As spring practice approaches, what’s our biggest concern?

The AJ-C lists five areas that will be attended to this spring:

  • identify defensive backs
  • establish tailback rotation
  • determine offensive line starters
  • shore up special teams
  • solidify backup quarterback

Compared to last spring, that seems like a fairly benign list.  If you recall a year ago, the Dawgs had serious questions at tailback, offensive line and wide receiver on offense and on the other side of the ball, at tackle, linebacker and safety.  (Ironically, special teams was considered one of the safest areas on the team.)

Looking at the five items above, the first is a short-term issue exacerbated by Smith’s and Commings’ offseason problems, the second is more a matter of deciding how much playing time to allocate to a talented group of backs (and note this bit of news about Crowell) than finding out whether there’s enough ability at the position and the backup quarterback concern is about the same as it was before.

Special teams are a concern, no doubt, both because the recurring breakdowns we saw on the coverage teams and because two senior kickers are being replaced.  The thing is, I’m having a hard time believing that things could be any worse than they were, especially as Richt seems focused on improvement in this area.

Offensive line, though… geez, talk about recurring.  Last year, at least we had seniors manning the tackle positions and center.  This year, things are much, much greener.

… No offensive lineman has started a full season’s worth of games, with Burnette and Gates sharing the team lead with 12 career starts apiece. That experience shortage has to be a bit scary for a team that will probably rank in the top 10 on most preseason polls.

Scary?  Hells, yeah.  What’s even scarier is that it’s likely that they won’t settle into a final rotation until August, when Theus shows up.

The best thing about Georgia’s schedule may be that there won’t be the same kind of early challenge to the offensive line that last year’s team faced.  I’ll trade the defensive lines of Buffalo and Missouri (inexperienced and thin at defensive tackle) for those of Boise State and South Carolina all day long.  Let’s just hope Coach Friend gets them to grow up in a hurry.

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “As spring practice approaches, what’s our biggest concern?

  1. Castleberry

    You nailed it. O line is number one by a mile. Everything after that is minor.

  2. shane#1

    O line is #1 no doubt, but I have noticed that when a problem is identified as a problem changes are made and the problem ceases to exist. However, all the time spent on problem areas means that less attention is given to ares believed to be strong. Voila! New and unexpected problem! Special teams were a problem in 2009, corrected in 2010 and thought to be a strength in 2011, instead a weakness. Same with the O line numerous times. So, what will be the fox hiding in the hen house this year?

  3. Spike

    We have some problems. Defense is not one of them.

  4. My biggest concern is 2 freshman kickers & Special Teams play
    .
    The OLine going against that D will have to get better or get slaughtered. My bet is on it getting a lot better.

  5. Verillion

    I break down the challenges into 3 areas:
    Special Teams, Defense, Offense

    Special teams:
    12th in SEC punt return def
    12th in SEC in kick off return def.
    11th in SEC in field goal %
    12th in opponent long punt return plays

    Offense in SEC:
    11TH in sacks allowed
    1st in interceptions
    7th in rushing offense

    Defense in SEC:
    Scoring defense against ranked teams-11th
    red zone percentage 12th
    sacks per game average against ranked teams 12th
    tackles for loss against ranked teams per game average-9th

  6. Verillion

    Also, against ranked teams, defense only forced 3 fumbles all season, and was the only SEC team to register 0 fumble recoveries against ranked teams in 2011 and a 0% fumble recovery %.

    In those games when your offense isn’t clicking, the defense has to force turnovers.

  7. Bevo

    Good post.

    It’s frustrating that offensive lines has been such a persistent weakness, but we’ve also had some bad luck there. Still…we’re Georgia. We shouldn’t have that problem for years at a time.

    The other problem that concerns me, which is harder to put a finger on and possibly related to the offensive line issues, is what our offense does against solid defenses. The suicidal turnovers and long disappearing acts have got to stop or we’ll fold against real teams just like we did last season.

    • Verillion

      I don’t think the problem is o-line. I’m afraid it’s more offensive scheme. You can work-around a weak o-line with a better scheme. Branden Smith, Crowell, and Boykin were wide open as outlets and rarely thrown to. Need more 2 TE sets, hopefully Rome can block, Lynch can. I think Figgins was too big as fullback to hit guys shoulder pad level, so having a true fullback this season should help in pass protection. Murray needs to release the ball more quickly (to outlets if nothing else). Bobo needs to get the plays in quicker to give Murray max time to read the defense. Hurry up should tire defenses out by 4th quarter.

      #1 thing on offense if you look at what Alabama and LSU do so well, is RUN THE FOOTBALL.
      #2 thing Bama & LSU do well is win the turnover battle, especially in big games.
      #3 thing Bama & LSU do well is stop the run and make teams pass to beat you.
      #4 Bama & LSU do well is be clutch in the red zone.

  8. JasonC

    I don’t think the Senator listed the items in order. I agree with the list and here is my order:
    1. determine offensive line starters & improve OL play
    2. identify defensive backs
    3. shore up special teams
    4. establish tailback rotation
    5. solidify backup quarterback

    IMO the DB situation is a little more than just the 1st 2 games because we will use nickel pkgs quite often and we are thin at the safety positions too. It’s a long season to make it through with only 5 contributors at 5 spots (includes NB).