The Georgia Bulldogs' Five Most Important Games of 2010
The one thing that most every Georgia Bulldog fan can agree on is this: It will be an important year for Mark Richt and this football program.
A lot is riding on the revamped defensive staff and the introduction of the 3-4 defense to the team’s philosophy.
Many are expecting big gains from both and are hoping to see the Bulldogs make a return trip to the SEC Championship Game this season.
After all, if ever there were a year where the SEC East was going to be wide open, this is the year.
Florida is no longer being run by the mighty Tim Tebow, South Carolina won’t have Eric Norwood or Clifton Geathers to wreak havoc on the quarterback, Tennessee is in recovery mode, and Kentucky will be breaking in a new coach.
The time is now.
That said, there will be no fewer than five games on the schedule that could make or break the Georgia Bulldogs’ season.
No matter the chatter about a “hot seat”, these games will either fan the flames of dissension or tank the talk of the doubters.
Georgia at South Carolina (9/11/2010)
This will be the first road test for new QB Aaron Murray and the 3-4 defense of Todd Grantham.
The rowdy bunch of Williams-Brice Stadium would love to spoil the comeback train of the Georgia Bulldog program and you can expect to see the crowd turn out en masse for this battle.
Working in Georgia’s favor is the strength of the offensive line and the possibility of an even more potent running game.
Don’t look for Aaron Murray to carry the load here, look to Washaun Ealey and Caleb King to establish the tempo.
Let's hope that Georgia has solved its secondary coverage issues as well.
Last season, the outfield was porous and led to lots of passing lanes being left wide open for Stephen Garcia to pass into.
That cannot happen here if Georgia expects to win.
Possible X-Factor: Devin Taylor (DE), South Carolina
The exit of Clifton Geathers is well-documented but Devin Taylor may as well be his heir apparent. If Aaron Murray does look to pass, he needs to be wary of where Taylor is at all times.
Georgia vs Arkansas (9/18/2010)
The Bulldogs escaped Fayetteville with a win last season behind the arm of Joe Cox and with a lot of help from an Arkansas secondary that seemed every bit as lost as Georgia’s last season.
Enter the 2010 season and the Razorbacks are hearing the hype machine saying they could be the team to beat in the SEC West.
Suddenly the thought of a trip to Atlanta seems likely and Bobby Petrino is ready to return to college football glory.
Well, despite the 5-0 record that Richt has against the Hogs, his team will be facing a squad with a lot more to gain than lose, and that will bring them into Sanford Stadium with a ton of momentum and a big chip on their shoulders.
Particularly Ryan Mallett, who would probably love to rectify the loss of last season.
Possible X Factor: The "Pistol Offense"
Arkansas' new offensive coordinator could look to throw Georgia off by incorporating some offensive trickery. It would not be a surprise to see someone other than Ryan Mallett taking snaps.
Georgia at Mississippi State (9/25/2010)
The last time the Bulldogs met the Bulldogs, the Athens version escaped with a 27-24 win in Sanford Stadium.
This game is in Starkville and Dan Mullen did a fine job last season of making just about every opponent his team faced shake in their collective cleats.
Expect to see no different here despite Mississippi State’s question marks at running back and quarterback.
After all, it was the defense that proved to be so potent on the field and even with the departure of Jamar Chaney, the Bulldogs still have a young corps that is hoping to make a name for itself.
Possible X-Factor: Georgia's offensive line
Mississippi State has one starter returning from last years defensive line unit.
If the Dawgs can control the line of scrimmage with ease, there is a good chance that the Georgia passing game may not even be necessary.
Georgia vs Florida (10/30/2010)
The Georgia Bulldogs are 2-7 against the Florida Gators under Mark Richt.
Five of those games were so close that the record could have easily swung in Georgia’s favor but, alas, the Dawgs are in need of a little r-e-s-p-e-c-t in the SEC East and the only way to get that will be to go through Urban Meyer’s crew.
The good news is the Gators are a bit more human minus that Tebow fellow. The bad news is that new quarterback, John Brantley, is pretty good.
If Georgia is going to get back to Atlanta they will have to go through Florida, and they cannot afford to succumb to the psychological and mental lapses that seemingly plagued them where this game is concerned.
It’s time to get another win in Jacksonville, Georgia, is long overdue.
Possible X Factor: Georgia's defensive line
Florida's offensive line will be one of the best in the nation and Georgia will need to do a better than average job of controlling the line of scrimmage if they expect to put any pressure on John Brantley.
If they can do that, I like their chances to keep things close, and maybe escape with a win.
Georgia at Auburn (11/10/2010)
By this point in the season, Georgia will have played ten straight games without a bye.
Who made up this schedule?
Auburn is tired of losing to Georgia.
The winning streak for the Bulldogs stands at four, and they will be ready to stomp them in the Plains.
The Tigers will have some question marks at quarterback, certainly, but by this game I have no doubt that we will all know how good Cam Newton is.
It will be paramount that Georgia be ready to step up and play big boy ball if they want their recent dominance over the Tigers to continue.
The most important roadblock to their success could be fatigue.
Georgia will have to be as mentally prepared to face the rowdy bunch at Jordan-Hare as they were when they faced the Williams-Brice contingent in their first SEC game of the season.
If they can do that, chances are good that this game will go the way of the four before it.
But it’s dangerous to take the Tigers too lightly. The defensive troubles that plagued them last season may very well be a thing of the past in 2010, and with nine starters returning, that could make Auburn every bit as likely to send the Bulldogs home with their tails wagging.
Possible X-Factor: Georgia Bulldog fatigue
Can the Dawgs bottle up enough intensity to show up for their final SEC game of the regular season?