This is it, Dawg fans! The preseason ramblings and rantings are done. The meaningless preseason polls have been released and complained about in nauseating detail. The preview magazines have been read over and over so many times until they are dog-eared, worn-out shells of their former selves. We have made it to game week.
Six days hence, between the hallowed hedges of Sanford Stadium, your Georgia Bulldogs will take the field to open the 2015 college football season against the Warhawks of the University of Lousiana at Monroe. That not enough to get you going? Fine, but you asked for it:
/runs through brick wall
As the Dawgs (and Redcoats) are getting their game week rituals started back up, so are we here at Dawg Sports. Let's get this train rolling, then, with our first game-week post of the season! I'm letting the following people know that, for Week 1 of the 2015 season, You're On Notice, Dawg!
In no particular order:
1) Steve Spurrier - The holder of our "honorary" #1 spot returns for the 2015 season. Why Steve Spurrier? Because he hates us, we hate him, and because I have it from a very authoritative source inside the South Carolina administration that he's going to retire at some point very, very soon PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST GO.
2) Living in the Past - As we kick off the 2015 season, the Georgia Bulldogs are 34 seasons removed from the last season in which we won a national championship behind an award-winning running back. Also, we have won exactly 1 SEC Championship in the last 10 years. For those keeping track at home, when the Georgia Bulldogs kicked off the 1980 season, it had been 34 years since Georgia's last season in which we could claim a national championship at the hands of an award-winning running back (1946, with Charley Trippi), and we had won exactly 1 SEC championship in the previous 10 years. Would someone in August of 1980 have been considered crazy for ranting on and on about how that 1980 team wasn't anywhere near as good as Trippi's 1946 squad? Just think about that for a minute. However you decide the answer, though, remember that the last 15 years have been, objectively, the best 15-year period in the history of Georgia football. The only thing missing has been that elusive national championship ring (though we've been close many times). Still, however, this is the new Golden Age of Georgia football. Enjoy this season, enjoy our loaded talent, and cheer for these Dawgs as though this is the season in which they'll capture that elusive "next national title." Because, as chance would have it, this might just be the case.
3) People who will scream, "FIRE SCHOTTENHEIMER" after the first punt of the game - I mean, look, this is the same crowd who's been screaming to FIRE BOBO/Richt/Friend/All the S&C coaches/ERRBODY since time immemorial, so I realize calling them out is futile. The point is, however, that even against a middle-tier Sun Belt team, we're not going to score on every possession and get a turnover or make them go 3 & out on defense on every possession. Things will go wrong, playcalls will not turn out the way they should, and some bad things will happen at some point. This will also happen next week in our SEC opener in Nashville.
4) People who will scream "BENCH (Ramsay/Lambert/Bauta) AND PUT (someone else between Ramsay/Lambert/Bauta) IN THE DANG GAME, SCHOTTY!" after the first INT or botched snap/handoff - For the same reason as in #3. Sure, if you've got 2 quarterbacks, you've got none, but what if you've got 3 quarterbacks? Does that mean you have -1? Or the square root of 2? I'm not a Tech man or anything, so I need some clarification about how this calculation works.
5) Brian Schottenheimer - I must admit that this is my greatest concern heading into the season. I was a Mike Bobo critic for many years, but since about 2011 or 2012, I swung firmly into his corner. Coach Bobo grew steadily to become one of the best OC's in the country (at least, by the numbers), and we can't honestly expect to simply replace him with anybody else and march on as if nothing had happened. We don't know what Schotty's tendencies will be in calling college games. We don't know how he'll react to seeing certain defensive lineups and offensive missteps. We, basically, don't really know much about him at all. (Yes, yes, he has a long NFL history, but this ain't the NFL. If he tries to call UGA games exactly like he would call an NFL game, we'll be in big trouble.) Mostly, I think Schotty's job in 2015 is pretty much the same as the starting QB's job: don't screw up Nick Chubb. Don't overthink the situation and call 4 verts on 3rd and 1 from our own 39 yard line. Don't take the ball away from our most proven offensive position and put it instead in the hands of a new QB and an unproven WR corps. We'll need the passing game, of course, but not at the expense of our running game. Do you know how many passing yards we had in our season opener last year against #16-ranked Clemson? Just 131. 131 passing yards in 26 attempts, against 328 rushing yards on 41 carries. Now that's what I'm talking about. We need to have a passing threat, but our bread and butter this year will be pounding the rock. That's where our talent lies, and that's where we need to be focused.
6) Whomever's job it is to hand off to Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, et al - So, it's just 6 days before our first game, and we don't yet know who will be taking the first snap Between the Hedges this Saturday. It does seem that the quarterback race has, as most people anticipated, come down to Brice Ramsay and Greyson Lambert. I wouldn't be surprised, though, if Faton Bauta figures into a formation or two, as well. Whoever is named the starter by Richt and Schotty, we all know that the QB's primary job this season will mostly be to not make a mistake that will cost us the game. The combination of Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, and (we all hope) Keith Marshall will be a powerful instrument with which to pound opposing defenses. We'll need the QB, though, to provide a reliable, smart passing attack to prevent those defenses from loading up 9 or more guys in the box to stop the run. I think any of our 3 QB's can probably do that, though Ramsay's past form in limited appearances does make me question his judgement somewhat. Of course, Lambert didn't win the Heisman or anything at Virginia, so there's no reason to think he's appreciably better than Ramsay. And Bauta probably has a Hutson Mason-like arm. So, whoever gets the nod this year... just make sure you know how to hand the ball off and not throw an interception. That'll be good enough, I think.
7) Our run defense - So much of our great defensive players from last year return to this team that it's easy to forget that we still have some questions about their abilities. Specifically, as it relates to our ability to defend the run. Several teams last year were able to line it up against us and run all over the field. We were frequently able to overcome this with our exceptional offense, but to be a truly great team, we have to have a defense that can stand up and stop the other guys from toting the rock.
8) Students with Tickets - I've gotten a lot of flak in past years for calling out the students for not appearing en masse at all home games, even those against cupcake teams. I promise, however, that if the students show up early and loud on Saturday, this will be both the first and last time this season they appear on this list. The large student section at Sanford Stadium is one of our biggest assets, but we cannot use that asset to our advantage if the students don't show up or aren't loud, boisterous, and cheering all game for our boys. We need the students just as much as we need the Redcoat Band. It's a vital part of our home-field advantage.
That's it for now! We'll have more of our regular game-week features kicking in over the next few days, so until then, let me know below why I'm crazy both to call out detractors of Schotty and then Schotty himself. Be sure to point out the logical inconsistency there and the fallacy of my obviously stupid arguments. (Those are, after all, game week traditions in and of themselves!)
But most of all, show up loud and proud this Saturday to cheer on the Dawgs. We only get 7 times a year to sit in Sanford Stadium with 92,000 of our closest friends and cheer our fool heads off for Georgia. This Saturday will be one of those days! Let's get after it!