Sleeping Dawgs

Can't rule out Georgia's chances, even in the loaded SEC East

May 7, 2007

By Trev Alberts

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Trev Alberts is a football analyst for CSTV and
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You've got college football questions and CSTV football analyst Trev Alberts has answers and opinions. Each week Alberts will be answering questions and queries on the world of college football. So if you've got a question for Trev, just ask him.


You know Trev, I have liked you as a commentator and analyst for a while. You don't harbor too many biases and you generally try to shoot straight. Having loaded you up though, let me ask this......with all the attention Florida and Tennessee are getting, why is it that nobody thinks Georgia has a legitimate shot at taking the SEC crown again? I mean, Mark Richt has guided them to three SEC championship games. Albeit, one of them we came in the back door and got our clocks cleaned by a good LSU team. But what gives? - Billy Holland, DuluthGa.




If you really look at Georgia and what happened and why they took a step back, it's when they transitioned from D.J. Shockley, their veteran quarterback.


It doesn't take a whole lot of intelligence to figure out that a team with a returning starting quarterback that has experience is a team that is a legitimate threat. So when Georgia didn't have a returning quarterback and they had Joe Tereshinski, Joe Cox and Matthew Stafford, the results were typical. So much in college football is based on the play of your quarterback.


But Stafford finished last season gaining the team's confidence and I really think Georgia is a sleeper team this year. They're going to have a good defense, a good running game and I'm a Mark Richt fan. I think he does everything the right way with recruiting, where they've been outstanding. They need some wide receivers to step up and the quarterback has to make good decisions - playing solid and not turning the ball over.


But I'll tell you, that SEC East race is going to be incredible. It's not only a remarkable race for a conference, but it's a remarkable race for a division within a conference: Florida, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina think pretty highly of themselves this year. Steve Spurrier thinks he has the best team he's had down there yet.


The ACC, Big Ten and Big 12 fans who are upset about the attention the SEC continually gets, well, I think that attention is warranted. They have remarkable talent and remarkable coaching to go along with it in Urban Meyer, Phil Fulmer, Richt and Spurrier. It doesn't get a whole lot better than that and that's only the Eastern Division.  


How good is Florida really going to be? They're bringing in a lot of freshman on that defense and when was the last time Urban Meyer coached three straight years at one university? - J.L., Alabama


It will be interesting to see how that team comes together. There were quite a few losses on defense. They will have a young defense, but I still think they're tremendously talented.


When you establish expectations about excellence, about how you prepare, how you handle yourself, that translates to the younger players. Some of those guys who may not have played a whole lot last year, but were around, learned from those great leaders of last year's championship team. They're either going to establish a blueprint for success that will just carry on to the new players, or they will become complacent, thinking they have things under control. I think those are the two things that happen when you win a championship


I don't think there's any doubt about the returning talent Florida has. It's about the mindset with the Gators, about how they're going to approach the upcoming season. Meyer has to force them to pay the price to defend and I would expect that to be the case. Guys come into programs prepared to play nowadays so the fact they're younger - and that their names are different - doesn't take away from the fact they're still tremendous athletes. Florida will still be right there.


What's the one rules change you would like to see the NCAA make? I know they just changed back the clock rules but my buddies and I think instituting the two-feet in rule, like the NFL, would make the game more interesting. What do you think? - James, Middletown, N.J.


I haven't thought about the two feet rule, but I can see merits to both sides. I do NFL games too and sometimes the spectacular catch in college football is great, but I don't know if a rule change would make a remarkable difference. It might change some routes and cut down a little bit on the spectacular plays, though.


But I really like the rule changes that went into effect this year with the kickoff being moved back. I like the fact that special teams will play a more integral part of the game. The Devin Hesters and Ted Ginn-types will have a much greater impact. And I think you may be surprised how many of these kicks go into the endzone, too. But any time you can add football plays it's a really good thing. We're all there to see a football game, to see the action. It's going to make the game even more interesting


We could do better on replay. Initially, I was wrong about replay. Now I believe it's very good. There are times when instant replay affects the outcome of the game because of momentum. They need to be done quicker, with communication between upstairs and downstairs improving. I would like to see coaches have more of a say about replays. I don't understand why there would be any limit at all on challenges, within reason and with lost timeouts as penalties, because I think it increases the chess match.


But I think our game is awfully good. You can be as critical as you want, but you have to give the NCAA credit for willing to be open-minded and admit when they're wrong. Maybe we haven't gotten all the way there yet with the BCS. But our sport is as healthy as it can be on the field. Off the field is where there's the most concern long term. It doesn't take a whole lot of intelligence to look at the landscape of college football and realize those who have the ability to build facilities to entice players to come have a marked advantage. That's just reality.


I went to Nebraska for the most part because the facilities were at a different level than Iowa was. But it saddens me when some schools have greater access to funds than others. But again, on the field our game is as polished as it comes. If we truly want to have a level playing field, I think it's pretty disingenuous to think someone like a Notre Dame, a Texas or even a Texas A&M is competing on the same playing field as a Missouri or Iowa State. But how do you regulate that? I don't know.