The AJ-C lists five areas that will be attended to this spring:
- identify defensive backs
- establish tailback rotation
- determine offensive line starters
- shore up special teams
- solidify backup quarterback
Compared to last spring, that seems like a fairly benign list. If you recall a year ago, the Dawgs had serious questions at tailback, offensive line and wide receiver on offense and on the other side of the ball, at tackle, linebacker and safety. (Ironically, special teams was considered one of the safest areas on the team.)
Looking at the five items above, the first is a short-term issue exacerbated by Smith’s and Commings’ offseason problems, the second is more a matter of deciding how much playing time to allocate to a talented group of backs (and note this bit of news about Crowell) than finding out whether there’s enough ability at the position and the backup quarterback concern is about the same as it was before.
Special teams are a concern, no doubt, both because the recurring breakdowns we saw on the coverage teams and because two senior kickers are being replaced. The thing is, I’m having a hard time believing that things could be any worse than they were, especially as Richt seems focused on improvement in this area.
Offensive line, though… geez, talk about recurring. Last year, at least we had seniors manning the tackle positions and center. This year, things are much, much greener.
… No offensive lineman has started a full season’s worth of games, with Burnette and Gates sharing the team lead with 12 career starts apiece. That experience shortage has to be a bit scary for a team that will probably rank in the top 10 on most preseason polls.
Scary? Hells, yeah. What’s even scarier is that it’s likely that they won’t settle into a final rotation until August, when Theus shows up.
The best thing about Georgia’s schedule may be that there won’t be the same kind of early challenge to the offensive line that last year’s team faced. I’ll trade the defensive lines of Buffalo and Missouri (inexperienced and thin at defensive tackle) for those of Boise State and South Carolina all day long. Let’s just hope Coach Friend gets them to grow up in a hurry.