Jim Donnan, the head coach at Georgia, had just gotten home
after a long day in the office when he received the message that
his quarterback, Quincy Carter, had phoned. It was late, but
Donnan immediately returned the call. Coach and player talked
for 10 minutes, a short chat on May 24 that could be the turning
point for Georgia's '99 season. Carter, the SEC's reigning
freshman of the year, was debating whether to play baseball for
a fourth straight summer in the Chicago Cubs' minor league
system. "I told Quincy his heart should be in everything he
does," recalls Donnan. "I also told him that a summer of
concentrating on football would help him tremendously."
The day after that heart-to-heart, Carter told the Cubs he was
staying in Athens for the summer, and what a summer it has been.
Carter dropped 17 pounds and is running the 40-yard dash in 4.53
seconds, .12 of a second faster than in '98. "I'm in the best
shape of my life," says the 21-year-old. "I felt overweight and
slow last season. That was because playing baseball didn't allow
me time to work out as much. But now that I'm only focusing on
football, the sky is the limit on what I can do."
What Carter could do this season is contend for the Heisman
Trophy. Carter's biggest assets are his scrambling ability,
vital in a conference full of aggressive defensive ends who can
run like safeties, and his accuracy on long throws. He'll need
to display both skills--and every other talent he possesses--in
big games at Tennessee on Oct. 9 and against Florida at
Jacksonville three weeks later if the Dawgs are to end their
16-year SEC title drought. "We're on the verge of taking our
program to the next level," says Donnan, now in his fourth
season at Georgia. "But we'll have to play better in the
The Bulldogs also will have to find replacements on offense for
both of their tackles, their top four receivers and their No. 1
running back. The hope in Athens is that junior flanker Michael
Greer and sophomore tailback Jasper Sanks, a highly touted
recruit who was a flop as a freshman, can take some of the heat
off Carter. "I've been practicing with our wideouts and runners
every day this summer, and I know there won't be much of a drop
from last season," says Carter. "We don't have much experience,
but we have it in the right places."
The defense has six starters--including all three
linebackers--from last year's team. The unit is anchored by
Butkus Award candidate Orantes Grant, who led the team with 120
tackles. "Last year we ran fewer plays than any team in the
league," says Donnan. "We need to turn that around by creating
turnovers. If we can accomplish that and if we can get a strong
supporting cast for Quincy, we should be O.K." O.K., yes.
Conference champs, no.
COLOR PHOTO: AL TIELEMANS Ward bond Sophomore quarterback Carter did a passable impression of Heisman-winner Charlie Ward last year.
1998 record: 9-3 (6-2, 3rd in SEC East)
Final ranking: No. 14 AP, No. 14 coaches' poll
1998 Averages Scoring Rushing Yards Passing Yards Total Yards
OFFENSE 23.4 152.2 249.5 401.7
DEFENSE 17.2 137.1 215.7 352.8
Schedule strength: 43rd of 114
Oct. 9 at Tennessee
The Bulldogs have lost eight straight games to the Volunteers
and were blown out 38-13 on their last trip to Knoxville, in
1997. Revenge will have to wait a year.
Oct. 30 vs. Florida
This is the Gators' annual Cocktail Party game in Jacksonville,
and the Dawgs should be pickled by halftime.
The Bottom Line
A weak nonconference schedule will prove to be fool's gold.
Georgia could match last year's 9-3 record; improving upon it is