Let’s go back and review a few things.
Remember a season where: Georgia’s quarterback threw an increased rate of interception and saw its running game disappear at times and its offensive line allowed the quarterback to be continuously sacked; Georgia didn’t beat a team of any significance and lost to the only good teams it played; Georgia relied heavily on its defense and its big time play makers on that side of the ball; Georgia won the SEC East and got hammered by LSU in the SEC Championship game?
Remember when after this aforementioned season, its star freshman running back that emerged wouldn’t be available for the upcoming season? Also, do you remember when two freshmen running backs were asked to carry the load, and when the defense saw its stars return to play on one of the most formidable defensive units in UGA history?
What two seasons am I talking about?
If you think I am talking about the 2011 and 2012 seasons, well you would be partially correct. But full credit would go to those who answered 2003 and 2004.
I watched the highlights of the 2004 LSU game night before last (a couple of observations about that game: 1. Georgia opened up a can of whoop ass 2. Why can’t we dominate a team like that anymore? 3. Larry Munson was being pessimistic despite Georgia being up 31-10 in the third quarter).
Something stuck out to me watching that game. Danny Ware and Thomas Brown provided a good 1-2 punch that season and both were freshmen. Kregg Lumpkin tore his ACL during fall camp, and was never quite the same afterwards. But Georgia continued to run the ball effectively with the two freshmen and was able to withstand the crushing blow of being without the #2 ranked runningback out of HS.
Also, that defense was sick. Thomas Davis. Odell Thurman. David Pollack. I could continue. Demario Minter. Greg Blue. The players on that defense were elite, hard hitting all-time great Georgia players.
I have said many times that the 2003 and 2011 seasons eerily mirrored each other in many ways. The ways I mentioned in the first paragraph. I have also spent a considerable amount of time illustrating the interception problem of David Greene in 2003 was similar to Aaron Murray’s in 2011. Georgia didn’t really beat anyone either season; and when it played good teams (2003: LSUx2, 2011: all four losses) Georgia was defeated. Georgia relied heavily both of these seasons on its defense (and the offense was better last season Bobo haters).
Could 2012 mirror 2004?
Our 2012 defensive unit is filled with playmakers and hard-hitting talent. Names like Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree, Bacarri Rambo, Sanders Commings, John Jenkins, Kwame Geathers, Abry Jones and Cornelius Washington are comparable to the names I listed from 2004. Can our freshmen tailbacks come in and make an impact like Ware and Brown did?
There are concerns. The offensive line scares the living hell out of me. But we are returning a stellar defense. We have a veteran quarterback who has started a lot of games in the SEC. There is depth and talent in the offensive skill positions. The pieces are there to be great again.
In some ways, I hope it is not a direct mirror image. I think the 2004 season was, aside from the letdown in 2008 and the debacle in 2010, the most disappointing season under Coach Richt.
In 2004, Georgia went 10-2 and beat Florida. I know the expectation is to play in Atlanta again this season-and it damn well should be. But honestly, if I told you right now that Georgia would go 10-2 and beat Florida, how many of you wouldn’t take that in a minute?
If this team goes 10-2, beats Florida but misses out on the SEC Championship game, we will all be disappointed and rightly so. But wouldn’t that in itself be a great measure of where we have rebounded from? If having by most standards a successful season means disappointment, not going 8-5 and playing in Shreveport, then haven’t the right steps been made to rectify our program?
Unless the Dawgs completely implode, the only team on our schedule that has the offensive fire power to give our defense fits in the first 12 games is South Carolina. The talent combined with the favorable schedule makes everything shape up well for the Dawgs in 2012. If Georgia cannot shoot itself in the foot and get out of its own way, this upcoming season would not be a disappointment like the 2004 campaign. That 2004 team wet the bed against Tennessee and ran into a buzz saw against Auburn. There is no team on the 2012 schedule that is near as good as the 2004 Auburn team.
2011 was a repeat of the 2003 season. If 2012 is in many ways a repeat of 2004, then what I predicted almost exactly a year ago would ring true…
I think with this infusion of Dream Team talent, plus the stability of Aaron Murray, Georgia is about to go on a run similar to what we saw in the early 2000s. I am not saying Georgia wins the SEC East this season, but it won’t be long at all.
To quote Jimmy Buffett, “better days are in the cards.”
…and we would be on the cusp of another great run in UGA history.