Addition By Decimation: Georgia Makes Its Case at SEC Media Days

Imagine you're a college football head coach who just lost 95.5 percent of his offense to the NFL Draft. Your response is:

(a) To enclose yourself in a dark room and weep for several days;
(b) To downplay expectations about the following year's results;
(c) To bid your former charges good riddance.

If you chose answer "c," you must be Georgia Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt.

I exaggerate a bit, of course. Richt never seemed to have anything but respect and admiration for former quarterback Matthew Stafford and former running back Knowshon Moreno. But he does seem awfully close to making the case that this Georgia team will be better -- because Stafford and Moreno are no longer there.

With those two players leading the offense, Richt said, "everybody expected us to win them all because we had these two guys that everbody considered stars, and maybe subconsciously our guys thought, 'We can count on these guys.' Now that they're gone, I think our team understands the only chance they have is to play together, work together, earn it as a team."

Not that he would likely mind having a couple of superstars back for a brutal opening month that includes at Oklahoma State, vs. South Carolina, at Arkansas and vs. Arizona State. Things get easier the following week, when ... LSU comes to town? To give you an idea of the first half of the schedule, Georgia faces just two teams that ended with sub-.500 records in 2008 -- Tennessee and Arizona State -- before November.

For whatever it might be worth, Richt's players are on board.

"The star of our team this year is our team," said defensive tackle Jeff Owens, whose early injury contributed to the Dawgs' failure to translate preseason buzz into a conference title. "A.J. Green stands out as a star. But this year, it's all about the 'team.' Everyone has to be a star to win and be successful."

Stafford's successor, Joe Cox, made it clear Thursday that he expects other players to help.

"The success of this team is not all on my shoulders," he said. "There are 10 other guys that get the job done as well. I won't carry the team. We'll work together."

That said, Richt believes that Cox is set to do his part.

"I don't think there's any player on this team that doesn't believe that Joe was ready last season," he said. "And the year before, if something were to happen to Matt, they knew Joe was ready to go."

Now, something has happened to Stafford -- he's moved on. Whether that will help Georgia's team perform better as a whole remains to be seen.

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