This time of year I am asked several times each day how a think [insert team here] will do this season. That is when I know football season is approaching. It is not that people simply want my opinion. They just want to talk football. It has become a year-round sport, and in the South college football is certainly king. I am a fan first, so I love talking about the upcoming season. For the last few years, I have taken time in one of my columns to tell you my thoughts on the quartet of FBS schools in our area. Luckily, we have some really good teams to root for this year. So here is a breakdown of the 2013 regular season for Georgia, South Carolina, Clemson, and Georgia Tech.
Georgia is loaded on the offensive side of the ball. They bring back record setting quarterback Aaron Murray and two of the premier running backs in the country, led by sophomore Todd Gurley. Gurley broke Hershel Walker’s freshman TD record a year ago with 17 scoring runs, and that was giving nearly 40 percent of the carries to his backup. While they have nine starters back on offense, they lost virtually everyone on defense.
However, that was a defense that had spectacular talent, but they simply did not live up to the hype. Perhaps an influx of young, fresh faces may be just what the doctor ordered for dogs Fans. UGA faces a tough schedule right out of the gate, with games versus Clemson and South Carolina to open. they also face LSU, Florida. I think they will split their four toughest games and run the table in the rest to finish 10-2. The key win will be in their second game as they host the Gamecocks.
That game will decide the SEC East and I give the edge to the Bulldogs.
South Carolina (10-2)
Steve Spurrier has made the Gamecocks relevant, and Jadaveon Clowney has made them a must see in 2013. South Carolina has done a tremendous job at catching up with Georgia, LSU, and Alabama in terms of athletes.
They have used a Peach-State recruiting pipeline to bring in some dynamic players on both sides of the ball. Clowney will get tons of publicity, and it is well deserved, but Spurrier will need someone stup and be aplaymaker on offense. Quarterback Connor Shaw has the experience to be that guy if he can stay healthy. I think South Carolina will fall early to UGA, but aside from Florida and Clemson they should be favored in every other game.
The record looks familiar, but picking UGA, SC, and Clemson to each go 10-2 is not far fetched. The trio combined to go 34-6 last season (UGA 12-2, SC 11-2, Clemson 11-2). Clemson will challenge Georgia for the best record in all of college football.
The Tigers averaged nearly 40 points per game last season and return quarterback Tajh Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Boyd, the reigning ACC Player of the Year, Boyd threw for 3,896 yards and 36 TDs a year ago and also ran for 10 more scores.
Watkins should see the ball thrown his way a great deal with the graduation of DeAndre Hopkins (1,400 yards and 18 TD receptions). Scoring will not be a problem for the Tigers, but stopping the opposition has been in recent years. They play UGA and South Carolina out of conference, but the Tigers game of the year is Oct. 19 when they host FSU.
The ACC title will be decided that night.
Georgia Tech (6-6)
The Jackets struggled early last season, but actually finished 5-3 in the ACC and finished with 7 wins. Paul johnson’s team can look great one week and overmatched the next. Part of this inconsistency may be the system. Some teams are simply too athletic for Tech to run on.
However, they still give their opponents fits. This year should be no different. The Jackets should beat Elon, Duke, Virginia, and Alabama A&M. I think they will lose to UGA, Miami, Virginia Tech, and Clemson. (They do not play FSU this year.) I think they will finish 6-6, but I would not be surprised if Johnson somehow squeezes out a 7-5 finish.
In my last column, I gave a list of some County baseball records that I felt would never be broken. Well, one of the marks was the single season home run record of 18. B.J. Hawes hit 18 HR in 2000 to break Todd Greene’s county mark.
However, I failed to mention that Jordan Belcher (Augusta Christian) tied that mark during his incredible 2004 campaign.
That year, Belcher won the CSRA Triple Crown and was drafted in the fourth round by the Cincinnati Reds. Jordan is Nolan Belcher’s older brother, so I guess you can add their accomplishments as siblings to the list of incredible baseball records that will be tough to top.