|Photo: David Goldman/AP|
If 2011 was the year of the energy vampire, getting on the bus, and making sure coach Mark Richt’s seat went from hot to cool, then what will be the mantra for 2012?
With an extension on the way for both Richt and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, as well as hefty expectations that 2012 will be even better for the Georgia Bulldogs, what will the coaching staff do to inspire the same fire and passion that sparked a team that seemed to be reeling after two losses into the one that would eventually win ten in a row?
Common sense would bet on the fact that this team should still feel it has plenty to prove. After all, for all the emotionally satisfying wins they netted, they still didn’t manage to impress the SEC or the rest of college football by failing to capitalize against LSU or Michigan State in games they clearly held early advantages in; those two games alone epitomized both how far Georgia had to go and how far they had come.
Fast forward to an off-season that is already being met with a cautious degree of confidence by those that figure the SEC gods must be watching—Georgia will again escape games against the likes of LSU, Arkansas, or Alabama—and are already punching the Bulldogs’ tickets to Atlanta come next December.
But, lest those people forget, this isn’t a team that will be without flaws. There will still be plenty of questions worth asking as spring comes more neatly into focus (less than three weeks from today if any one is counting) and many of which will have to wait until summer to be answered with any degree of intelligence.
How will the offensive line fare without veterans Cordy Glenn and Ben Jones? How will Aaron Murray adjust to life without Orson Charles? Will special teams play be better or worse now that both Drew Butler and Blair Walsh have exited? Can the defense live up to the expectations that await them?
Will the staff or the players be motivated enough to keep complacency at bay, especially now that it’s clear coach Richt’s job is safe?
Georgia will need to maintain the same level of urgency that propelled them from a team that was down and out to the one that paraded into the SEC Championship to give LSU a run for their money for 30 straight minutes before collapsing under the weight of a very thin and relatively inexperienced depth chart. That’s the team the fans are hoping to see get built upon because that’s the one that has the potential to be more than just the SEC’s runner-up.