UF vs. UGA: In-depth look at Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia sprinted out of the starting gate – pounding Boise State and answering questions about quarterback D.J. Shockley’s abilities – and have won all of their games despite mounting injuries. Georgia’s win over Tennessee gives them a two game cushion in the SEC East, which might be needed if the Dawgs’ offense is unable to overcome D.J. Shockley’s sitting out the Florida contest.

Offensive Line

Several Bulldogs have been named SEC Offensive Linemen of the week in 2005 – the most recent coming this week when Miami native Max Jean-Gilles was given the award after his performance in Georgia’s 23-20 win over Arkansas.

The offensive line’s best performance came against Tennessee in the Bulldogs’ upset win in Knoxville. Georgia’s line eventually wore down the Vols, and the team ended the game by running the ball down the throats of the Vols’ defensive line. Georgia’s worst rushing effort of the season came against Arkansas last week. The Hogs stuffed the box with eight players, and blitzed most downs to stuff the Dawgs’ rushing attack.

Georgia managed less than 100 yards rushing for the first time this season against Arkansas, but still managed to win. The offensive line is coming off its two poorest performances of the season (Arkansas and Vanderbilt). To make matters worse, starting center Russ Tanner sat most of Monday’s practice out. He is expected to play against Florida, however.

Center

50 Russ Tanner 6-4 297 Sr. 3L Wrightsville

52 Ryan Schnetzer 6-3 278 Sr. 3L Newnan

Guards

70 Nick Jones 6-3 285 Jr. 2L Bowden

74 Max Jean-Gilles 6-4 340 Sr. SL Miami, FL

67 Chester Adams 6-4 335 So. 1L Luverne, AL

77 Zeb McKinzey 6-3 288 So. 1L Lilburn

Tackles

72 Daniel Inman 6-7 328 Jr. 2L Hope Mills, NC

66 Dennis Roland 6-9 309 Sr. 3L Bolivar, MO

79 Ken Shackleford 6-5 315 Jr. 2L Villa Rica

61 Michael Turner 6-4 294 Jr. 2L Snellville

Getting the running game going will be the key for Georgia on Saturday. The offensive line was steady in its play until the Vanderbilt and Arkansas games in the past two weeks. Before that the Dawgs were running up and down the field on everyone – including Tennessee.

This group has been together for three seasons now, and this game – like the contest against Tennessee – will determine their legacy as a group. There is little doubt that Joe Tereshinski, who is replacing an injured Shockley as the starting quarterback, needs as much time as possible to make his throws.

If Tanner is slowed by his injured Saturday, Schnetzer will take over, but you won’t be able to see much of a drop off. Schnetzer has rotated with Tanner for three seasons.

Injuries: Russ Tanner (knee-probable); D.J. Shockley (knee-out); Martrez Milner (shoulder-probable)

Analysis: Georgia had better figure out a way to run the ball – they will be in trouble otherwise. The Bulldogs’ offensive line needs to step up against the Gators. It’s the team’s most difficult game every season, and while they have been able to run the ball on Florida recently, it’s even more important to get the run game going Saturday.

Receivers

Georgia’s receivers are young and inexperienced, and have provided few big plays this season. The longest pass of the season went to a tight end during mop up duty in the Boise State game. It seems the Dawgs’ receivers are capable of making huge plays – particularly true freshman Mohamed Massaquoi – but they have yet to make a game-changing one.

Sean Bailey and Bryan McClendon have the most experience, and both have had big days, but neither has had a two-touchdown performance in a game that was not a blowout. Kenneth Harris and Massaquoi are on the verge of becoming big-time players, but both have yet to explode on a team. Massaquoi is the best pure receiver on the team and will be All-SEC in a season’s time.

Part of the receivers’ production issue is that as individuals they don’t blow your doors off, and Shockley passed the ball around a lot before he was injured. Collectively however, the receivers have been a steady offensive force for the Bulldogs’ offense.

Georgia certainly has the best pair of tight ends in the SEC. Leonard Pope is the headliner, but Martrez Milner has had a huge year. Pope burned Florida last season for two touchdowns. That game seemed to awake him from a sophomore slumber. Pope has not had as big a year as some might have wished, but he’s still the best target in the Dawgs’ passing arsenal. Milner is no longer an under-achieving backup to Pope. Milner had 111 yards against Boise State and has been critical in Georgia’s short-yard rushing game.

Tight End

81 Leonard Pope 6-7 250 Jr. 2L Americus

87 Martrez Milner 6-5 250 Jr. 2L Oakwood

Wide receivers

16 Bryan McClendon 5-11 184 Sr. 3L Atlanta

4 Sean Bailey 6-1 175 Jr. 2L Alpharetta

1 Mohamed Massaquoi 5-2 180 Fr. HS Charlotte, NC

88 Kenneth Harris 6-3 210 Fr. HS Cherryville, NC

Injuries: None

Analysis: Georgia’s receivers have been steady, but – with the exception of Massaquoi – unspectacular. The Bulldogs need to make some plays to loosen up Florida’s defense and to allow Tereshinski to get into the flow of the game. If the Bulldogs don’t loosen up the Gator defense, it’s going to be a long day for Georgia.

Pope and Milner are two players Tereshinski can count on for easy throws. Milner has stepped up this season, and it seems Pope is on the way to doing the same. If Pope has another breakout game, look for the Dawgs to win. Both will be needed at times, however, to make certain the running game is moving.

Backfield

Quarterback D.J. Shockley’s injury means that Georgia will be without their best player and their unquestioned team leader. Shockley remained as a backup for three seasons while David Greene, who will be at the game, ran up record numbers and led the team to glory. Now Shockley will be forced to sit once more – this time due to injury.

Joe Tereshinski is a capable backup. He’s smart and extremely tough, but he’s never started a game before. In fact, Georgia has not started a backup quarterback in five seasons. Now Tereshinski, whose entire family has Bulldog roots, will be under center for the most important game of the season. Tereshinski (13-23, 207, 1 INT) will need time and a running game to be able to get the win over Florida. Backups Blake Banes and Joe Cox have combined to throw one pass for six yards in their careers.

Georgia’s running backs are extremely deep. Thomas Brown is the starter at tailback, but Danny Ware and Kregg Lumpkin both get their fair shares of carries. No Bulldog running back has a run longer than 42 yards – there does not seem to be a big-play threat from Georgia’s backs. However, Brown and Ware have ten 100-yard games between them, seven of which have come against SEC foes. Ware rushed for 103 against Florida last season. Georgia’s backs are methodical and are not afraid to hit defenders trying to tackle them. The Dawgs try to control the clock and move the chains in what looks a lot like Vince Dooley’s teams from years gone by.

Fullback Brannon Southerland has talented ball skills and has excellent blocking prowess. Only a freshman, Southerland might be a four-year starter in Athens.

Quarterback

13 Joe Tereshinski 6-3 221 Jr. 2L Athens

15 Blake Banes 6-3 223 Fr. HS Baldwyn, MS

14 Joe Cox 6-1 195 Fr. HS Charlotte, NC

Running back

20 Thomas Brown 5-8 183 So. 1L Tucker

28 Danny Ware 6-1 216 So. 1L Rockmart

6 Kregg Lumpkin 6-1 211 So. 1L Stone Mountain

6 Tyson Browning 5-8 171 Sr. 3L Watkinsville

Injuries: None

Analysis: This is where all the concern is for the Dawgs. Tereshinski’s start would be difficult in Athens, but in Jacksonville with 42,000 Florida fans frothing at the mouth to knock out an undefeated Georgia team for the second time in four season, Tereshinski needs to stay clam. Brown, Ware, Lumpkin and Southerland can help him do so by providing the protection he needs, and by running the ball successfully.

Georgia Defensive Preview

The Bulldog defense has been a fixture of Mark Richt football in Athens. Many felt the departure of Brian VanGorder to the NFL would cripple the Dawgs’ defense, but that’s not been the case at all. In the last four seasons the Bulldogs have been ranked in the top nine in the country in scoring defense; Georgia is currently ranked fifth, allowing 13.7 yards per game. Georgia’s defense is its strength.

Defensive Line

Perhaps the lone weakness on the defensive side of the ball is the depth of the defensive line. Senior defensive tackle Kedric Golston will miss Saturday’s game with Florida, as will backup Dale Dixson, but the remainder of defensive linemen are back.

With Golston out, junior Ray Gant raised the bar for a big day against Arkansas. Gant has been struggling with injuries, too, but he’ll start opposite Gerald Anderson, who is returning from sitting out two games.

Anderson is a run-stopping machine, and the Bulldogs have missed him in their last two games. When Anderson has played this season, the Bulldogs have allowed only 88 rushing yards a game; without Anderson, the Bulldogs gave up an average 182 per contest.

Backups Darrius Swain and Florida native Jeffery Owens have put in lots of time due to rash of injuries at defensive tackle. Both are ready to play heavy amounts in Jacksonville.

Georgia may not have David Pollack any more, but Quentin Moses has done a fine job of taking his place. Moses has been a terror for offenses to handle. He recovered two fumbles against Boise State; forced a fumble that turned into a touchdown against Louisiana-Monroe; had two sacks against Mississippi State; had 2.5 tackles-for-loss against Tennessee; and had two more sacks against Vandy with five total tackles. If Moses is not enough, Charles Johnson is coming along, too. Johnson had two sacks against South Carolina – one which ended the game; scored a touchdown on a recovered fumble against Louisiana-Monroe; recorded a sack and fumble on the same play against Tennessee; and added a sack last week against Arkansas. When Johnson and Moses aren’t wreaking havoc, sixth-year Dawg Will Thompson is.

Tackles

92 Gerald Anderson 6-2 315 Sr. 3L Waycross

90 Ray Gant 6-2 277 Jr. 2L Chapel Hill, NC

98 Darrius Swain 6-2 330 Sr. 3L Decatur

95 Jeff Owens 6-3 280 Fr. HS Plantation, FL

Ends

94 Quentin Moses 6-5 248 Jr. 2L Athens

58 Will Thompson 6-3 254 Sr. 3L Warner Robins

99 Charles Johnson 6-2 264 So. 1L Hawkinsville

38 Marcus Howard 6-2 210 So. 1L. Hanahan, SC

Injuries: Gerald Anderson (concussion- probable); Dale Dixson (concussion-out); Kedric Golston (elbow-out).

Analysis: If this group performs the way it usually does when Anderson is playing, it will be difficult for Florida to run the ball. Deep on the interior is still a major concern for the Bulldogs. Georgia’s defensive ends are a machine; considering the problems Florida has had protecting Leak, look for Moses, Johnson and Thompson to be hungry to hit him.

Linebackers

Georgia’s linebackers are a versatile group, and that’s a good thing considering the injuries and losses they have deal with over the last 12 months. However, middle linebacker Tony Taylor returns for the Florida game after sitting out with an elbow injury. Brandon Miller’s left ankle is sprained, but he will likely play. Taylor’s return will move Jackson, who took Taylor’s place in the middle, back to his regular spot outside. If Miller can’t start because of his ankle, Danny Verdun Wheeler will move to that role on the strong side. He’s started the last two games on the weak side.

Georgia’s linebacker may be talented and versatile, but nearly all of them have missed some time in the last 15 games. Using true freshman Marcus Washington in the middle and inexperienced Dannell Ellerbe on the outside is not what Defensive Coordinator Willie Martinez wants. If Taylor, Miller and Verdun Wheeler are healthy, it gives Georgia a much better chance to win. Seemingly all of Georgia’s linebackers play multiple positions – some play all three. Georgia’s staff hopes each plays only his designated spot this weekend.

4 Tony Taylor 6-1 238 Jr. 2L Watkinsville

12 Brandon Miller 6-4 238 So. 1L Colquitt

42 Danny Verdun Wheeler 6-2 245 Jr. 2L Thompson

Injuries: Tony Taylor (elbow-probable), Brandon Miller (ankle-questionable). the best overall player in The Sunshine State three years ago. assing game and sensational running back

Analysis: With depth running out, the Bulldogs hope they don’t have to use much of it. Georgia has four linebackers with a lot of experience and two with virtually none. If Miller can’t go, that means the Dawgs will be forced to rotate Jarvis Jackson in often. Verdun Wheeler is the best-conditioned athlete on the team –and he might have to prove that Saturday. Still, this group has been getting the job done most of this season, and with Taylor back they should be fine.

Secondary

With three seniors that will likely be gone on the first day of the 2006 NFL Draft, Georgia’s strength is its secondary. Seniors Greg Blue, Tim Jennings and Demario Minter and junior Tra Battle form one of the better secondaries the Dawgs have had under Mark Richt.

Blue had a difficult tackling day against Arkansas, but all the Bulldogs did. As the vocal leader, along with Minter, of the secondary, Blue’s punishing talking style has changed games before, and Georgia coaches want that to happen again. Jennings might be undersized, but he’s the best cover man Georgia has. His interception last week against the Hogs was the best play on a ball this season by a secondary player for the Dawgs. Jennings’ pick was Georgia’s 11th of the season, which leads the conference.

Minter has come a long way in two seasons. He was an afterthought in 2003, but since he started the Capital One Bowl that year, he has yet to relinquish his starting spot. Minter is a big, physical corner who is happy to step up and make a tackle. Battle, a rather small safety, has had some vicious hits this season to go along with his two interceptions. Georgia’s backups, punt-returning Thomas Flowers, nickelback Paul Oliver, and special teams’ terrors Kelin Johnson and C.J. Byrd are also all capable of stepping in.

Cornerbacks

2 DeMario Minter 6-1 198 Sr. 3L Stone Mountain

23 Tim Jennings 5-8 178 Sr. 3L Orangeburg, SC

29 Thomas Flowers 5-10 197 So. 1L Mableton

8 Paul Oliver 6-0 209 So. 1L Kennesaw

Safeties

17 Greg Blue 6-2 214 Sr. 3L College Park

25 Tra Battle 5-11 167 Jr. 2L Forsyth

5 C.J. Byrd 6-2 180 Fr. HS North Augusta, SC

30 Kelin Johnson 6-1 184 So. 1L Daytona Beach

Injuries: C.J. Byrd (concussion – questionable)

Analysis: Turnovers are the key to this game, so Greg Blue and the secondary will have to do all they can to force them. Georgia is averaging nearly 4 points for every turnover they get. Plus two in that category gives Georgia and excellent shot at beating Florida to wrap up the SEC East.

Georgia Special Teams Preview


Special teams

Georgia’s special teams are looking a lot like they did in 2002 when they won the SEC. Punting, field goal and kickoff coverages are excellent. However, the one place Georgia is in need of improvement is kickoff return. Tyson Browning had a near 50-yard kickoff return last week, but that’s about all that group has been able to do all season.

Walk-on place kicker Brandon Coutu has not missed an extra point in his career. This season in field goals he missed only three – two of which were in the rain. Coutu hit a 58-yard field goal earlier this season, too.

Gordon Ely-Kelso is averaging 42.6 yards a punt, but that’s not his most impressive statistic. 49 times in his three-year career, including 16 of his 29 punts in 2005, have been downed inside the 20-yard line – that’s 55 percent of his kicks. Mikey Henderson and Mike Gilliam have helped down Ely-Kelso’s punts all season long. Opponents are averaging 4.3 yards per punt return against Georgia on ten total returns.

96 Brandon Coutu 6-0 197 So. 1L Suwanee
95 Gordon Ely-Kelso 6-2 234 Jr. 2L Athens
29 Thomas Flowers 5-10 197 So. 1L Mableton
16 Bryan McClendon 5-11 184 Sr. 3L Atlanta
31 Tyson Browning 5-8 171 Sr. 3L Watkinsville

Analysis: Georgia’s special teams are special again – that’s bad news for their opponents. Thomas Flowers, Brandon Coutu and Gordon Ely-Kelso have been as effective as any trio of performers for the Bulldogs in the Richt Era. Flower’s punt return for a touchdown took the air out of Tennessee in Georgia’s 27-14 win in Knoxville.


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