Expectations run wild during the month of August as college football fans get ready for the season to start. For the Georgia Bulldogs, fans’ expectations are rather mild especially since their starting quarterback has never taken a snap. That’s about the same way Alabama fans were feeling a year ago. On August 31, 2009, Alabama head coach Nick Saban announced that Greg McElroy would be the QB starter for Chik-Fil-A Bowl game vs. Virginia Tech. There were alot of questions surrounding McElroy at the time as his only experience was replacing QB John Parker Wilson during blowout games the previous two seasons. McElroy started off slowly against Virgina Tech as he completed only 2 of his first 1o passes as Alabama was down at halftime to Virginia Tech 17-16. However, he led the Crimson Tide to 18 points in the final quarter as Alabama beat Virginia Tech 34-24. Throughout Alabama’s 14 game championship season, McElroy was never spectacular, but rarely made mistakes as he threw for 17 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions.
Now it helped that McElroy had Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram in the backfield as defenses were more worried about him than McElroy. Also, McElroy had a big, strong wide receiver as a target with Julio Jones. Finally, Alabama had a strong defense that took pressure off of him.
The 2010 Georgia Bulldogs are in a similar situation. QB Aaron Murray is inexperienced, but has a strong running game with the emergence of RBs Caleb King and Washaun Ealey. The tandem of King and Ealey worked together successfully in the Dawgs season-ending triumph over Georgia Tech where the two combined for 349 yards rushing. Throw in 2010 preseason All-American WR A.J. Green and Georgia’s offense looks similar to Alabama’s 2009 version. Now Georgia’s achilles heel has been their defense the past couple of seasons, and that trend could continue this year. But new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham brings in a new attitude and a 3-4 defensive scheme as the defense will be tested early against Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina Gamecocks and pass happy Arkansas Razorbacks led by QB Ryan Mallet.
If Georgia gets by those two teams, they have a good chance being 8-0 going into the Florida game. Of course, it’s still August and expectations are always high before the season opens.
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Written by Bob Ballard