A lot of times, stories about improved team chemistry are all too easy after a losing season: "We weren't together last year, but we are now" is a common storyline.
But in speaking with Georgia players, it's obvious they feel strongly about that being the case this year. And considering the Bulldogs aren't used to losing, how they reacted to it last year, and how they're responding this offseason, is interesting.
My story on the subject is posted here. The opening few paragraphs:
ATHENS - There were times last year that Tavarres King would look around the Georgia football team before games and sense something was wrong. The atmosphere was flat. Players weren’t on the same page.
“Last year was a real quiet year in the locker room,” he said. “Nobody was ever saying anything leadership-wise.”
King, a receiver, answered “absolutely” when asked if there were more chemistry issues than people knew about last season. And he also said “absolutely” when asked if the team was closer together this spring.
The rest of the story includes some interesting quotes from current and former players: Aaron Murray, Ben Jones, Christian Robinson, Marcus Dowtin, Demarcus Dobbs and Aron White.
I wasn't able to include comments from head coach Mark Richt, but I'll supply them here.
Richt was asked this week if he liked the team’s attitude. He answered thusly:
“I like their attitude. They’re working hard. There’s not a whole lot of griping and moaning. Sometimes when things get tough you hear guys gripe and moan a little bit; but they’re doing it. I used to gripe and moan a bit, but I’d still do it. But overall, they’re just trying to get better. I do like their attitude a lot.”
As a follow-up, Richt was asked if he sensed that the attitude needed improvement last year.
“We’ve all got to be pulling in the same direction, and we’ve all got to be believing, and we’ve all got to get better at doing the things that will help us win the fourth quarter," Richt said. "We’ve got to finish well. That’s the main thing that we did not do. Six out of seven games, we were within a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Sometimes we didn’t win the fourth quarter. That was our biggest thing, really.”