Lack of attention motivates Bulldogs

Morris News Service
Georgia coach Mark Richt (left) talks with former Bulldog defensive end David Pollack during the second day of the Southeastern Conference Media Days in Hoover, Ala.


HOOVER, Ala. --- This time a year ago, the Georgia contingent arrived at Southeastern Conference Media Days already weary from an oppressive summer media crush.

There is virtually no comparison between then -- when the preseason No. 1 Bulldogs were hounded with countless interview requests and offers to put stars Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno on magazine covers -- and this relatively quiet summer.

"It was 'Georgia this, Georgia that,' "Georgia defensive tackle Jeff Owens said of the buzz surrounding a team that finished with a somewhat disappointing 10-3 record. "Hype can get to you and that was a factor with last season."

Because of last season's disappointment and the departures of Stafford and Moreno for the NFL, Georgia was a comparative afterthought among Thursday's featured programs. Georgia senior quarterback Joe Cox said the Bulldogs expected such an attitude.

"I figured pretty much a lot of questions were going to be about how are we going to come back this year after losing so many guys and everybody's expectations. Our expectations haven't changed," Cox said.

"We know a lot of people are overlooking us and that's probably the best thing for us. It's made us have a good offseason and we're looking to just keep rolling into camp and into the season."

Still, Georgia's critics have every right to wonder whether Cox -- who has started only one game in his college career -- will be a suitable replacement for Stafford.

Whether someone will emerge at running back to fill Moreno's shoes. Whether a defense that was gouged at times last year will improve.

"I'm sure they're not expecting a whole lot," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "... When you have what people would consider stars -- Knowshon, Matthew, everybody considers those guys stars -- 'Well they have those stars, they're gonna win the national championship.' Conversely, they're gone now, so they're like, 'Well, they don't have much chance to win without those stars,' so to speak.

"But we know that football takes more than two guys. It's truly a team sport. So I think the expectations aren't super high right now."

If last year proved anything, however, it's that preseason expectations don't mean much of anything. The Bulldogs will begin making their own destiny on Sept. 5, when they open the season at Oklahoma State.

"When someone tells you, 'You can't do something,' it motivates you and you better yourself," Cox said. "We preached about that a lot this offseason."

Without the constant media obligations, the Bulldogs have had of extra time to preach. It's only 43 days until they demonstrate how well those sermons were received.



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