Bulldogs Are Ready To Answer Their Critics

Georgia football is all about the hedges, the expectations and the barking.

The Bulldogs are supposed to win with a recruiting class of 5-star players but in recent years the stockpile of talent has not quite equaled the win total at Georgia.

Now we have Kirby Smart, the next coming of Vince Dooley. Smart is the appointed savior of Georgia football and its Red & Black honor.

With this season approaching, Smart, the ex-Alabama defensive coordinator, seems to have Georgia on the verge of something simply spectacular. In Bulldog terms, that would be in the order of beating Tennessee and Florida and getting to the SEC championship game in Atlanta.

That very thing could happen this fall for the Dogs. They seem to be primed, pumped and ready. Georgia will open the season at home against Appalachian State on Saturday at 6:15 p.m. on ESPN. That very well could mark the first of seven straight wins to begin the season for Smart and UGA. The Bulldogs have more talent and more depth than all seven of their early-season opponents, those teams being Appalachian State, Notre Dame, Samford, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and the Missouri Tigers.

Not until their Oct. 28 showdown in Jacksonville against Florida will the Bulldogs be tested in a major way. That’s right, the Dogs could be and should be 70 heading into the Florida game on the St. Johns River.

Is Georgia overrated or too brash? Probably not.

The Bulldogs have a boat load of offensive weapons led by Hogansville native Terry Godwin, the junior wide receiver. Georgia has every right to expect to win the SEC East this fall with the offensive firepower of sophomore quarterback Jacob Eason, senior wide receiver Javon Wims (6-foot-4, 215 pounds), sophomore split end Riley Ridley, sophomore tight end Isaac Nauta, and senior running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel (5-foot-11, 222 pounds).

Every one of those players wants a few touches. Sustaining drives without fumbles or penalties will be crucial for the Dogs, who also plan to get the ball into the hands of senior tight end Jeb Blazevich. He’s a prime time blocker and receiver.

But no matter how many points Georgia scores, the Bulldogs need to reach the next level on defense. Giving up big plays in big games has been a problem in the past for UGA. Check the Florida-Georgia football series in the last 20 or so years. The Gators have been dominant over the Dogs.

So in comes a new breed of Georgia defense this year with speed, size and a four-quarter mentality to make plays when the game is on the line. Are these Georgia Bulldogs good enough to get the job done?

They seem to be, at least on the SEC surface, with a band of hearty characters that include junior defensive end JonathanLedbetter (6-foot-4, 269 pounds), senior nose tackle John Atkins (6-foot-4, 315 pounds), junior defensive tackle Trenton Thompson (6-foot-4, 309 pounds), and junior linebackers Roquan Smith (6-foot-1, 225 pounds) and Lorenzo Carter (6-foot-6, 242 pounds).

The Dogs have some bark on the back end of their defense, too, with senior safety Aaron Davis (6foot-1, 189 pounds) and senior cornerback Malkom Parrish (5-foot-10, 185 pounds). They have some Division I speed and tackling ability.

Georgia does have a chance this year to reach all of its goals. Now all the Dogs have to do is survive in the SEC trenches inthe90degree heat. Florida, Auburn, Tennessee and Alabama will be waiting.