Between now and the September 2nd season kick-off, Danny Hobrock will be previewing all the major college football teams with new teams being released daily.
2009 Season Breakdown
2009 final record (overall, conference): 8-5, 4-4
Bowl Game:Independence Bowl (W 44-20 vs. Texas A&M)
Final Ranking (AP, Coaches'):NR, NR
Conference finish:2nd SEC East
Offensive rank: 75
Defensive rank: 38
2009 Individual Statistical Leaders
Rushing:Washaun Ealey, 717 yards, 3 TD; Caleb King, 594 yards, 7 TD
Passing: Joe Cox, 2,584 yards, 24 TD, 15 INT
Receiving:A.J. Green, 808 yards, 6 TD
Tackles:Rennie Curran, 130 total tackles
Sacks:Justin Houston, 7.5 sacks (6 solo, 3 assisted)
Interceptions:Interceptions: Reshad Jones, 4 interceptions
2010 Season Outlook
(* denotes conference game)
October 30 vs. Florida: Plain and simple: win this one and they're East champs with a shot at the SEC title. Losing five of the last six matchups against the Gators doesn't bode well, but with Florida losing plenty of talent to the NFL and Georgia returning talent where it counts, this should be a good opportunity for the Bulldogs to turn their luck around in the annual Jacksonville matchup.
The rest of the SEC schedule: Of course, if they want to be in a position to win the East with a victory over the Gators, they'll have to take care of business against the rest of the conference. They luck out tremendously getting a relatively soft SEC schedule in a year Alabama and Florida have a few unproven question marks. The toughest road game is against Auburn, with South Carolina, Mississippi State and Kentucky also on the road. Tennessee comes to Athens, as does Vandy and Arkansas, and as mentioned above, the Florida game is at a neutral site.
Joe Cox, QB; Geno Atkins, DT; Jeff Owens, DT; Rennie Curran, LB; Reshad Jones, S
Key Returning Players
Washaun Ealey, RB; A.J. Green, WR; Orson Charles, TE; Clint Boling, OT; Ben Jones, C; Justin Houston, LB; Brandon Boykin, CB; Blair Walsh, K; Drew Butler, P
Forget Washaun Ealey and A.J. Green for a moment. The offensive line could be tops in the nation…if they can avoid injuries. Clint Boling, at left tackle, is the leader of the bunch with Trinton Sturdivant battling injuries. If Sturdivant is ready to go and healthy, he could push Boling to another spot on the line, as he's versatile enough to play just about anywhere. Ben Jones was a second team All-SEC selection at center last year and returns as the man in the middle. At the other tackle spot will be Josh Davis, who fell into a nice groove after missing the first half of 2009 due to injury. Cordy Glenn and Chris Davis are the projected starting guards. There are a few players who are coming back from injury, so it might take a few games before the coaching staff can figure out where everybody fits.
Ok, so what kind of Georgia preview would this be if we didn't promptly move on to A.J. Green? The wide receiver is among the very best wide receivers, if not players, in the entire nation and if he decides to come out a year early is almost a lock to be taken in the first half of the first round of the NFL Draft. He'll be joined by Tavarres King, a sophomore who could be in for a nice season with all the attention that Green will demand. This is a deep receivers corps with Kris Durham, Rantavious Wooten and Israel Troupe also expected to be a part of the rotation. At tight end, Orson Charles can block well, but his real value comes in his ability to double as a bigger wide receiver. Aron White will join him in two tight end sets after starting 12 games last season with some success as a pass catcher.
Throwing the ball will be a redshirt freshman in Aaron Murray. He's got a nice arm and has tons of talent, but as a freshman coming into game action for the first time, there may be a few growing pains. He'll have a plethora of targets around him in the receiving game, not to mention a nice backfield behind him, which should soften his landing. Logan Gray is a junior who has waited his turn in the quarterback shuffle, but has yet to earn the job. If Murray struggles, the veteran could see the field this season. Hutson Mason sits behind him as a promising true freshman, although he could redshirt in 2010.
The running game will revolve around Washaun Ealey, who will benefit tremendously from one of the game's top offensive lines throwing blocks and opening holes for him. He was impressive as a freshman this season and could be due for his first collegiate 1,000 yard season as a sophomore. Caleb King should see his fair share of action in the running game as well, especially if he can get on a roll. Paving the way, and likely to carry the rock himself once in a while, is fullback Shaun Chapas, a senior who looked good as a lead blocker a year ago.
The defense switches to a 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, which means some position changes are in order. Namely, Justin Houston will move from defensive end to outside linebacker. Houston is the Bulldogs' top pass rusher and one of the best in the conference. Cornelius Washington makes the same move to outside linebacker from defensive end and should do well with teams paying extra attention to stopping Houston. Akeem Dent will be the main man at one of the inside linebacker spots after returning late last season to make 32 tackles in the final four games coming off a hamstring issue. He'll initially be sidelined for six weeks with a toe injury, however. Mike Gilliard could replace him in the starting lineup in his absence. Christian Robinson is expected to get the nod alongside Dent/Gilliard on the interior with Darryl Gamble, a starter in 11 games last season, providing depth throughout the linebackers corps.
The front three will be big with Demarcus Dobbs the smallest of the bunch at 6'2, 274 pounds. Joining Dobbs at the other end spot will be Abry Jones at 6'3, 290 pounds. De'Angelo Tyson will man the nose at 6'2, 294 pounds. He'll be the anchor of the unit who should be able to eat up a couple of blockers. Behind him will be a couple of massive reserves in Justin Anderson and Kwame Geathers, each of whom tips the scale at over 325 pounds. The switch to the three man line is expected to fit the skill sets of this line's personnel quite well and could result in more production throughout the defense.
The pass protection was decent at best a year ago. Ten interceptions were nothing to write home about and with just one returning starter, this is a unit with plenty of question marks. The lone returning starter is cornerback Brandon Boykin, who will be relied upon to be the lock-down corner of the bunch. Vance Cuff will get his shot at the starting lineup in his senior season playing opposite Boykin. Sanders Commings is expected to play the nickel back position. Nick Williams takes over at strong safety, moving over from linebacker. Bacarri Rambo takes over the free safety spot with enough talent to finish statistically among the top defenders on the team.
Special Teams Overview
Both returning kickers are excellent. Punter Drew Butler won the Ray Guy Award last year with a 48.1 yard average and 19 punts inside the 20 yard line. Kicker Blair Walsh was a Lou Groza Award finalist on a season in which he hit 20 of his 22 field goal attempts (4 for 5 beyond 50 yards) and all 42 of his extra points. Brandon Boykin should see plenty of time as a kick returner after averaging 26.0 yards per return and taking three back for scores in 2009. He could also see time as the punt returner, although a number of others could see time as well.
Head Coach: Mark Richt
Despite going nine for nine in eight or more win seasons and posting a 7-2 bowl record, Mark Richt finds himself on the hot seat in Athens entering the season. Chalk it up to last season's mediocre (for Georgia) 8-5 season (4-4 in the SEC), as well as 2008's 'disappointing' 10-3 finish after starting the year ranked #1 in both the AP and Coaches' Polls. He's won two SEC titles with the Bulldogs (2002 and 2005), sending his teams to the Sugar Bowl, and was awarded an at-large bid to play in the Sugar Bowl in 2007 when Georgia tied Tennessee for the SEC East crown, but because they lost to the Volunteers earlier in the season did not play in the SEC title game.
In 2002, despite a 12-1 record, Richt's Bulldogs were not invited to play for the BCS National Championship, as Miami and Ohio State had gone undefeated. He's finished ranked in the top 10 of the AP and Coaches' Polls in five of his nine seasons, and in the top 25 of the AP Poll in eight, the lone exception being 2009. Before entering the world of collegiate coaching, Richt was a backup quarterback to Jim Kelly at Miami, although he did see plenty of starting action in 1982 when Kelly got hurt. He was a graduate assistant at Florida State beginning in 1985 and served as offensive coordinator at East Carolina in 1989. He then returned to FSU as a quarterbacks coach in 1990 and became offensive coordinator in 1994, a position he held until the 2000 season. He then took over as head coach at Georgia and the rest is history.
Top 2011 Draft Prospects
Shaun Chapas, FB; Clint Boling, OT; Josh Davis, OT; Vance Cuff, CB
2nd SEC East
While many are skeptical of Georgia in the coming season because of a disappointing 2009 campaign, they actually hold the best chance, and a decent one at that, of unseating the Gators atop the East throne. The schedule sure helps with no Alabama and no LSU from the West, Florida at a neutral site and Tennessee and Arkansas coming to Athens. If they can get by Florida on October 30 and then Auburn in their conference finale, they should be in a great position to dethrone Florida in the East. Don't discount the importance of the SEC opener against South Carolina in Columbia, though.
This is a team with plenty of talent, a relatively soft schedule and the opportunity to surprise a few people in the SEC with Alabama and Florida 'rebuilding', if you want to call it that. The opportunity is there. Now all the Bulldogs have to do is pull it all together, avoid injuries and play like they're capable of playing in the big games. - Danny Hobrock
Danny is a sports journalist primarily covering college football and professional baseball. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. Danny is the former editor of a political and current events website and the editor of our college football content.
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