Friday, July 29, 2011

5 reasons Dawgs could be better, and 5 reasons they could be no better

With the beginning of fall camp now less than a week away, most of the preseason prognostications and predictions have been strewn about the innerwebs like dirty socks and beer cans in dorm room. Most of these proverbial palm readings include actual predictions on a final record, place in the polls, and so on.

Instead of pulling a number out of my buttocks, I thought I might list a few reasons why Georgia could end up being better (or having a better season), and a few that could lead to the Bulldogs being no better than they were in the dreadful and forgettable '10 season.

First, let's get the bad out of the way.

1) The Bulldogs lost their best playmaker - The difference between Georgia's offense from missing WR AJ Green for four games and his return was night and day. In fact, against BCS conference opponents, the Dawgs averaged 16 pts per game without him, and nearly 31 pts per game with him, excluding the phone-it-in bowl game.

2) The offensive line has zero depth - As it stands right now, there's not a whole lot wrong with the O-Line, from a starter perspective. Lose just one of those guys, though, and Georgia will be relying on players who've never played a down, or only seen mop-up duty.

3) Inexperience at running back - This one has gotten more airplay than any other for the Dawgs of late, but it rings true. Of the four running backs on scholarship, 2 have never played a college down, one is suspended for at least the first game and was relatively ineffective when he did play, and the fourth (listed atop the depth chart for now) was set to play linebacker just a couple of weeks ago.

4) Possibly no Jarvis Jones - OK, this one's still up in the air, but the Dawgs' defense was set to rely heavily on the USC transfer's speed and strength coming off the edge, as well as his leadership qualities and tenacity. We'll have to wait on the final word, but these things rarely turn out well...unless you're Auburn.

5) Tough beginning to the schedule - There are always varying thoughts to starting out the season with a tough opponent. On the one hand, it's the other team's first game, too, so everybody might be a little rusty. But, for the Dawgs, coming off a bad year, losing two games to start out the season could be a mental blow from which there is no recovering. Starting out with a team that was a missed chip shot field goal away from going undefeated, and following up with the SEC East champion will be a challenge.

Those are the biggest obstacles as I see them, though there are obviously more uncertainties. But, what about the reasons Georgia could be a better team and/or end up with a better record.

1) QB Aaron Murray has a year under his belt - The magnitude of this cannot truly be grasped, given his splendid freshman campaign. He should be better himself, this being his 3rd year in the system, knowing the game better, and being far more accustomed to the SEC. Then, there's the fact that Bobo will not feel nearly as hamstrung in play designs and calls. Further, the QB really needs to be the leader of the offense, and Murray should feel more comfortable leading, while the surrounding players should feel more comfortable looking to him to lead.

2) It's the 2nd year in the 3-4 - Revamping the majority of the defensive coaching staff is change enough, but the Dawgs also switched to an entirely different defensive scheme. While Georgia was statistically better in '10 than in '09 anyway, it was evident that guys were still kind of feeling their way, and either blowing assignments altogether, or playing a step slower because of some uncertainty. That should be gone this year.

3) Better pieces in place to support the 3-4 scheme - A huge key for the 3-4 defense up front is having a big, yet still athletic nose tackle. Last year, Deangelo Tyson played admirably, but at 300lbs, he was just not big enough to demand a double team (it will always sound strange to me that a 300lb. man is not big enough). Now, with "Big Daddy Jenks" John Jenkins coming in from junior college, and Kwame Geathers emerging during spring, it seems the Bulldogs will have that big push up the middle, allowing defensive ends and linebackers to come around the outside a bit more easily.

4) A much easier schedule - Despite the aforementioned tough start, the Bulldogs have what should be one of the easiest schedules in the SEC. Boise St. might as well be a home game, and the Dawgs get what should be the rest of the toughest opponents at home as well, with South Carolina, Mississippi State, and Auburn coming to Athens. The road games are generally against the weaker teams (Tennessee could be improved, but the Dawgs absolutely slaughtered them last year). And, as for the Cocktail Party, both Georgia and Florida get a bye the week before, but the Gators have to play Alabama, LSU, and Auburn leading up to the game in Jacksonville, while Georgia gets MSU, Tennessee, and Vandy.

5)Positive attitude - I don't want to put too much emphasis on this, because there is always plenty of positive talk and thinking going into a season. We're always hearing how this has changed, and that is better, especially after a disappointing season. More to the point here, though, is that players and coaches genuinely feel that certain bad elements have been cast out. Moreover, it seems the players are feeling better about themselves, having been through a grueling new strength and conditioning regimen (not a "regiment," which is a military unit). There seems to be more of a sense of urgency, cohesiveness, and purpose.

So, there you have it. I'll take the baseball approach here and consider myself having done extremely well if I've 'hit' on 30% of these and bat .300. As with many teams, the key is to win a few close ones early, and get some confidence going. If Georgia can get those wins to begin the season, then look out, because there's plenty of reasons to be excited about this team. If they come up short, though, there are reasons to believe it could be another long year.


  1. if you hit 30% of these then you would be batting .333....journalists...

  2. Anon 3:08 pm....really???? I mean seriously.

  3. So glad we allow anonymous posts here. I actually did get scared that I botched the math for a split-second, there.

  4. good post ,our defense will be much better that has been the missing link the last few years. dont forget rs at running back is 240 and 4.5 speed he will surprise all. best punter and kicker in cfb. 10-2

  5. anon 3:08 pm... i didn't realize Tennessee grads read this blog

  6. O-line is my biggest worry for sure. But having the special teams in the nation isnt flashy but you may not realize how many what seem to be insignificant plays (like a touchback) actually are game changers