As part of the preparation for the Georgia game, I thought it would be useful to have a question-and-answer session with Georgia quarterback Joe Cox, or receiver A.J. Green.
Well they weren't available. So instead I sent questions to David Hale, who covers Georgia for The Macon Telegraph, a member of the McClatchy family of newspapers. I also answered some question from Dave about USC, which can be found here.
The following is what I asked Dave about Georgia, along with his answers:
Before last Saturday, did most Georgia fans (and neutral observers) figure that Joe Cox was going to be more like D.J. Shockley and not Joe Tereshinski? Did the performance at Oklahoma State change a lot of minds?
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Hale: Cox definitely drew comparisons to one of those two from most people, but I never thought either comparison was appropriate. He doesn't have the athleticism or natural ability that Shockley had, and he was probably a lot better prepared to handle the job than Tereshinski. I said Cox was probably closer to a younger version of David Greene -- more about the little things he does better than anyone than the big things he's just average at. Of course, Cox didn't look great against OSU, and now there are a number of fans ready to toss him aside, but I think that might be a mistake. He knows the offense inside and out, and judging him on one game -- a game in which he was suffering from flu symptoms -- is probably pretty shortsighted.
How much are the offensive struggles being laid at the doorstep of Mike Bobo, and how much at Mark Richt?
Hale: There's plenty of blame to go around. The playcalling was bad, no doubt, and Bobo has taken responsibility for that. After a successful and dynamic opening drive, he went uber conservative most of the rest of the way, and the results were terrible. He needs to get more players involved, starting this week. But Cox didn't play well, holding the ball too long and failing to demonstrate that great touch everyone said he had on his throws. Richard Samuel went down on first contact too often, the receivers dropped too many passes, and the wideouts provided no help for A.J. Green, who was blanketed throughout the game. So it was pretty much a bad outing on all fronts.
Here at USC, the offensive putridness (my new word) of the opener is being chalked up to conservative play-calling, with Spurrier threatening to open things up at Georgia. He might be serious, or it might be a bit of gamesmanship. What's the view down there?
Hale: To be honest, most discussion of offensive putridity (my new word) has surrounded Georgia, but I never got the feeling there was much concern that Spurrier, Stephen Garcia and company would come in and light up the scoreboard. Given the results from a week ago and the traditionally low-scoring games these two teams play, I think virtually everyone in Georgia's locker room would be pretty surprised to see this turn into a shootout. But don't think for a second that Mark Richt has forgotten about who Steve Spurrier used to be at Florida, so I'm sure he's ready to see a few tricks he didn't see last week.
Steve Spurrier has always had an "interesting" relationship with Georgia fans. Two years ago he waved to them as he was being booed off the field at halftime. Has there been much discussion of the Head Ball Coach as this one comes up?
Hale: Spurrier's still hated, but he's nowhere near the most hated now. Urban Meyer is at the top of the heap, Lane Kiffin has made big strides, and even the folks over at Georgia Tech now probably earn more ire from UGA fans than Spurrier. I think there's a lot less excitement surrounding a Spurrier appearance in Athens now than there was a few years ago, but there will still be a lot of people with pretty big smiles on their faces if Georgia sends him home a loser.
There's been almost no discussion of the Georgia defense. How do you think they rate vs. other SEC defenses?
Hale: It was a bit of a mystery heading into the opener, but I think the unit looked pretty good. There's clear talent there -- with Rennie Curran, Geno Atkins and Jeff Owens all likely future NFLers. The leadership is much better this year, which was an obvious weakness a year ago, and the D responded well to a healthy dose of adversity against OSU. Of course, they could have looked better, too -- missing three easy interception opportunities which could have changed the complexion of the game. Knowing how intense these UGA-South Carolina games tend to be, capitalizing on every chance to make a big play has to be a top priority for the D this time around.
The most important question: For all the Gamecock fans making a day trip, where should they eat lunch in Athens, and where should they hang out and watch football as they await kickoff?
Hale: You may want to make some reservations in advance, but lunch at Last Resort downtown is super good and super cheap. Clockers, another downtown bar/restaurant, has some great burgers, and Little Italy's probably the place to go for some pizza. As for watching the games, everyone's welcome at my place. I have a big screen and about 14 Milwaukee's Best cans.