Originally created 08/20/04

Five questions about Georgia

The expectations are sky high for Georgia coach Mark Richt, who is entering his fourth season in Athens.

The Bulldogs finished last year 11-3, including a 34-27 overtime victory against Purdue in the Capital One Bowl.

Here are five questions to ponder before the Bulldogs begin their season Sept. 4 against Georgia Southern:

1. How much of a beating will David Greene endure because of the Bulldogs' line? Everyone returns from last year's offensive line, but some are wondering if that's necessarily a good thing.

Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said three individuals will "hold the fort" at tackle so that All-American Max Jean-Gilles can be moved to guard, his natural position.

The Georgia line gave up 36 sacks in the regular-season alone last year (Vanderbilt had six by itself). That's far more than both Richt and Greene desire.

2. Will a dependable running back emerge in Kregg Lumpkin's absence? After going years without a feature back in his system, it looked as though Richt had found his man in Lumpkin.

A torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee has Lumpkin out for the year and the Bulldogs scrambling the final weeks before the season begins.

Lumpkin himself was still unproven, given that no Georgia back rushed for 100 yards last season. That's the first time that's happened since 1972.

So the door's gaping open for backs like newcomer Danny Ware, a buddy of Lumpkin's, and Screven County native Michael Cooper, who's struggled with migraines in the past.

For once, will a future NFL star emerge while he's still at Georgia?

3. Can Will Thompson become the next David Pollack? Some were surprised Pollack returned for his senior season after the amount of attention he received from opposing offense lines last year.

Pollack saw more double teams in 2003 than Michael Jordan in his heyday.

Can Thompson, in his senior season, morph into something of a Steve Kerr? Or even better, Scottie Pippen?

With Thompson out last season with a broken leg, Pollack's numbers suffered. His sacks were nearly cut in half (14 his sophomore year, 7 in 2003).

4. Who will replace Billy Bennett? Seems kind of silly in theory, but Bennett was a backbone of the team the past four years, a player that was money from 40 yards in.

"I don't know if you can do that," Richt said of replacing Bennett, the NCAA's career leader in field goals. "Maybe we'll score more touchdowns in the red zone."

In a national championship race, two or three games are always decided at the gun. Will Andy Bailey or Brandon Coutu be able to provide the heroics that had the diminuitive Bennett bouncing around the field a few times over the course of his career?

5. Can Georgia overcome past demons? A question at the Southeastern Conference Media Days came across a little hazy, so Richt tried to clarify it himself.

"Are you asking when am I going to beat Florida?" he asked.

"Well, yeah," the reporter said.

Richt is well aware of the burning sensation Georgia fans have in their hearts to win a Cocktail Party.

The Gators are led by a sophomore on offense (QB Chris Leak) and a sophomore on defense (LB Channing Crowder).

Translation: Better get Florida sooner rather than later.

- Travis Haney


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