Well… they are "supposed" to be student-athletes. I know depends on who you ask, but Georgia tends to take that part of college football pretty seriously. Still, it's not ideal to start fall camp on a day where finals take place and follow that up with graduation the very next day.
Richt said, however, with the allotted practice sessions the NCAA allows he had to start practice today or lose today as a practice day. We live in the world we live in – Georgia just seems to find itself in these situations a lot more than other places. Or perhaps we know about it more because we cover the Bulldogs.
Still, days like today are about optimism. No one loses on the first day of practice in college football… the bad news for most everyone is that everything goes down hill form here. The Bulldogs open the season as the #5 team in the country according to the coaches' poll… they will face three other teams in the top ten - #7 South Carolina, #8 Clemson and #10 Florida. LSU checks in at #13.
In short, Georgia plays every ranked team in the SEC this season… except either Alabama or Texas A&M – and the Dawgs could play either if they get to the SEC Championship for the third season in a row.
Side note – Georgia Tech didn't receive a single vote at all in the coaches' opening voting.
2. Comments have lingered about Georgia's defense as well as last year's SEC Championship game. Richt is done with them. He said it's a new season with a new team and that's the way he's going about preparation for the upcoming schedule. The defense will have challenges, but Richt said he'll just have to feel them out during the preseason.
The defenders that I spoke with today were pretty confident they could get the job done. But players are always confident:
"Shoot, we will probably have some guys drafted in the next few years, too," Jordan Jenkins said today.
I'd argue Jenkins is probably correct, but it would probably wise to see what the Dawgs to against Clemson's high-powered attack before we pronounce this defense ready to run. Again, I've got my money on this defense – it will be fine. It won't be "better" than last season's defense, but it won't have to be. It will just have to be as good as it can be, and it will get the job done.
3. Kolton Houston is back. This probably could have been number one, but it's here for the time being. Richt seemed extremely pleased to have Houston back, and said he would go ahead and get him started with work at left guard. In fact, Houston will train at a few places in the future. Houston's got the talent and experience to be ready to go quick.
Good for Kolton. He will play, but I don't expect him to start this season unless an injury takes place. The offensive line is deep. Still, the Bulldogs need as much help as possible in the offensive line rotation. I have been told that Austin Long will not be available this season, and Richt said that he would not practice today. So if Long can't come back, Houston is as good or better a replacement for him.
Again, the NCAA goofed this up from the get go. That's on them. They are marginalizing themselves right out of the stranglehold they've had for decades. The NCAA is committing suicide.
4. Clemson? Yeah, Richt has thought about them. A lot. He said he and his staff have been putting that game plan together since before the summer began, but it may still need some tweaking. Along with Clemson, thought has already been put toward South Carolina and a few opponents for down the road. However, Richt knows as well as anyone that those plans could change soon after the first few games.
The Clemson game is big. The South Carolina game is huge. This team needs to be ready to roll right away. We will talk about both a ton in the coming weeks, so I will leave it there for now.
5. How good is Jadeveon Clowney? Richt says he's already a future NFL Hall of Famer. A lot of Clowney talk this offseason I know, but when Richt makes comments like those you've got to listen. Richt also made the remark that Clowney is currently the best college football player in America. Not many would disagree, I'm sure.
Um, Clowney is a future Hall of Famer – I said that already. I am tired of Richt stealing my thunder. Georgia is going to have to figure out how to deal with the massive freak. "Deal with" means work around him as much as possible – lessoning the impact to the extent possible. We all know that Clowney is going to get his – the offensive line just needs to figure out how to slow him down.
The key? Get a lead of any sort and grind the ball on the ground against the Cocks. Clowney can't pass rush if Georgia isn't passing… your welcome Mike Bobo (the more you know… and cue the shooting star)