with what's happening with the Dawgs. So, my analysis will be one simply of the vibe I feel as a fan who has watched carefully the progress of the team. I'm thinking of broad trends and movement over the long term here.
With those preliminaries out of the way, let me state that I think this is going to be a pivotal year in the history of Mark Richt's, hopefully very long and fruitful, tenure as Georgia's coach. We have had great success since Richt came aboard, no doubt, but I feel as if this year is going to show us what kind of coach he really is and what kind of program we are going to have long term. Richt's years now of solid recruiting and building the program into a consistent contender should by now have accumulated some critical mass. Last season, one called a rebuilding year or a down year, was one in which we beat Auburn, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech in a major bowl game. We can all remember years in which that in and of itself would have marked a very successful year. No longer. While we'll take beating Aubrun and Tech, and savor it every time, we now expect more.
What more we can righfully expect this year will depend 100% on Richt as a coach now entering his full stride. This year's conference competition is probably going to be tougher than it has ever been, at least within the past 20 years. Every team in the SEC is expected to be improved and we all know that no one can be taken lightly. Do we have a team that can truly do what has to be done to win, are we the real power we want to be? The answer will be provided in all that Richt has done thus far and will do starting at kickoff time against Oklahoma State. The O-line worries me. An offensive minded coach like Richt should realize the obvious importance of that facet of the game, but I wonder if things are not better than they appear precisely because of who he is. Richt has shown every evidence of being good. Good at recruiting. Good at managing and motivating the team. I've had quibbles with some play calls now and then. I would imagine we all have. Such is the nature of being a football fan. He's gone with Stafford who as we have all seen has tons of promise. This season will tell us if that promise is for real, and it will start very early. I am expecting a lot from Stafford. Oklahoma State and South Carolina will provide real tests for this team early on. After those two games we will know a great deal about where we are going, not only this year but, I really feel, for years to come. This is a year which will set the course for many to come. I know some are a little apprehensive about the upcoming season, but for myself, I can't wait. This year we are going to turn the next corner, step up the next rung and compete with the real big boys out there or we are not. I, for one, believe we are, and I'm very excited that's it getting closer every day to kickoff time.