Thin to win.

Georgia’s preseason meme, for the win:

… seven players have all left the Georgia program since the end of last year. Taken one by one, none of their departures is a back-breaker.

But take a step back, and all this offseason attrition could end up pretty important. In fact, it could be very bad for a program that badly needs a bounce-back year.

The SEC currently doesn’t have plans to switch to flag football, so it’s safe to assume injuries will be a factor for Georgia this season. And there are few areas that the Bulldogs can afford to lose anybody.

Paul Westerdawg frets about that here.   He makes a very good point about the 2010 class, by the way.  (And it could be worse.  Does anybody remember how Gates got his last-minute offer?  Thanks, Da’Rick.)

Okay, so offensive depth in more than one area is so shallow as to be almost bone dry.  There isn’t much more they can do about the offensive line situation except hope for good luck in the injury department and for one or two of the incoming freshmen to turn out to be serviceable backups.

At the skill positions, though, they can be a little creative.  Bobo should have a few new interesting parts to move in and out with some of the Dream Team cast.  There’s a lot of flexibility in sets and formations with which he can experiment with all that quality depth at tight end.  Bruce Figgins is an intriguing option.  But mainly I don’t see how the coaches can avoid committing Branden Smith to the offense more this season than ever before.

As for Crowell, it’s hard to say what the future holds this year.  I think Georgia’s offense tends to function better when the running game features a primary back like a Musa Smith or Knowshon Moreno than when there’s no clear-cut starter.  If Crowell could average 80 yards per game rushing – a number that would likely rank in the top ten in the conference, but isn’t an insane goal – it would stabilize the offense and make the play action which is the Dawgs’ bread and butter call an easier sell.  But Georgia’s made two SECCG appearances with a cast of thousands at tailback, too.  Brush off what Richt did in 2003, if you like, but it remains in my opinion his best coaching job and a lesson for what Georgia can pull off this season with a similar effort.

Ultimately, like 2003, I see this season’s prospects coming back to the defense and Blair Walsh’s foot.  I think Richt would be quite pleased to return to an era of winning ugly 16-13 games against the likes of UAB as long as those were along the road the team took back to Atlanta.  (A few blowouts against some of the cupcakes on the schedule which allow for copious substituting wouldn’t hurt anyone’s feelings, though.)

And that’s why I’m starting to think the most significant thing to emerge from the Boise State game won’t be the win or loss, but how much the Broncos score.

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50 Comments

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50 responses to “Thin to win.

  1. simpl_matter

    The wild dawg formation was, less one Branden Smith long TD run (not even sure that happened in the WD), completely disappointing. Offensive ingenuity/trickery has not been a strong point, ever. Still, with Malcolm Mitchell, Justin Scott-Wesley, and Nick Marshall, we have some new toys in the chest that might be good for a big play or two a game. If the D is our strong point this year (lord help us, if it’s not), a big play or two might be all the difference we need.

    I’m sure this has already been discussed and, I’m not saying it’s a great idea or should happen but, Richard Samuel going back to RB is an option that is out there. Hopefully way out there….

    • Richard Samuel does not need to be Tripped.

      • simpl_matter

        I know, it made me nervous as a blind man lost at a dart-throwing tournament when he ran the ball but, let’s say Boo goes down, are you confident in having Crowell & Thomas carrying the full load? Samuel is a big boy that knows the playbook….that’s all I’m saying.

        • P44Haynes

          Samuel knows how to fall down really well, and that’s ok with me — as long as he’s a LB falling down on top of another team’s RB, WR, or QB.

    • adam

      branden smith’s long TD vs south carolina was on a reverse.

  2. Wonderful Ohio on the Gulf 'Dog

    “[T]he most significant thing to emerge from the Boise State game won’t be the win or loss, but how much the Broncos score.”

    Bingo!

    Shut down Moore and Doug Martin and we’ve a shot at shutting down Lattimore and Alshon Jeffrey. If we cannot shut the Broncos down, how do we expect to be SEC ready the following week?

    And no disrespect to the Boise State program intended. They’ll play like Junkyard Dogs.

  3. In 2003, I’m actually struck more by how convincingly we won, with the blowout wins over Clemson, South Carolina, and Auburn. Not to mention the serious hurting we put on Alabama before lollygagging in the second half (never letting it be in doubt of course). And we so nearly could have put up about 28 on LSU in the first half of that game in Baton Rouge, too. I had forgotten all about the weird UAB game, which really was weird compared to our other offensive performances that year.

    Not to take away from your main point, which is that it’s all about the D. 26 points was a blowout in 2003, because our D held Auburn to NOTHING. That kind of D leaves a lot of room for an offensive to be middling or awkward at times.

    • I remember a lot of bitching back in ’03 and ’04 about Richt playing mediocre teams too closely. 2010 should have taught us all that an ugly win is better than an ugly loss.

      • Amen to that! I remember the whining about Richt’s offense not being explosive enough, too much dinking and dunking, and yes, not putting mediocre teams away as confincingly as we should. Especially in 04, with the 3 point win over Marshall and the loss to Tennessee creating a “wasted” feeling on the season. Yeah though, to go back to all those “frustrating” ugly wins now!

      • AusDawg85

        Fantasy pessimistic thought…we have a “magical” season, win ugly, win the SECCG, but because we start so far behind in the polls and with voter fatigue with the SEC in general, we don’t get the invite to the BSCCG.

        But at least we’d finally have our reason to Fire Richt!!

        /tune sarcasm meter to full high
        //not a prediction

        P.S. Not to threadjack, but the Ol’ Ball Coach is playing in a televised celebrity golf tournament this weekend, but no one seems concerned about his dedication to his football focus. Hmmmm…….

    • D.N. Nation

      Ah, that UAB game. I was at that stinker.

      Thing about that season was, team goes into Knoxville and just burns the place down. After that?

      – Down 2-0 at halftime to Vanderbilt
      – 16-13 win against UAB
      – 16-13 loss to Florida
      – Off week

      Almost like we only had an allotted number of points for the year, and used too much against Tennessee. Just bizarre.

    • gatriguy

      Those Clemson and SCU wins were before Nick Saban unleashed 3,000 different variations of the double A gap blitz and destroyed our OL’s confidence.

  4. Jeff

    Senator, I hope Richt and Bobo get creative in getting the ball to either B.Smith or M. Mitchell much in the same way UF used P.Harvin. I would like to see them get these guys the ball in space to include using them as a tailback, slot receiver, outside receiver, run a reverse just get these guys the ball and let them do what they do.

  5. DawgPhan

    Who cares…we have like 70 something scholarship athletes. If we can’t field a competitive 44(2-deep) from that everyone loses their jobs anyway. We dont need to be 5 deep @ RB. We need 2 guys who can tote the rock. Everyone teeters on the brink of disaster w/r/t injuries. This season will be no different. Maybe the S&C changes improve our injury situation, maybe we get lucky, doesnt matter.
    If we were down to 55 guys or something I might be concerned, but we arem’t. There are plenty of bodies, plenty of weapons, and plenty of guys who should be able to play d1 football.

    • Dog in Fla

      “There are plenty of bodies, plenty of weapons, and plenty of guys who should be able to play d1 football.”

      +1.

      Mark has a full aqueduct of standby players to replace the MIA’s and casualties.

  6. Atticus

    I just want to know why they didn’t recruit a JUCO OL or two? It’s ridiculous how mismanaged this program has been the last couple of years, hopefully that is all in the past.

    • DawgPhan

      They have never made a habit of going after JUCO guys. I am sure that CTG had to really push for the JUCOs that he got.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        I don’t get it. We are out of O-linemen. We have extra scholarships. Ask John Jenkins who he played with/against last year in JUCO who was really good but is still at that level and GO SIGN A COUPLE! We don’t need starters–we need depth.

        • Every one of those schollies you hand out to a JUCO kid who may not ever play is one less you have for the classes of 2012 and 2013.

          • Wonderful Ohio on the Gulf 'Dog

            Find JUCO O-Linemen who can play in 2011!

            Bring them in on the understanding they’ll need to win playing time in 2011 for consideration for 2012 schollies (I know that’s very un-Mark Richt-like, but everyone else does it).

            That way, scholarships available for 2012 recruits are undiminished (and wouldn’t be for 2012 recruits anyway).

            • Wonderful Ohio on the Gulf 'Dog

              Should be:

              (and wouldn’t be for 2013 recruits anyway).

            • Any JUCO player who’s good enough for scholarship consideration isn’t going to accept a walk-on invite for 2012. And Richt isn’t going to offer a scholly to a JUCO player unless there’s a very good chance that player’s going to contribute on the field.

              Using a scholarship for a year for depth and then discarding the player? Not gonna happen.

              • fuelk2

                This is the key point. No JUCO OL who you would want will come here to be a back-up. The expectation with JUCOs is that they’ll play immediately.

                • Wonderful Ohio on the Gulf 'Dog

                  That they’ll play immediately is the whole idea of bringing in a JUCO OL in 2011. Maybe not start, but play.

                  It’s either that or we’ll almost certainly be relying on one or more of Dantzler, DeBell, Long, or Andrews (Nathan Theus in a real disaster).

                  Of that group, my bet is DeBell. Zack looks like a mean son of Tarpon Springs, Florida, and Rivals says his meanness is one of his best attributes.

                  A bit smallish. But the rest of them look like choirboys to me.

                  • Wonderful Ohio on the Gulf 'Dog

                    Rivals on DeBell:

                    “He also seems like a real nasty player who won’t mind getting an extra hit in before the whistle is blown.”

                    Sounds to me what we need on our O Line.

                    • fuelk2

                      Yes, he can scowl very nicely, but if you watched the Army All American practices, he looked like he had a ways to go.

                      I don’t know that “being in the rotation” really works for an OL since they generally don’t rotate absent an injury or a blowout. I high quality JUCO OL would want a pretty clear shot at starting.

                    • Dog in Fla

                      DeBell on Zombies:

                      “I’ve seen probably every zombie movie ever made,” he said. “That’s why I have short hair. If you have long hair or a mullet they’ll grab it from behind.”

                      Learning how to be nasty from fighting off zombies has given Zach remarkable insight into how to wear his hair.

                      http://blutarsky.wordpress.com/2010/06/03/the-best-reason-ever-not-to-wear-a-mullet/

                    • Wonderful Ohio on the Gulf 'Dog

                      Not just talking about Zack’s doo. It’s the way he looks out of his eyes. In every photo I’ve seen and on video as well.

  7. baltimore dawg

    the thing about 2003, if i can remember (and i may be wrong), was that we still managed to have a ball control offense, we just did it w/o a dominant running game–drive 60-70 yds, eat up the clock, let billy kick a fg. and then the d carried the game.

    i’d be real happy to to return to that model, but we can’t burn 1st down as much as we have the last couple of seasons with low percentage plays. the key to the type of season you’re describing is being in 3rd and short consistently on offense, and my recollection (which may be wrong–i’m not actually one to look up stats) is that we’ve not done a good job at all of getting into 3rd and short.

  8. In 2007 we started 3 freshman on the OL. We have some on campus that should provide some depth. Still the OL & the running game remains the biggest concern. The closer to Boise State we get, the more optimistic I become. Not time to panic yet. GATA.

    • DawgPhan

      Aint that the truth…the 4th is in the rearview…the dogs days of august fast approach and then labor day will be staring you straight in the mouth. The time for talk will be over and the work you did or didnt put in all summer long will be on full display for the entire nation to see.

  9. Will Trane

    I read the article about the attrition [better word could be exodus] of those players from last year. That is why I use the word “roster”. In the current SEC you have to stay loaded. Something CMR can not do lately. What could does it do you to sign a “Dream Class”, and in less than good season they are gone. Why keep “high maintenance” players like King, Ealey, Green, and etc., when it makes it difficult to make season-long game plans.
    In recent years there has been a culture where some players should have been cut [and there are ways to do that]. The head coach has to see and to set an atmosphere where players are no leaving. This is one of my complaint’s about CMR. Perhaps they are at the end of players with attitude and this culture. It was not there at the beginning of CMR’s tenure, but it sure crept in. Those guys who get hurt and continue the drill…yeah, those are your leaders and gut-check players…Sturdivant type.

    For me they can not take any hits along the interior O-line. The bell cow of the 2011 Dawgs is Ben Jones. He goes down…well, it could get ugly in a hurry. Fortunately, for the D they do not have to see 4 spread teams. If the DEs learned anything from Auburn last year, they should fare well. Boise will let us know. But spreads are hard to shut down. They run a lot of plays. This is where the roster and depth come into play…and the O line. You have to match the scores and take control of the clock and the scoreboard.

    The attrition on the O-line and back field will be visible in games one and two. Good to be in the Dome and away from some heat. Crowell has been on that turf, but so has Boise [some where I remember West Virginia]. For sure this staff is working over time now. They will need to coach their butts off this year to earn those big paychecks.

    • Cojones

      How the hell long have you been watching CF? All schools and UGA have gone through this. What’s this “set an atmosphere where players are not leaving”? Like chaining them to the goalposts? Mind control? Nailing their testacles to the pine?

      Some of you people invent more crapola than a wife. Cheez!!

      “Wild Elf Formation”? He meant “Loco Chihuahua Formation”.

    • DawgPhan

      Is Green, AJ Green? Are you really asking why CMR kept a player like Aj Green around?

    • hassan

      Seriously?

      Why sign a dream class if they are not going to be around?!? Are you saying that we should pass on the better players that might not stay their senior season in favor of lesser talented players that are more likely (but not guaranteed) to stay all 4 years? How competitive do you think we will be if we pass on the top talent?

  10. Pingback: DawgsOnline » This and that

  11. Coach Hewitt...

    FWIW…. I love this kid….

    Kyle Karempelis – preferred walk-on Fr-RB this year from Wesleyan…Great Kid…

  12. Mike

    I am less worried than I used to be about Florida’s thin roster

  13. sUGArdaddy

    For what it’s worth, we’ve got to figure something out about Crowell & Smith’s numbers. Am I the only person worried about this? They can’t both be on the field with #1 on.

    I can just see the nightmare scenario where we get a penalty or can’t get smith’s jersey changed on the sideline quick enough for a play we want to run.

  14. W Cobb Dawg

    The O will be exactly the same as the past 10 years – vanilla and unreliable (see UCF game). Our REAL coach and the one who determines whether we win or loose is the DC. It’s always been this way under CMR.

    • HackerDog

      Let’s see. Last year, our offense was 3rd in the SEC (1st in the East) in scoring in conference games. With a first year QB. Missing AJG for 4 games.

      The teams ahead of us in the SEC were Auburn (Malzahn & Newton) and Arkansas (Petrino & Mallet). Your standards must be high indeed such that placing behind two acknowledged offensive gurus coaching two QBs currently in the NFL is unacceptable. Should Bobo/Murray be required to score 35 points a game (still would have been 3rd in conference scoring)? How about 40? 50? ;)