Living up here behind enemy lines in Georgia I am afforded the underwhelming thrill of hearing all things Georgia Bulldog. Over and over and over again. I figured it was only logical for me to pass that along here. In fact, I will do an occasional update on what one of the Gators’ most hated rivals is doing. This summer has been worse than most. Bullpuppy fans are convinced that this is their year, or at least that is their claim. I know, they think that every year, but they firmly believe that the arrival of Jeremy Pruitt is that final piece of the puzzle that they have been missing for so long. They might be correct. UGA certainly has the talent to be a contender. When you think about it, it really is a little surprising that Georgia has not managed to be one of the SEC teams playing in the national championship game during this run of SEC dominance. They recruit quite well in Athens. Georgia just seems to find a way to fall short every year. In fact, the last time the SEC champion was NOT in the national championship game Georgia was that SEC champion. As you might expect, that particular little factoid annoys Dawgie fans to no end.
As for the upcoming season, could the Bulldogs be national championship contenders? Of course they could. I do not think they will be, but they certainly could. I believe that UGA will have all they can handle just trying to win the SEC East. Don’t look now but the Ole Ball Coach has built a consistent winner in Columbia SC. I think UGA will probably win the Clemson game opening weekend. I also think they will lose the following week to South Carolina. I also believe that the Florida Gators will make a substantial rebound from the dismal 2013 season. Both Missouri and Auburn did it last season and Florida has more overall talent than either of them.
So, what is the word among the locals up here behind enemy lines? What’s the word? Thunderbird. What’s the price? Fifty twice. Sorry, I digressed for a moment there. There is a word up here and it is not what you would think it would be. You would expect to hear Hutson Mason, or Todd Gurley. That would be what sensible fans would be discussing. Can you find the one word in the previous sentence that does not belong? No sir, the word up here in Dawgieland is Chubb. Chubb, Nick Chubb. I’ve heard the name so many times I expected to see him as the main character in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. He has to be a superhero. To hear these delusional folks up here talk you would think he had the body strength of Tim Tebow and the fighting prowess of Chuck Norris combined.
Chubb played his high school ball right down the road from me in Cedartown. His stats at Cedartown are quite impressive with 2690 yards rushing and 41 rushing touchdowns. I did find it a little surprising that he only had one reception for eleven yards. One would think you would find as many ways to get a playmaker the ball as possible at the high school level. He was NOT the highest rated running back coming out of high school last year. He wasn’t even the highest rated running back that Georgia signed in February. That would be Sony Michel. So why all the attention by Georgia fans? Sorry, but I would have to have a lobotomy to get to that thought process and I refuse.
What really are the items of import in Athens? Much like the Gators, the health of key players is the critical factor. The UGA offense suffered badly last season when Todd Gurley was out. They need Gurley healthy this season to keep the offense as potent as is expected. But the real key player is Hutson Mason. There is nobody behind Mason that gives Georgia a real chance to contend. For that matter, there is some question whether Hutson can do so and I really doubt he can do it if Gurley misses any significant time due to injury. Mason came in last season when starter Aaron Murray suffered a season ending injury against Kentucky. Mason looked decent against Kentucky. Let that sink in. Mason played what amounts to two and a half games to finish out the season for UGA. After Kentucky, he quarterbacked the Bulldogs to a double overtime victory over a weak Georgia Tech team in which Hutson looked horrible for a half and pretty good for half. In the bowl game, Mason and the Bulldogs lost to a Nebraska team that lost to the likes of Iowa and Minnesota and gave up thirty or more points five times last season. My point is that even though Hutson Mason appears to be UGA’s only viable option at quarterback in 2014 the jury is still out on just how viable that option is.
Yes, UGA fans are pumped about the arrival of Jeremy Pruitt at defensive coordinator and they should be. Pruitt has won virtually everywhere he has been and Todd Grantham was absolutely pitiful. There is every reason for them to believe that the defense will be much improved from the defenses that gave up thirty points a game the last two years. The problem Pruitt faces is that the secondary has been decimated by team dismissals. Three of the expected starters in the secondary have moved on after multiple off-field transgressions. The scramble to replace them is going slower than Pruitt would like. The front seven should be very good and perhaps they can be good enough to keep the secondary from being exploited. If not, expect Spurrier to take advantage of the weakness in week two of the season.
Perhaps Georgia fans are keeping their focus on a true freshman that might very well redshirt to begin with because they are reluctant to take an in depth look at the real issues. The simple truth is that things are not quite as rosy in Athens as the Bulldog faithful would like the world to believe. There are a few very real concerns and enough quality teams on their schedule to make them pay for those concerns. Much like the Gators, a couple of key injuries and this becomes a 6-6 team. That noise you hear wafting down across the border is a few hundred thousand fans whistling past the graveyard. Because, it gets harder every year to believe that Mark Richt is ever going to lead them to the promised land. In the end, all that really matters is that they lose that November 1st game in Jacksonville.