“We’re a young defense. We already have been counted out by most people, but one thing about our defense is we’re vicious and we’re aggressive and we’re coming. Our mentality is where it needs to be to have a great, successful year.”
I don’t know about you but young Dawson’s comment has got me even more pumped for this Top 10 showdown opener Saturday night week in what those Clemson folks lovingly refer to as “Death Valley.” (And on that point, which is the real Death Valley, Clemson’s or those other Tigers’ from LSU? I’ve got to think the one in Baton Rouge has been more “death” for visiting teams down through the years.)
But, I digress. Is Sheldon Dawson’s statement to be taken with a grain of salt, merely a young and brash football player being a little too bold in telling the Georgia fans (and Tigers’ offense, too) that “we’re vicious and we’re aggressive and we’re coming?”
I, for one, don’t think Sheldon was trying to be cocky (oops, that bird ain’t flying in until the second game) at all when he said that to the UGA beat writers. I just think he and his fellow defensive players are a little weary over hearing how young and inexperienced they are this season, how Georgia’s multi-talented and veteran offense is going to have to “carry” them in the early portion of the season and, primarily, how Tajh Boyd and that high-flying Clemson offense is going to light the Bulldogs’ defenders up like that big Christmas tree in New York City.
Now, question is, will Sheldon Dawson’s words be prophetic? Will Todd Grantham’s defense go out and swarm all over Boyd, his receiving buddy Sammy Watkins and the rest of that Tigers’ “No Huddle-Hurry Up” offense and show that all this talk in spring practice and preseason camp about being faster, quicker and more athletic than that veteran, underachieving unit of last season wasn’t, well, just talk?
I’m wondering about that, too. Playing well on the Woodruff Practice Fields, folks, isn’t quite the same as when they turn the lights on Saturday night week at Clemson’s Memorial Stadium and those 80,000-plus fans dressed as orange pumpkins are screaming at the top of their lungs at you, when a quarterback like Boyd and a receiver like Watkins can make defensive backs look silly … especially the ones Georgia’s going to have back there in its presently banged-up secondary. Lord, let’s hope these Bulldogs on this new-look red and black defensive unit go out and play with that viciousness and aggressiveness Mr. Dawson is talking about. Otherwise …….
And while I’m wondering − and I know you are, too − about whether our defense is going to stun the collegiate football world on the last day of this month, that ain’t (excuse me, 9th-grade English teacher but who in the Deep South don’t use “ain’t” when they talk?) all I’m wondering about on opening night, 2013. Here are a few other things, such as:
If our highly-touted offensive line is going to walk into Memorial Stadium and knock down those Clemson defensive linemen and linebackers like bowling pins?
If two of the best tailbacks in America − Gurley and Marshall − (notice, I didn’t say Gurshall this time) are going to resemble, well, Herschel and Bo, to the Tiger defense before this long night is over?
If Aaron Murray is going to bomb the also questionable Clemson secondary with long touchdown passes to Malcolm Mitchell, Michael Bennett, Jonathon Rump and Justin Scott-Wesley as the game wears on? People, the Tiger defense is going to have to pick its poison in this one. If they sell out and load the box to stop Gurley and Marshall, then Georgia’s fifth-year QB is going to make them pay dearly. And if they play back and are determined to prevent Murray and his receivers from beating them deep, well, here come No. 3 and No. 4 running it down your collective throat.
If after all this talk about the Bulldogs’ talented freshman tailbacks … Green, Douglas and Turman … providing Mike Bobo’s unit with solid depth this season, will any one of them see the field in Death Valley? I don’t think so, that is, unless there’s a blowout either way. Gurley and Marshall should get all the carries but hopefully, those three young guys will see time on special teams. I don’t know as of yet whom the UGA coaches are going to have deep on kickoffs but if you watched J.J. Green run back kicks at Camden County for four years, like I did, you know that kid is dynamite in the open field.
If the Dogs’ new starting fullback, Quayvon Hicks, all 265, 270 pounds of him, will have a big night knocking down the Tigers’ defensive ends and linebackers while paving the way for Gurley and Marshall? The coaching staff has really lauded Hicks’ strength and work ethic in the preseason and a good opening effort against Clemson would certainly boost the Pierce County product’s confidence as he moves against Mr. Clowney the following weekend. And, also, would love to see the heavily-muscled Quayvon getting a few handoffs up the gut in this first ball game.
If, back to the defense, we’re about to see the second coming of David Pollack, Bill Stanfill, Boss Bailey or whatever great Bulldog defensive lineman or linebacker you can remember, in the person of one Leonard Floyd? As long as I’ve been covering Georgia football − and that’s some 48 years now − I can’t ever remember a guy being talked about by his fellow teammates (heck, Vince Dooley said Herschel was just a big old lumbering fullback type in that preseason practice of 1980) as much as this young freshman outside linebacker from Dodge County. Indeed, will the Clemson offensive tackles and tight end be able to block him? Remember, in preseason practice, several UGA players have called Floyd “unblockable.” Also, I ‘m wondering if Floyd will have to play with that huge wrap around his fractured left hand, as he’s doing in practice now?
Well, that’s enough of this wondering stuff for this week. But, it does make you wish they were teeing it up this Saturday night in that little hamlet in northwestern South Carolina, doesn’t it? Rather than having to wait another 11 days or so to see if our 5th-ranked Dogs are going to be making their hedges debut on Sept. 7 riding high in the collegiate football world at 1-0, with a powerful victory over the country’s No. 8 team under their belts.