MACON – Fans aren’t the only ones counting down to the start of the college football season.
“It’s hard when there’s about 80 days left and you think about what you have to do that day,” Georgia linebacker Christian Robinson said.
Getting through the dog days of sweltering summer workouts for Robinson and his teammates is easier knowing that this season begins with a 1-2 punch of Boise State and South Carolina.
“It gives us something to look forward to,” Robinson said Tuesday at the Peach State Pigskin Preview at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. “Something to motivate us every day.”
Moreso than early-season games against a Louisiana-Lafayette, Central Michigan or Western Kentucky.
“Everybody is alert and ready for the season,” senior offensive tackle Cordy Glenn said. “We’re not going to cruise into this year. Everybody’s ready to press on the gas and get going.”
The Broncos could be a top-five team when they play the Bulldogs on Sept. 3 in the Georgia Dome in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. South Carolina, which comes to Athens a week later, could be the team to beat in the SEC East and carry a top-20 ranking.
“You play teams that good that early, it will definitely give you a gauge about what type of team you are,” said Georgia coach Mark Richt, whose team is looking to bounce back from a 6-7 season.
Each has Heisman Trophy candidates. Boise State boasts quarterback Kellen Moore. South Carolina has super sophomore running back Marcus Lattimore.
Georgia’s first two games could be the most demanding any team in the country will face out of the gates.
Unless you think East Carolina (South Carolina in Charlotte, Virginia Tech), Florida Atlantic (at Florida, at Michigan State), Maryland (Miami, West Virginia) or Troy (at Clemson, at Arkansas) has it tougher.
Georgia’s schedule looks more manageable elsewhere.
Instead of an Alabama, LSU or Arkansas from the SEC West, there’s a road game against Ole Miss and Mississippi State comes to Athens. Coastal Carolina, New Mexico State and Georgia Tech fill out the nonconference slate.
“This first game, it’s very exciting for us,” Richt said. “To play in the Dome, it’s a big deal. To play Boise State is a big deal. To know that if we’re not ready, we’re going to get whipped; if we’re not ready, we’re going to get embarrassed.
“That should be a lot of motivation for our players and our coaches. It already is. Of course, game No. 2 is pretty big, too. We just can’t be warming up. We have to be ready to go from the very beginning.”
Georgia Tech opens at home against Western Carolina and goes to Middle Tennessee.
“We’ve had probably varying things through the years,” Yellow Jackets coach Paul Johnson said. “That’s just the way it gets set up sometimes. I think it’s beneficial if you can play most of your nonconference games early. … Middle Tennessee is a bowl team and we’re on the road so that won’t be an easy game. It’s just kind of the way the schedule fell.”
Richt said that Boise State and South Carolina back-to-back provides a good wake-up call to his players.
“I think it helps you roll out of bed in the morning and practice a little bit harder in the summer,” Richt said.
Robinson missed a 2 p.m. workout in Athens on Tuesday for the Macon event, but he was planning to go with the linemen at 5 p.m. instead.
“We’re working more efficiently right now and we have a mindset,” Robinson said. “We’re not just lifting weights. We’re lifting weights to win a game on Saturday.”
Robinson said players are being held more accountable in voluntary workouts.
“If a guy is slowing up, we run down and finish with him,” Robinson said.
He hopes the summer sweat will make the Bulldogs better able to handle the early-season tests.
“We’re hoping by working now,” Robinson said, “we’ll win later.”