“I believe in these guys.”

With Ramik Wilson’s announcement that he won’t skip his senior year for the NFL draft, there’s one thing you can say about next year’s Georgia team – inexperience won’t be an excuse.

… And Wilson’s big talk is supported by the 2014 schedule, which is very manageable, and this fact: Georgia is due to return 17 of the 22 players who will start in next week’s bowl game, including quarterback Hutson Mason, whose long apprenticeship to Aaron Murray ended two games early. Throw in place-kicker Marshall Morgan, a first-team All-SEC pick, and the punting combination of Collin Barber and Adam Erickson, and that number grows to 19 starters.

That number doesn’t include Malcolm Mitchell, perhaps the team’s best receiver, who tore his ACL on the second series of the season. It also doesn’t include receiver Justin Scott-Wesley or tailback Keith Marshall, key contributors who tore their ACLs in the fifth game of the season. Those three are expected to be healthy for next season, with Mitchell a particularly huge lift.

That’s almost a mirror image of how 2013 looked before the season started. Next year, the defense loses only one starter, Garrison Smith.  Meanwhile on offense, Aaron Murray is gone and the offensive line has to replace three starters.  And Seth’s right about the schedule.  September starts out tough, with two straight top 25 opponents, but from there, LSU gets swapped for Arkansas and Auburn comes to Athens.

The good thing about that is that the coaching staff, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, won’t be consumed with personnel decisions all the way until the season opener, which should give them the opportunity to focus on other things, such as making sure special teams aren’t such a sore spot.  Mark Richt wanted continuity going into 2014.  Let’s see what he can do with it.

Oh, and staying healthy would be nice.

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51 Comments

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51 responses to ““I believe in these guys.”

  1. Bulldawg165

    Injuries and suspensions are the only reason I could see us not having an easy ten wins next year.

  2. Spence

    Optimistic take: Grantham’s strength had always been pass defense, and with the improved run defense in 2013 and experience in the secondary in 2014, we should expect a steep return of a stout defense next year. On offense, mason should slide in pretty seamlessly and Gurley makes Bobo look like a genius. Morgan learns to boot the ball out of the back of the end zone and keeps kicking well. Uga loses one game (auburn) and makes the playoff.

    Pessimistic view – grantham proves again that he is a sub par coordinator. Injuries and suspensions continue in the secondary which struggles again, and the loss of Smith as anchor of the defensive line sees us regress on run defense. Mason is Joe Cox v2, and shows the first half of the Tech game wasn’t an aberration but instead a glimpse into mason’s poor ability to adjust to big game situations and a pass rush. The offensive line without an anchor like Tunsil quickly turns Gurley from a Heisman candidate into Jasper Sanks. Special Teams stay par for the course (well, double bogeys in our case) and we drop 7 games with losses to Tennessee, tech, auburn, sc, Clemson, mizz and Florida.

    I suspect the truth is somewhere in between.

  3. Mike Cooley

    Why do people think we are going to lose to Auburn next year. We shouldn’t have lost to them this year. This stupid wave of incredible luck that they’ve been riding is not going to last much longer.

    • Spence

      They torched us for most of the game. But regardless, that was year one of a new coach and new system. Gus is a really good coach who played with a limited playbook this year and is playing for a natty. It’s hard to get there every year but I don’t see anything on out two trajectories that suggests we will have the better team next year. Id love to be wrong.

      • dudetheplayer

        “They torched us for most of the game.”

        Right, except for the part where they needed a miracle 4th down conversion with a little over 30 seconds left to actually win the game.

        Football games are four quarters.

        • RocketDawg

          And the part where everyone has a year of film on the Gus-Bone, not to mention that they still have a QB that can’t throw. Remember how well the first year of the Nerdbone went?

        • Bulldawg165

          They needed a miracle to win because their D sucks. Even without the miracle TD they still put up 37 on us.

          Oh, and people already had three years of tape on Gus Malzahn’s offense against SEC competition. I’m not sure why so many people think one more year is going to be that much better.

          • Patrick

            And their defense will continue to suck year after year as long as Gus is head coach.

            • Bulldawg165

              Lol. That’s wishful thinking. What is it about Ellis Johnson’s track record that supports this? Is it the old “they run the spread offense” line of thought? I seem to remember a Florida team under Urban Meyer who ran a spread offense and still had a dominate defense.

              • Will (the other one)

                If they get a Clowney, they’ll have a scary D, otherwise it’s “possibly very good” at best (and I’d say his one year as a head coach took a ton of shine of Ellis’s rep. Taking a team that won 12 to losing 12 doesn’t scream “great coaching.”)

  4. Our defense will still get torched 5 or 6 times like every season with Grantham. Did you see Notre Dame hired Brian VanGorder as DC? We screwed up not bringing him back.

    • Jay Reminschneider

      I wonder if Auburn thinks the same thing. VanG had his glory at UGA and has yet to replicate it again with the exception of one good year with the Falcons.

      • RocketDawg

        BVG was the beneficiary of the ridiculous amount of talent that Jim Donnan recruited. BVG and Willie Two Thumbs play the same exact defense. BVG got the hell out of dodge when the talent level started to dip. At Auburn and with the Falcons he had very little talent to work with and his teams were absolutely shredded by a decent offense.

        • Bulldawg165

          He was with us for four seasons and we still had decent defenses for a couple of years after he left, so I’m not sure the “he inherited a lot of talent” argument holds a lot of water. He clearly recruited and developed plenty of talent too.

        • Skeptic Dawg

          If you are going to argue that BVG benefitted from a stockpile of talent, you have to apply the same argument to Richt. And to take it further, Richt has not won an SECCG without BVG or JD’s players.

          • Mayor of Dawgtown

            I’m not sure how many of Donnan’s players were still around when UGA won the SECCG in ’05. Does anybody out there in blogland know? And didn’t BVG leave after the 2004 season?

            • Here’s the basic part of the ’05 roster. For all intents and purposes, those were Richt’s players.

              And, yes, Martinez was the DC in 2005.

              • Mayor of Dawgtown

                It appears that there were only 4 players who were redshirt seniors on that team and only 2 played any significant minutes: David Greene and Tony Milton. Plus with BVG gone and CWM taking over the above statement that “Richt has not won an SECCG without BVG or JD’s players” is completely factually inaccurate. Skeptic? What say you now that this falsehood has been exposed?

      • He wasn’t at Auburn long enough to do anything, and that Auburn team had lost all discipline long before he got there. Its funny how BVG get defamed over one season, yet many of you continue to defend that same sorry sack of manure that is our present DC.

  5. JRW7

    It doesn’t matter how many players are coming back next year, UGA will never win a MNC with CMR!

  6. NoAxeToGrind

    Yeh. Let’s see what Richt can do with it.

  7. Mason has already replaced Murray. Most of the offense linemen filling in already have substantial PT.

    Just sayin’.

  8. Normaltown Mike

    Has Herrera given any indication of his plans?

    He certainly looks like an NFL LB already. Hope he stays too.

  9. Get on board the Monorail now Realists! There might not be room later. -DD

  10. Mike Cooley

    Still not buying the Auburn hype. There is no way to keep this from sounding like sour grapes so if you want to believe it is, I don’t care. Auburn being in the NC is far more a product of an unbelieveably insane amount of good luck than it is Malzahn’s coaching. AS has been stated here, they beat us do to a fluke play on fourth down that was essentially a desperation last gasp play that doesn’t work 99 times out fo 100. Sorry, that aint Malzahn’s smarts that did that. Funny to me that one of you try and strengthen the argument in favor of the barn by pointing out that they had a sucky D. Because despite the fact that we were sporting a defense that is statistically worse than anything Willie Martinez trotted out on the field, they still needed a last minute desperation luck play to beat us. I for one think our defense will be better next year and i know that Auburn will not be living the charmed life of Les Miles that they are living this year. Im not saying it is impossible for them to beat us next year. What I’m saying is, a lot of my fellow dawgs are looking at Auburn in an overemotional fashion brought on by the pain of that loss. The reason it hurts so bad is because they should not have beaten us. All the talk about what a great coach Malzahn is seems grossly premature to me. The fact that they have him on their sideline does not make me chalk up another loss for us next year. He is a good offensive mind but he has benefitted from a once in a generation player in Newton who fell in his lap and an incredible amount of luck this year. Saban making two uncharacteristically bad tactical decisions against Auburn have nothing to do with Malzahn’s coaching. Without even one of those mistakes we are not having this conversation. I see nothing that keeps me from thinking that a win over them next year is not only possible but probable. Take the emotion out of it. They had a horse shoe up their collective rear this year. That kind of thing doesn’t carry over into a new season.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      UGA is 6-2 against Auburn over the last 8 seasons. Also, UGA has blown out the Aubies several times over that span whereas when Auburn wins they tend to barely squeak out a victory. Malzahn was the OC in several of those losses.

  11. Mike Cooley

    And do you guys hear yourselves saying we should have kept VanGorder? Exactly what that he’s done since he left Athens supports this?

    • W Cobb Dawg

      And the 2 DCs we’ve had since are better? BVG was voted #1 assistant in cfb and was runner-up another year while at UGA. So who are you saying is better than BVG that would actually take our DC job?

      • Will (the other one)

        That wasn’t exactly recent history though. Hell, Joe Kines led Bama to the best D in the SEC in 2005, let’s get him out of retirement! He was better than even BvG’s best years!

    • Macallanlover

      Happens every time someone mentions “DC” or porn. I am convinced there are a couple on here who are his offspring or wife. The love they show this guy is “unnatural”, particularly based on his actions. When does a 7 year nosedive overcome being a decent DC with excellent talent. I swear I think it is just because he yelled and screamed some on the sidelines……sort of like BoomMF, who is also out of goodwill. It is like you must fit the Hollyweird stereotype of what a football coach must look, and act, like. Come on guys, look at the whole picture of this guy, not your narrow memories. The guy left us in the lurch during recruiting acting like an ass and then proceeded to face plant at every stop he has made since then. Frankly, I don’t even remind fans that he was ever in Athens so taking him back would be like a nightmare to me.

    • Um, I’ve never said such a thing.

  12. Mike Cooley

    Thanks for that but you didnt answer the question, you just asked two of your own. So again, what is it that he’s done since he left Athens that makes you think he’s a good choice. Rather than get emotional, why not take a look at the facts. I’ll let you do it for yourself as I’ve already checked out the details. But spoiler alert, at no poin in his career since he left Athens did he come even remotely close to matching those results. So…it makes sense that the odds of him doing it again aren’t very good. If you just like VanGorder because you have fond memories of his stint in Athens that’s understandable. But that dooesn’t make him a good choice as DC just because we had good defenses under him nearly ten years ago. Martinez was awful. No argument from me there. To me, the first year under GRantham is a wash. It was year one in a new, much more complex system, and they had been getting some really bad coaching for five years prior to that. The 2011 D was stout. 2012 was strong against the pass but not against the run . This year we were fielding a defense of freshmen and first time starters. Anyone with even a little objectivity knew it was gonna be rough. The run defense improved over the season but the pass defense did not. We shall see next season. If there is not marked improvement then changes will be made in one form or another. But VanGorder? Come on man. He’s been bad everywhere he’s been since leaving and not having Pollak, Odell, Thomas Davis, Kedric Golston etc etc.

  13. Matt b.

    How bout we talk about how in a year where we have 19 of 22 starters returning, can we buck the trend of not living up to expectations for once…