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The Pessimist's Guide to the Georgia Bulldogs' 2010 Football Season (or, "Elvis is dead, and I don't feel so good myself.")

Disclaimer:  If you're looking for an upbeat preview of the upcoming 2010 college football season; one in which the promise and potential of the forthcoming contests are closely examined in a rose-colored light... you might as well just click over to another post right now.  This will not be pretty.

You know it, I know it, heck, even Orson ƒwindle knows it...  right now, in 2010, it sucks to be a Georgia Bulldog.  Ever since that glorious moment in the Superdome when Marcus Howard ripped Colt Brennan's soul asunder with 9:00 left in the 3rd quarter, our fortunes on the athletic field have been plummeting like the price of pot in California a British oil company's stock price.   We managed to ride the wave of "what happened last year must equal what's going to happen next year" to a preseason #1 ranking in 2008, and then suffered one of the worst losses in program history against Florida, followed by a completely different kind of  "worst loss in program history" to hahahahaha {{{{{{{{{ 45-42 }}}}}}}}}}  the Golden Tornado.  To be fair, though, that was probably really Kyle's fault for being so optimistic.

We then entered the 2009 season with a flu-ridden, perennial second-string quarterback, and had our expectations immediately reset with a heart-crunching 24-10 defeat on the Oklahoma prairie.  And I don't have to remind you that it didn't go uphill from there.  Along the way, we've managed to drag virtually the rest of the entire UGA athletic department along with us, as well... from the baseball team to the gymnastics team to the basketball team golf and tennis teams, every one seems to have suffered setbacks along with their big, revenue-generating brother.

Every Dawg has his day, though, right?  I mean, we've been down for so long that the cyclical, random nature of the universe must eventually conspire to allow Georgia to reverse their fortunes and have a successful season that ends with respectability and a top-10 ranking (or better), right?

Nope.

I understand that there may be some discussion on this issue, though, so let's examine the upcoming 2010 football season game by game:

Game 1:  vs. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns

Why the Dawgs will win:  Georgia has never lost a game to a current member of the Sun Belt conference. 

Why the Dawgs will lose: I remember another season when Mike Bobo led a much-anticipated Georgia offense onto the field for the first game of the season against a lightly-regarded opponent from the Gulf Coast region.  A victory was assumed and assured. Someone forgot to tell the Southern Miss Eagles they were merely cannon fodder, however, and the 1996 edition of the Georgia Bulldogs walked off the field with an 0-1 start to the season.

Projection: Loss
Real Prediction: Win

2009_star_trek_uhura_closeup_medium
It's also Kyle's fault that this was the first image returned when I googled "Jim Donnan Southern Miss," so I'm posting it here.  I'd rather look at a picture of Nyota Uhura  than a forlorn Jim Donnan, anyway.

 

Game 2:  @ South Carolina Gamecocks

Why the Dawgs will win:  Hey, what happened last year is surely going to happen this year, right?  After all, over the course of the entire 62-game series Georgia has only lost to South Carolina on average once every three years, and in the last 9 years, the Bulldogs have lost twice...  uh oh.

Why the Dawgs will lose: This will be the first real test of Todd Grantham's new defense, and no one should expect a learning-curve-free experience as a major new scheme is broken in. The Gamecocks are the also only team in the SEC East not to have lost any major portions of its coaching staff.  In addition, they are returning 17 starters off of last year's team. So much of the rest of the SEC East has undergone so much upheaval and personnel losses in the offseason that if they were any other team, the Gamecocks would be the favorite this year. 100+ years of losing is a hell of a tradition, however, and old habits are hard to break.  Still... if it doesn't happen this year, it won't ever happen, and step one is beating the Dawgs.

Projection: Loss
Real Prediction: Loss

 

Game 3:  vs. Arkansas Razorbacks

Why the Dawgs will win: Historically, Georgia has owned SEC West teams, Arkansas included. In fact, the last time the Hogs beat the Dawgs, they were enjoying only their second season in the SEC, and a goof named Goff was at the Bulldogs' helm. Georgia has more talent returning than Arkansas, and the Hogs secondary couldn't even stop Joe Cox last year.  As long as Aaron Murray doesn't forget A.J. Green's jersey number and remembers that Caleb King and Washaun Ealey run this state, the Dawgs should get it done.

Thestate_medium
Remembering this is a key to Georgia's season.

Why the Dawgs will lose: The Hogs secondary couldn't possibly be any worse than it was during last year's game, and Georgia barely eked out a win then.  There's not yet any basis to believe that the Dawgs' new defense will be any better at stopping Ryan Mallet & Co. than they were last year, when they were sliced and diced for 41 points.  If Arky's defense is improved at all, they have more than a decent chance at coming out victorious.

Projection: Loss
Real Prediction: Tossup/Win

 

Game 4:  @ Mississippi State Bulldogs

Why the Dawgs will win: Because the Bulldogs are guaranteed to win this one (rimshot). Miss. State hasn't beaten Georgia since Gerald Ford was President of the United States, and has only won in Starkville once... in 1951.  Let's face it, history just ain't on the Magnolia State Bulldogs' side.  Georgia has won 9 straight and 15 out of the last 17 in the series.

Why the Dawgs will lose:  Trends are great and all, but as Benjamin Disraeli once said, there are 3 types of lies... lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Benjamin_d_medium
"You don't even know who I am!"

The Mississippi State Bulldogs are unquestionably in the ascendancy after a surprisingly successful 5-7 season, and while Dan Mullen's biggest question is who will start at QB this year, both candidates seem to be very talented, and I personally think he's just giving lip service to the issue, since one is a 4th-year junior and one is a redshirt freshman.  I mean, really... who starts a redshirt freshman at quarterback over a 4th-year junior?

... (awkward pause)...

Mullen knows how to plan an offense that will exploit Georgia's weaknesses, and his team's hallmark last year was controlling the ball and trying to dictate the tempo of the game.  They weren't always successful, but they certainly looked more impressive than they have in years past.  I fully expect State to be 2-1 heading into the home game vs. Georgia (with games against Memphis, Auburn, and Arkansas), and riding a wave of cowbells support that could very much lift them to the biggest victory of the young Dan Mullen era.  Laugh if you must... but I'm serious.

Projection: Loss
Real Prediction: Tossup/Loss

 

Game 5:  @ Colorado

Why the Dawgs will win: Colorado sucks.  No, really... Colorado has had the same number of wins as Mississippi State over the past 5 years (their record: 23-39). The Dan Hawkins experiment went sour a couple of years ago, but CU can't fire him because they can't afford the $850,000 per year they would owe him for the remaining 4 years of his contract.  (Yet, they can somehow afford the $10 million payment required to leave the Big XII.  Don't look at me, they're supposed to be the smart ones.  I was told there would be no math.)  The talent gap between Georgia and Colorado is larger than any other team from a BCS conference that Georgia will face.

Why the Dawgs will lose: Ok, so that 5-year period over which Colorado has looked like a Sun Belt team?  That includes a trip to Sanford Stadium where Georgia got a 14-13 win that it really didn't deserve. Georgia will be playing CU on the day that they will be honoring their 1990 national championship team, who we all know was the only legitimate national champion that year, so it's likely the crowd will actually be more, well, there than normal. Georgia will be taking the long trip out west 1 week after it just completed another long road trip... one that would be its longest road trip in most other years.  I'm not saying rest is a factor, but your schedule just gets messed up when you do long travel days, and the altitude and time zone changes are likely to mean that Georgia will try to travel a day early, or do some other such thing... and that's another change to the schedule.  Our guys are conditioned to adapt, but all those changes that upset your schedule just aren't good, and they open the door.

Projection: Loss
Real Prediction: Win

 

Game 6:  vs. Tennessee

Why the Dawgs will win: Tennessee's program has been through so much disarray lately that they make this whole "BP oil spill thing" look positively Zen by comparison.  Their talent cupboard was low to begin with, and some of their best newer recruits have now left since Coach WunderKiffin blew town. I honestly think Derek Dooley would turn UT around if they gave him time (hint: they won't), but 2010 will get ugly.  Really ugly.  A 6-6 season with a bowl bid would be a massive victory for the Vols this season... I'm thinking more like 3-4 wins.

Image083_medium
Sorry, kid... that's the way it has to be.  When you lie down with Lane Kiffin, you stand up with fleas.

Why the Dawgs will lose: No Georgia fan should ever take for granted a win against a team that has beaten you 3 out of the last 4 years by scores of 51-33, 35-14, and 45-19... and none of those games were as close as the scores indicated.  If Jonathan Crompton and Erik Ainge can figure out a way to take the Dawgs behind the woodshed, then it doesn't matter who Big Creamsicle is lining up... they can beat us.

Projection: Loss
Real Prediction: Tossup/Win

 

Game 7:  vs. Vanderbilt

Why the Dawgs will win: Bobby Johnson has built a surprisingly respectable program over the last 8 years, but the Commies stretched themselves to new limits in 2008, but the rubber band snapped back hard in 2009. (For you math types, they "regressed back to the mean.") There are many starters returning, but if you can't defend the run, you can't win in the SEC, especially against Georgia in 2010. (Vandy gave up 197 rushing yards/game in 2009.)

Why the Dawgs will lose: Vandy's (arguably) best returning starter is the 2009 SEC Freshman of the Year, running back Warren Norman from Stone Mountain, GA.  He had 3 kickoff returns for touchdowns in 2009 (but, surprisingly, none against UGA).  If Georgia's kickoff coverage is as craptacular as it was last year, Norman could parlay his running and kickoff return prowess into the kind of homecoming no Dawg fan wants to see.

Projection: Loss
Real Prediction: Win

 

Game 8:  @ Kentucky

Why the Dawgs will win: Rich Brooks is gone, and so will be the magic for Kentucky.  Georgia has more talent than the Wildcats, and instead of catching them in the middle of a brutal Florida-Auburn-Tech run, we get them this year after playing Vanderbilt.

Why the Dawgs will lose: Joker Phillips is running the program the same way Rich Brooks did, so the transition will be negligible, if not nonexistent. Kentucky's program has been on the rise for several years now, and Georgia has only managed to split the last 4 meetings with them 2-2.  We've had more talent than them the past 4 years, so why should it matter that we have more talent than them in 2010?  The Dawgs will also be looking ahead to a game against what will probably appear to be a very vulnerable Florida team.

Judd_mediumAlton-brown-fish_medium
And we've already lost the "famous alumni" contest.

Projection: Loss
Real Prediction: Tossup/Loss

 

Game 9:  vs. Florida @ Jacksonville

Why the Dawgs will win: Florida lost 9 players to the NFL draft.  Over the past 2 seasons, they've also lost both their offensive and defensive coordinators. On top of all that, Jesus doesn't love the Gators anymore because Tim Tebow is now living in Denver. You don't just pick up and recover overnight from those kinds of losses.  The Gators do have an uber-talented QB to replace Tebow, but he won't be the same kind of leader Tebow is, and that gives Georgia an opportunity.

Why the Dawgs will lose: Georgia doesn't need a reason to lose to Florida.  They just do it.

Projection: Loss
Real Prediction: Tossup/Loss

 

Game 10:  vs. Idaho State

Why the Dawgs will win: If one were to be capable of having positive hopes and expectations for this team (which, officially, I am not), one would point out that Georgia is a 1-A/FBS/big-brother team, Idaho State is a 1-AA/FCS/little-brother team, and that losing this game is both unthinkable and practically un-doable.

Why the Dawgs will lose: You know that kid that runs out and grabs the tee from the field after a kickoff? Idaho State has the best tee-retriever in the country.  Remember when Appalachian State game into the Big House and beat Michigan?  They had the best tee-retriever in the country, that year, too.  For realz, yo.

Appalachian
The A-State players are seen here carrying the coach off the field in the Big House, but do you know who the guy in front is turning around to congratulate?  The tee-retriever, man.  Couldn't have won without him.

Projection: Loss
Real Prediction: Win

 

Game 11:  @ Auburn

Why the Dawgs will win: Finally, after long years of Vince Dooley secretly throwing all those games against his alma mater losing to Auburn the way all subsequent coaches have lost to Florida, Georgia finally has Auburn's number.  The Dawgs have won 4 straight in the series.

Why the Dawgs will lose: See previous comment regarding lies, damned lies, etc.  If Auburn is not your sleeper pick (or even outright pick) to win the SEC West, they should be.  The Tigers/War Eagles/Plainsmen Tiglesmen return 5 senior starters on the offensive line, in addition to Mario Fannin and Kodi Burns. Their only real question on offense is whether or not ex-Gator Cam Newton will be good enough to hit the ground running in game 1.  I'm guessing that by game 11, he'll have worked the kinks out on the field, and even if the Tiglesmen aren't contending for the SEC, they'll be good enough to take the Dawgs down.

Projection: Loss
Real Prediction: Tossup/Loss

 

Game 12:  vs. Georgia Tech

Why the Dawgs will win: Because Washaun Ealey and Caleb King run this state.

Why the Dawgs will lose: Because when you're way off west in Colorado and Mississippi, Paul Johnson will sneak into your house behind you and try to start running the state, too.  And you might not notice it until it's too late and you're arm-tackling people who've haven't been successfully arm-tackled in the previous 11 games they've played.

Projection: Loss
Real Prediction: Tossup/Win

 

Final win/loss record prediction: 

At this point, I can see no way that Georgia can avoid an 0-12 football season. Mark Richt will undoubtedly get fired, Sanford Stadium will be burned to the ground, and the statue of Vince Dooley in the Butts-Mehre plaza will be permanently painted creamsicle-orange from top to bottom.  Basically, the 2010 football season can be summed up by the following:

Shaka_medium

 

Real conclusion & prediction: As usual, the Bulldogs have a great deal of tossup games that could go either way. The main deciding factors in most of these games will be: a) How quickly the new 3-4 defense can get up to speed and avoid game-breaking mistakes,  b) the game management skills & mental toughness of Aaron Murray, and c) the ability of Mike Bobo to run the ball more than he passes it, thereby avoiding putting pressure on his freshman QB to win every game for the team.  The way I'm currently leaning, I'm seeing 7-5, maybe 8-4, as we break in a new quarterback and a new defensive scheme.  Depending on how the breaks go, however, we could be as high as 11-1 or as low as 4-8.

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