The media horde attending SEC Media Days this week anointed Georgia as the overwhelming favorite in their division. We all know Bulldog Nation has high expectations this season, but I asked Dawgs fans on social media whether they’d be disappointed with anything less than winning the SEC East.
A sampling of the responses …
Barry Williams said: “With all the talent we lost from last year, I’m not going to be too disappointed if Bama takes the conference title, as predicted at SEC Media Days. And, I know it’s tough for anyone who isn’t Alabama to make the playoff without winning a conference title. But, I do expect Georgia to win the SEC East and get one of the New Year’s Six bowl berths. Anything less than that will be underachieving.”
“Winning the East is mandatory,” Nick Bomar said, though he worries whether the UGA coaching staff will “do a better job of realizing who has the hot hand, like not using Sony enough in the Natty.”
For Richard Hendrix Jr., “Anything worse than an 11-1 regular season would be disappointing given the talent, depth and schedule the Dawgs have in 2018.”
Robert J. Dibble seems a bit more cautious than most fans I heard from. “We lost 17 contributors from last season. I’m interested to see who the leaders are this season and concerned about our secondary lacking meaningful SEC experience — Richard LeCounte, Mark Webb, Tyrique McGhee specifically.”
Also concerned about team leadership is Paul Trolinger, though he believes “playing so many players last year and all the extra practice will pay huge dividends.” But, he said, “I do expect a loss this season. I also think when that loss happens is crucial to our season and who it’s to. I expect us in Atlanta with same record as last season and once you’re there anything can happen.”
Among those fans worried about the road games at South Carolina and LSU is Brook Smith. “The LSU game scares me the most. I think we’ll win it, but it’ll be close, because you can bet your bottom dollar it’ll be a night game there, and that’s arguably the toughest place to play in all of college football.”
Matt Megrue is “feeling optimistic,” but he believes that this “will be the make-or-break season for the entirety of Kirby’s tenure. We do well (and baseline for “well” is making it to the SEC Championship) and that will cement us as a perennial top 5 team and national championship contender. If we stumble, the ripples will be felt on the recruiting path … I don’t think the importance of this 2018 season can be overstated.”
And now some Junkyard Mail
Here’s some more recent fan feedback …
OK, I can see Drew Lock as the first-string preseason All-SEC quarterback, but I question whether Jarrett Stidham of Auburn really deserves second-team QB over Jake Fromm. And Jake only making the third team, tied with Nick Fitzgerald of Mississippi State? Really!!?? What’s going on here?
— Hallie Hancock
First of all, keep in mind that the only reason they even pick preseason All-SEC teams is to promote the conference. Otherwise, it’s pretty meaningless. The postseason All-SEC and All-America teams are the ones that matter.
As for the lack of respect for Fromm, I dealt with this a few weeks back in the Blawg, but here’s the short version: Media rankings like this generally are based on superficial impressions from the previous season. And, as Georgia’s running game dominated much of the season, the main impression of Fromm that stuck was of a “game manager” who only threw slant passes.
Actually, Fromm ranked sixth in the nation in total quarterback ranking, and first in the SEC. He also tied for eighth in the nation in passing efficiency, and was behind only Lock in the conference, completing 62.2 percent of his passes.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on how UGA athletics gave longtime North Parking Deck users the boot unless they donate some big-time cash. This, after the ticket price increase, seems very greedy.
— Lindsey Kee Portmann
This season, the North Deck is being used for the folks who buy tailgating packages on the Reed quadrangle from the new officially sanctioned Bulldogs Tailgate Club. The parking spaces in that deck are part of the deal. If this seems unfair to the folks who parked there previously, keep in mind that money always has been the ruling factor in allocation of athletic association-controlled parking for UGA games, so it’s nothing new.
More least favorite games
Some reader feedback from last week’s Blawg about my 10 least favorite Georgia football games of all time …
I have to say the worst for me was the 2016 “Dobbnail Boot” game. I don’t think I had ever experienced such excitement and disappointment so fast. … I’m not sure if it was worse watching it live, or watching UT fans gloat over what turned out to be a mostly meaningless loss for a whole year. … But, boy, was that revenge last year sweet!
— Connor Tarpley
I agree the ending of that game was disappointing, but it didn’t crack my least favorite list because it otherwise was a pretty great game, with Georgia doing much better than had been expected.
Vince Dooley had some great moments at home, but he also had some of the worst losses I will ever remember. … People need to remember these as they approach each season, because it might just help them appreciate the good times a little more.
— Gary Cody
To paraphrase the old ABC “Wide World of Sports” intro, the “the thrill of victory … and the agony of defeat” are both part of the “human drama” for college football fans.
Although painful, I enjoyed this article. And, while I wholeheartedly agree that the ’95 Florida game was miserably embarrassing, you forgot the silver lining. … When we arrived back in Augusta, we did so just in time to see David Justice hit that marvelous home run, thus giving the Braves their one and only World Series win!
— George Armstrong
That definitely is a better memory from that day. Reader Jim Parry also noted it, saying he spent that evening at the old O’Malley’s bar in Athens and he recalls “every Georgia and Florida fan that was around celebrated The Braves” together.
The 1977 Tech game was also a terrible experience for fans. It was bitterly cold in Atlanta, and Georgia went through three quarterbacks. Pretty bad considering that their third-team quarterback started the game.
— Blake Giles
Yeah, that game in 30-degree weather definitely would have made my list if I’d been in attendance. Thankfully, I wasn’t. For those who don’t recall, Georgia’s offense was injury-plagued, particularly at QB, during Dooley’s only losing season. Going into that game, they’d fumbled 56 times, so Dooley switched from the veer offense to the old wing-T. With starter Jeff Pyburn and backup Steve Rogers both out, Georgia’s starting quarterback for the game was Randy Cook, who himself went down with an injury midway through the third quarter. In came freshman Chris Welton, the fifth-stringer on the varsity. He lasted one play before also going down injured, and then Davey Sawyer, the sixth-string QB, came in. Had he gotten hurt, next up to take snaps would have been freshman safety Scott Woerner, but he wasn’t needed, and Sawyer led the Bulldogs on their only scoring drive of the day in a 16-7 loss. Definitely a game worth forgetting!
One you left out that particularly irked me was the 21-22 opening day home loss to Wake Forest (yes, Wake Forest!) in 1979. We entered that game ranked #12 in the country. But we tend to forget about that season due the glorious year which followed!
— Joey Loudermilk
That Wake game definitely would be in my second 10!
If you’d like to share your thoughts on any Dawgs topic, or have a question for the Junkyard Blawg, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.