SEC Preview: Georgia

We continue our SEC preview with the Georgia Bulldogs. It's been quite the challenge attempting to come up with an order in the East Division. Any of the six teams could very well finish in the top half and at least four could realistically win the division. Georgia is one of them, particularly if quarterback Matthew Stafford continues to progress in his second year as a starter.

The defense is a lot like the Gators' - plenty of new faces but the talent is certainly there. Alabama rotates onto the West division slate so there's a tough trip to Tuscaloosa ahead, along with Vanderbilt, Tennesseee and Georgia Tech. Oklahoma State is an intriguing non-conference matchup for the season opener.


Head Coach:
Mark Richt, 61-16 in 6 years
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Bobo
Defensive Coordinators: Willie Martinez

Projected Depth Chart (returning starters in bold):


QB Matthew Stafford So.
Joe Cox So.

RB Kregg Lumpkin Sr.
Thomas Brown Sr.

FB Brannan Southerland Jr.
Jason Johnson Sr.

WR Mohamed Massasquoi Jr.
Kenneth Harris Jr.

WR Sean Bailey Sr.
A.J. Bryant Sr.

TE Tripp Chandler Jr.
Na Derris Ward Fr.

RT Chester Adams Sr.
Justin Anderson Fr.

RG Scott Haverkamp Jr.
Josh Davis Fr.

C Fernando Velasco Sr.
Kevin Perez Fr.

LG Chris Davis Fr.
Tanner Strickland Fr.

LT Trinton Sturdivant Fr.
Vince Vance So.

DE Marcus Howard Sr.
Jarius Wynn Jr.

NT Kade Weston So.
Geno Atkins So.

DT Jeff Owens Jr.
Corvey Irvin

DE Roderick Battle So.
Demarcus Dobbs Fr.

SLB Darius Dewberry So.
Akeem Dent Fr.

MLB Brandon Miller Sr.
Marcus Washington Jr.

WLB Dannell Ellerbe Jr.
Akeem Hebron Fr.

SS Kelin Johnson Sr.
Quintin Banks Fr.

FS C.J. Byrd Jr.
Reshad Jones Fr.

LCB Bryan Evans So.
Prince Miller So.

RCB Asher Allen So.
Thomas Flowers Sr.

Special Teams
K Brandon Cotou Sr.
P Brian Mimbs Jr.
KR Asher Allen So.
PR Mikey Henderson Sr.

Offensive Breakdown:

Key Returners:
QB Matthew Stafford, WR Mohamed Massaquoi
Key Losses: TE Martrez Milner, C Nick Jones
Key Newcomers: 5* RB Caleb King, 2* JUCO RG Scott Haverkamp

By the end of last season, it appeared that Matthew Stafford was finally beginning to turn the corner. He only threw one interception in the last three games of the season, including an upset over Virginia Tech in the Peach Bowl. Senior running backs Kregg Lumpkin and Thomas Brown return to provide a dependable running game. Knowshon Moreno and Caleb King should also get some touches. The wide receivers are solid but unspectacular. Mohamed Massaquoi has the talent to be a go-to receiver but needs to make his presence felt more in big games. Sean Bailey returns to the lineup after missing last season with an injury. From Wiggins to McMichael to Watson to Pope to Milner, the Bulldogs have gotten tremendous production out of the tight end position for years, but this season is in question. Tripp Chandler and NaDerris Ward should both have opportunities to step up.

By a wide margin, the offensive line is the biggest concern on the team. There is a severe lack of experience but the hope is that JUCO transfer Scott Haverkamp can provide some stability from the right guard position. The talent is there, but no position benefits from experience more than the offensive line.

Defensive Breakdown:

Key Returners:
DT Jeff Owens, SS Kelin Johnson
Key Losses: DE Charles Johnson, RCB Paul Oliver
Key Newcomers: 4* JUCO DT Jarius Wynn, 4* MLB Rennie Curran

The defensive line should be a force inside with Kade Weston and a pair of Florida-natives in Geno Atkins and Jeff Owens, an All-SEC candidate. Replacing ends Quentin Moses and Charles Johnson, both now in the NFL, will be a challenge. All three starting linebackers are also gone, but replacing them won't be difficult. The Bulldogs are simply loaded at the linebacker position with the likes of Brandon Miller, Darius Dewberry and Dannell Ellerbe.

The secondary was dealt a big blow when starting corner Paul Oliver failed to stay academically eligible for his senior season. Oliver figured to be the premier cover corner in the SEC and a crucial part of the ‘Dogs' defensive scheme. Fortunately, the Bulldogs have a talented young corner in Asher Allen who will now step in to the starting role. Kelin Johnson is next in a long line of talented strong safeties to take the field for UGA.

Special Teams Breakdown:
Starting kicker Brandon Cotou returns from injury to shore up a kicking game that struggled greatly in his absence. Brian Mimbs assumes the punter role following the departure of long-time starter Gordon Ely-Kelso. Mikey Henderson is one of the best returners in the conference.

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