Last season, Quincy Carter had the worst performance by a Georgia quarterback since Todd Williams had five interceptions against Clemson in 1984, and South Carolina won in an upset. So it is reasonable for the media to assume that a revenge factor is present.
This season, David Greene is cautiously confident that Georgia's offense will perform against the Cocks. "I feel like our protection will hold up and I have confidence in them and hopefully we will be able to pick everybody up. This year I think our protections are good and I think they will hold up."
But the reason that the upset last season seemed so bad was the confidence and the pre-season ranking of the Dawgs coming into the game with the Cocks. Georgia was a preseason pick to win the SEC last season and South Carolina was picked to be a big loser for the third straight season. Neither happened.
Instead, the Cocks surged and the Dawgs struggled to 8-4 seasons, both winning their bowl games to end the year.
But this season it is Carolina and their fans that have the expectations. Seasons tickets are sold out, the Cocks are getting even more coverage in the already too "Gamecock-saturated" Palmetto media, and the expectations from Columbia have the Cocks beating their two biggest rivals, both Clemson and Georgia, something that has not happened in the same season in more than 5 years. It has happened fewer than 10 times in Carolina football history.
Georgia's expectations coming into the season are cloudy. Not much is expected of the Dawgs from the media, even though they have quietly found their way back into the Top 25, a place that they have spent in all but one week since 1997.
But in terms of revenge, there are several reasons to believe that there should or should not be a revenge factor this Saturday night.
1. South Carolina embarrassed Georgia in Columbia last season. The 11 point win may not seem like a lot, but the realization that the SEC was lost in the first SEC game for the Dawgs is reason enough for revenge.
2. A cold rivalry is starting to begin. Revenge comes about as a result of rivalries so often in college football.
Reason for this not to be revenge:
1. This is a new coaching staff. It has never lost to South Carolina, in fact, it is yet to lose a game. That will change, but what payback does Mark Richt and Company owe South Carolina?
2. Much of the key players, particularly Quincy Carter, have changed. If Carter were back this season, all that would be written about would revolve around his poor play in the 2000 South Carolina game.
3. Revenge is not the best way to go out and execute a game plan. Revenge if for fans, players out not get involved in the mouthy "revenge" talk. Instead, players should focus on "executing" as David Greene puts it.
So there you have it. There are some arguments both ways as to why this game should or should not be driven by revenge. For the media, it is easy to drum up a story about revenge. I did it just now. But for the players the best way to win this game Saturday is to ignore the press's attempts to create storylines that don't exist and play.
Jon Stinchcomb appropriately says, "We have a new staff and a new team. It is two different teams that are playing this year as opposed to last year. Our focus is to get a victory for this team. I'm sure the revenge factor is on the minds of some but I think it is overblown."
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