Jamie Jones

Being a University of Georgia football fan isn't always easy.

Sure, the team is currently the No. 4 team in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. Since 2016, the Bulldogs' record is 44-12. During that stretch, Georgia played for a national championship.

So why should you feel sorry for the downtrodden Georgia fans?

For every Herschel Walker, there are four Jasper Sanks.

For every Hobnail Boot, there are 17 Joshua Dobbs to Jauan Jennings Hail Marys.

For every 2018 Rose Bowl victory in the College Football Playoff, there are an infinite amount of 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship games.

I've been one of those Georgia football fans since 1995 when as a high school senior, I decided to spend four years in Athens. Ever since, I've been hooked on Georgia football. While there have been frustrating games and missed opportunities, overall, my quarter century of red and black fandom has been a blast. I've watched unforgettable games, traveled to amazing cities, met interesting people and made lifelong friends.

Today, the ride continues as Georgia opens its season against Arkansas in Fayetteville. I plan to be there attending my 154th-straight Georgia football game, a streak that dates to Nov. 1, 2008.

Georgia is coming off a 12-2 season that ended in a Sugar Bowl victory and an unprecedented third-straight trip to the SEC Championship game. Expectations are sky high. But there is a truckload of reasons why I'm concerned about the 2020 Bulldogs.

Who's the quarterback? How will the team replace four offensive line starters? Who's going to catch the ball? What about our placekicker? Yes, I'm worried about the placekicker.

I chuckle because there are always more important things.

2020 has been one of the most challenging years of our lives. The uncertainties that the new coronavirus (COVID-19) brought have affected seemingly every part of our lives: our jobs, our routines, our families, our health and so on. More than 200,000 Americans have died from the virus. Almost nothing is the same, and that goes for college football.

Many universities across the country have canceled fall football, while the SEC is forging ahead. This season brings mixed emotions. I'm thrilled that college football is being played, but the impact COVID-19 has had, and continues to have, is inescapable. Let's hope we make it through the season safely.

Here are a few reasons why Georgia could have a special season.

The talent's there

For the past three recruiting cycles, Georgia has had the No. 1 rated class, per Rivals.com. Those rankings are subjective, of course, and the team has had plenty of attrition. For example, two former five-star quarterbacks are no longer on the team (Justin Fields is at Ohio State; Jake Fromm is with the NFL's Buffalo Bills). The wealth of talent on the roster is intriguing, especially the defense which is loaded with returning starters highlighted by senior defensive backs Richard LeCounte and Eric Stokes. Can't you hear Larry Munson's gravelly voice if he was around to describe the Georgia defense? "The defense! My God, the defense!"

Tailback U

Flip on an NFL game. Odds are you'll see a running back who played at Georgia. Nick Chubb (Cleveland), Todd Gurley II (Atlanta), Sony Michel (New England) and D'Andre Swift (Detroit) are all now starring in the pros. In the Bulldogs' James Cook and Zamir White (both five-star recruits), the next group of future NFL running backs is ready to take the spotlight. Let's not forget about sophomore Kenny McIntosh or five-star freshman Kendall Milton.

No home field advantage

This season, all SEC teams are playing a 10-game, conference-only schedule. COVID-19 restrictions have cut the capacity at most SEC stadiums to about 20%, meaning the home field advantage will be neutralized across the league. Georgia won't pack in 90,000-plus rabid, screaming fans when hosting Auburn (Oct. 3) or Tennessee (Oct. 10), but the Bulldogs won't have to deal with a similarly raucous crowd during a pivotal road game at Alabama on Oct. 17. However, Georgia will be forced to endure the seemingly non-stop playing of "Sandstorm" at the always tough-to-play Williams-Brice Stadium when the Bulldogs face South Carolina on Nov. 28. 

SEC's weaker links

When the SEC ditched its traditional 12-game schedule (eight conference, four non-conference games) this past summer, Georgia fans feared the worst. Somehow, somewhere, someway the powers that be at the SEC office would add two monster opponents — LSU and Texas A&M — to the Bulldogs' already difficult 2020 slate that included a game at Alabama, a home game against Auburn and a neutral site game against Florida in Jacksonville. Instead, Georgia drew two ... how should I say it ... lesser SEC foes in a road game versus Arkansas (2-10, 0-8 SEC in 2019) and a home game against Mississippi State (6-7, 3-5 SEC in 2019).

As the kickoff of the SEC season nears, the prolonged offseason has brought about even more questions for fans. The wait is almost over, and those questions will soon be answered.

I'm anxious for Georgia's first field goal or touchdown this season.

Then, I'll know who the placekicker is.

Jamie Jones is editor of the Daily Citizen-News in Dalton. If he ever barks at you, don't be alarmed.

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