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Top 25 | The Master List | Lower Divisions
Five Minute Guide to '99

18 Georgia

These Dawgs'll hunt if they can surround their young quarterback with some talent

Sports Illustrated
  Quincy Carter
Sophomore quarterback Carter did a passable impression of Heisman-winner Charlie Ward last year.   Al Tielemans
Jim Donnan, the head coach at Georgia, had just gotten home after a long day in the office when he received the message that his quarterback, Quincy Carter, had phoned. It was late, but Donnan immediately returned the call. Coach and player talked for 10 minutes, a short chat on May 24 that could be the turning point for Georgia's '99 season. Carter, the SEC's reigning freshman of the year, was debating whether to play baseball for a fourth straight summer in the Chicago Cubs' minor league system. "I told Quincy his heart should be in everything he does," recalls Donnan. "I also told him that a summer of concentrating on football would help him tremendously."

The day after that heart-to-heart, Carter told the Cubs he was staying in Athens for the summer, and what a summer it has been. Carter dropped 17 pounds and is running the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds, .12 of a second faster than in '98. "I'm in the best shape of my life," says the 21-year-old. "I felt overweight and slow last season. That was because playing baseball didn't allow me time to work out as much. But now that I'm only focusing on football, the sky is the limit on what I can do."

What Carter could do this season is contend for the Heisman Trophy. Carter's biggest assets are his scrambling ability, vital in a conference full of aggressive defensive ends who can run like safeties, and his accuracy on long throws. He'll need to display both skills -- and every other talent he possesses -- in big games at Tennessee on Oct. 9 and against Florida at Jacksonville three weeks later if the Dawgs are to end their 16-year SEC title drought. "We're on the verge of taking our program to the next level," says Donnan, now in his fourth season at Georgia. "But we'll have to play better in the pressure games."

The Bulldogs also will have to find replacements on offense for both of their tackles, their top four receivers and their No. 1 running back. The hope in Athens is that junior flanker Michael Greer and sophomore tailback Jasper Sanks, a highly touted recruit who was a flop as a freshman, can take some of the heat off Carter. "I've been practicing with our wideouts and runners every day this summer, and I know there won't be much of a drop from last season," says Carter. "We don't have much experience, but we have it in the right places."

The defense has six starters -- including all three linebackers -- from last year's team. The unit is anchored by Butkus Award candidate Orantes Grant, who led the team with 120 tackles. "Last year we ran fewer plays than any team in the league," says Donnan. "We need to turn that around by creating turnovers. If we can accomplish that and if we can get a strong supporting cast for Quincy, we should be O.K." O.K., yes. Conference champs, no.

-- Lars Anderson

Fast Facts

1998 record: 9-3 (6-2, 3rd in SEC East)
Final ranking: No. 14 AP, No. 14 coaches' poll

1998 Averages Offense Defense
Scoring 23.4 17.2
Rushing Yards 152.2 137.1
Passing Yards 249.5 215.7
Total Yards 401.7 352.8

Key Games
Schedule strength: 43rd of 114

Oct. 9 at Tennessee
The Bulldogs have lost eight straight games to the Volunteers and were blown out 38-13 on their last trip to Knoxville, in 1997. Revenge will have to wait a year.

Oct. 30 vs. Florida
This is the Gators' annual Cocktail Party game in Jacksonville, and the Dawgs should be pickled by halftime.

Bottom Line

A weak nonconference schedule will prove to be fool's gold. Georgia could match last year's 9-3 record; improving upon it is unlikely.

Top 25 | The Master List | Lower Divisions
Five Minute Guide to '99

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