Future Still Bright for Dawgs

Ok, time for someone outside the state of Georgia to give Mark Richt a little slack here.

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Yes, many thought he could bring SEC championships back to the state in buckets, but I am here to set the record straight and give a simple reason why it hasn't happened as planned or predicted.

It's that old excuse that in this case isn't just an excuse, but luck.

Fans that don't follow the SEC very closely may not understand just how badly luck has affected this team. Bad luck has bitten it with injuries far too many times, way more than normal, and good luck has turned it's back to Georgia on every occasion.

Anyone who says good teams make their own luck is overlooking the fact that a lineman rolling up on a runner's legs in a pileup or a freak hit can wreck a season.

How many people reading this know that Georgia lost 19 scholarship players to season-ending injuries? Projected starters missed a jaw dropping 50 games last season.

If you don't think missing just one player affects a team, look at Alabama's Sugar Bowl and how the absence of Andre Smith, Alabama's All American left tackle, affected that game.

Now multiply that by 19.

It's also bad luck that Georgia's misfortunes also hit at a time when other SEC foes were just hitting their strides. Clearly, Georgia is the second best team in the SEC East, but then every team in America has been a behind the Gators for most of the last three seasons.

They also had the misfortune of meeting Alabama with many key injuries at a time when Alabama was on a tear.

You can write off last season's woes, if you even want to call a 10-3 season with a Capitol One Bowl win woeful, due to injuries. However, the bad news is that Georgia starts the 2009 season with almost as many gimps, limps, and lumps as it left last year.

Georgia may have 15 to 16 players sitting out spring practice due to injuries that have not yet healed in time to practice. But before you add this up with the losses of Stafford, Moreno, and other good players to graduation and write Georgia off this year too, let me give you some facts you may not know.

Georgia will start a senior QB that has had sporadic playing time but was at one time a projected superstar before the emergence of Stafford.

Joe Cox will not only fill the shoes of Stafford quite well, but Georgia just signed one fine high quality receiver, Marlon Brown, to along with last year's rookie standout A.J. Greene. I don't see Georgia's passing game going down at all.

Now let's look at the running game. Yes Moreno was good, had good stats, and will play in the NFL, but he didn't have good games against the great teams. In the entire Alabama game, he ran for only 34 yards and was simply an afterthought.

Against Florida, he ran for 65, but with about the same yards per carry as against Alabama. He didn't have the size to break tackles against big fast teams.

Caleb King, a 216-pound tailback, is the kind of back that can break arm tackles and provide some power running. 225-pound, 6'2" Richard Samuel, when he recovers from wrist surgery, will give Georgia a one-two punch that teams will find hard to stop.

Both are sophomores this year and either, or both, could make Georgia fans forget Moreno very quickly.

So now you know how Georgia has lost little to graduation compared with what they're being replaced by. If Georgia can just get a little luck in beating the injury bug this year, they could actually improve upon their 10 win season of last year.

A tough season opening game against Oklahoma State will tell how well all these new pieces will have fallen into place. With a win here, they only have two games that should give them much trouble. The first will be against LSU team hoping for redemption from last season's struggles. The other, of course, will be the Florida game.

Don't write off Georgia just yet. They're just a little good luck and a few healthy players from being where they want to be. Maybe Mark Richt won't end up this season like last, singing the old "Hee Haw" ballad, "If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all..."

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