1. Which game is more critical for Georgia to win: Boise State or South Carolina?
I can't chose both? Virginia Tech lost to Boise AND James Madison, but the story of their season was the ACC Championship and Orange Bowl berth, unless you are a Virginia fan and all you have is throwing Boise and James Madison in Hokies fans' faces. Or a Stanford fan, since the Orange Bowl win is all you have for the next 20 years.
I have to say South Carolina. Lose to Boise and we have to listen to the national media crow about Boise State's OMG!1! awesomeness. Lose to the Gamecocks and we have to listen to the Carolina fans crow about two in a row. And likely watch them play in the Georgia Dome again in December. Being a one-loss SEC champion is preferable to being a one-loss BCS at-large team.
2. Other than Isaiah Crowell, which incoming freshman do you think will have the biggest impact in 2011?
Got to be Ray Drew. If he shows up in shape, he'll probably start at the Dome against Boise State. Even if he doesn't start, he'll have significant playing time. Malcolm Mitchell and Zach DeBell will prove to be big-time freshmen, as well.
3. Who are some under-the-radar guys that you think will step up for Georgia this year?
Bruce Figgins. He'll provide a very valuable, and needed, extra set of hands out of the backfield with the move from TE to FB. He isn't going to get more than 10 looks a game (handoffs and passes), but those will be money plays. His blocking ability allows some flexibility with TB personnel, as well.
4. What makes you most excited about seeing Georgia play this year?
The potential. All of the pieces are in place to win the East. The East isn't what it was in the early 2000s. We have a returning QB that will probably be all conference...or more. The defense has a lot of upside, especially with the addition of John Jenkins in the middle. The schedule, outside of Boise State, is manageable. The new S&C program is passing the eyeball test.
Georgia lost too many games by getting dominated in the 4th Q and inside their own 20 on defense. Stop both or either of those, which I think they can, and Georgia has a solid season.
5. What makes you the most nervous about seeing Georgia play this year?
The potential for disaster. The offensive line is thin, the schedule is front-loaded, the running game is unproven, the receiving corps is less proven and the S&C program change could prove to not work. If Georgia isn't competitive and loses the first two games in blowouts, it will like a Georgia Tech fraternity party: ugly early. It won't be a fun year to be a Dawg fan with the kind of dissension that will occur.
6. Athlon Sports has rated the Dawgs at #14 and Phil Steele has them at #9 in their pre-season polls. Both have Georgia winning the SEC East and playing in the Capital One Bowl. What needs to happen for Georgia to live up to these lofty expectations.
Win ballgames. Crowell has to learn to pass block. Murray needs to get hooked up with the TEs and find another WR go-to guy. Gathers, Jenkins, Drew, Jones, Ogletree and the rest of the defensive front seven have to be dominant. We also have to be sound in in the defensive backfield.
Most importantly, the coaches need to trust themselves and their players. We were too tentative at times in play-calling and too unprepared inside the 20 on both ends of the field and both sides of the ball. Coach to win, instead of coaching to not lose. Georgia has the talent to stay with any team in the SEC,