Give the nation a potential upset (Hello Akron, how you doin’?) and the whole world stops laughing—including any coach with a team with an eye towards a conference championship come December.
“I think everyone just has to understand let’s focus very, very hard on improving, let’s focus very had on our game plan, then line up and get ready to play ball,” Richt said in Sunday’s weekly teleconference with reporters. “Even their game last week, they get down against a very good team, and come roaring back and win the game in the second half. They had a very close game against Ohio (27-21 loss), so they’re going to be a challenge for us. We need the fan base to get ready, we need the players to get ready and the coaches to get ready so we can take care of business.” (Jake Rowe, Rivals)
The slogan is already well known: New Year. New Team. One Dream. But for many, those words are just a catchy phrase for a t-shirt or a bumper sticker. The real proof is always in the pudding and, so far, despite a much-needed win being achieved over the South Carolina Gamecocks, the Georgia Bulldogs still have a lot of reasons to be concerned about potential slip-ups coming their way—especially when there’s still that little matter of a defense that gives up better than 30 points a game.
Even so, regardless of what the answers to a myriad of questions like—will they get better? Is the true problem the inexperience and youth on defense or something more? Did the losses of leaders like Jarvis Jones and Shawn Williams leave a bigger hole than expected?—the fact remains that this team, even with it’s youth, is expected to finish the regular season playing in the Georgia Dome. Period.
You can say what you will about the secondary, the frustrating offensive line, and the blood curdling lack of tackling fundamentals, this team is expected to win every Saturday—if for no other reason than Aaron Murray is under center and Todd Gurley is in the backfield—and anything less would be considered a disappointment by the vast majority.
Are such expectations fair given the questions that still remain? Probably not, but fair is relative when you’re a college football fan; particularly one with a red and black allegiance, and a desire to see someone other than Nick Saban’s Tide raising the Sears Trophy come January—preferably someone wearing a No. 11 jersey (or No. 3) or sporting a newly repaired hip. There’s a sense that it’s now or never and minus the slogans and the coach speak, you’re holding out for an opportunity to see your team hosting it’s own championship ceremony in the near future.
In the end though, it always comes down to that old adage of we have to take it “one game at a time” and, starting with North Texas, we’re all crossing our fingers that it won’t be long before the team we see on the field mirrors the one we already expect it to be.
New Year. New Team. One Dream?…
I say it’s This Year. This Team. All or Nothing.