With all due respect to Kyle and MaconDawg, for me, it’s not so much that Georgia has to take a bunch of bold risks this year to get its mojo back. (Its mojo being the competitive swagger the program displayed on its 2002-5 run, a confidence that it would be in every game it played in, in one form or fashion.)
All I’m looking for is a team – coaches and players – that won’t play scared. Will improved conditioning help build confidence? Probably, and it’s something to watch for on opening night.
But what I really want to see is a change in philosophy, tactically speaking, in a couple of areas that I’ve bitched about constantly over the past couple of seasons. First, regardless of field position, field a punt returner who’s a threat to return a kick. That doesn’t mean you outlaw the fair catch, or refuse to let a punt inside the five-yard line go by. But it does mean you signal to the other team that more than those two options are in play and will have to be accounted for.
Second, on offense, don’t ever take your foot off the gas as long as the outcome of the game is in doubt. If your quarterback is absolutely shredding, say, the Auburn and Georgia Tech secondaries, no matter how hard the little Vince Dooley inside of you is pushing to call a few inside running plays for balance, keep taking what the other guy can’t stop until he proves to you otherwise. If the Mississippi State defensive coordinator is crashing his linebackers to sell out and stop the run with nine-man fronts, don’t make running Carlton Thomas between the tackles your first option, particularly after you see how ineffective a response that is to that defensive set.
There’s no guarantee that any of this translates into an eleven-win season. But if Georgia’s going to get better for the long run, it has to start believing again that it’s capable of it. And for that to happen, it has to play with the faith that every player and every coach can out-execute the opponent on every snap of the ball – yes, even when that’s running Thomas inside.