In case you can’t tell, I’m going off the beaten path today with the opening of Georgia’s preseason practice – if you want the questions-that-need-to-be-answered route, you can throw a rock at any number of Dawg and SEC bloggers for some very good analysis on that – by looking at a couple of underlying issues related to team psyche.
Why am I doing that? Because the thing that’s troubled me most about the program of late is this bizarre habit that’s developed of completely disappearing in a game for a quarter or a half. I call it a habit because it’s gone on now over the past three seasons with a variety of opponents, so it’s difficult to say it’s the result of injuries or bad personnel match ups. I’m not close enough to the program to know the underlying cause, but I do have the sense that Richt, from some of his comments and actions this offseason, is aware of it and is determined to do something about it, although that’s admittedly easier said than done sometimes.
Anyway, one of the mantras that’s been adopted for 2009 is that Georgia under Richt is a team that performs better in a year when the expectations for the program are lowered. Nevermind that the theory has been, if not debunked, at least reasonably questioned over at Team Speed Kills, I’m willing to concede that in this case perception becomes reality. In other words, if flying low gives the team confidence, then that’s what matters.
But here’s the thing I wonder about after reading College Football News’ post on its preseason top ten. Specifically after seeing this comment in the preview of number five (!) Georgia:
If the Dawgs beat OSU in Stillwater, then the expectations and the attention will quickly be cranked up.
Based on Georgia’s record in tough opening games, that’s not a farfetched scenario. At all. So what happens if these guys go out in the opener, take care of business and come back home suddenly with a top ten ranking and all that national attention again? Aren’t they right back in the same boat they had trouble sailing last season? Can they handle it any better than they did in ’08, particularly when they’ve told themselves this offseason that they’re better off with a lack of notoriety?
I’m not saying they can’t do it, but it’s certainly worth remembering that things change and you either adapt or lose.