Guerry Clegg commentary: Thoughts on the 2013 football season

August 13, 2013 

When it comes to sports, I'm an optimist. Mind you, not a completely delusional "Auburn could bounce back and win the national championship with a break or two" kind of optimist. But more of a "if the Braves' offense is hitting on all cylinders and the pitching holds up and Sam Holbrook doesn't call infield fly on a ball hit into the upper deck, they would win the World Series" kind of optimist.

Especially before the season begins.

It's why I felt -- and, if you recall, wrote -- that the Braves had a better than puncher's chance to win the NL East. No, I didn't foresee the Washington National backsliding into the Montreal Expos. But who did?

I don't claim, and never have claimed, to be able to see into the future. The idea of trying to predict what's going to happen on a given day -- let alone two or three months in advance -- is silly.

Also, I've become somewhat desensitized, for lack of a better word, to being shocked. Mildly surprised, perhaps. But not shocked.

So, keep that in perspective as I offer my written on dry-erase board thoughts for the 2013-14 football season. Consider it neither a validation of hope nor a kiss of death.

• Georgia Tech: The offense, as usual, will give teams fits. Vlad Lee is probably the most dynamic player Paul Johnson has had at quarterback. And as much as Johnson steadfastly believes in his offense, something tells me he's going to add more of a passing threat. The defense will be better under Ted Roof, simply because it could not get much worse than it was under Al Groh. Yes, Roof has had some wretched defenses. But he's also had some good ones. The Yellow Jackets could be the sleeper in the ACC. Calling it now: Jackets go into Clemson on Nov. 14 undefeated and ranked in the top five. Final record: 11-3, winning ACC championship, losing to Georgia and losing Orange Bowl.

• Georgia: The offense, as usual, will give teams fits. Wait … I just wrote that. But it's true for the Bulldogs. Elite quarterback, two elite running backs, deep receiving corps, two NFL caliber tight ends, and an experienced and talented O-line. Dan Henning couldn't mess up this offense. OK, so I exaggerate. The defense will not be great. But it won't have to be to complement this offense. Final record: 13-1, losing in the SEC Championship Game but winning the Sugar Bowl.

• Auburn: The offense, as usual … wait … we haven't a clue what to expect other than they will run the read-option just about every play. We still don't even know who the quarterback will be. So here's where the optimism comes into play. I really think the Tigers will be the most improved team in the country. They're better than at least four teams on their schedule - Washington State, Arkansas State, Western Carolina and Florida Atlantic. They're at least as good as two others, Mississippi State and Tennessee. They're good enough to pull an upset from among LSU, Ole Miss and Texas A&M. Final record: 8-5, winning their bowl game.

• Alabama: It's tempting to think that the Tide has only way it can go, and that's down. Maybe this will be the year the perfect storm will hit and the Tide loses its edge. And, sure, it will end some time. But until they show real signs of demise, I'm not about to be the fool that picks against Nick Saban. A.J. McCarron will go down as the most successful quarterback in SEC history and will put up career-best numbers. So by now you have figured out who will hang the only loss on Georgia. Final record: 14-0 winning the national championship by beating … Louisville and Teddy Bridgewater.

Fifteen days till the first Thursday night games.

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