The most fun I have with Phil Steele’s magazine isn’t the predictions – and you should know right off the bat that there’s nothing in his preview of Georgia which comes close to his “run the table” quote on College Football Live the other day – but sifting through the almost diarrhetic flow of information he provides in eye-strain inducing-sized print for the reward of finding insight or just plain, unusual facts about the program’s recent performance and what it brings to the table this season.
It’s safe to say that this year’s edition doesn’t disappoint in that department.
Take, for example, this passage from his quarterbacks section:
Last year I pointed out that Mark Richt was hoping for a season like ’05 out of his QB’s. In ’05 UGA had to replace their career leading passer, David Greene (#3DC). DJ Shockley (PS#3) was lightly tested but led UGA to the SEC Title earning 1st Tm SEC and throwing for 2,588 (56%) with an outstanding 24-5 ratio (322 rush) in ’05. … Joe Cox’s stats last year were eerily similar to Shockley’s as he threw for almost the identical yds (2,584), comp % (56) and same amount of TD’s (24, 1 off UGA record). The 3 areas that were different were the rush yds (-28), int (+10) and no SEC Title.
That last observation may sound trite, but what Steele is getting at there is that Georgia’s offensive system is good enough to get a team to the SECCG – provided the quarterback isn’t bleeding interceptions all over creation and is otherwise doing his part to make the offense function. Those yardage and completion percentage numbers for both Shockley and Cox are fairly pedestrian (Stafford crushed both in his junior year), but DJ didn’t throw picks and did contribute as a runner. Joe’s contributions fell short in areas like that and so did his team as a result in part.
So when Mark Richt tells Aaron Murray he doesn’t have to be a hero, this is where he’s coming from.
I figured that Steele would have good things to say about the offensive line (he does; he ranks Georgia #1 in the country in that department) and special teams (he calls Georgia a top five team there, and that’s without a settled punt returner), but here’s something I wasn’t expecting:
… Richt has sent four TE’s to the NFL since his arrival here, but LY projected starting TE Bruce Figgins (PS#23) RS. TE’s Aron White (PS#12), true frosh Orson Charles (PS#2) and Arthur Lynch (PS#4) combined for 38 rec’s (15.5). This year they only lose Moore (5 st). Figgins returns and Green is back to full health making UGA my #2 receiving corps in the NCAA (see pg 13).
Steele’s biggest concern on the team is the defensive backfield, which is a sentiment I’m not sure a majority of Dawg fans would share with him (I’m guessing quarterback and defensive line rank higher on our anxiety scale at present). He points out that the unit will be less experienced this season, but most of us would point to replacing Evans with Rambo and call that a feature, not a bug.
Oh, and about those turnovers last year? Here are two factoids that will make you grind your teeth in frustration:
UGA’s 487 yds vs KY last year were the most in a loss in SEC play in Richt’s 9 yrs.
UGA has been outscored 90-27 the L2 yrs vs Florida but only outgained by 63 ypg.
There’s plenty more where that came from, so take some time to go through the whole thing.