Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Returning From Sabbatical......

My apologies for the light amount of posting last week.  My work was crazy, then to top it off, the stomach bug decided to take up residence at my house so I was either taking care of someone sick or being sick from Thursday through yesterday.  That was awesome.*

I don't really have anything I want to link to today, just have a few thoughts to throw out there.

I don't know about you guys, but this preseason has just been weird for me.  I feel like I should be getting so excited about the season, but I'm just not getting there.  Yeah, I'm looking forward to it, but I guess I'm looking forward to it more with curiosity than with excitement.  I concur with what a lot of other bloggers have written, that we could win 5 games this year or 11 games this year, and neither would shock me.  On the one hand, looking at our perceived talent level and the schedule we play, it's not hard to see how we should win a minimum of 9 games.  But on the other hand, you wonder how fragile the psyche of this team is, and if we lose those first two games, it's not hard to see how the whole season could collapse shortly thereafter.  With all the changes that were made with Strength & Conditioning, nutrition, removing the "cancers" on the team, getting everyone "on the bus", energy vampires, etc........losing those first two games despite all those changes could be pretty demoralizing from a player's point of view.  

More and more, I'm beginning to feel like this will not be a "mediocre" year.  And I guess my definition of "mediocre" is 7 or 8 regular season wins.  I think we're either going to get some early season momentum and ride that to 9+ wins, or the wheels are going to completely come off at some point, and it's going to be U-G-L-Y.  Of course the homer in me says that the former is more likely than the latter.  But I can't help but notice some of the similarities of where we stand now, and where Tubberville (Auburn tenure), Fulmer, and Tommy Bowden were going into their make-or-break years.  With those three, they had made culture changes, personnel changes, and/or had what was perceived to be excellent returning talent, yet all 3 flamed out.  But then again, I feel like we've seen Richt's zeal return in a way that I never saw from those other 3 in their last year.

There are so many point/counter-points with this team.  The one overriding factor for me though has been Richt's willingness to change over the past 2 years.  He's gone from dismissing critics as having "never been in the arena" to making changes that addressed the majority of the very criticisms that he had dismissed (Martinez and his failures as a D-coordinator, directional kicking, strength & conditioning, more intense practices, playing true freshmen if they're able to contribute, etc).  Tubberville brought in a new offensive coordinator, but didn't allow him to bring in his own position coaches, which created all kinds of staff chemistry issues.  Bowden had the most returning talent in the ACC, but refused to part with Rob Spence, who was the Willie Martinez of offensive coordinators (it only took Syracuse 1 season to figure out how awful he was, but Bowden had kept him for 4 years).  And Fulmer had pretty much given up on recruiting, the cupboard was pretty empty when he was forced out.  Richt has made the wholesale staff changes that were needed though (I still believe in Bobo, for now), has seemingly improved chemistry throughout the program, and just brought in one heck of a recruiting class.  So my comparison of our current situation to the situation of those 3 above going into their make or break years is not apples-to-apples by any means.

So what to make of all this?  You got me.  I keep trying to sit down and start making my predictions for the year, and get pulled in too many directions with my thoughts.  I aim to have my predictions ready by this weekend though, so stay tuned!


*It really wasn't.

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