That being said, I can make some observations (much like everyone else) and be laughed at later this season for those observations.
First: Joe Cox has been here before and will answer the call.
Yeah, Joe Cox ain't Matt Stafford. He also ain't Chris Leak. What? Yeah, he replaced Chris Leak at Independence High in Charlotte. Did Independence suffer? No. Did they fall off and end up losing more games than under Leak? No, in fact they got better, going undefeated with Joe Cox under center. Solid coaching and a star reciever certainly helped.
Of course, that doesn't mean he will do the same thing this time, but it does illustrate the importance of not underestimating him, something many people seem to be doing. No one will worry about watching AJ Green streaking down field to run under a 60 yard bomb from Cox, but how many times a game did Georgia run that play last year? Successfully? Cox's strength is the finesse pass, something that fits well into Richt's offensive scheme and Bobo's play calling. That also means when Georgia runs the play action with a receiver streaking down field, players will be more likely to discount that receiver as a true target. Look for Cox to be nearly David Greene good at the hidden ball play action.
Don't be surprised to see this called in one of the first two series in Stillwater.
Second: The heat will be off Willie Martinez.
This one is truly one of those gut calls. Stay with me. The defense will be better. Much better. First, injuries, as of this time, haven't taken several key starters out of play. Second, the increased focus on live tackling in practice will pay dividends. Third, the defensive ends have plenty to prove.
Each of these things by themselves don't necessarily mean anything better than last year. With all three, the defense could be scary good. One thing that can't be factored in is the frustrating tendency from the last couple of seasons of the defense taking a quarter or two off at inexplicable times. Having three of the four team captains on defense (Demarcus Dobbs, Rennie Curran and Jeff Owens) is an indication of the importance the coaches see in keeping this from happening again and the leadership from players who don't want it to happen again.
Third: The kicking game won't cause such consternation this year.
The first really big cheer of the year will go to Brandon Bogotay, just for teeing the ball up to kick off after Georgia wins the toss and defers in Stillwater. The second goes as he kicks it out of the end zone...in the corner.
Fourth: Penalties, who needs them.
Paul Westerdawg has covered this much better than I can. I love that Coach Richt has made this a focus point in camp, calling coaches off when officials in practice call penalties and focusing on making players think about those actions. I don't think for a second mat drills or whatever alone will stop players from making bad decisions. Holding players accountable to each other will.
I am not saying it is the biggest key to a good season, but agree with The Senator when I say I am close. The offensive line is key to making Joe Cox and whichever running back is in the game look good. The defensive line is key to making opposing offenses work for their money. Sure, both have question marks, but the offensive line will be top ten in the nation (ok, one bold prediction). The defensive line has some question marks at end, but part of that will end with the return of Justin Houston (not that Rod Battle isn't already the answer to that, he may well be). I do not worry about the interior of the D line.
Fifth: Line play will rule the day.
Fifth: Line play will rule the day.
I am not willing to say that all of this means 8 wins or 11+ wins. It is ridiculous to discount a Mark Richt coached team, though. I am willing to say that any team that thinks 2008 Georgia Bulldogs-Matt Stafford-Knowshon Moreno=easy win is in for a big surprise.
In that way, I'd say we have those teams right where we want them.