SEC Preaseason Preview: Georgia Bulldogs: A second straight SEC title game?
Georgia goes into this season – again- as SEC East favorites – simply because of the talent that the school is bringing back all over the field, but especially defensively, where some people have said that the Bulldogs could have one of the best Ds in the conference.
Having said that, Mark Richt has had disciplinary problem after disciplinary problem this year, and that might undermine is progress. Nevertheless, see what we think below…
The Georgia Bulldogs may have won the SEC East and gone 10-4 this year, but it’s not exactly blasphemy in the House of Dog to say that they underperformed, is it? After all, of the four ‘quality’ teams that they played last year (Boise State, South Carolina, LSU and Michigan State), they went 0-4.
The Dawgs started the season losing to Boise and USC, and Athens was shaking with annoyance. After all, losing to Spurrier (again) isn’t something that the locals like. “If we lose against Mississippi State, this place will burn”, one a-little-too-theatrical Dawgs fan told this writer. It didn’t happen, and the Bulldogs rode a 10-game winning streak all the way to the SEC Championship Game….where they should been 21 points to the good against LSU in the first quarter if Malcolm Mitchell had held an easy touchdown pass. They also blew a number of chances in their bowl game against Michigan State, where they eventually – and in heartbreaking fashion- lost 33-30 to the Spartans in three overtimes.
NFL-wise, the Dawgs saw Orson Charles, Ben Jones, Cordy Glenn, Justin Anderson, DeAngelo Tyson, Brandon Boykin and Blair Walsh all drafted to the big leagues.
SO…..THE BEST DEFENSIVE UNIT IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL…
Everyone’s drooling over Todd Grantham’s defensive unit this year, and so they should be. This is a team that returns all but Brandon Boykin of last year’s top 12 tacklers.
Giant nose tackles John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers (both over 350lbs) are man mountains in a defensive line that returns seven of eight starters. Abry Jones and Garrison Smith are excellent defensive ends, and at linebacker, they are simply incredible, with Jarvis Jones – who led the SEC in sacks and was a first team All-American, and Alec Ogletree.
BUT AT SECONDARY….
Everyone loves Baccari Rambo, who was a first team All-American, and well as Sanders Commings and Branden Smith at cornerback. Wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell has converted to cornerback – and he’s getting rave reviews.
The biggest problem that Mark Richt is going to have is the BEHAVIOUR of his secondary, with Rambo and Commings both out of at least the first game of the season (as well as linebacker Alec Ogletree, according to reports, as well as linebacker Chase Vasser’s also in Richt’s doghouse, having been arrested for a DUI in Atlanta. He’s going to miss the first two games of the season). Key members of the team could potentially also miss a road sizzler at upset-minded Missouri – for drug violations, and Rambo could potentially miss a quarter of the season, unless Richt believes Rambo’s “It was only hash brownies, sir”, excuse. One senior college football reporter described Richt’s tough drug policy as ‘noble’, but puts the Dawgs at a disadvantage. Recently, Branden Smith avoided suspension for being arrested, although he has denied doing drugs. Because Richt hasn’t gone public over how much time Rambo is going to miss, we can’t help but think that the head coach might believe Rambo’s excuse. Otherwise, the Dawgs are going to have a big hole to fill in the back.
SPEAKING OF PROBLEMS….
Talented troublemaker and running back Isaiah Crowell was booted out of Athens in the off-season after being arrested on felony gun charges, giving Richt a massive problem: Who’s going to be the running back for the Georgia Bulldogs?
Although there are some who are quite happy with Ken Malcolme, Keith Marshall, and Todd Gurley- the latter two who were big hits on the North Carolina high school scene – we’re slightly worried about the change of pace that’s going to lack now that Crowell’s left.
The problem for Georgia is that they won’t be able to get a running game going against defenses if their offensive line unit – which is going to be a work in progress now Cordy Glenn, Justin Anderson, and Ben Jones are playing in the big-time. David Jones will anchor the centre with Chris Brunette as a right guard – both of whom started double-digit games last year – and the rest is somewhat of a mystery. Still, Richt certainly has the talent to make a ‘work in progress’ work just fine.
BUT THE QUARTERBACK’S NOT BAD…
No, no he’s not. In fact, Aaron Murray’s one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC, and the land. He’s got a cannon arm, understands the playbook as well as the defenses, and can put throws on the money. As we mentioned, if his receivers could have caught the ball, maybe Murray would be the proud owner of a SEC ring.
Murray threw for 3,149 yards and 35 touchdowns last year (and 14 INTs), and he’s going to frighten a lot of players.
Like it or not, the loss of Orson Charles to the NFL is going to be a big loss for the Bulldogs, but helping Murray will be WRs Tavarres King, Marlon Brown, Mitchell and Michael Bennett. As we mentioned earlier, we expect Mitchell to be playing both ways – especially if Richt needs another option through the air.
THE 2012 SCHEDULE
Sept 1 – BUFFALO
Sept 8 – At Missouri
Sept 15 – FLORIDA ATLANTIC
Sept 22 – VANDERBILT
Sept 29 – TENNESSEE
Oct 6 – At South Carolina
Oct 20 – At Kentucky
Oct 27 – FLORIDA (at Jacksonville)
Nov 3 – OLE MISS
Nov 10 – At Auburn
Nov 17 – GEORGIA SOUTHERN
Nov 24 – GEORGIA TECH
THE BOTTOM LINE: Georgia Bulldogs fans will be laughing (again) that they miss out on playing LSU, Alabama and Arkansas this season, while South Carolina gets LSU and Arkansas and Florida gets just LSU. They will also benefit from playing absolutely no-one in the non-conference (please Dawgs fans, don’t tell us that Buffalo, Florida Atlantic and Georgia Southern are good teams).
We think that if the Bulldogs can avoid a bullet in a fright-of-your life game at Missouri, then they should be 5-0 before they roll into South Carolina. The Cocktail Party two weeks after (Kentucky in the middle) won’t be a lot easier, meaning that Georgia could easily be 6-2 – or 7-1. We’re predicting the Dawgs go 11-1. But will it be enough to go to the SEC Championship Game for the second straight year?
Tagged with: Alabama • Arkansas • Athens • Auburn • Bulldogs • Crowell • Dawgs • defense • Florida • Georgia • Kentucky • LSU • Marshall • Mississippi State • Missouri • Mitchell • National Title • Ole Miss • preview • Richt • schedule • SEC • SEC Championship Game • SEC East • SEC West • Tennessee • Texas A&M • Todd Grantham • Vanderbilt
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