Big Test in Big Game for Georgia

ATHENS – The Georgia football season may not be on the line today.

The destiny of the program may not be decided by how it fares against No. 12 Arkansas at Sanford Stadium.

This much, however, is definite:

Georgia can leave today feeling a lot better about itself and its season.

It can also leave feeling even worse, and in a huge hole.

The Bulldogs (1-1 overall, 0-1 in the SEC) failed their first test, last week at South Carolina, now ranked 13th in the country. But a win against a team ranked one spot higher would perk up a lot of people around Athens.

"People might say this could make or break your season," tight end Aron White said. "Because it's too early to have two losses and drop below .500. But I have a lot of faith in this team and I don't think we're gonna be put in that position."

Cornerback Vance Cuff put it more succinctly:

"We'll feel a whole lot better if we beat Arkansas," Cuff said.

If the Bulldogs are going to get back on the winning track, there is room for improvement in a lot of places.

The defense was maligned – on the message boards, and in the film room – after a performance in Columbia that was marked by missed tackles and a lack of physical play.

"We felt like the image we put out last Saturday wasn't our image at all," Cuff said. "We looked like a soft defense, undisciplined, couldn't wrap. But you know that's definitely not us. We've got a chance to show the nation again, against a good team, that we're really a physical defense, and can play and run hard."

The Razorbacks, and star quarterback Ryan Mallett, don't offer an easy confidence-boost. The Bulldogs know that well, having eked out a 52-41 win in Fayetteville last year.

"I know they're confident of that, coming off that game last year," Georgia cornerback Brandon Boykin said. "They probably think they can throw on us and things like that, and expect that after a game like last year. But we're trying to correct that."

Meantime, the offense is coming off a six-point performance at South Carolina. The Bulldogs said it was a matter of just not finishing drives, but that was taking the optimistic viewpoint.

The running game has not been the strength it was supposed to be. It won't be helped if Caleb King has to miss a second straight game with a twisted ankle.

Quarterback Aaron Murray has been solid so far, only turning it over once. But there wasn't much of a downfield passing game at South Carolina.

Georgia head coach Mark Richt talked about opening up the offense for Murray. But offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said he wasn't sure how much that could truly be done.

Either way, if this game goes anything like last year's 52-41 shootout, that puts more of an onus on Murray. Although the freshman claims the opposite.

"There's no pressure," Murray said. "We're definitely capable of putting points on the board. We've got tremendous talent, a tremendous line. I think if we just go out there and execute, play our game, I think the points will come."

Even the special teams is in need of a better week. The return units didn't do much in Columbia, and neither did punter Drew Butler.

On all levels, the Bulldogs just hope they can follow one bad week with one good one, and end up back on track.

"We still have our hopes and dreams towards the end of the season," tight end Orson Charles said. "We have to take it from here. We've gotta leave last week alone, and start fresh right now."

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