I am going to do several posts that go back and forth between drinking the kool-aid of why this season will be more 2007 and less 2010 and posts where I dump out the kool-aid and explain why this season will be no different from last year.
To compare how far we have to go to become not just ok but to be one of the best in the SEC and thereby the country I went back to last years AU game. It would seem a team that was 6-7 would be light years behind a team that went 14-0. The score would seem to reflect that with AU winning 48-31. However when you look closer at the game it was a very competative game. Georgia had a 14 point lead at one point. They were only down by 4 in the 4th quarter and the game was not broken open until after AU had matched Georgia's last score of a field goal with a td making it an 11 point game. Georgia was then forced to go for it on 4th down setting AU up with a short field to make the game look much different than it really was.
UGA actually averaged more yards per play than the vaunted AU offense. 6.8 to 6.3. AU was held 1.1 yards per play under their season average of 7.4 ypp. Georgia averaged 0.7 more ypp in that game than it did for the rest of the season. All of these are signs that Georgia was not far off from being able to knock off the best team in the country last season. The only major difference I could find was 3rd down conversions that kept AU on the field and got UGA's offense off the field.
If I am drinking the kool-aid I think that two factors this season will change that stat around in UGA's favor so that category no longer hurts them. A second year starter at QB instead of a freshman learning on the job and a defense that will better know their assignments being in their second year after making the switch to the 3-4. Throw in that it was Grantham's first year as a college DC and there is lots of hope that Georgia will mature in all three areas next year. That maturity will result in not just going toe to toe with the best teams around but being able to knock them off.
Let me rephrase that last part as a question. How much more comfortable would you feel with Murray as a second year starter, the defense in its second year as a 3-4 and Grantham with a year to have learned how to better communicate what he expects on each play call if UGA is up again on the #1 team in the country again this year by a score of 21-7 than you did last year?