Baby steps

With the GPOOE™ coming back, this seems to be the consensus take on life in the SEC East in the foreseeable future:

Bottom line: If Urban Meyer signs another top five recruiting class, which he is expected to do, it may be a while before Georgia, or anybody else in the SEC East, is going to be able to unseat the Gators from the top of the division. Florida has separated itself from the field and shows no signs of slowing down.

Maybe so.  In any event, it’s a formidable challenge for Richt to address.  The thing is, even with the early departures of Stafford and Moreno, there are lots of smaller things to work on that could have a significant effect on the win-loss numbers.

… While the Bulldogs spent last spring and summer hearing the hype about their chances of a national title, this time they’ll hear the question of whether they have any chance in a division that includes Tebow’s Gators.

Georgia coach Mark Richt offered his answer on the same day Stafford and Moreno announced their departures: “There are a lot of things we can improve on as a football team,” he said, “that can give us an opportunity to win the East.”

Those things would include penalties (at which Georgia ranked No. 115 in the nation this past season), turnover ratio (No. 73) and sacks (No. 72).

No disrespect to the two intended, but the top item on Richt’s to do list has to be not finding their replacements, but stabilizing the lines on both sides of the ball.  Some of that is health related, but some of that involves finding defensive ends that can rush the passer.  Unfortunately, time will be somewhat compressed for that to be achieved.

… for spring practice, many of the key players injured this past season will remain sidelined.

Offensive tackle Trinton Sturdivant and defensive tackle Jeff Owens, whose torn anterior cruciate ligaments were perhaps the costliest of Georgia’s epidemic of injuries in ‘08, will miss the spring while continuing to rehab from their knee surgeries. Vince Vance, who replaced Sturdivant in the lineup before also tearing an ACL, will miss the spring, too.

Also an issue: Defensive end — a sore spot in 2008 and a position from which Georgia needs much improvement in 2009 — will be hamstrung again in the spring. Three scholarship DE’s — Rod Battle, Neland Ball and Cornelius Washington — will miss the drills after surgeries this month.

In all, 13 players already have been counted out for the spring. But at this point, all are expected back for the season.

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14 Comments

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14 responses to “Baby steps

  1. "Florida's just getting started!"

    Heard also before the 2007 football season (final result: 9-4, 5th in the SEC) and the 07-08 basketbaull season (final result: NIT). Also, it’s Barnhart.

  2. You hit the nail on the head. We need a pass rush – it was the biggest difference between 2007 and 2008 defense. All other differences are derivative of this one problem.

  3. I think it will be more interesting come 2010. If Florida continues to roll then was Tebow that good? If it doesn’t then was Myers that good? Was it Mullen?

  4. Jim

    Honestly, Who cares about the jeans short jesus and the thugs in Gainesville The DAWGS shouldn`t worry about anything except;

    1. Getting everyone stronger, faster, and more importantly healthy for 2009.
    2. Lighting a fire under the team and getting them hungry for redemption.
    3 Discipline on and off the field… period.

    Joe Cox and Co. should do well I already can`t wait for Spring. GO DAWGS!!!

  5. We heard this exact same thing after Spurrier won the national title in 1996. What happened then? One more SEC title in his last 6 years in the city to busy to bath. Danny boy was an absolute perfect fit for Spurrier’s offense, much like Thimmy Thebow is the perfect fit for Meyer. Let’s see how they do without a once in a generation freak at QB before we bust out the anointing oil.

  6. Jay

    The Gators have the perfect setup in that talent rich state. Unless FSU and Miami ever become relevant again, UF will compete for the National Title every year. As long as UF continues to cherry pick the 23 recruits out of the Top 25 in the state, the remaining 118 teams can play for 2nd.

  7. Will Q

    As much as it pains me to say it, I believe that Urban is one of the best (if not the best) coaches in the country right now. He will always be able to recruit the best talent to Florida. But it is becoming (heartbreakingly) apparent that Tebow and Harvin are the once-in-a-generation playmakers that make a system work at optimal effectiveness. Top-five recruiting classes or not, I’ll reserve judgment on Florida’s continued dominance of one year once Tebow and company are gone (’06 counts, but was a block field-goal and some earnest campaigning away from not happening).

    Spurrier looked pretty good when he had the best talent across the board as well. Let’s see what Meyer looks like when the talent level takes a hit.

  8. Ally

    Well, SOS may be out of a job next year at SCUm. Maybe the urban liar will decide to prove his mettle and take on that graveyard of a program. Hey, if he can win with the lamecocks he just might be the best coach in college football!

  9. keith

    Would like to have seen something about improvement neede in the special teams area.

  10. Bryan Carver Dawg97

    Do we have an athelete of Percy Harvin’s caliber? Maybe not, maybe AJ, but they both dominate in different ways. Tebow and Stafford were also dominant but in different ways. Rennie isn’t any less of a stud than Spikes. AA is as good as any corner they’ve got. Owens is as dominant a DT as anyone they’ve got. I refuse to believe that our 1st team starters on offense or defense don’t have the talent to stay on the field with Florida (or any team for that matter).

    It is a total TEAM effort, including the coaches – preparation/will/desire to win by all is the difference between USC, OU, UT, UF and us in 08. Last year everything didn’t come together. Would I guarantee wins in the future? No one can. But if we lose, I’m expecting a close game for 4 quarters.

  11. Bulldawgy and the Senator get it. The biggest improvement for success has to be along the defensive line. During Coach Richt’s entire tenure, success on the defensive side of the ball can be measured by sacks and QB pressures. Our defense is similar to the Tampa 2 in that to be successful we need a strong pass rush from the front 4, our corners don’t have to necessarily be great coverage guys but have to tackle well, and the MLB is paramount. I think the development of a pass rushing set of DE’s is the biggest concern for next season. The reason Florida won two national titles in three years is not necessarily because of their offense, but because their defense was lights out. The one year their offense was outstanding, their defense stunk and they lost 4 games. Shoring up the defensive side of the ball will push us closer to the ultimate goal than anything else we can do. That is, of course, assuming our offense is more competent than Mississippi State’s next year.

  12. Atlchris

    “Boom!! Toby Jackson takes down Tebow for the fifth time today.. One more sack and he’ll tie Charles Grant’s record!” Says Uncle Verne…

  13. Aligator

    USC is a place where coaches go to die …