Georgia flying under the radar this offseason

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Everywhere you turned this time a year ago, Georgia was in the news.

Either a player was getting arrested, or some magazine or analyst was picking the Bulldogs to win the national championship.

It was that kind of offseason, heavy on off-the-field distractions and equally heavy on everybody telling the Bulldogs how good they were.

Georgia coach Mark Richt stops short of saying the Bulldogs lost their focus. But there's no question that they lost their edge, in part because injuries forced them to scale back on the way they practiced, but also because they lost their sense of team.

"We know we have the talent and know we have the ability," junior defensive end Demarcus Dobbs said. "But it takes a whole lot more than that in this league. You've got to play on the edge every time you go out there."

As prolific as Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno were last season, there was a feeling on the team that maybe too many people stood around and waited for them to make a play.

It's no coincidence that one of Richt's favorite sayings in talking about what's important for the 2009 season is, "The star of this team will be the team."

The Bulldogs also don't seem to mind that nobody is really talking about them this offseason in the Eastern Division race. Since the league expanded and split into two divisions in 1992, there hasn't been a more overwhelming favorite in the East than Florida.

But, hey, slipping in under the radar is always more preferable than being the team everybody is gunning for when the season starts.

"We've got a lot to prove, not only to the media and the fans, but to ourselves," Dobbs said. "Nobody around here is satisfied by what happened last year."

One thing's for sure: There won't be much guesswork come fall.

The first five weeks of the season should tell us all we need to know about this team. The Bulldogs open the season at Oklahoma State, travel to Arkansas two weeks later and also have home dates with South Carolina, Arizona State and LSU -- all by Oct. 3.

"Our attitude's going to be that our backs are to the wall and we've got to earn everything," senior quarterback Joe Cox said.