The words hit Georgia players like a sledgehammer Tuesday. Said a wide-eyed senior offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb: "Wow! That one hurts. That's a bold statement. I guess we'll find out Saturday.'' Added Stinchcomb: "It's definitely bulletin board material. It stings a little bit when you hear your team is not man enough. That has some bite to it.''
Said defensive end David Pollack: "The former head coach for Auburn said that? That's interesting. He's not dressing out, is he?'' Added Pollack: "There's a million coaches out there in the stands who don't dress out and think they know what they're talking about. Everybody is entitled to their opinion. We'll see what he says afterward.''
Dye, a former Georgia player, could not be reached for further comment Tuesday. Dye's remarks were the basis for the first question for Georgia coach Mark Richt at his weekly press conference Tuesday. "That would be good stuff (for the bulletin board),'' Richt said with a smile.
Georgia is 4-0 overall, 1-0 in the Southeastern Conference and ranked No. 7 by The Associated Press. Dye said the Bulldogs' most respected opponents thus far, Clemson and South Carolina, "ain't close to what Alabama is, and those were both close football games.''
Dye was best known for winning with the ground game at Auburn. Though freshman quarterback Brodie Croyle adds more passing potential to the Alabama attack, the Tide is still best known for the kind of power football that appeals to Dye. Alabama (4-1 overall, 1-0 SEC) returned all five starting offensive linemen from a unit which helped the Crimson Tide lead the 2001 SEC rushing statistics. This year, No. 22 Alabama again leads the SEC and ranks seventh in the nation with its average of 248.8 yards rushing per game. Georgia is 11th in the league with 112 yards rushing per game.
Even though Alabama has lost running back Ahmaad Galloway to a season-ending injury, the veteran offensive line enabled the Tide to rush for 267 yards in a 30-12 win over Arkansas Saturday night. Shaud Williams and Santonio Beard each rushed for more than 100 yards in the game. Georgia will counter by starting a freshman tackle - either Kedric Golston or Darrius Swain - two sophomore ends (Will Thompson and Pollack) and junior tackle Johnathan Sullivan on its defensive front.
"It's a big question for us, how will we hold up against that style of play,'' Richt said. "That's what Coach Dye is talking about. It's tough to stand up against that.'' Alabama's defensive front - led by seniors Kindal Moorehead, Kenny King and Jarrett Johnson - also is regarded by some as the best in the conference. Alabama ranks sixth in the nation and second in the conference in total defense, while Georgia is last in the league and 89th in the nation in total offense. Georgia's surprisingly low average of 333.8 yards per game has led critics to suggest it is overrated.
With its home-field advantage, Alabama is favored by four points over Georgia. "We feel like we haven't even come close to reaching our potential as an offense,'' said quarterback David Greene. "This is a huge game for us. This game is going to let us know - and let everybody else know - what kind of team we can be.''
Charles Odum is the beat writer for Dawg Post in Athens. He has over 20 years of experience covering Georgia football. He can be reached here: CEOdum@aol.com
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