Bottom line: If Urban Meyer signs another top five recruiting class, which he is expected to do, it may be a while before Georgia, or anybody else in the SEC East, is going to be able to unseat the Gators from the top of the division. Florida has separated itself from the field and shows no signs of slowing down.
Maybe so. In any event, it’s a formidable challenge for Richt to address. The thing is, even with the early departures of Stafford and Moreno, there are lots of smaller things to work on that could have a significant effect on the win-loss numbers.
… While the Bulldogs spent last spring and summer hearing the hype about their chances of a national title, this time they’ll hear the question of whether they have any chance in a division that includes Tebow’s Gators.
Georgia coach Mark Richt offered his answer on the same day Stafford and Moreno announced their departures: “There are a lot of things we can improve on as a football team,” he said, “that can give us an opportunity to win the East.”
Those things would include penalties (at which Georgia ranked No. 115 in the nation this past season), turnover ratio (No. 73) and sacks (No. 72).
No disrespect to the two intended, but the top item on Richt’s to do list has to be not finding their replacements, but stabilizing the lines on both sides of the ball. Some of that is health related, but some of that involves finding defensive ends that can rush the passer. Unfortunately, time will be somewhat compressed for that to be achieved.
… for spring practice, many of the key players injured this past season will remain sidelined.
Offensive tackle Trinton Sturdivant and defensive tackle Jeff Owens, whose torn anterior cruciate ligaments were perhaps the costliest of Georgia’s epidemic of injuries in ‘08, will miss the spring while continuing to rehab from their knee surgeries. Vince Vance, who replaced Sturdivant in the lineup before also tearing an ACL, will miss the spring, too.
Also an issue: Defensive end — a sore spot in 2008 and a position from which Georgia needs much improvement in 2009 — will be hamstrung again in the spring. Three scholarship DE’s — Rod Battle, Neland Ball and Cornelius Washington — will miss the drills after surgeries this month.
In all, 13 players already have been counted out for the spring. But at this point, all are expected back for the season.