Three and half months out, my four biggest worries about Georgia’s 2012 season

It’s May.  I blog about Georgia football.  I miss Munson.  Somebody’s got to step into the pessimist’s role.  So, without any further ado, here are the four areas which concern me most, which have the greatest chance of derailing what could be a terrific year for the Dawgs:

  • The offensive line.  When even Coach Richt refers to the o-line as a “question mark”, it’s something to worry about.  Maybe a lot.  I do think there’s talent, but when there’s a strong possibility that the starting left tackle hasn’t set foot on campus yet, there’s going to be an adjustment period.  You have to hope, like Richt does, that’s it’s not a long one.  Which brings me to…
  • The Missouri game.  I think Barrett Sallee overstates Missouri’s strength, but between a green offensive line and a secondary which will be missing some key cogs against an offense that lives out of five-receiver sets, Georgia’s going to have its hands full.  And I would expect the home crowd to be nuts about this game.  Lose to Missouri, and it’s hard to see how the season won’t be a disappointment.
  • Malcolm Mitchell’s hamstrings.  It’s all well and good to drool over how much of a contributor Mitchell could be this season, but let’s not forget that he’s already missed parts of last season and this year’s spring practice.  He goes down, especially early in the season, and it could be grim (see Missouri game, above), given, not just what the coaches hope to get out of him, but what they need from him.
  • Special teams.  Maybe I should call this a frustration and not a concern.  It’s an area that’s been treated it seems like a bastard stepchild and it’s shown.  There’s little excuse for the shortcomings we’ve all seen over the past few seasons.  Richt has promised greater focus and that’s welcomed.  But let’s also remember Georgia will be introducing a true freshman punter and a true freshman place kicker.  Welcome to the SEC, kids.

I don’t want anyone missing out of the fun/misery, so here’s a reader poll.  Leave comments, especially if you think I’ve overlooked something.  (It’s okay to blame Bobo.)

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49 Comments

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49 responses to “Three and half months out, my four biggest worries about Georgia’s 2012 season

  1. Zdawg

    So Senator, You are saying Munson is dead and you don’t fell so good yourself?

      • ScoutDawg

        You know what is funny? Other websites refer to you as a “Disney Dawg” type, and this blog as well. I blame it on Bobo.

        • paul

          What? Munson wasn’t a Disney Dawg? Even when he was moaning and groaning about “we got a million miles to go and we can’t move an inch” and the “clock keeps ticking, there’s just no time!” you knew that deep down, he still believed. He was the most pessimistic optimist there ever was, but he was an optimist none the less. Grinding, grinding. Oh you hairy dawgs!

  2. 81Dog

    Dont forget special teams as an area for preseason angst. New punter, new kicker, same punt and kick coverage schemes. And who’s going to return punts and kicks? I still have nightmares about that 850 pound, 7 foot 10 inch DL for South Carolina dump trucking along for about 150 yards on the fake punt while our 7th grade walkons tried to tackle him.

    Oy vey.

  3. charlottedawg

    I’m going to go with something else: mental toughness and execution. It seems like every year despite the team’s strengths and weaknesses, disappointment seems to boil down to a big mental mistake at a critical juncture. We win 9-10 games in ’09 if we cover a kickoff against LSU and don’t fumble the ball away against UK. Arky’s drive against us at the last minute in ’10, and we blow out MSU and USC if we just take care of the football. Whatever strengths or weaknesses we have in 2012 I’m convinced we can win at least 11 games if we just don’t beat ourselves. It’ll take more than that to win a championship but we can be decent simply by not screwing up.

    • AusDawg85

      I agree with this and voted “other” as I don’t think it’s going to be any one key area, but how the coaching staff adjusts to adversity. Can CTG’s patchwork D hold Mizzou? Will they stop USCe or FL in the 4th quarter with the game on the line? Will Bobo find the right mix to use Murray’s strengths and not leave him exposed to having to put the team on his shoulders? Will the running game be the envy of the nation…because we find we can grind it out while the O-line develops? Will Richt “take a knee” to show his faith/love for his key players, or find the best defense is a good offense?

      I hate Skeptic Dawg’s prediction of 3 losses (see below), yet these are the areas that have me believing we are probably 50/50 odds of 9-3 as we are of 11-1 (can’t EVER bring myself to believe we can run the table…bad Karma).

      • JP Dawgfan1

        Agreed…supported CMR through all the headhunting but kicking to the honey badger and taking that knee to allow “mr consistency 2011″ kick us into oblivion were the two biggest bonehead moves ive seen in quite some time. Cant blame bobo for that.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      I voted “other” also. My “other” is the seemingly endless number of brain farts at the end of close games that snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. We blow out bad teams pretty well, beat teams that we are supposed to beat most of the time but when we play an evenly matched opponent we seem to have a coaching decision made at the end of the game that causes everybody in the stands and watching on TV to simultaneously scream and want to commit hari-kari. I know I had to stay away from sharp objects for 2 full days after the loss to Michigan State. This problem goes back for YEARS. Does anybody else remember the end of the 2001 Auburn-UGA game?

      • Krautdawg

        Was right next to the band in ’01, Mayor. Worst part was we were stuffed in the far end zone — the band had Glory Glory teed up and was just about to blast off, but then it dawned on everyone that no zebras had signaled a TD … and the clock was still running.

  4. sUGArdaddy

    The off-season…that’s what scares me. Can we make it through with no more arrests or suspensions, no fishing boat accidents, no injuries from ultimate frisbee at a family reunion, nothing? No-thing!

    We seem to never play big games with all our bullets in the barrel. It’d be nice to do that in our stretch run this year in October. If we lose with our best 22 on the field, then so be it. I’d just like to actuall play a monster game WITH our best 22 on the field for the entire game.

  5. Skeptic Dawg

    The Mizzou game. Before all of the suspensions in the secondary, this game was going to be tough. Now with a depleted secondary, no way this is a W for the Dawgs. A green O-line, the best WR playing DB and/or sitting out with a hamstring and a new punter and kicker (on top of the train wreck special teams already in place), this is a certain loss. We have all seen this movie before, and the ending in not very good. Hello 3 loss season. Thanks for coming!

    • Joe Shmoe

      Don’t jump off the cliff just yet. Mizzou has had their share of injuries as well (QB didn’t practice in the spring due to shoulder surgery, top RB is coming back from a knee injury, one of best DB’s is out for the game). I think even with all the stuff mentioned, UGA should still be favored 7-10pts. in this game.

    • JP Dawgfan1

      Agree w Joe but can definately relate to skeptic as can the entire dawgnation…but if we lose 3 games w that schedule its time for a change at the top…especially after the way last season ended.

      • Cojones

        Joe just listed the events on the other side of the coin which skeptic continually never lists. He just needs an excuse to list all the ashes-in-the-hair antiteam and anticoaches things that he can. He was incorrect last year and he is still batting zeros for predictions. He reneged on his lost bet on the FU game and demonstrates he is just a big bag. He simply likes to tap into the angst that some fans have in hopes of sending their depression lower. Georgia could have 1-4 losses in any given year, no matter what the team and coaches have on the field. Any team can.

        The trick is to have a survey before games with fans giving their reasons for W or L. We then find the people on here with experience in college football and prognostications who we may listen to and have dialogue for our own edification. Skeptic ain’t one.

  6. Frita's Boss

    Seems like last time we had a true freshman kicker and punter–they both had pretty stellar years. I think those guys will be fine–provided the other 10 people around them are coached up.

    • The other Doug

      I agree. We tend to do a good job of bringing in high quality kickers. It’s the coverage that has always been shaky.

    • By Georgia We Did It

      “Who’s Frita?”
      “My Secretary.”

      Good Fletch name reference

  7. MGW

    The silver lining is that with the O-line being told they’re pretty much the only part of the team that isn’t awesome, and that they in fact suck, they ought to be about as motivated as you can get this off-season to work their asses off. Hopefully that’ll bring them up to at least serviceable.

    • Cojones

      Part of our problem with the O line is that we were led to believe they were better than they actually were last year. And the year before. Running backs didn’t have enough holes to make the difference in the games we lost. That, added to the four games where the D allowed 30+ points, were the principa reasons we lost last year. Tack on the STs fiasco and you’ve got your druthers.

      Like you, I hope they work as hard as is possible this summer in order to stay healthy during Fall Practice. From then on its anyone’s bet as to how the line goes, so goes the season.

  8. simpl_matter

    109 days to go. 10 days to double digits.
    Blood pressure be still!

  9. Macallanlover

    All valid concerns, including another hundred or so for the pessimists among us, but the OL worry is in a class by itself. If the OL works out to be at least average (that would be a big step up from 2011) the other worries are minimized. Should they be above average, I am confident the other issues will not drag us down. Perhaps that is too simplistic but an OL that can allow us the option of moving the ball by opening some holes for a solid class of RBs, controlling the clock when needed, and giving AM time to throw will make this team a certainty to be in Atlanta for the SECCG and compete with the West winner.

    STs would be my next biggest concern, but give me an improved OL performance and I will take my chances with new kickers.

  10. DawgPhan

    more concerned about Missouri than I am any of the units. team just needs to be coached up and ready to play. Lose that game and things could get messy…win it and the sky is the limit.

  11. G

    Is it fair to say my biggest worry also happens to be our best player in Aaron Murray? He has put up huge numbers in his time at QB, but the knack for game changing turnovers has plagued him and the team. When I am watching games next season, I will be worried about when he will make a mistake more than what you listed above.

    • JP Dawgfan1

      Murray has two years of starting under his belt now…keep in mind this was a 19 yr old kid out there so mistakes will happen. Give me the guy that puts it all out there on the line like murray over the cautious game manager type any day. Just dont tke the ball out of his hands late like in the MSU game. That could destroy his confidence.

  12. Bubs

    The Missouri game just doesn’t worry me that much. They may get off to a good start but I think we will win by 10-14 points when it’s all over. Get pressure on Franklin and it won’t matter who is playing in the secondary (unless they attempt a lot of short passes Boise-style, which is not something they do with regularity). I think it will end up looking a lot like the Tennessee game last year.

    The O-line is a concern for all reasons listed above. They’ll be average and will give up some big sacks and TFL, but nothing we haven’t seen before. Murray will have to run more and he should, it’s a strength of his.

    I have to say what worries me the most is the attitude exhibited by some players on the team (basically those who have gotten in trouble, though I’m sure there are others who haven’t been caught). This is a tough thing to explain. It’s like they’re still flying high (pun intended) from their AMAZING 10-4 campaign a year ago (/sarcasm). The troubles so far this off season are not a good sign and I would bet there will be a few more before September rolls around. We will not be at full strength until the FIFTH game of the season (unless someone else gets injured, suspended, etc) and that is truly a cause for concern.

  13. PNWDawg

    How about the inability to beat a ranked opponent?

  14. Slaw Dawg

    I voted “Other.” It’s not that I disagree with your 4, but great teams can overcome or correct these problems. My “biggest worries” are all regarding systemic problems in our favorite program that are harder to overcome.

    One: will we finish the damn drill? This has been a problem for a few years now, as we all know. We certainly improved last year over 2010, but still came up short in a coupla games (So Car and Mich St), collapsed against LSU, and twas a damn near thing with a few others.

    Two, and related to One: will we have consistent fighting spirit among coaches and players–and fans? We showed good, constant heat in the UF and AU games, but also got off to slow starts and flabby finishes in others. This phenomenon has really hurt us in recent years, too. Colorado, Okie State, Central FL, Mich State, Miss State and others beat us in part because they approached UGA like a “team to beat,” and we approached them like just another opponent, if that. Even v. UF in 2010, Meyer pulled out all the stops in his raging determination to win that game. We didn’t. You can even see it in the stands, as if fans (those who are there) are holding their collective breath, waiting for disaster to strike. Pathetic!

    Three, and possibly related to One and Two: we’ve lost the opening game against our conference opponent the last 2 years, and against our first serious (non cupcake) opponent the last 3. A great program should not face its first serious opponents unprepared. A great program should not flag in the 4th quarter against those opponents. A great program should not approach such opponents with anything less than maximum enthusiasm and relentless desire to win–among fans, coaches and players.

    I am a strong Coach Richt supporter. But if these particular problems persist, then we must admit they are continuing coaching problems and seriously ask “Why?”

    • Jim

      Unfortunately, this is spot on

    • Cojones

      Thorough and to the point, Slaw Dawg. Your last paragraph is fair and one with which I can agree. I submit that the “wait and see” attitude is best applied at the beginning of play on the field this fall and not try to trash the team this summer as we did last summer. And I know that you agree with that when measuring against your posts.

  15. Otto

    The OL and ranking reminds me of ’08, high preseason ranking but breaking in a new OL cost them.

    Mizzou has been on my radar since it was announced as the season opener. They are looking for a statement win against an SEC team which UGA has been giving out, (Okie St, Boise, Michigan St, Colorado). If they have a healthy QB against a UGA secondary with suspensions it could be a perfect storm.

  16. Hobnail_Boot

    I voted “other” because we still don’t have an Uga.

    But seriously, it’s the Mizzou game. OL worry is overhyped.

  17. Cojones

    Das_ Boot- Hope you are correct about the O line. Care to elaborate? Most of us compare to what we were told at the beginning of last year and react accordingly. I’m looking for good reasons not to worry about them this year.

    • Hobnail_Boot

      There are instances in the Richt era where the OL was supposed to be awesome and in reality wasn’t, and vice-versa. Add in the fact that we have won the SEC East with a bad line (2003) and been mediocre with a good line (2006, 2009) and I think it all boils down to how the 5 guys up front gel in Autumn.

  18. RocketDawg

    Maybe I missed something but when did Missouri become “teh awesummmmmmmm” ? They were an average team in an average conference last year and lost the majority of their Oline, starting RB, and possibly their starting QB. Not to mention my kid’s 5 year old team could score 30 on their paper mache defense. Bunch of hang wringing over nothing if you ask me.

  19. Uglydawg

    All are worries that Munson would find worthy, but like many others here my biggest worries are somewhat intangeable. It seems like other teams always come out and play like banshees against Georgia, especially in the first few minutes. Georgia often seems taken-aback and stunned by the intensity of the opposition.
    Desire without overconfidence is what I’d love to see.
    Yes, Missouri and their fans will be fine-tuned and spring loaded to get their signature win. It’s a trap game, but so is Buffalo. I can’t imagine why everyone is overlooking Buffalo. Isn’t that what buys upsets? If they can line up and control the line of scrimmage, they might keep the score low and be in it. Am I crazy or just old fashioned? (See Appalachian State vs Michigan…opening game a couple of years ago, or VT vs George Mason or whoever it was.)
    “Lack of mental and EMOTIONAL preparation ” is my biggest worry.

  20. shane#1

    I am afraid of the problem that we don’t know about yet. Every year it seems that we fans are blindsided by something. The term “snakebit” keeps popping into my mind. I’ll just wait for the other shoe to drop and enjoy as much football as I can. Oh, and stock up on beer.

    • Uglydawg

      “I am afraid of the problem that we don’t know about yet”…….WOW!!
      That’s gotta be the most Munsonest line typed on here yet! But it really does say a lot about our psyche! But think of the things SC, FL,TN and UA fans have to worry about…this would be at the top of their lists also!
      Great post, shane#1 !!

  21. W Cobb Dawg

    CTG will be ready and the D will hold their own against Mizzou – we all know that CTG comes to every game prepared to compete. Whether our O or STs shows up or not will determine who wins.

    CMR isn’t pleased with his OL. How many decades have to go by before he does something about it.

    • Cojones

      Got a way for others not to poach players we count on? Cordarelle Patterson comes to mind as one. Another 4-star from Georgia with experience at Md just signed with FU. What is it that you think we are doing wrong when differing schools can turn some of them? Do you have a good list to put in front of Richt that you have turned toward UGA? It’s frustrating enough without trying to say Richt is against getting good linemen. Or that he doesn’t try.

      I won’t say a thing if you advocate firing Rodney for not getting good linemen. I mean he and others can just concentrate on that one thing: to get better linemen. Richt has all positions to worry about.

  22. Hill Dawg

    Last year the starting OL was fine. The problem was they had to start, stay in and finish. No depth, no rotation, no rest. If they can keep the numbers up to rotate and rest for four quarters they will be fine. If not, struggle city.

  23. AUGrep'nWorldWide

    I too am waiting on an Uga! I also don’t see what all the scare is about Mizzou is. I’m not dismissing them as a threat/challenge but I really don’t see them as a “scary” team. As pointed out above they were average in an average conference with below average defense. I’m more concerned with ball security, mainly by AM and the RBs. Another thing is the killer instinct of Bobo and CMR, we should only let off the gas if we’re playing an OOC cupcake and we’re up 21+ but other than that we need to bring the wood 100% all 4 quarters. If the pick 6′s/phantom fumbles (off of either no contact or just plain doing to much like trying to break a tackle without securing the ball) and an aggressive offense I’ll only be dissapointed instead of furious/confused and broke (after repairing my broken home!) if we so happen to take a loss. We need an Uga though bad!