The news out of Athens is as unpredictable as an Atlantic hurricane, but Georgia fans can rest assured that a storm is coming.
Coach Mark Richt may or may not have his team ready to take on the Gamecocks of South Carolina on Saturday. That storm will define itself between the hedges long about sunset.
Beat the Gamecocks and most likely the Bulldogs will sail through the season to a conference matchup in the Georgia Dome come December. Lose, and the perfect storm gets downright nasty.
The grass is cut at Sanford Stadium. The hedges are trimmed and the Dawgs are ready for redemption...or are they?
If the Bulldogs Beat the Gamecocks
The great Vince Lombardi once said, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” For both teams that collide on Saturday, winning is the only thing that matters.
For coach Mark Richt, winning the first conference game this weekend will calm the storm. It’s been a tumultuous week in Athens. At his weekly press conference, he was short and seemingly agitated. Some fans have cursed him. His team has praised him.
But fans are restless. They’re ready to see Isaiah Crowell take on the breakout runs reminiscent of the Herschel Walker days. They’re ready to watch Brandon Boykin, a speedster who scored on an 80-yard run, strut his stuff to score time and time again. (Boykin, by the way, is the only player in Southeastern Conference history with three 100-yard plays, one of which was against South Carolina in 2009.) They’re ready to see their quarterback complete passes with the assurance that a tough offensive line will protect him.
Richt has expressed disappointment in players’ performances in practice this week. But is he sincere? No one really knows what’s going on behind closed doors.
If the Bulldogs have overcome their deficiencies in these few days, Aaron Murray will get to show fans what he’s made of and South Carolina’s tough defensive line will be met with a dominant Bulldog offensive fury, the kind of fury that Georgia has traditionally flaunted.
If the Bulldogs win in Athens this weekend, the schedule ahead is in their favor. They play Coastal Carolina (09/17), Mississippi State (10/1), New Mexico State (11/5), Auburn (11/19) and Kentucky (11/19), all at home.
They get a bye week before the Florida game, possibly their toughest opponent apart from the Gamecocks.
If they beat South Carolina, the Boise State game will be forgotten, and they will establish their dominance in the East and forge the path back into the rankings.
If the Bulldogs Lose
If Georgia fans are forced to endure another weekend shielding their eyes from the ugliness of sloppy play, there could be serious repercussions.
Richt may be forced to fire offensive coordinator Mike Bobo to salvage the season and return to play-calling himself...or there will be no changes in the staff until after the season ends. If that happens, the "hot seat" clichés would cease, and Richt’s name would be tossed into the coaching abyss with names like Tressel, Rodriguez, Weiss, and gasp, Shula.
If the Gamecocks emerge victorious this weekend, all is not lost. The joys of Georgia football could still be revived in a 10-2 season...not so bad for a team that was beaten by the nation’s No. 5-ranked team in their opening game where many left downtrodden and disappointed.