Old ways forced out of Bulldogs locker room

Published 4:29 pm Tuesday, October 10, 2017

For the first time since 2005, the Georgia football team is 6-0.

The Bulldogs have had plenty of successful seasons despite not getting off to more 6-0 starts, but never have they gone undefeated halfway through the season in such a dominant fashion.

I could be putting the cart before the horse, but as I’ve said in other columns, the only teams I see truly threatening Georgia this season are Auburn and Alabama. I might have said the same about Florida a week ago, but the Gators’ pitiful game against LSU has me reconsidering their threat level.

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I’m not saying Georgia will beat them, I’m saying they should. As Bulldogs fans know, those are two very separate realities. In the past, underperformances happened when Georgia needed that one win.

However, what impresses me most about Georgia’s dominant 2017 campaign is the evident culture change inside the locker room. It’s giving me a little more confidence and consistency in predicting how Georgia will play.

Players have hinted at it, Kirby Smart has talked about it, but for the viewers it is clear as crystal. Opinions vary to a degree on this, but Georgia has underachieved many times with incredible talent on its roster. That ship is being righted. The complacency, the entitlement—all of it is being squeezed out of the players’ psyche. Practices are harder. Strength training is more rigorous. Every position has depth, with hungry second or third stringers fighting for playing time. Every day is a competition.

Kirby is opening up the potential this program has always had. Heck, the Dawgs just got a verbal commitment on Friday from the No. 1 player in America for 2018, dual threat quarterback Justin Fields from Kennesaw. The last time the state of Georgia had a top-rated dual threat quarterback, he went to Clemson and won a National Championship.

Mark Richt made the program relevant, and Georgia fans should always, always be thankful for the work he did. Kirby is making the program elite.

So when I say Georgia should beat Florida, I say it comfortably. Nothing is a guarantee, but at least it’s more than what I would have said in previous years, and that alone is a step in the right direction.