Jason Butt’s analysis of Georgia’s outside linebackers position post-spring made me think, not about that group per se, but about something suggested in the header: “Carter, Bellamy ready for one final run”. Namely, if you’re part of that group of seniors who decided to pass on the NFL for another season in Athens, how exactly is that mindset going to translate into on-the-field results?
Last December’s buy-in was a huge shot in the arm in terms of player confidence in Kirby Smart, and as the linked piece shows (re Robert Beal: “He walks into a great situation by being able to learn under Carter and Bellamy for a season while growing into his own as a college football player.”), it’s tremendous for team depth and player development. But I’m asking about something more specific. How will coming back affect the way Carter and Bellamy perform in their last season? And, assuming that’s positive for the two, will that rub off on their teammates?
What I’m getting at here is based on a reflection of last season’s start. The Dawgs came out in the opener and put a decent North Carolina team to bed. Whatever momentum they garnered from the win was quickly spent in the game two struggle with Nicholls, though, where it was apparent that the team had mentally checked out before the opening kickoff. They never really seemed to get their mojo back, either, as the season progressed.
Does having this core group of returning seniors — all starters, all respected — bring some extra focus to 2017? Unlike last season, the early marquee game isn’t the opener, but you still have to be concerned about the mindset of the staff and players in the first few games. Take Appy State for granted by looking forward too far towards Notre Dame could be disastrous. Even if Georgia starts out 2-0, how do the players handle early success going from there?
It seems to me that, for all our talk about scheduling, team depth and in game coaching decisions, there’s something mental/emotional about the program that has to change for the better if Georgia football is going to take a step to the next plateau. Is this the year the mindset changes in a positive way, and does it last?