Jump to content

Bulldogs set to embrace great expectations


Recommended Posts


Friday, July 25, 2008 Bulldogs embrace the challenge of great expectations

By: David Paschall


HOOVER, Ala. — Georgia doesn’t begin preseason football practice until Aug. 4, but the Bulldogs continue to practice their handling of lofty expectations.

“Everywhere you go in Athens and everywhere you go in Georgia, people are talking about it,” senior receiver Mohamed Massaquoi said Thursday at SEC Media Days. “There is red and black all over the state. Everyone is expecting us to do great things, and we know that. We want to do great things.”

Talk of expectations for 2008 began on the first day of the year, when Georgia trampled Hawaii 41-10 in the Sugar Bowl. The Bulldogs finished last season No. 2 in the Associated Press poll behind LSU and were pegged No. 1 earlier this summer by Lindy’s and The Sporting News.

Georgia is expected to be picked to win the league title when the media vote is announced today, and an AP preseason No. 1 ranking is possible next month. Since the introduction of the AP poll in 1936, the Bulldogs have yet to start a season at the top.

Such adoration might seem odd for a program that suffered a sixth consecutive SEC East loss last October in a 35-14 crushing at Tennessee, but even the Volunteers feel Georgia’s hype is warranted.

Video courtesy of the Southeastern Conference: SEC Media Days

“Even after we beat them, we knew they were a good team,” Vols defensive end Robert Ayers said. “We were like, ‘Those guys are good. Knowshon Moreno is good.’

“I don’t think they’re overrated. I think they’re a good team and have a great coach in Mark Richt, who brings the best out of his players.”

For Richt, bringing out the best in his bunch next month means making his players work. Forget one day at a time: Richt wants his players to focus on one practice at a time and one repetition at a time.

Live for the moment, he said, and prepare the best that you can.

“Our players understand that this league is the toughest league in America, and that in the West this year we’re playing Alabama, Auburn and LSU,” Richt said. “They understand that they’re traveling to Arizona State and that they’ll be in the preseason top 10. They know that they have to work their tails off just to be in position to have a good season, let alone to win any kind of championship.”

Richt listed Georgia’s goals as winning the opener, winning the East and then trying to win the SEC title game. Setting the national title as a goal is difficult, he added, because getting there is largely out of any team’s control.

Ask the 13-0 Auburn Tigers of 2004, who got left out of the national championship game.

“Even in the 2002 season, if we had gone undefeated, then we still might have been watching Ohio State and Miami play for the national championship,” Richt said.

Considering Richt is about to begin his eighth month of discussing expectations, he was asked if the subject now was irritating.

“It would only bother me if our players used it as a sense of entitlement to where they didn’t have to work hard and didn’t have to prepare as hard,” he said. “I think our players see it as an exciting challenge to prepare even harder. I’ve told them this could be a blessing and a curse depending on how you guys react to it.”

Georgia’s star status stems from its seven-game winning streak to conclude last season and from having 17 of 22 starters returning. Quarterback Matthew Stafford would be the league’s most touted quarterback were it not for Florida superstar Tim Tebow, and Moreno already is the SEC’s top tailback.

Richt said Stafford, a junior, and Moreno, a redshirt sophomore, have more leadership responsibilities compared to a year ago. That is especially true for Stafford, who is being mentioned as a potential top NFL pick should he come out next spring.

“I’m sure Matthew is going to have to make a tough decision once this season is over, but I know he came here to win a lot of games and to win championships,” Richt said. “He came to play great as a collegian, and I know he doesn’t feel like he’s reached his potential as a college player and as a Georgia Bulldog.

“I hope that he is the top pick of the draft two years from now.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...