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Thursday, October 1, 2009

These Aren't Last Year's Bulldogs

A year ago, Georgia opened the season No. 1 in the country, then opened the season with four wins -- three of which came pretty easily. In Week 5, a top-10 team with a few question marks came into Athens with something to prove. The result was a 31-0 lead at halftime for Alabama.

This year, the Bulldogs didn't open anywhere near No. 1. They lost their first game and essentially evaporated from the national scene. The next three weeks resulted in wins, but not were convincing and all had a touch of ugliness -- and maybe more than a touch -- to ensure fans stayed nervous well beyond the clock hitting zero. Now, in Week 5, another top-10 team with a few questions and something to prove is heading to Athens once again.

Marc Weiszer wrote earlier this week that it's been a long time since Georgia has beaten a top-10 foe.

LSU is sounding confident, assuming this year's Dawgs aren't what they were a year ago.

But while Georgia doesn't have Matthew Stafford or Knowshon Moreno this time around, it may have something else -- something that was missing in that 31-0 embarrassment against Alabama.

These past three games have been less than spectacular, but they have been tests. They have tested Georgia's resilience, character and heart. And in the end, they were each wins.

It's hard to say whether that will translate into another victory this weekend, but to hear some of Georgia's most important players talk about it, it certainly sounds like they think it can.

Rennie Curran on how much better prepared this team is for a big game...
“This team realizes way more than last year’s team that there’s no way we can roll our helmets out and expect to win. We have to fight hard for every single down on every play for the success we want. It’s not going to come from just one guy making a huge play. Everybody has to win their battle to win the war ultimately. It really has helped us.”

Bryan Evans on not relying on just two players this year...
“It’s always good to know the offense can bail the defense out one game, the defense can bail the offense out one game, special teams can bail us out. If we can just get all three of them rolling, man, we can be unstoppable. That’s what we’re looking at is we have never finished a whole game together with all three phases. If we can get all three phases together and we win the turnover ratio, I’m pretty sure we can be the best team in the country.”

A.J. Green on playing so many tight games...
“That’s just show what type of team we are. We’re never going to give up, and we don’t care what’s the score or the time on the clock, we’re going to keep fighting.”

Mark Richt on what the close games have done for Georgia...

“I think it builds confidence. I think when you’re in the middle of a game and you hit that adversity everybody can look at each other and say ‘Here we go again; let’s go do it,’ rather than ‘Here we go again, we’re in trouble’. I think the first attitude is the one that we have at this moment and hopefully we continue to have it. I’ve said it ever since I’ve been at Georgia; I think we’re a good football team. I think we’re good enough to win the East and win the SEC, but the teams that win the close games are going to be the champions and so that has to be the first and foremost thing of importance is winning that football game. That’s what we are preparing for right now.”

Joe Cox on the team's mind-set going into this game...

“We’ve definitely been tested this year, and that’s always important. If that’s what people want to see is us getting tested or not, I don’t know. But I definitely think it’s been good that we’ve had some of the games we’ve had. We’ve been able to come back from being down. We’ve been able to drive the field in the last minute and get in position to win a game. There’s been a lot of things that have happened amongst the ugliness that’s been happening, too. We’ve been tested and we know what we’re capable of. We know what the defense is capable of. We know what (the offense) is capable of. I think our unity is great, and I think it’s come from those tough games when we’ve had to rely on each other. That’s going to help us in the long run.”

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