The science of preseason prognostication – the meme goes on.

College Football News lays out its top 30 teams at this pre-spring vantage point.  Here’s some of what it has to say about #1 Alabama:

… Oh yeah … the offense. The backfield is jaw-dropping with a Heisman-winner (Mark Ingram) along a guy (Trent Richardson) who might be a starter in the NFL right now. Throw in top-five pro prospect WR Julio Jones and three starters on the O line, and the offense will be tremendous.

Now compare that to these comments about #20 Georgia.

… There are still big questions about an underachieving group of running backs… There’s speed and athleticism across the board, and WR A.J. Green, C Ben Jones, and DE Justin Houston bring some playmakers to build around…

Let’s skip past the idea that a center is a playmaker on offense.  And the point here isn’t to say that ‘Bama isn’t deserving of a lofty rating or that Georgia is – it’s simply to ask that the pesky details be presented in a consistent manner.

Breaking some of this down:

  1. Alabama’s “jaw-dropping” backfield vs. Georgia’s “underachieving group of running backs”. There’s no question that ‘Bama’s seasonal rushing numbers are the better of the two by a significant amount, but the analysis glosses over the fact that by mid-season, the Dawgs had totally revamped their rotation at running back.  Alabama’s rushing numbers in November (169 attempts; 814 yards; 4.82 ypc; 7 TDs) aren’t better than Georgia’s for the same month (165 attempts; 1008 yards; 6.11 ypc; 8 TDs).  Indeed, if you look at the running backs returning for conference play in 2010, it’s a fair statement to make that Alabama and Georgia return the two best tandems at tailback.
  2. “Top-five pro prospect” Julio Jones vs. “playmaker” A.J. Green. Do I really need to go there?  Okay, I will.  Despite playing in three less games, Green caught more passes for more yards (at more than a yard and a half per catch better clip) and scored more touchdowns than his Tide counterpart.  No knock on Jones, who’s an awesome talent, but, c’mon, guys.
  3. Offensive line starters. Alabama brings back three.  Georgia brings back five.  Alabama’s line finished tied for fourth in the conference in sacks allowed, with 15.  Georgia’s line finished tied for first, with 12.

Again, the point here isn’t to diminish what Alabama brings to the table on offense next season.  But if you’re going to indulge in a nod to synergy to justify broad qualitative differences between it and Georgia, how about at least letting us in on why that’s the case.

And before you point to the 2010 quarterback situation – certainly a valid distinction between the two schools – note that there wasn’t much difference between McElroy’s and Cox’ passer ratings last year, as they finished fourth and fifth in the conference.  Is there going to be enough of a differential between McElroy and Georgia’s eventual starter to validate the perceived gap in overall offensive performance?

58 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles, Stats Geek!

58 responses to “The science of preseason prognostication – the meme goes on.

  1. hailtogeorgia

    I’m with you completely on this one, Senator. Granted, our defense will have to improve (which I believe it will), but I don’t understand the knocks on the offensive side of the ball. The writer states that Logan Gray (doubt it) or Aaron Murray (more likely) will have to be great, not good…but why? Georgia will have two very good running backs, two solid fullbacks, four scholarship tight ends (including two traditional TEs and two hybrids), arguably the best WR in the SEC with several other serviceable guys behind him, and an offensive line who all return and allowed the fewest sacks in the SEC last year. It would seem to me that with this spectacular of a supporting cast on offense, the starting QB (regardless of who it might be) will be able to progress slowly but surely and not have to be a gamechanger.

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  2. Hogbody Spradlin

    They gotta fit the narrative. Remembert the beginning of 2008 when we walked on water.

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  3. Scott

    I like CFN(collegefootballnews) and have been reading it for years, but I’d expect them to bag on UGA a ton this year. Last year Fiutak(one of their lead writers and I believe the editor) picked UGA as one of his teams to surprise people with a good season and apparently he doesn’t like being wrong b/c he spent pretty much the rest of the season taking shots at UGA whenever possible…I’d expect more of the same this year.

    It IS pretty amusing how subjective those two blurbs were..I really am amazed every year at how sheeplike college football writers are…once the Mandels and Maisels of the world get together and decide who they are going hype for a given year, most of them seem to all copy each others’ opinions on teams…this is how the Clemson effect comes about..ie..a team that had a decent bowl game and is full of underachieving talent and/or coaches…gets hype as a team to watch for next season from one writer and the next thing you know they ALL are on the bandwagon…as happened with Clemson seemingly every year under Tommy Bowden.

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  4. Bulldog Bry

    Did you catch Tech’s blurb? How come Nesbitt doesn’t have to be ‘great, not good’? I seem to recall their offense losing some to the draft.

    Mandel was right. Perception is everything. Even if it’s wrong.

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  5. DavetheDawg

    I sincerely hope all of our opponents use this as their scouting report.

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  6. RusDawg

    Ok. I get that Florida has a great head coach and recruits like a fat kid eats cake. But with all they lost this offseason (including coaches)….#2…..really?

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  7. B Scott

    What was the SOS for Bama and UGA in November? Run defense ranks for those opponents?

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  8. Ivor, the Engine Driver

    Pre-season ratings are sort of the opposite of the stock market disclaimers in that they consider past performance as THE key indicator of future results.

    This top 15 is (as usual) littered with teams that either won BCS or fairly large bowls LAST season.

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  9. Joe

    Senator,
    As always great points. Lets face it if you don’t meet these writers expectations, you must suck. So consequently don’t let facts get in the way of a good story. The thing is these same writers rarely admit they got it wrong, hence the reason the writers poll usually comes up with head scratchers.

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    • OnTap

      “if you don’t meet these writers expectations, you must suck. ”

      Joe, the good thing is, we get the flip side of that this year. I really don’t give a flip what the media types think, especially at this time of year, but it amazes me how many of the message board messiahs, who think they know everything have jumped off the CMR bandwagon after one “off” year.

      Didn’t these guys see who the guys were that were making plays last year? They were all Frosh and Sophs. Those guys are only going to improve.

      Phil Steele always does a good job of looking at turnaround stats. When a team has as bad a TO Ratio as we did last year….it almost always has a laser beam like focus and turns it around to an extent. Well, we’ve had it for the last two years. I expect it to turn this year.

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  10. HamDawg11

    I wouldn’t lose too much sleep on UGA getting craptastic previews for ’10. Nobody’s gonna step out on a limb for us until they know what Grantham’s defense looks like.

    Personally, I’m perfectly OK with that. You want your guys hearing, “They can’t get it done” “Georgia doesn’t have the horses to compete”, etc. You want hungry players who want to prove themselves every week. Plus, what do we have to argue about? We struggled in almost every phase of the game last year at some point. Won some we coulda lost, lost some we coulda won. Let’s correct the turnover problem on both sides of the ball and we’ll see a difference in the W column.

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  11. 69Dawg

    This seems to be setting up well for Richt. He always seems to over perform when everybody’s down on us. Only problem is he and the team take a header when picked to achieve. These prognosticators get tired of picking teams that make them look bad. Better to down play a team that might be better than to make one all world that will let you down. UGA has historically done this.

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  12. bort

    Pete Fiutak is a giant d-bag.

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  13. Todd

    The biggest factor in the two offenses is in the press box/on the sideline(wherever Bobo winds up this year).

    Bama has an identity.

    Our offenses are very similar, as we are two of the only schools left that still run an NFL-style offense.

    However, McElwain knows that “balance” means running and throwing when you want to, while Bobo still oftentimes throws sh*t at the wall and hopes it sticks, calling that “balance.”

    Over the last month of the season, we established an identity, or rather re-established what our identity had been in Richt’s most successful seasons. Hopefully, Bobo learned the lessons of November and will go into next season willing to run the ball 65% of the time and let Murray have 12-18 chances to throw the ball.

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  14. brad

    I can handle them trashing the Dawgs to a certain extent. Being ranked pre-season #1 and wetting the bed was brutal and killed our national profile. We need to take all the negativity of the past few years and shove it down their throats.

    Where I really get steamed is the AJ vs. JJ thing. I have a tremendous amount of respect for AJ. To me, he is one of those “if the coaches and players gave the effort he did” kind of guys you want on your team. He goes about his work in a quiet manner. He has put up some of the most solid numbers at WR in UGA history and played hurt. JJ was non-existent last year. As the Senator noted in his post, check out the numbers of the two. Good grief.

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    • The “AJ vs. JJ thing” was fabricated by the Senator. It doesn’t appear in the article. As for the playing hurt part, you have to give JJ credit for that as well. He played over half the season with the exact same injury that caused AJ to miss three games.

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      • I’m not comparing the two players. I’m comparing CFN’s evaluation of the two players. If you think that calling one a top-five NFL talent and mentioning the other in the same breath as the team’s center is a pretty even analysis, so be it.

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        • You’re asking for a comparison here. You’re asking for AJ Green to be praised equally with Julio Jones in an article that isn’t actually about either one. Both are listed with other players from their teams as reasons why their teams will achieve the relative success CFN predicts. CFN happens to believe that UGA’s center will be a positive for UGA enough that they believe that they can recognize him in the part of the article that is about his school. I’m just failing to see a reason for offense.

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          • Crimson-colored glasses, tidefan. There is virtually no doubt that Green was better than Jones on the field last year, but no one would get that from the respective analyses. It doesn’t take a course in rhetoric to get that.

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            • Analyses? What analyses? The article spends less than a sentence on each in a discussion of the teams. I would wager Georgia fans are the only ones who even read that and thought it would be appropriate to scroll all the way back up past discussion of 18 other teams to take offense to two adjectives. The article is not about the comparative merits of each player. Not even a little bit.

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  15. I am still confident that our offense will be awesome in 2010. As long as CMR, who knows a little about coaching QB’s, play calling, and being an OC, states that CMB is doing a good job, I will have to agree with CMR and believe the Bobo Bashers are wrong. Actually I know that they are wrong without any input from CMR. GO DAWGS.

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  16. By saying Jones is top five, does that implicitly state that AJ is not? Last time I checked, being a playmaker is actually a pretty high compliment. Are Dawgs fans actually getting worked up because a staff writer chose to vary his adjectives?

    It apparently needs to be said: CFN is not directly comparing Alabama and UGA here, the Senator is. UGA’s running backs did underachieve and that has nothing at all to do with the “jaw-dropping” performance of Alabama’s RB corp. In fact, the Senator makes the case for that himself when he states that mid-season UGA revamped the rotation. If the staff really felt like they were getting the best they could out of their RBs, why the shuffle? If you insist that a comment about the Dawgs nineteen reviews after Alabama’s implies that Georgia doesn’t have the stability at tailback that the Tide does, well, here’s a hint: Trent Richardson isn’t moving to defense.

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    • I think we’re talking past one another a bit here, tf. If you’re making the point about why ‘Bama had a far more successful year than did Georgia in 2009, seeing the running backs being underachievers is certainly relevant.

      But what does that have to do with Georgia’s 2010 prospects on offense? Samuel moving to defense means little in that context – Ealey and King are the established backs going in to next year.

      Once Georgia sorted out its personnel, it’s hard to see how those two underachieved over the second half of ’09.

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      • I’m making the point that Alabama’s RBs and UGA’s are unrelated, especially in terms of why Alabama had a more successful season. CFN is not saying UGA’s RB’s underachieved in terms of Alabama’s performance. Underachieving shouldn’t even be the point of contention.
        Last year’s “underachievement” is only relevant for the fact that it’s prefaced with “there are still big questions about…” If you wish to argue that those questions were answered in the second half of the season, then that’s a fair point. Then again, I don’t know who accounted for the fumbles, but UGA put the ball on the turf 20% more last year than in 2008, and three of the 11 lost fumbles were the last two games of the regular season. If that’s on the running backs (and I ask because I don’t know who fumbled), I would say that’s the big question.

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        • No, CFN isn’t making a direct comparison, but can’t I question where it’s coming up with an underachieving label for the guys who will carry the ball in ’10? If CFN is using ‘Bama’s backs as some sort of benchmark – and I think “tremendous’ qualifies – I don’t see how it’s unreasonable to measure the two groups to see if the label is justified.

          As for the fumbles, King coughed the ball up in the Tech game. In the Kentucky game, Branden Smith fumbled the second half kickoff and Cox and Ealey mismanaged a toss that wound up on the ground. Hardly the stuff that big questions are made of, especially considering that there were eight fumbles in the first six games and three in the final seven…

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          • If you’re setting the Alabama running game as your benchmark, then let’s face it: the universe underachieved. [/nationalchampionshiphumor]

            Still, if you’re basing it on what they did in the last month, again, you’re not factoring in all the important details, like the fact that the Auburn team UGA faced was playing it’s eleventh consecutive game, whereas when Alabama faced them they were coming off a bye and the Tide was playing on a short week with the championship to play in seven days. Or that Alabama faced better rush defenses over that same time (every non-common 1-A opponent the Tide played was ranked higher than the same UGA list).

            But again, the issue is with the “big questions.” Another could be that the only RB with a demonstrated ability to play a full season is now on defense.

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            • Ah, but I’m not the one referring to the ‘Bama offense as “tremendous”. That would be CFN.

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              • Hogbody Spradlin

                Leave it alone Blutarsky. Tidefan just has to be right on this one and he’s gonna shift the discussion till he can.

                You made a valid point. When the columnist calls Julio Jones ‘top 5’ then calls A.J. Green a ‘playmaker’, he gives the back of the hand to the better player to fit his drama.

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  17. RopeDawg

    Tide Fan – Trent Richardson was actually carrying the ball at the end of last season. Richard Samuel basically didn’t see the field for the second half of the season outside of special teams kick coverage.

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  18. RopeDawg: I understand why he’s making the move. The point is that if he had lived up to expectations, he would be a running back now. Keep in mind, he started the season as not only the backup to Caleb King, but someone who many Georgia fans felt would overtake the top spot. That Ealey finished the year as the leader speaks equally for King and Samuel’s performance as it does for Ealey’s success.

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    • The Realist

      Actually, Samuel began the year as the starter. After Ealey & Caleb battled through injuries, they each overtook Samuel later in the year and proved very productive. Samuel, seeing his playing time dwindle, moved to linebacker.

      The returning backs (Ealey & King) were hardly underachieving last year.

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      • I mention it below, but I’ll put it here, too. It doesn’t say one back or the other underachieved. It refers to the unit as a whole. Granted, the whole thing is subjective, but it’s hard to characterize a unit whose starter remains healthy yet falls so far down the depth chart as to change sides of the ball altogether as a good sign.

        I will make this argument against calling it underachievement, though: If Moreno was the benchmark for what UGA rushing was supposed to be, this group exceeded that mark in terms of average across the year.

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    • Silver Creek Dawg

      TF,

      I feel compelled to point out that many UGA fans (myself included) think Samuel should have NEVER been a RB at Georgia. He was an all-stater at LB and most of us think he can be an all-SEC caliber LB. He was MUCH better on film as a LB and I would venture to say that most of us feel he wasted 2 years at RB (I personally think he was used there because of depth issues).

      Also, he is very young (a 19 yr old junior). A redshirt year to get used to the 3-4 we are installing is not necessarily a bad thing, IMO.

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      • I can appreciate that. We have players in similar positions (excuse the pun). But the thing is, he was a running back because the coaches believed he could be successful there, and that didn’t work out.

        Based on the many responses to my many comments, I feel like I need to state that I actually think UGA is going to be successful this coming season, and at this point I feel like the Dawgs should be the favorite to win the East (I reserve the right to change that opinion after I’ve really taken a look at the Vanderbilt punting situation). I simply disagree with the premise of this post.

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  19. Normaltown Mike

    Senator:
    With all due respect Sir, are the sack numbers a fair area of comparison?

    Bama was operating with a mere mortal in the backfield (though many a Texan would disagree with calling a child of the lone star state a mortal), while Georgia had a frickin Ninja taking snaps. Our guy could disappear if he found himself in harm’s way. Or somersault off of Ben Jones helmet whilst slaying LB’s with Chinese Throwing Stars. The Ginger Ninja.

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  20. RopeDawg

    Right, but my point is that at the beginning of last season, Caleb King was injured and Ealey was new on campus. Neither one of those two guys were factors in the running game until midway into the season. You’re absolutely right, the shakeup came because UGA wasn’t getting adequate production from the RB position. Towards the end of the year though, Ealey emerged and King got healthy. Once that happened, the running game came along. No one’s arguing that King and Ealey are on the same level as Richardson and Ingram at this point. But, I also wouldn’t call it an “Underachieving group of RB’s” as the article states… Seems like things solidified once the coaching staff figured out Ealey was one of the top two backs, and King got healthy. I’m not arguing with you… just with the tone of the article.

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    • To be honest, I don’t have a problem with disagreeing with statements made about one team or the other. I just take issue with disagreeing with this article in terms of a comparison of the two. I guarantee I don’t know UGA football as well as you do.

      Plus I think the “AJ vs. JJ” thing is just silly. AJ Green definitely had a better year than JJ did, both in terms of stats and just subjective review of his performance. Why it’s so important to declare that both a chip on the shoulder and some sort of victory is beyond me. Alabama and Georgia didn’t even play against each other this year — and we all know JJ won the matchup last year 😉

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  21. RopeDawg

    I would also argue that the only disappointing things about King last season, was his injury in preseason, and the broken jaw against LSU. Neither of which are his fault IMO…

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    • Ah, but the article doesn’t say that King disappointed. It says the unit as a whole underachieved.

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      • RopeDawg

        Again, that’s my whole point. Ealey was hardly a disappointment, and King played quite well later in the season once he got healthy. That leaves RS. I agree that he was disappointing last season, but should that reflect on the whole group? I would argue no, and I think the numbers from the second half of the season would agree.

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      • Hackerdog

        For UGA, Ealey averaged 5.7 ypc and King averaged 5.2 ypc. For UA, Ingram averaged 6.1 ypc and Richardson averaged 5.2 ypc.

        Looking at those numbers, I wouldn’t call either group underachievers.

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      • No, it says there are questions about an underachieving group of running backs. Present tense. You’re illustrating my point.

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  22. The entire offense did not live up to expectations, particularly the OL. However, the Offense did get better as the season progessed. Now I expect that improvement to continue building in 2010.

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  23. Loyyed

    It’s very simple

    Nick Saban v. Mark Richt

    One coach wins NC’s, the other can’t beat his teams biggest rival

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    • Isn’t Ga Tech your biggest rival? And hasn’t he only lost to them once?

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      • No.
        (Exactly why not.)

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        • I’m not sure I’m following you. Are you saying Tech isn’t the biggest rival because of his success against them? As someone who isn’t a Georgia fan, I won’t speak for the importance of your rivalries, but I’ve always been given the impression by my Dawg friends that Florida is at best 3rd behind Tech and Auburn. Again, I’m not telling you who your rivals are, this is just the first time I’ve heard Florida as the primary.

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  24. Looking at the QB’s that the Dawgs have, It Is obvious that CMR is not going anywhere for at least 4 years (neither is CMB). Leave it alone and support the program or get off of the bus. To tidefan: I am a lifelong “gator hater” not Tech.

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  25. Greg

    Tidefan, quit trying to analyze UGA’s runningback situation because you clearly have no idea what you’re talking about. You act as if Samuel was supposed to be the next Knowshon and it’s some kind of catastrophe for UGA that he didn’t pan out and was moved to linebacker. He was a 5 star player coming out of HS and there was always debate as to whether he would play offense or defense. As it turns out, he ran high and wasn’t very elusive or instinctive as a RB so most educated UGA fans anticipated this move to LB and it became obvious as soon as the other two guys started to emerge. King was a Soph(who played sparingly behind Moreno as a FR) and Ealey was a true FR(who didn’t even play until mid-year) – these guys are going to do nothing but continue to get better with more game experience and we have 4 star guys in Carlton Thomas, Dontavious Jackson and Ken Malcome behind those two guys. Our RB’s are in great shape and they did not come remotely close to underachieving over the 2nd half of the season after the RB rotation had been set.

    Your comparison of our game vs Auburn to your game vs Auburn is laughable. I’m sorry that you don’t like the fact that they came closer to beating the mighty Tide than they did to beating us, but they wanted the UGA game BADLY considering they have now lost to us 4 straight times.

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    • So what you’re saying is that Samuel underachieved?

      As far as me mentioning the differences in Auburn, I do so as a counter to the Senator’s argument that CFN ignored certain details when making their assessment. You can paint it with ad hominem attacks, but the truth is, when your team goes 14-0 and wins a title, you don’t really find yourself wishing it had done things the way another team did.

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      • fetch

        @tidefan. I think your missing the point that they didn’t say that our RB’s underachieved last year, they say ‘they are underachieving’. Present tense. As Samuel isn’t even a RB anymore, I don’t see what his numbers or prowess at the position has to do with the argument.

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  26. I enjoyed the discussion fellas, but I’ll never get any work done if I keep at this. Good luck next season. I sincerely hope the Tide gets a chance to play you next year. Roll Tide!

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  27. Mike

    Perhaps the difference is that Bama brings back most of the offensive talent that produced an undefeated record compared to UGA that brings back a lot of theoffensive talent that produced an appearance in a bowl in Louisiana.

    This year we shall see if Bama’s results were due to primary offense or defense. Like Florida in 2007, the defending National Champs lose 9 of 11 starters on defense.

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    • Mike, I think you illustrate the mindset behind the CFN piece perfectly. Georgia brings back more of its offensive starters from 2009 than does Alabama. Georgia’s conference scoring average in 2009 was higher than Alabama’s.

      If you want to look at how Georgia and Alabama wound up last season at very different destinations, the places to check would be defense and turnover margin.

      Again, my point isn’t that ‘Bama’s offense won’t be very good in 2010, or that Georgia’s will be better. It’s that CFN took a lazy approach in its descriptions of the two programs and didn’t bother to do even the modest amount of statistical digging that a blogger could do in less than an hour.

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