Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Just How Good Is Georgia? Critics Say Bulldogs Lack Bite; Richt Says There Are Chinks in His Team's Armor

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Just How Good Is Georgia? Critics Say Bulldogs Lack Bite; Richt Says There Are Chinks in His Team's Armor

Article excerpt

Byline: MARC WEISZER

ATHENS, Ga. -- Critics from across the nation are taking their shots at unbeaten Georgia after sluggish victories over Colorado and Ole Miss.

But it's not just outsiders who believe the No. 10 Bulldogs are more pretenders than contenders in the Southeastern Conference.

Georgia players are looking at Saturday's nationally televised home game against No. 13 Tennessee as a way to get a better read on what they have in their own locker room -- a place that senior linebacker Danny Verdun Wheeler senses has more negative vibes this week.

"You wonder what's going on," Verdun Wheeler said. "We are wondering what's going on right now. We've got a powerhouse coming into our stadium, and we're just trying to get past this powerhouse. It's gonna be a struggle."

That's not the kind of talk you expect from a team that has won five of the past six games against Tennessee. The Bulldogs are a two-point underdog at Sanford Stadium.

"I don't know how good we are," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "I was feeling like we were coming right along as a team, and then we hit these last two games, and I'm not sure we progressed. In some areas we have, but then we'd regress in others, offensively especially.

"There are some chinks in the armor here, and we are rapidly working towards correct them. Everything is correctable. It's tough to get well versus a team of the caliber of Tennessee."

SI.com writer Stewart Mandel ranked Georgia at No. 17 on his Associated Press ballot earlier this week. He dropped the Bulldogs from 10th to 14th after their 14-13 victory over Colorado and down three more spots after a 14-9 win at Ole Miss.

"They've really struggled the last two weeks against two of the worst teams in any of the major conferences," Mandel said. "Colorado is 0-5. Ole Miss lost 27-3 to Wake Forest at home and has probably the worst defensive line in the SEC, and Georgia couldn't move the ball against them.

"Obviously, Georgia's got issues on offense. Anybody can have one bad week, but it's one thing to struggle against Arkansas or South Carolina or somebody who's midlevel, but these are bad teams. …

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