So I'm sitting at my favorite local pub (Padriac's) and I was having a beer on a very nice spring day with a buddy of mine who works at my former employer and is looking for a new opportunity. This particular opportunity is an outside sales job that sells services that EVERY business needs: bookkeeping/accounting.
We get to talking about selling and how people HATE salesmen, but LOVE conversationalists. It actually got me to thinking, oddly enough, about this upcoming season and how you can "sell" the Dawgs as a MNC contender for next year. Then it clicked that maybe a good post could come out of that. So, here's how I'm going to sell to you that the Dawgs are ready to be the team we all hope they can be.
The Dawgs are entering into the seventh year of the Mark Richt era. An era that has been defined by an exemplary road record in the SEC, two SEC championships in three appearances, and a plethora of top ten recruiting classes since the era began. So immediately you know the talent is there, and obviously the coaching is not far behind, if it is at all.
However, after the success of this past year, one would think "the Dawgs are naturally at the top of the heap, but their schedule this year is brutal." Well, it's no different than the schedule Florida or LSU had to wade through in '06 and '07 respectively. It's the SEC. It's going to be tough.
Here's what I do know. Defense wins championships. Our defense, in particular, returns nine of 11 starters with no attrition in the LB corps and only one lose in the secondary, followed by one loss on the defensive line. While these types of players cannot be replaced, especially with their leadership skills, their work ethic can be replicated to every person who has played on the field with them. All nine, in fact.
We have All-Americans in the waiting in guys like Jeff Owens, Kade Weston, Asher Allen, Dannell Ellerbe, Rennie Curran, etc. These guys have shown not only flashes of brilliance, but flat out steady beams of brilliance in games where it counted most.
So the defense will take care of itself. We have a coach in Willie Martinez that has finally come into his own and created a hybrid defense where we play a zone for confusion, but blitz and hurry the opposing quarterback to force him to make mistakes. We're nasty down in front and we're fast and hard-hitting should he ever get the chance to get the ball out of his hands. If you don't believe me, ask Hawaii and Florida.
On the offensive side, we have a three year (almost) starter in Matthew Stafford. The former gunslinger now considers himself a true quarterback and student of the game with one helluva arm. Should he have an off-day, you have a potential Heisman candidate in Knowshon Moreno ready to carry the rock 25-30 times a game if called upon. His body is tough and his attitude is infectious.
"Well, your offensive line lost two seniors that provided great leadership."
Absolutely they did. There's no denying that. However, we lost Max-Jean Gilles years ago and we ended up just fine right now. We have kids on that line that are eager to prove what they can do. Take Justin "Bean" Anderson for instance. His flashes of brilliance are prepared to be steady streams of toughness once he gets the gameday feel into his blood. Sure you have mainstays along the offensive line such as Trinton Sturdivant and Clint Boling. Of course you need that bell cow out front that makes this line a unit, but that will come with time on and off the field. No one calls teachers "leaders." Leaders lead. They do. They prove. They speak with words AND actions. Anderson, true freshman Ben Jones, and proven warriors like Sturdivant are those types of guys. The energy to be the best is undeniable. That's the attitude that second-year coach Stacy Searels has implemented.
"Ok, so you can run the ball. Can you throw it?"
Are you kidding me? Look at a guy like Mo Mass, who not only runs great routes, but has shown the surest of hands in game situations last year, as well as in practice. He's a tremendous blocker. He's a teacher and a leader. He is our guy. Then, behind him you have the "Old Faithful" in Kris Durham, who could catch a golf ball covered in baby oil. This guy is big, willing to put his body on the line, and has hands made of pillows. If you need a first down, he's your guy.
Let's not even waste your time in talking about the guys like Walter Hill, who is a jump ball master, or Tavarres King, who despite being a little skinny, is as smooth as silk. These guys are waiting in the wings wanting to contribute. They're also supported by all-world-tough-guy Tony Wilson, the durable and reliable Kenneth Harris, and the ready to be out of the shadows Michael Moore. The talent is there, the desire is there, the scheme is there, and the passer can get them the ball.
What else do you need to know?
You see, my friends, we're entering into a very special time in Dawg history. We're watching a championship team being built right before our very eyes. With patience, we'll see the fruits of others' labor. It may not be this year, and it may not even be next year. But it will be soon, my friends. It will be sooner than you think.
So rest easy tonight, Dawg Nation. Let Florida soak up the sun on ESPN. Let LSU continue to fall into the headlines of putting their faith in a QB that can't even show up to practice. We'll continue to build our dynasty out of class, hard work, good values, and faith that the tortoise does indeed beat the hare.
Great days are ahead. The question is, are you ready to buy?
Until next time kids.
Labels: College Football, UGA Football