With the 2009 season a mere 193 days away, I think it would do all college football fanatics a little good to read a 2009 prediction in February.
The Georgia Bulldogs are coming off a "disappointing" 10-3 season, so expectations are short of what they were this time last year. But I'm determined to look on the bright side coming into this season.
Mark Richt's teams always perform better when under the radar, anyway. Plus, these dull, pigskin-less months seem to be eerily similar to the doldrums before the Dawgs' triumphant 2005 season.
I am of the conviction that a team can have all the talent in the world, but if they don't form a "brotherhood," they won't go very far.
The 2008 campaign reinforced this belief of mine greatly. But from what I have read, this 2009 squad shows glimpses of this necessary camaraderie, and to me, this means they have the potential for greatness.
With all that said, if you're looking for a single impact player for the coming year, look no further than DT Jeff Owens.
In 2008, the senior came in with his name on the watch lists for the Outland, Lott, and Bronko Nagurski Trophies. Unfortunately, he was injured in the first game (against Georgia Southern) and lost for the season.
His absence turned out to be devastating to the Georgia defense; apparently, as Owens limped off the field that late August afternoon, so did our entire pass rush.
But now, I have come to the conclusion that Jeff Owens' pass rush is the thing we'll miss least after his eventual departure for the NFL. His real value lies in his personality: He's the type of guy that can make anybody smile. I know this from my personal experience at UGA Picture Day, when I witnessed Owens doing karaoke.
Jeff is a leader and a game-changer. These attributes will make all the difference on a Georgia squad that loses five of its best players to the NFL Draft.
Recently, there has been a buzz across the Bulldog Nation as news of the blog "Jeff Owens: The Real Deal" spreads. Owens himself is the creator, and it gives an inside look at the players and thier lives as members of a team. The simple website shows the unity that the 2009 team will embody, and it also shows how much respect the team has for its leaders.
I hope that this has given you insight on one of Georgia's most influential players. Both his play and his charisma will be characteristics that can potentially make or break the Dawgs' 2009 football season. Look out for No. 95 because, as his blog says, he's "The Real Deal."
P.S. I love this article. The Dawgs are gettin' their swagger back, so read up if you're a fan.