I'm ashamed that I missed this yesterday, but Jeff Owens blogged Monday on his first day back at practice since his 2008 ACL injury. To say he seemed pleased would be an understatement on par with calling Nick Saban "a little bit of a workaholic":
Within seconds, I felt alive being out there. My confidence came back as soon as I put my helmet on. I didn’t realize how much I missed the little things that go into getting prepared for this game.
I don't think Owens' importance to this football team can be overstated. Sometimes you just need an emotional leader like him on the field, and having that guy standing on the sidelines in shorts with a towel around his neck just isn't the same thing. With Kade Weston's durability issues, Deangelo Tyson's youth and Ricardo Crawford and Brandon Wood still struggling to make an impact, we really need big Jeff healthy and ready when we go to Stillwater in September. If that group really steps up (along with the ever-reliable Geno Atkins), they could be one of the strengths of the 2009 team. But in my opinion, Owens is the linchpin of the whole thing.
So far the message coming out of Athens this spring has been encouraging. Take Owens' account of a recent speech the team received from former Colts coach Tony Dungy:
Dungy, spoke to us and talked about doing things uncommon. Our team is a collection of uncommon men working toward a common goal—having the best season that we can. I believe in the coaches at UGA and what they stand for.
Everyone from Coach Richt on down seems to have acknowledged that last season was not what they were hoping for, and the team seems to have a huge chip on its collective shoulder. When that's been the case in the past (2005, for example) the results have generally been good. Only time will tell on this season, and there are plenty of things to worry about. But having a fired up Jeff Owens on the field makes me a lot less nervous. Until later,