Being an Underdawg Is a Good Thing In Athens

Wes HoltzclawCorrespondent IAugust 26, 2009

BATON ROUGE, LA - OCTOBER 25:  Members of the the Georgia Bulldogs football team come together prior to the start of their football game against the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium on October 25, 2008 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Dave Martin/Getty Images)

The SEC is the strongest conference in the country according to many in the sports media. Florida is the consensus No. 1 in everyone’s mind, Alabama is a top five team and Ole Miss is everyone’s darling.

Oh yeah, let’s not forget about LSU who is hanging around the top 10 as well.

What happened to Georgia, last season’s consensus No. 1? Even though they are ranked No. 13 in both preseason polls, nobody is giving them a chance to compete in the SEC.

For the Georgia players and coaches, those expectations couldn’t be better.

Everybody talks about the losses of Stafford and Moreno, the inexperience of Joe Cox and the porous defensive play of last season.

Nobody talks of the team playing with the weight of the world on their shoulders with the high expectations or the 22 season-ending injuries the team faced during the season.

If Florida, as good as they are, has 22 season-ending injuries, they will lose two or three games just as the Dawgs did a year ago.

One thing the Dawgs took from last year is that you have to play together as a team. No one or two guys can win games for you. You have to have 11 guys on each side of the ball playing in unison if you want to have a championship team.

True, Joe Cox is inexperienced, but people will learn quickly that he will manage the game well and not force throws that can turn into turnovers.

Recently we learned that sophomore Richard Samuel will be the No. 1 tailback entering game one in Stillwater. Yes, he made mistakes last year, but you have to realize that he was 17 years old playing in front of 96,000 fans.

He has a year of experience under his belt and has shown up in camp hungry, wanting to prove that he deserves to be on the field and that he is the next great Georgia back.

The defense has a ton of experience and speed to get the ball. Last season, Richt pulled the reigns on the team trying to conserve the hitting the guys took during the season.

This year, it is safe to say he learned from that mistake. The defense should be much improved and very difficult to run against.

Being an underdawg has been a good thing in Athens. Just look back at the teams of ‘59, ‘66, ‘68, ‘71, ‘75, ‘78, ‘80, ‘91, ‘97, ‘02, ‘05 and ‘07.

All these teams followed up losing seasons or seasons that were not up to Georgia standards, with special years that ended with some winning championships.

Now I’m not saying that a championship is in store for the 2009 edition of the Georgia Bulldogs, but I definitely would not put it past them to put up a season that is special.