Can Georgia Live up to the Expectations?

ATHENS - Georgia's football players and coaches want to know the same thing the team's fans do. Can Georgia Live up to the Expectations?

"The question I've been hearing the most is, can we live up to the expectations we have this year," safety Thomas Davis said.

The No. 3 Bulldogs finally get to begin answering that question this week. Georgia begins the season Saturday by hosting Georgia Southern at 3 p.m. in Sanford Stadium. The game will be televised by Fox Sports South.

"You can see the guys beginning to sense it and to smell it," Coach Mark Richt said.

Richt said he felt a renewed enthusiasm from his team during Monday night's practice, the first game-week workout of the season. Tuesday the team held its first weekly news conference of the season, another sign that the opener is not far away.

"I can't even speak it in words," fullback Des Williams said. "I think everybody is tired of battling each other. We're ready to take it out on someone else.

"Everybody is pretty excited to see how all of our talent and all of our preparation is going to come together."

The hype for this season began to build months ago as the Bulldogs were ranked high in all the summer rankings. The Sporting News even has picked Georgia to win the national championship, and the Bulldogs are in the top five nationally of every other major poll.

"I'd have to guess there are at least 15 teams that have a real legitimate shot (at the national title) when you just look at the talent level," Richt said. "Now things just have to go their way."

Georgia's players were happy Tuesday to have something to discuss other than speculation.

"Talk can only go so far," center Russ Tanner said. "All the polls and rankings don't mean anything if you don't go out there and perform."

This is the third all-time meeting between the Bulldogs and the Eagles. Georgia won both the previous games, 34-7 in 1992 and 29-7 in 2000.

The Bulldogs are coming off back-to-back seasons that were the best since the 43-4-1 record Georgia posted from 1980-83. This group has gone 24-4 with two appearances in the SEC Championship Game the last two years.

"We've been waiting on this moment to get here since we finished playing last year," junior safety Thomas Davis said.

Many observers feel this team could match the national title team of 1980. This is the first time in the program's history the Bulldogs have been ranked in the preseason top five.

"I'm glad our team is finally getting a chance to show what they're all about," Richt said.

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