It will be an exciting afternoon in Athens this Saturday as Georgia tees it up between the hedges to kick off the 2014 college football season.
The Bulldogs will be part of one of the marquee games of the weekend as they host No. 16 Clemson in what has the potential to be a terrific game.
As I’ve read many articles and previews of the season opener for the Dawgs, I’ve seen many UGA fans talking about “revenge” for last season’s loss in the opener against Clemson. Georgia had a good showing on the road in Death Valley, but ultimately fell short in a 38-35 loss to the Tigers.
Now, some fans are thinking back to that opener and hope a little revenge is served this Saturday in Athens.
But this game isn’t about that.
This game is the first chapter in a new book for the Georgia football program.
The reality is that this Saturday’s team will be very different from last season’s squad that traveled to Clemson on August 31.
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Last year’s team appeared to have all the pieces of making a national championship run. While I’m seeing UGA emerge as a sexy playoff pick for some college football experts, I think many fans aren’t nearly as optimistic this year.
Last season, Georgia had one of the most decorated quarterbacks in SEC history who had complete control of the offense. This season, the reins are being handed over to a fifth year senior who is finally getting the opportunity to prove himself.
Plus, the Clemson team that’s traveling to Athens this weekend will also be very different.
Dabo Swinney had the luxury of an experienced senior quarterback last year who was surrounded by NFL talent. This year’s team looks like it will be built more around the defense while the offense still has serious questions that need to be answered.
What we see on Saturday will have nothing to do with last year.
For Georgia, it’s about being prepared for a big game and executing. It’s about the talented stable of running backs showing they can withstand the physical pounding of playing against a great defense. It’s about Hutson Mason showing he’s ready to manage and lead this team. It’s about the offensive line showing they can win the battle at the line of scrimmage.
For the defense, it’s about starting with a clean slate. Playing fast, aggressive and physical. It’s about being the one throwing punches instead of constantly being put on its heels. It’s about a defensive coordinator who can make the most of the talent he has on the field.
The 38-35 outcome of last season’s game is irrelevant. Revenge has nothing to do with it.
It’s 0-0, and both teams are 0-0.
And the only thing that matters is getting that record to 1-0.