Friday, August 31, 2012

Around the Tailgate: 2012 predictions

It's so close now. Kickoff to the new season is almost upon us. Let's find out how the deck is stacked in our tailgaters' eyes.

Prediction time: how do you see the season rolling along for the Dawgs in 2012? Do we live up to the top ten ranking, or fall short?

Joe Waterloo - If you haven't figured it out based on my previous responses I don't think we live up to our preseason ranking.  We have way to many question marks and depth issues on the OL for anyone to really think we are a top 6 team.  Coming from the SEC I guess is giving us more street cred than we deserve, but apparently those people haven't been watching us the last few seasons.  If our OL can be better than mediocre and get incredibly lucky with injuries we can probably go 11-1 before Bama or LSU kicks our teeth in.  But with the typical amount of attrition for injuries I'll be optimistic and say 10-2 (but 9-3 is a real possibility.)  With the schedule we have anything less than 11-1 in the regular season is not living up to expectations.

The Wrangler - We will finish the year as a top ten team and will win the East.  I don’t know if we can supplant Alabama or LSU in the SEC Championship game, but I do like our chances if we stay healthy.  South Carolina will be a real test, but after dropping 2 in a row to them, I see us handling our business this year.  Getting Carolina later in the year will benefit UGA.  The SEC East is still down, so if we are going to make a run at an MNC, this year shapes up nicely.  Our defense should be as exciting to watch as any to wear the red and black in a long time.  Defense wins championships, and Grantham has built a helluva team.     Go Dawgs!

SmokeWagon - I don’t mind making predictions about particular players or strengths and weaknesses of a team, but I hate making predictions on the season.  You feel like predicting success will only lead to lack of success.  I have always tried to temper my expectations so that when the games are played I am less disappointed when things don’t go our way. (Although I am not sure that works out for me).  However, this is the BDB, and I can’t just blow off the question.   After all, if fear of losing kept one from participating, I could never talk Bernie and Nama into a friendly bout of Cornhole with me and the Wagon and the Wrangler.

The Dawgs 2012 schedule is weaker than normal, which should lead to a better W-L record.  However, with a weaker schedule, one slip-up hurts the resume much more, so I am not sure the schedule increases our chances of ending in top 10.  I think a tougher schedule gives you more opportunities to earn high rankings.  The good news in this regard is we are starting the year at #6, so if we win we don’t have as far to climb.  The bad news is that even if we win, we want have the quality wins to climb much higher.  Back to good news …… we are fortunate to be in the best conference in football, so if we do win, we will have the opportunity to strengthen our schedule and EARN a higher ranking in the GA Dome.   My gut feeling now is that UGA and SC are on fairly equal footing these days (and that is bad news for UGA, good news for SC, and terrible news for UF and UT – which then kind of cancels out the bad news for UGA).  Our schedule should make it easier to reach the dome when compared to SC.  A win as SC will hopefully  minimize the whining from Stevie about the schedule. I don’t remember hearing him complain about it in the past when the tables were turned. BTW, as a fan, I would much rather have the tougher schedule.  When I look back on a season 5 or 10 years ago, I don’t remember the exact W-L record for the seasons, but I do remember the big wins (I really enjoyed 96 Auburn and 01 UT games on SEC Classics this week.)

I think our defense is going to be very good and possibly great.  I think our offense is going to be average and possibly very good.  If the O-line can gel and stay healthy, I like our chances for playing in the dome.  Of course, we know that once the season begins, 2012 SEC season will create its own story.  The actual outcome is very rarely exactly what anyone predicted.  For example, I am not comfortable with the overall assumption that AU, FL, and UT are not going to compete for the dome.  I am just as guilty as everyone else by focusing in on Mizzou and SC, but something tells me at least one of those other SEC schools is going to be much better than expected. 

I can’t wait for Mizzou.  I am looking forward to the opener, but if I am honest, Buffalo is not “exciting”.  I will of course enjoy the tailgating and the Sanford Stadium experience with my 4 year old boy.  However, if we were getting ready for a truly stout opponent, I would be imagining that one day 10 years from now, I could be sitting with my 14 year old watching SEC classic football fondly remembering a 4th quarter comeback.  I have obviously blurred the lines with my answer between the “how I see the season rolling along for the Dawgs” in win-loss vs how I see the season rolling along for me as a fan.  I am optimistic that we will finish up in top ten.  However, as a fan, I base the quality of the season on the level of excitement and I wish we could plug in some real opponents for at least 2 of the 3 patsy’s.  With all that said, I am obviously pretty excited about the season because I have been sanding down my cornhole boards this week and putting a fresh coat of slick paint to go with my brand new sacks!!!  From now on, I will try to keep my whining about non-conference schedule to an off season exercise.  

Namaman - I am ever a believer and think that this truly is the year.  I look for us to go 11-1 for the regular schedule and then find a way to outlast LSWho in the SEC Championship.  I don't know who we will lose to, but we always seem to have that "one" game that leaves you scratching your head.  Then we can dismantle Kiffy-baby and his Trojans for the championship!  GOOOOOOOO DAWGS!!!

AthensHomerDawg - Double digit win season. These Dawgs will set the bar for the rest of CMR term. We stay in the top ten and get a double D winning season. It's all good!!!

Final thought...more tomorrow, but we should all know by now that Coach Richt nearly lost his team completely. Let poor coaching get out of hand, and too many players followed suit. There are a LOT of indications that he has things back in order. If so, this could be a special season. But just like any other year, off season talk is cheap. Now it's time to bark.

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Monday - tailbacks
Tuesday - offensive line
Wednesday - Mizzou preview
Thursday - Malcolm's duality

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