On the verge of pre-season practice, the Georgia Bulldogs have decided to alter their uniforms for the first time in three years. Deciding to one-up Oregon in the competition to create the largest distance from traditional football unis, Mark Richt, in collaboration with Nike, has amended Georgia's jerseys to bear a bullseye where the numbers used to be on the back.
This decision comes after the USA Today Coaches Poll released its preseason top 25. Atop the poll the Dawgs rest at least until August 30th when they tee it up for the first time between the hedges. This month will mark uncharted territory for the entire Bulldog football program, as the Dawgs have never started a season ranked #1 in any poll, and have rarely spent time atop any major poll for an extended period of time.
Dawg faithful hope Mark Richt can bring the same luck he had at Florida State when he coordinated an offense that was part of a Seminole team that went wire to wire and won the BCS National Championship in 1999. That team resembles this year's Georgia squad in that it was fairly young, and a defensive power, giving up only 16.7 point a game, while averaging 36.8 points a game on offense. Those Seminoles had a flamboyant star on offense in Peter Warrick, and Georgia has his equal in Knowshon Moreno. FSU had Chris Weinke who winged 25 TDs and 3,103 yards, and a similar season for Matthew Stafford could provide the passing game necessary for Georgia to keep defenses on their heels worrying about Moreno's legs and Stafford's arm.
For Georgia to have the success of the 1999 Florida State team, they will have to run through a far tougher schedule unscathed. The Dawgs can only afford one loss to stay in the hunt for an SEC championship and a national championship.
Opening with Georgia Southern will be a taste of how the Dawgs defense can handle a spread attack like Auburn will present later in the season.
Following the Eagles, Central Michigan will trek down to Athens as the defending MAC champions, and should be respected as a team with the potential to knock the Dawgs off. Dan LeFevour is one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, and is a forced to be reckoned with both through the air and on the ground. This game will be a good tuneup for the Florida game that pits the Dawgs against the returning Heisman Winner, Tim Tebow.
After the Central Michigan game, Georgia kicks off their SEC schedule in hostile Columbia, SC. This game will set the tone for the rest of the season for the Dawgs. It will be a nationally televised game and a great opportunity to firmly plant themselves in the minds of voters for the various polls incorporated into the BCS formula. It also will be a chance to lay down a warning for the rest of the SEC that Georgia means business, and should be feared.
Any game against the Old Ball Coach is a challenge, and the Dawgs better be ready because Spurrier will let his players know of the big target on the backs of all the Georgia players.
Following the South Carolina game, Richt takes his men to Tempe, Arizona for a meeting of potential top 15 teams. Arizona State is a solid team led by Dennis Erickson and quarterback Rudy Carpenter. This will be Georgia's first real test of whether they can make a real push for an SEC or national championship in 2008. Arizona State is a team that doesn't garner much respect across the nation and it will be a perfect opportunity for them to vault into the upper echelon of college football teams. The Dawgs better pack their lunch pails on the plane to Arizona State, because they're in for a real dog fight with the Sun Devils.
These first four games will be the most brutal kick off to Georgia Football season in recent memory. The start of the season is only followed by games at home with Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia Tech, while Georgia has to travel to LSU, Jacksonville, Kentucky, and Auburn... in consecutive weeks.
If Georgia makes it through that gauntlet with one or zero losses, the nation can't justify keeping the Dawgs out of this year's national championship game in Miami.
But that is all a long way away. All the Bulldogs can do now is focus on having nothing but excellent practices up until the day they put on those silver britches and the red jerseys with the newly added bullseyes, and make the Dawg Walk for the first time in 2008 on August 30th before the Georgia Southern game.