Theres something about the preseason. Its that environment of anticipation that makes you feel like a kid in early December, and you just cant wait for Santa Claus.
Since Im a baseball fan, theres nothing like spring training. Every team is undefeated. Theres hope for an improved season, regardless of how well your team the previous season. And even the lead up to the start of spring training is a lot of fun. Theres nothing like counting down until the day pitchers and catchers report to Florida to begin the long baseball season.
And for football, were in that similar spot in the calendar. Were about a week away from some teams strapping on the helmets and pads and hitting each other. Were getting close to hearing about which players are looking good, which ones need to step up and how good or bad our favorite teams might be this season.
SEC Media Days this past week was all I needed to get excited about the upcoming season. Hearing what the coaches believe will be the strengths and weaknesses of their teams and just hearing football talk was enough to get my blood pumping to know we are really getting close.
But its also enough to start making me really nervous. All of the talk from Georgia head coach Mark Richt about the offense raised enough questions for any Bulldog fan to start shaking their head. With offensive lineman Kolton Houston again a question mark, can true freshman John Theus step in as the starting right tackle? And we all know with Isaiah Crowell now gone someones has to step up and become the new starting running back.
Georgia Tech fans are probably sweating it out, wondering who will replace Macons Julian Burnett at linebacker. And Georgia Southern fans cant wait to find out how head coach Jeff Monken will replace quarterback Jaybo Shaw.
Its the normal pre-preseason issues that make fans just take a few deep breaths.
Take Saturdays news, for example, that new Atlanta Falcons middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu hurt his pectoral muscle working out and will miss the start of training camp. First off, I hate when that happens to me (yeah, right), and it creates a big question mark for the Falcons.
They decided to let Curtis Lofton walk away as a free agent. A player they deemed one of their best two years ago suddenly became expendable. To replace Lofton, they signed Tatupu, an injured player who missed last season. Atlanta is also relying on former Georgia star Akeem Dent, who was mostly a special teams player last year.
Now with Tatupu a question mark, Dent must come through for this team. But again, since the Falcons are trying to replace a player who led the team in tackles in three of the past four years, this is a concern. What if Dent is not good enough? What if Tatupu cant stay healthy? That could be a big hole in the middle of the defense if things dont fall into place, and with an improved secondary, the Falcons do not need that to happen.
Well all stress about this stuff, because thats what fans do. As we get closer to September, well see articles about the issues facing our teams. Well read the preseason publications and read the reports from practice and wonder how the big questions are being answered -- or if they can be answered.
Its a combination of excitement, anticipation and worry. Its like a kid worrying that Santa Claus wont bring him that one present that he really wants and running into the living room on Christmas day to see if he got what he actually wanted.
Yes, welcome to late July. Football season is right around the corner, and frankly, I cant wait. Its a shame to hope the days in your life go by faster so something like football can get here quickly. But Im one of many who pleads guilty to hoping September gets here before we know it.
Listen to The Bill Shanks Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com. Follow Bill on firstname.lastname@example.org.