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College Football Preview: What Sort of Year Will Georgia Have in 2012?

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Georgia finished the regular season last year with 10 wins and the oddsmakers believe the Bulldogs will repeat  that win total by setting UGA’s 2012 college football win totals at over 10 (+145) and under 10 (-185).

Helping us preview and project Georgia’s 2012 season win totals is our friend Kevin over at College Football Zealots. If are looking for some good college football team previews, go check out their site. They have nearly 100 previews available on the site right now with more to follow over the next several weeks.

Nasty Defensive Front Seven

Georgia’s strength this season is their defensive front seven. The Bulldogs have two NFL caliber nose tackles (Kwame Geathers and John Jenkins) and they have quality depth at defensive end.

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At DE they have bulked up and moved Cornelius Washington and Ray Drew from OLB and they both flat out can get after the QB. They will add those two to Abry Jones and Garrison Smith. Smith was very impressive in a back-up role last year and is on the verge of being a break-out/impact player.

At LB Georgia has a lot more depth this year and they also have the athletes to fit Todd Grantham’s system. Last year they didn’t have the depth at this position early in the season and you saw that against  Boise State. After Alec Ogletree went down in that game with an injury, Georgia had to replace him with a walk-on and true freshman who wasn’t quite ready to play. With Ogletree the Boise offense basically did nothing. Without him the floodgates opened.

This year the inside backers have depth with Christian Robinson, Michael Gilliard, Ogletree (who will be serving a suspension to start the year) and Amarlo Herrera (the aforementioned freshman who grew a tremendous amount throughout the year).

On the outside is a guy named Jarvis Jones who you might have heard of. Opposite him, Georgia has the ability to still use Washington or Drew, they also have a couple of true freshman that will get playing time in Jordan Jenkins and Josh Harvey-Clemons and then they have some other players like TJ Stripling, Reuben Faloughi, Ramik Wilson and Chase Vasser who will be competing for playing time at that position.

Depth and Talent at Receiver

Another area Georgia is stacked at is wide receiver. Because of their depth they have been able to cross train Malcolm Mitchell at corner. Georgia returns eight receivers that had receptions last year and five players that had two or more TDs. They also add speedster Justin Scott-Wesley who red-shirted last year and Rantavious Wooten (who also red-shirted last year due to injury) to the mix.

Concerns on the OL

Georgia’s big weakness on offense is the offensive line. Former offensive line coach Stacy Searles left Georgia high and dry when he tucked tail and ran off to Texas. Will Friend has been re-building the OL the last year or so and he’s also switched schemes.

This years OL will lose three starters but only two of them were actually good (and one of those was playing out of position). I expect Georgia to be better this year at the guard positions (due to experience) and at right tackle (because Justin Anderson won’t be playing that position this year).

The big question marks will be replacing Ben Jones at center and Cordy Glenn at left tackle (although it was Glenn’s only year at LT and it took him a while to get used to the position).

Thin secondary to begin the season

The Georgia secondary, when healthy and not suspended, is one of the best starting groups in the nation. A number of guys have transferred out because they simply knew they weren’t good enough to beat out the current group of starters and get on the field.

Unfortunately with the pending suspensions to Bacarri Rambo, Sanders Comings and Branden Smith, Georgia will be very thin for the first two games of the season.

Georgia will rely a lot on sophomores Corey Moore, Damian Swann and Malcolm Mitchell early in the year. They were big-time recruits but haven’t seen a ton of time or action on defense in SEC play. Their biggest test will come at Missouri and the front seven really needs to help them out by dominating the line of scrimmage.

Schedule Analysis

Georgia will most likely be favored in at least 11 of their 12 regular season games this year (@ South Carolina is the only game where I can see Georgia being a small underdog). However, it is the SEC so the Bulldogs play a ton of rivalry games (Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida, Auburn, Georgia Tech).

5Dimes currently has spreads on 6 Georgia games:

@ Missouri -4.5 (63%)
TENNESSEE -12  (82%)
@ South Carolina -2  (53%)
vs Florida (Jacksonville) -3.5  (60%)
@ Auburn -5 (64%)
GEORGIA TECH -11.5 (81%)

I would rank Florida and South Carolina as the two teams that Georgia is most likely to lose to this season. Missouri, Tennessee, Auburn and Georgia Tech will be difficult games, but Georgia should beat all four teams.

Georgia’s 2012 College Football Win Totals

A couple of more things. Georgia loses Orson Charles so they lose a dynamic offensive weapon but honestly Mike Bobo never really used him to his full capabilities. Georgia will replace him with two more prototypical TEs and I think that will help out the run game and with pass protection.

Despite the loss of Crowell, Georgia is deeper at RB than last year. Last year they started Richard Samuel (he had just switched over from LB in the off-season) and his primary back-up was diminutive Carlton Thomas and true freshman Isaiah Crowell.

This year they have Boo Malcolme set as the probable starter (he came on towards the end of last year and is a RS Soph) with Samuel backing up and two freshman waiting in the wings in Keith Marshall (early enrollee) and Todd Gurley.

As good as Crowell’s stats were, he really didn’t have an impact for Georgia at the end of the schedule so it will be interesting to see how Marshall and Gurley are used.

Georgia also has a buffer game this year in Buffalo. Last year they started with Boise but this year they have a chance to get a lot of young guys some game time before they play Missouri and I think that will be huge.

Also, after Missouri they have FAU so that’s yet another game to get young guys playing time. The schedule works out nicely for Georgia in that respect, as does having South Carolina later in the season when Georgia should be a full strength.

I don’t know that Georgia has closed the gap enough between themselves and LSU and Alabama to say that they are a NC caliber team, but it is tough to see the Bulldogs not winning at least 10 games in the regular season. How many games do you think the Georgia will win this year? Thanks – Pez.

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Get more great college football analysis over at Saturday Edge.