Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Georgia Bulldogs learning to live with football hype

SEC freshman of the year Knowshon Moreno is one of 17 returning starters. Moreno is a “heck of a tailback,” but Georgia is lacking other players with experience, coach Mark Richt says.

Getty Images

SEC freshman of the year Knowshon Moreno is one of 17 returning starters. Moreno is a “heck of a tailback,” but Georgia is lacking other players with experience, coach Mark Richt says.

HOOVER, Ala. — The SEC and national championship talk began shortly after the Sugar Bowl ended.

After closing out the season with seven consecutive victories, including 41-10 over Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl, an 11-2 record and a No. 2 national ranking, Georgia immediately became a favorite to win it all.

Just check out the preseason magazines. Or walk the streets of Athens. Or anywhere in Georgia for that matter.

"It's hard to avoid it," senior wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi said during Thursday's SEC Media Days. "It's always in your face, but the thing is, you can't get overwhelmed with it. You have to focus on what's the ultimate goal, and that's to win it all. A lot of teams start out No. 1, and they kind of get derailed throughout the course of the season."

Coach Mark Richt has decided to allow the Bulldogs to enjoy the hype for now. As long as they understand there's a fine line between enjoying it and believing it.

"I told the players that this preseason hype could be a blessing or a curse," said Richt, who is entering his eighth season at Georgia. "It's a curse if you think it gives you a sense of entitlement to where you think you don't have to prepare. It could be a blessing if you look at it as one of the greatest opportunities of your life and you put the work in to even be in position to have a chance."

Georgia returns 17 starters, including junior quarterback Matthew Stafford, who threw for 2,523 yards and 19 touchdowns last season, and SEC freshman of the year Knowshon Moreno, who rushed for 1,334 yards. Add a young offensive line that gained a lot of experience last season and a stellar defense, and it's easy to understand the love affair with Georgia.

But Richt insists looks are deceiving.

"We could be starting four sophomores and a true freshman, and we've got one safety that is really game-ready, so that's a bit of a concern," he said. "Knowshon is a heck of a tailback, but I have no other game experience behind him. So what looks like a tremendous strength may not be, if he tweaks his ankle and is out three weeks."

And then there's the schedule. The Bulldogs will play one of the toughest in the nation with games at South Carolina, Arizona State, LSU and Auburn, and against Alabama, Tennessee, Florida and Georgia Tech. They open Aug. 30 against Georgia Southern. Richt pointed out that his opponents' coaches have accounted for nine national championships.

"The expectations are high, but we know we can't get the big head," senior defensive tackle Jeff Owens of Sunrise said. "We can't control who plays in January; we're still in July. You can't look in the future and know what's going to happen. All we can control is playing Georgia football and trying to get better week in and week out. First of all, we have to look at Georgia Southern. They are going to come in and try to upset us. It's like Appalachian State did Michigan."

So for now, they will enjoy the hype while focusing on the present.

"If you think too far down the road and you don't prepare on a daily basis and you lose a day or two because you think you're it, you won't be ready when the moment of truth comes," Richt said.

Antonya English can be reached at

Georgia Bulldogs learning to live with football hype 07/24/08 [Last modified: Friday, July 25, 2008 7:04am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Twins eventually cash in as Rays lose, fall back to .500 (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — The Rays could only battle their way out of trouble for so long Saturday afternoon before succumbing in a 5-2 loss to the Twins.

    Minnesota Twins pitcher Adalberto Mejia, right, makes the tag at the plate on Tampa Bay Rays' Steven Souza Jr. who attempted to score on a runner's fielders' choice in the second inning of a baseball game Saturday, May 27, 2017, in Minneapolis. AP Photo/Jim Mone) MNJM103
  2. Rays Tales: The stories behind Corey Dickerson's ascension

    The Heater

    The 25 pounds DH/LF Corey Dickerson lost during the winter through diet and exercise are considered the primary reason for his ascension to one of the American League's most productive hitters, going into the weekend leading in hits, multi-hit games and total bases, and ranked in the top five in average, runs and …

    Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) connects for a sac fly, scores Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Steve Pearce (28) in the fourth inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
  3. For starters: Rays at Twins, looking for another with Odorizzi starting


    UPDATE, 12:45: Cash said Robertson was taking better swings Friday and so he wanted to move him up today, liking the idea of having three straight right-handers vs. a LHP they don't know much about. ... Souza was still smiling this morning about his failed dive attempt last night, and the reaction it got. .. The …

  4. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  5. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]