If you doubt how hungry Georgia players are for Southeastern
Conference supremacy, just consult the waitstaff at the Blind Pig
Tavern in Athens. When the Bulldogs' offensive linemen weren't
each devouring their weight in wings, ribs and one-pound burgers
as part of an effort to increase their weight, they were
expounding, business-lunch-style, on the need for their unit to
lead by example this season. "When you're looking to motivate
linemen, an all-you-can-eat restaurant is a good place to start,"
says senior tackle and team captain Jon Stinchcomb, who weighs
282 pounds after adding seven pounds to his 6'6" frame during the
off-season. "When talking to the guys during those meals, I saw a
gleam in their eyes that I haven't seen before. It's finally our
At this point last summer the Bulldogs were focused on
transition, not triumph. Florida State offensive coordinator Mark
Richt had replaced Jim Donnan as coach, and the subsequent staff
overhaul forced the team's fifth-year senior offensive linemen to
welcome their fifth offensive line coach. While getting
accustomed to a no-huddle offense and a multiple defense, the
Bulldogs seemed to feel their way through the 2001 season and
finished third in the SEC East at 5-3. Now, with 15 starters back
and Richt's entire staff returning, Georgia should be more poised
and more consistent.
None of the Bulldogs are steadier (or headier) than Stinchcomb, a
second-team Academic All-America and microbiology major who has
yet to miss a blocking or homework assignment at Georgia. The
continued outstanding play of Stinchcomb and his beefed-up
linemates will be crucial if the Bulldogs hope to match the 432.8
yards of total offense they averaged in 2001.
On defense, senior linebackers Boss Bailey and Tony Gilbert, who
combined for 129 tackles last year, will have to pick up the
slack for a defensive line that lost two starters to the NFL.
Richt has enough confidence in his skilled and inspired brood
that he can already taste a conference if not a national
championship. "I see it in the way the players walk, the way they
talk," he says. "We have everything in place to make a great run
for it." --K.K.
COLOR PHOTO: DALE ZANINE YOUNG GUN David Greene, the SEC's top freshman in 2001, put up record-setting numbers operating the offense.
2001 RECORD: 8-4 (5-3, T3 in SEC East)
FINAL RANKING: No. 22 AP, No. 25 coaches' poll
Passing yards last year for David Greene, the most ever for a
Georgia freshman and the second most for any SEC freshman.
An opposing coach's view
The Dawgs are formidable if the running game is in gear
"You still have to be able to run in this league to win, and
junior tailback Musa Smith, a big back with breakaway speed, is
the key to their season. They also have the second-best offensive
line in the league.... Quarterback David Greene is intelligent,
has a good arm and is accurate.... They lost a lot on defense,
but they still have depth and speed. Linebacker Boss Bailey is a
freak. He can do anything: cover, stop the run, rush the
quarterback.... Defensive tackle Johnathan Sullivan is hard to
Aug. 31 CLEMSON
Sept. 14 at South Carolina
21 NORTHWESTERN ST.
28 NEW MEXICO STATE
Oct. 5 at Alabama
26 at Kentucky
Nov. 2 at Florida*
16 at Auburn
30 GEORGIA TECH