Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford has said recently that he may be in the best shape of his life. And quite frankly, I believe him.
He's looking trim and more nimble (OK, maybe not trim; he's still got a healthy thickness to him, but he's lost the pudgy doughboy look of yesteryears), and coaches and teammates alike are raving about him.
"Stafford's really been outstanding," coach Mark Richt said in Wednesday's post-practice presser. "Reading and throwing and just knowing what to do with it. He's just doing a really fine job."
This may be the year that Stafford finally lives up to the incredibly lofty expectations that have been placed squarely on his shoulders since the day he left the state of Texas.
With an offensive line that is still young but now at least has game experience, Knowshon Moreno, and a vastly underrated receiving corps, it's really all up to him. And with the work ethic he's already shown just three days into fall camp, it appears he knows it.
"Us quarterbacks work out together in the summer, and this is the best I've seen him run and just the type of shape and conditioning he's in since I've been here," backup quarterback Logan Gray said Wednesday. "He looks good, his weight's down, and he's been throwing the ball very well."
Stafford threw 13 interceptions as compared to just seven touchdowns his freshman year, but improved that to 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2007. He'll need another jump like that to cash in on Georgia's national title hopes. And I think he'll get it.
The junior has always thrown a hard ball (highly-touted freshman receiver AJ Green said Tuesday that the first ball the QB threw his way "about hit me in the mouth"), but it's the more cerebral parts of the game that will make the difference this year. And teammates say it already has.
"He looks more confident right now, he's throwing the ball real well," senior receiver Kenneth Harris said. "I feel like he's dropped some weight, he's been doing real well in the pocket and seeing things a lot different."
With an experienced, though often overshadowed, Georgia defense that looks to give Stafford and the offense plenty of scoring chances this season, number seven will have to take advantage. And he will.
Photo Credit: Frannie Fabian, The Red & Black