“It’s a little easier sell.”

Damned if you do; damned if you don’t.

They’ll be back to Athens in June and turn their attention to summer workouts and gearing up for the season opener against North Carolina Sept. 3 in the Georgia Dome.

It’s the kind of big-name opponent to open the season that coach Kirby Smart has said he prefers to line up.

“Obviously, coming into the Dome, playing North Carolina, it’s such a great opponent,” he said. “I’m fired up for that opportunity and our kids are working hard in the offseason for that opportunity.”

Having a high-profile foe that reached the ACC title game last year certainly helps, Smart said.

“It’s a little easier sell,” Smart said. “When you walk in the weight room and you know you’ve got to play UNC the first game, there’s a commitment level I think is greater than other years. That’s one of the advantages of playing in that game.”

… The flipside of not opening with a lightweight is the danger factor.

“You’ve got a great opponent so you don’t know what you’ve got yet,” Smart said. “You’ve got to find out for real the first time you go out there. It’s not an opponent that’s a lesser classification or anything like that. It’s a situation you better be ready to play.”

As a fan, choosing to play an opener against a cupcake or a decent P5 program is a no-brainer for me.  I get how a coach’s perspective may be a little different.  (We know an AD’s is.)  But even so, I’d think that “find out for real the first time” factor would trump getting the likely win.  Not to mention that Smart’s right about improved focus.

30 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

30 responses to ““It’s a little easier sell.”

  1. A10Penny

    I think UNC is a really good team, but if we can’t beat them, then I’m all for it. The increased focus leading up to it, and the embarrassment of losing to a 2nd tier ACC team should do a lot for motivation. It’s not like we’re scheduling FSU or Ohio State.

    And as a fan of better games, the last two Clemson games were epic…a series I’d love to see a lot more of.

    • Cojones

      They aren’t anymore 2nd tier than Tech was when they won the ACC. That was, of course , after we kicked their ass.

      NC has recruited better this last year than most years and they already had a good team, so taking’em seriously early on is to be lauded – then we can go over to Atlanta and kick their ass.

    • 3rdandGrantham

      Historically they might be a second tier ACC team, but not recently. Fedora has done wonders for that program, and frankly I don’t think he’ll be around there much longer (especially with the ongoing NCAA mess they’re involved in). They took Clemson to the wire of the ACC champ game, and if not for an absolutely horrid off-sides call on the onside kick, they would have had a decent or better chance of actually winning it.

      I know they lost their QB, but don’t they also return around 16 starters as well? Make no mistake, it will be a very tough game — I’ll take an ugly 1 point win and be very happy with it.

      • I’ll take 13 ugly 1 point wins with a trophy at the end of the season (not Nicholls or UL-Lafayette). The older I get, the more I think … “Just win, baby.” Fedora is a very good coach, but I can’t get over how bad they looked against the worst USCe team since Brad Scott and how Baylor just ran roughshod over and through them.

        • Jared S.

          Thank God we’re not playing Baylor. I bet Kirby is glad he never had to play THEM in a National Championship.

          • 3rdandGrantham

            Indeed. Could you imagine the additional security our coeds, cheerleaders, cheer squad…hell even our band members would need in effort to keep the Baylor players at a comfortable distance? The security costs alone would offset any meaningful compensation UGA would receive from playing in such a game.

        • 3rdandGrantham

          This is true, and they barely beat a bad GT game. However, both games were early in the season (wasn’t SCU the opening game of the year?) and they got much better as the year went along — totally different team by years end.

          Let’s hope history repeats itself and UNC is bad to start the year this year as well. Good news is Vegas has us at +4, so that gives me a bit of solace.

          • A10Penny

            There is a huge talent disparity, and will have a new QB. I’m not in any way saying it should be a cake walk, but if we lose, what hope will there be for 2016?

          • That’s right. They got hot at the end of the season and gave Clemson a huge scare. Then they got completely flattened by Baylor without a QB. After that defensive performance, I was surprised Cheat-Zik kept his job.

  2. I’m looking forward to us playing a peer program to open even though it’s over at the Dome. Which, honestly, I don’t mind that much as it’s a chance to hop over to Atlanta and enjoy the city a bit. Love having that Tech-BC game kicking off at 7:30 am! And really, the whole opening day slate is pretty awesome. It’ll make for a fun day.

    Of course, next year we’ve got that game at Notre Dame (hello, Chicago!); but in ’18 we’re missing one OOC game. Since ’18 is a Tech and Auburn at home year, I wonder what might happen with our opener. It seems to me Kirby might want to get into MB Stadium ASAP for a kick-off game. But one of the trips he made this off season was to Dallas, right? Would GM actually consider going to the Jerry Dome to start a season? Play a Pac-12 team maybe? Will we see a Alabama-type scheduling philosophy? Surely we won’t play Georgia Southern then, will we?

    • I did some digging… The Chick Fil A and Texas kickoff games are both unscheduled for ’18.

      The only schools without openers scheduled which would come close to interesting: Michigan State and maybe Syracuse. Oregon only has one OOC scheduled, so that’s another.

      FWIW, Ga Southern is full scheduled through ’18, so the earliest they’d crop up for us would be ’19.

      I guess State moves into Turner Field in ’17?

    • Comin' Down The Track

      Speaking of the Benzo, you going to any @ATLUTD games, stoop?

  3. dawgtired

    The uncertainty of a win makes the anticipation that much more exciting. Playing a cupcake, knowing you’ll get the win, changes your focus. You start thinking about things like…how young players contribute in the first game or how an OL grades out. You don’t even really think about the competition. Nothing like opening with a quality opponent to bring out the worry in you. The off-season talk is so much better too. I’ve already been visiting NC’s newspapers and forums to get a feel for what to expect. The only negative is, it seems to lengthen the days to the start of the season.

    • The NC papers and forums are only concerned about basketball …

      • Jared S.

        Ha. My wife is a die-hard Tar Heels fan (basketball-only) and she’ll be rooting for Georgia on September 3rd. I tell her that’s kind of messed up. But she just says, “WHO CARES ABOUT UNC FOOTBALL???”

        • 81Dog

          UNC football is like UGA basketball: plenty of talent to recruit in state, plenty of financial resources, beautiful campus, nice town, seems like it should be really good, yet only occasionally adequate with flashes of pretty good once in a while.

          UNC is the kind of football team a good team should beat. UGA has plenty of returning talent, an excellent recruiting class, and the game is in Atlanta. There is no reason we should lose that game, except for injuries, fluke calls, or poor preparation. I don’t expect the last one to be an issue.

  4. Dog in Fla

    “The flipside of not opening with a lightweight is….You’ve got to find out for real the first time…”

    The opportunity is nowhere for a Kirby motivational process

  5. Cojones

    Agreed with the “Treat’em like a rattler that doesn’t warn before striking” philosophy, but felt the same way before playing Boise St there. Btw, this is right out of Saban’s book and halftime speech. Paraphrasing:”They are still mighty and can beat your ass if you ease up” was given during the halftime of the Blackout Game so long ago in our memory. And we came back to score mucho pts in the second half after the fight was lost, but it reinforced Saban’s message to his troops. Expect to see the same from Smart.

  6. Russ

    Opening with a P5 team is great.

    Until we start to lose a few of them. I still remember the bitching about opening at Oklahoma State and with Boise in the Dome. Winning cures all, though.

  7. Mayor

    Signing up the Dawgs to play this game is just another McGarity f#ck-up. I will go to my deathbed thinking McCheap signed to play Boise at the Dome as the ’11 opener, coming off a 6-7 2010 season, because he wanted the Dawgs to lose and go on to have a bad season so he could fire CMR. To their credit the former coaching staff members got the ’11 season turned around and won 10 games after a 0-2 start. No thanks to McGarity for that or this game. Play the Heels, sure–but play them later in the season after the kinks have been worked out.

    • Macallanlover

      Could not disagree more with that philosophy, why not just go out and buy a trophy? Fans settling for more (any) cupcake games are simply beyond my understanding. At our age, you should be wishing for all the good games you can possibly get; sand is running out of the hourglass.

      • Nobody asks whom did you play when you win a championship. Reasonable fans feel like you, Mac (and I agree), but those who end up screaming for coaches’ heads on a platter don’t care if you played the Lombardi Packers, the ’72 Dolphins, and today’s Patriots. They’ll crucify you for losing. They’ll talk about how your team soiled the bed, face planted or can’t win the big game.

        To the Mayor’s point, I do believe the AD accepted that game to light a fire under the program. From Gainesville, he saw a program that had lost its way and, from Athens, was now losing on the field. He needed to know quickly whether he was going to need to make a change. We got beaten in Atlanta by a better team that night and then gave the game away against USCe the next week, but that team found its legs and won the East.

        • Macallanlover

          Hard to see how sitting in Gainesville could inspire and tough opening thoughts. How long has it been since FU played anyone ranked in the Top 75 in an opening game. They can have that, and should be rated down because of it, imo. I get that some put every ounce of their energy on rankings, I don’t. I don’t require others to tell me what, or who, is good and satisfying.

    • PTC DAWG

      I disagree…

  8. dawgtired

    Looking at the schedule…

    Our two toughest games are back to back. Playing UT after what could be an emotional game against OM, will be our toughest. BUT…OM plays FSU early then Bama the week before us and UT plays VT early and UF the week before us. Could be the emotionally strong and least of the banged-up, wins. We match-up well talent wise is all areas except QB. OM is supposedly rebuilding their OL…so if our DL is ready by then, we could surprise.