The Preseason of If

It’s a fairly common practice right now to do the whole preseason prediction thing.  Never mind that there’s a whole class of potential contributors who haven’t shown up on campus yet – it’s a slow time in college football, and you’ve got to expand that energy on something.

In Georgia’s case right now, the speculation about this season is even idler, if that’s possible, because of the injury situation.  I thought Herbstreit and Nessler had it right in the G-Day broadcast when they said that the Dawgs didn’t look like an elite SEC team because so many starters and key backups weren’t available to play.  Yet pundits everywhere will tell you right now that Georgia is something like the thirteenth to sixteenth best team in the nation.

That’s kind of a crazy assessment at this moment when you ponder all the unknowns.  Here’s my breakdown of the question marks on who first trots out on the field in Stillwater, Oklahoma, based solely on the here and now:

  • Offensive line. We know who the starting center is, and we know that Clint Boling will start somewhere.  But until Sturdivant and Vance are cleared to play, nobody has a clue who’s going to line up where.  Except maybe for Stacy Searels, and he ain’t telling.
  • Tight end. Aron White, by default.  No idea who’s number two, or who takes on the role of blocking TE.
  • Wide receiver. A. J., of course.  (Thank God.)  Michael Moore should play, but in Massaquoi’s vacated position, or in the slot as the number three receiver?  Everybody else is as green as they get.
  • Quarterback. Outside of Green, Cox is the biggest lock on offense right now, but if he were to get hurt…
  • Tailback. You tell me.
  • Fullback. The position is in good hands with Chapas and Munzenmaier.
  • Defensive line. There’s plenty of depth at tackle, but they can’t set the rotations in stone until Owens is back.  Defensive end?  There’s the Swiss Army Knife of the team, Kiante Tripp, who’s inexperienced, and a cast of question marks.  Easily the biggest challenge the coaching staff has to face when fall practice starts, if contributors (as in plural) can’t be found there, I’m afraid Okie State is going to be the start of a long season.
  • Linebackers. Hooray!  The one every down position on the team with clear stability and depth.
  • Defensive backs. The starters at safety seem to be set with Jones and Evans.  Miller has one of the cornerback slots locked down.  The other side is completely up for grabs right now.
  • Special teams. Butler is the punter by default, but has shown little to date.  We have no idea who will be kicking off, or attempting field goals right now.  There are some returners with experience, but there’s no clear indication that they will be the ones given the jobs this season.

This isn’t a “woe is us” post.  There’s plenty of talent on that team and I believe Richt is serious about getting it properly deployed this year.  I just find it impossible at present to assess the quality of the team that will open the season.  Your thoughts?


Filed under Georgia Football

27 responses to “The Preseason of If

  1. Mike In Valdosta

    An accurate and sobering analysis. It will be interesting to see what we learn in stillwater. Those pups in the secondary should grow up by halftime


  2. Just don’t be embarrassing the SEC like Tennessee did last year against UCLA. I’ll be cheering for you guys that game 🙂


    • Thanks.

      The funny thing is, these types of games – openers with question marks – are ones that Richt excels at coaching. Clemmins in ’03, Boise State in ’05, Okie State in ’07 were all games we worried about for a variety of reasons, but the teams wound up winning them all convincingly and going on to great seasons.


  3. The Realist

    Three HUGE arrivals will be Branden Smith, Orson Charles, and Marlon Brown. Georgia needs all three to come in and get plugged in right away and, hopefully, become solid contributors immediately.

    Aron White has to become Superman. Seriously, he’ll need five or six touches per game – minimum.

    WillieMart needs to work on a modified 3-4. If the defensive system is reliant on getting pressure from the defensive ends, and there are no defensive ends, then you have to change the defensive system, no? I know the team doesn’t have a big space eater in the middle that 3-4 defenses typically require, but if you go with a 4-3 set-up with 3-4 personnel, with one of the linebackers taking the other d end responsibilities… you are able to keep your assignments relatively the same with some minor tweaks. I like the flexibility that this could create better than turning a linebacker into a D end, because you could potentially switch the entire defensive formation by dropping down a linebacker on either side of the tackles and moving the DT’s around in the gaps (assuming they can play multiple gaps). If there is one group of players that I think could handle this sort of tweak, it’s the d tackles and the linebackers. Granted, I don’t expect anything of the sort. I expect the same defense to be trotted out there like all the necessary pieces are in place.


    • Dog in Fla

      WillieMart don’t change schemes. Not gonna do it. He also wants to know, for the purposes of contacting a realtor, whether our Special Teams will be giving the ball to the enemy on its forty after our kickoffs to them this year like we did last year.


      • There’s nothing wrong with Martinez’ scheme that a pass rushing DE or two and Jones tackling properly couldn’t improve in a significant way.


        • The Realist

          I agree that pass-rushing DE’s would be a cure-all, but with apologies to Rick Pitino…

          David Pollack ain’t walkin’ through that door. Marcus Howard ain’t walkin’ through that door. We can’t even get Charles Johnson or Quentin Moses. The spring stud can’t keep his nose clean, and Kiante Tripp looks more like a DT than a DE from behind. I may be an ign’ant ass in the eyes of those in charge, but I do know that wishing something were so and it being so are completely different.

          It’s true that there is nothing wrong with WillieMart’s scheme given the right personnel. But to a certain extent, you have to scheme to your talent when you don’t have the talent to fit your scheme.


          • I can’t argue with anything you’ve written there.

            But in Willie’s defense (ha! pun intended), he has been known to adjust. The best example of that I can point to is his embrace of the 4-2-5 as a base defense against the spread.

            I’m not sure how much of the defensive collapse in the second half of last season could have been avoided with a change in scheme. Ellerbe’s injury and ineffectual return left a gaping hole in the linebacking corps; Jones was, to put it kindly, inconsistent; and Byrd never became the star that many of us expected. There’s also the little matter of focus that, while perhaps being the fault of coaches and players both, has little to do with scheme.

            I’m not giving Martinez a pass here – he’s not nearly as good with halftime adjustments as BVG was – but I’m not sure how much of Georgia’s defensive shortcomings you can blame on Xs and Os.


            • Jferg in NC

              Correct me becuase I’m probably wrong…but the only time I remember seeing the 4-2-5 used a lot was against UF this past year…and I don’t think that defensive effort is one worthy to be used in defense of CWM’s defensive prowess to ‘adapt’. Agreed?


              • It was used extensively in ’07, too. Check my blog archives – there should be a couple of posts on the subject of how Georgia’s been forced to deploy its linebackers differently because of spread schemes.


    • Joe

      Also, Abry Jones and (fingers crossed on grades) Derrick Lott. I think one of those kids, although likely destined to play DT long-term, could be a contributor immediately at DE.

      I love Abry Jones, have seen him play a ton of times, and I think he will be a heckuva player.

      Also, hasn’t Cornelius Washington been getting some talk this spring? Maybe he can be the DE we have been missing?


  4. Castleberry


    I’m a bit of a pack rat and one of my favorite offseason activities is to dig back through the old Athlon’s and Lindy’s to read the projections.

    Check 2005. Tennessee was getting all of the love with their returning talent and favorable schedule. They were headed to the Rose Bowl. Not only did we win the conference, the Vols really went in the tank with one of their worst years ever. Six losses (including Vandy).

    You never know.



  5. The 2005 team had the perfect schedule to do what it did. Sadly, ’09 is a bit top-heavy.


  6. sh

    uh, is Blaire Walsh not our kicker?

    And why would we need to run a 3-4 when we have Owens, Tyson, Weston, and Atkins on the line? And I’m leaving out a couple of guys that have quality starts and real talent.

    Finally, everyone acts as if we have nothing at WR. Hell, last year we had Durham and Momass as projected starters with Goodman and K Harris returning, Greene coming up, and Wilson and Moore as question marks. We saw how that turned out. Now we have Greene, Moore, King, with that kid outta Memphis coming in. I think we’ll be fine.

    Main concern is at RB. I’m telling you, King ain’t the man we thought he was.


  7. sh

    hell if I know. kickoffs? but who ever heard of a scholarship “kickoff” guy?

    F it who cares. Just beat FLorida.


  8. dogw/bone

    yeah, just beat fl, richt may have gave bogo a partial scholly to kick off, not sure, heres to willing to give jones another shot at safety, coach richt says hes the man, gotta believe


  9. Gatch

    1. Who is going to step up at rush end? I don’t remember the last time we had a successful season without a dominant pass rush off the edge. We have two potential first-round tackles on the line, and you have to love the leadership that Owens radiates.

    2. With Asher declaring, I’m worried about the experience in the secondary. I’m curious to see if Branden Smith will be able to compete come Fall. Will Reshad ever break out and become the dominant safety he can be?

    3. Am I the only one who thinks Logan Gray is two times the quarterback Cox is? I understand the leadership that Joe brings, but after being blown away by Logan’s throws this Spring, I can’t help but gush at what this kid can bring to the table with both his speed and arm.

    4. Not too worried about the tailback spot. We have an incredible amount of talent, and someone’s going to break through. If Caleb doesn’t step up, then someone will. I really wish Samuel would play some linebacker or end, but it won’t happen. How good of a coach is McClendon?

    5. Tony Wilson has been so disappointing. So much talent, and was guessing he’d breakout if he stayed healthy. Moore, King, Brown will earn bones, but a receiving tight end is now a priority now that Stafford is gone. A mid-range target is essential. Maybe Orson can offer that from the get go?

    6. Although we have a lot of depth and experience at linebacker, I’m still nervous about their performance last year. Aside from Curran, they looked like lame ducks at times, and all tend to have a problem with getting off blocks. Hopefully I’m wrong, and this will be a strength of ours.

    7. I’m very excited about our offensive line. Stacy Searels + healthy, experienced guys = domination. This offense reminds me of LSU’s in 2007.

    But I could be a fool. I guess we’ll see it all in Stillwater. A statement game that could make or break the season for us.

    Go Dawgs.


    • Completely agreed on Logan Gray. At least on G-Day, he looked like the superior QB. I guess we’ll find out in the fall, but probably not very early in the fall. Things seem set.

      I worry about tailback. This crop bores me to death; the guys in the mold of Tony Milton, Jasper Sanks (sans drugs), Patrick Pass, Olandis Gary, and the like. Boring, up-the-middle, unimpressive, one-dimensional runners. What Caleb King did on national TV this fall showed that he can only run if someone makes a hole for him. That doesn’t make him terrible, but it doesn’t make him a superstar.

      I feel like the only one to say this, but I thought — even with the few carries he had — Kalvin Daniels was impressive, especially with how fast he hit the hole. I’m looking forward to him getting a few carries this year.


      • Gatch

        Is Carlton Thomas too small to be a legit candidate for a starting spot? He’s explosive, tough, quick, shifty, etc. He doesn’t have too much speed, but can make people miss and has great vision.

        He looks a lot like Jacquizz Rodgers back at Oregon State, but more elusive.


        • I don’t want to read too much into what I saw at G-Day, but I’m more concerned about Thomas’ strength than I am about his size. I saw him get knocked off his feet too often to think he’s a valid between-the-tackles runner right now.


  10. Billy Barou

    Sure we’ve got a lot of question marks but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Last year we didn’t have so many question marks, and where’d that get us? I’m not expecting us to go 14-0 (stranger things have happened I guess) but I’m personally excited about seeing what some of the younger guys can do…Boykin, Marlon Brown, Branden Smith, Houston, Williams and/or Dowtin, Charles, Aron White, etc…even some of the younger guys who aren’t possible starters…AJ Harmon, DeAngelo Tyson, Quinton Banks, Baccari Rambo.

    We’ve got a lot of talent. Question marks don’t scare me. Injuries and suspensions do.


  11. Anon

    we are going to murder the Pokes. Write it down and don’t forget it.


  12. dean

    What I’m concerned with on the offensive line is how “true to form” will the linemen be returning from injury? We’ll have to wait and see.

    Who was the TE that caught a couple of passes in the G-Day game? He looked decent. Maybe he could fill the void long enough for Lynch and Charles to get their feet wet.

    Logan Gray is the more talented QB out of the two but Joe has a much more knowledge of the system and not to mention a rapport with the receivers. I still think, and hope, we’ll see a good bit of LG this season.

    The problem with the running backs, as I understand it, is not their speed or tackle breaking ability but their blocking or lack there of. And I guess a lack of experience is hindering them as well. Still, I think C. King will be the starter in Stillwater by default but we’ll see plenty of C. Thomas as well.

    Should be an interesting season to say the least.


  13. John

    Richard Samuel should be a line backer. Who would get around the edge with curran and samuels at line backer?


  14. dawglover70

    This could be a very long season unless Mark Richt knows something we don’t.The schedule along with UF returning everyone other than Harvin,they didn’t even need him in the SEC championship and would have won the NC without him also.I guess 28- 1/4 years of Munson’s doom & gloom have rubbed off on me.