Hope for a turning point in UGA's defensive backfield, and more observations just one week away from kickoff 2010.
· An article in the Athens paper offers some hope for a Georgia secondary that hasn't had a lot to puff its chest out about over the last few years. Enough that I feel comfortable asking a question that's been on my mind (and Kyle King's, too, evidently) for a while now: Can this secondary actually be the bright spot that carries the rest of the defense, at least in the beginning? That question may sound crazy after years of soft-zone misery under Willie Martinez, during which time it counted as a moral victory if the defender was within 10 yards when the opposing receiver caught the ball. But Bacarri Rambo, Brandon Boykin, and Vance Cuff have all shown flashes of brilliance in limited action so far, and behind them, guys like Sanders Commings and Alec Ogletree are worth getting excited about as well. I'm also very high on secondary coach Scott Lakatos, who had much less name-brand talent to work with at UConn but still managed to assemble top-25 pass defenses in five of his six seasons there. At the very least, Dawg fans should no longer have to cover their eyes every time the ball's in the air.
· As for the front seven, this article (courtesy Senator Blutarsky) on the 3-4 and the differences between the "1-gap" and "2-gap" iterations of same is worth checking out. There are some small glimmers of hope for Georgia's front seven, with Todd Grantham installing the 1-gap version at Georgia this year.
· Georgia played a "practice game" on Wednesday -- well, a "practice half" -- and while you can only take so much from a controlled situation such as this one, the resulting stats offer reason for hope: Aaron Murray and Hutson Mason were, while not necessarily sharp, free of game-killing picks; Caleb King and Washaun Ealey produced strong, steady numbers out of the backfield. Hard to make any judgments about the defense, but it looks like things are coalescing well for the season opener (which, by the way, you can still buy tickets for).
· A couple more polls are in: The Bulldogs have earned a #23 ranking in the AP Poll; the preseason BlogPoll, meanwhile, puts the Dawgs at #21, matching the ranking they received in the coaches' poll earlier this month. If you're not familiar with the BlogPoll, it's the creation of MGoBlog mastermind Brian Cook, and it lets dedicated college football bloggers cast their ballots in much the same way that the coaches and sportswriters do -- only with quite a bit more transparency and accountability. If it sounds like I'm not exactly unbiased in my opinion of the BlogPoll, I'm not -- I've been a participant for several years now, and I'm excited about the poll's move to a slick new interface at SBN this year. But it's worth checking out for some opinions and analysis from folks who you can be pretty confident are actually watching the games.
· For those of you who care about the NFL preseason, ex-Bulldog D-lineman Geno Atkins continues to impress for the Cincinnati Bengals, notching two tackles and yet another sack in the Bengals' 22-9 win over Philadelphia last week. SB Nation's Cincy blog says that while Geno Stacks probably has too steep a hill to climb to make it to the top of the depth chart this season, the coaches have been impressed enough for him to earn significant playing time off the bench.
Also earning accolades in the preseason: last year's number-one draft pick, Detroit QB Matt Stafford, who turned in a very efficient 13-of-18, 130-yard, pick-free performance in last week's exhibition win over the Broncos. I've also been hearing a lot of fantasy-related chatter about Staff potentially being a sleeper this year. If you're a fantasy football addict like myself, I'd be interested in hearing your opinion -- is Stafford worth having on your roster this year, and if so, where would you draft him?
· If you weren't already nervous about the prospect of driving in Atlanta, this probably won't make you feel any better -- though if you're a Georgia fan, it'll at least give you a belly laugh or two. "Brace for Impact," indeed. I can't quite blame the driver, though: If I was tasked with getting people jazzed about a home schedule that included South Carolina State, MTSU, and Duke, I'd probably be tempted to just plow the thing into a building, too.