It seems to start earlier each season and this year's starting gun has fired. Dennis Dodd and his pundits over at CBSSsports spent just over 5 minutes droning on about how UGA can't win the SEC, but should be able win a weak East provided UGA does not stumble at Missouri in today's podcast (opens the player in a new window and the UGA "discussion" begins around 4:58 and ends at 10:05). While I don't necessarily disagree that UGA is a step from winning the SEC this year, I personally think that it is a much smaller step than most people are giving the Dawgs credit for. Some some of the highlights you can expect to listen to if you desire to hear Dennis Dodd blather along are:
14-1 odds to win the MNC this year, but do not play LSU, Bama, or Arkansas and how that should help UGA reach the SECCG. Firstly I am not that high on Alabama being as dominating as they were last season, they are replacing 7 starters on Defense and 5 on Offense, Bama has to plug some major holes. They can do it, but will it be quick enough to allow them to be sitting in the catbird seat at the end of the season? LSU is likely to repeat as the West Champions and should be solid, but they are loosing 10 starters (5 Off/5 Def) and are bringing in a new quarterback. OK, so this is the same QB that gave Aaron a run for his money a few years ago, but he has not had many snaps in pressure situations in the SEC. Metts should be able to lead LSU but may struggle with some pressure and decision making early on. Arkansas still does not impress me. Wilson is a good QB, and as a 5th year redshirt starting QB at an upper echelon SEC team, he should be. But that is all I see him as...a GOOD QB. Arkansas has to replace some key components to keep Wilson looking as good as he did last season and secondly they still have a defense that would allow major points against good high school 5A teams. Is UGA as good as the leaders in the West? Maybe, probably not there yet, but we are a damn sight closer than we were in December of 2011.
The Doddcast crew finds the conversion of a wide receiver to corner back "scary" and make it sound like our 2 starting CBs' arrests are career enders. Funny, but I thought Mitchell was a converted DB to begin with, and something tells me that we may be OK when a surgically repaired James Franklin and his Mizzou Tigers welcome UGA to Columbia. After that is is 10 starters on a Defense that should shred offenses better than they did last season.
Dodd apparently "learned his lesson" with putting faith in UGA back in 2007/2008 when everyone went "all-in with Georgia as a pre-season #1" and will never "stick his neck out" for UGA again. The Doddcast crew sees this season being a re-play of last year where UGA wins the East and fails miserably in the SECCG.
They end the UGA segment with the tired question of "if Richt and UGA go 10-2 and loose horribly in the SECCG as they did last season, is Richt on the HotSeat?" Now, I give Dodd a little credit as he does mention the "contract extension", but sees Richt as a man who cannot take UGA to the next level.
So in short, what can we expect in the coming season? More of the same as far as it goes with the media. They will again state that UGA is lucky not to play "the best of the West", analyze every small incident with the Hershel Telescope (the world's largest infrared telescope), beat the drum on how inferior the East is to the West, and give very little respect to a program that returns 10 starters on Defenses, a 3 year starter at QB, a RB Corps that features some great developing talent. Hell give us an O-Line and let our new kicker be able to hit 40 yarders consistently and I might get a little optimistic this season.