LOSSES: Florida (JAX)
LAST YEAR: 7-1, second in SEC East
GRADES: Rushing Offense, A-minus: This section of the Bulldogs' offense is the steadiest. Only once this season, against Arkansas, did the Bulldogs really struggle to get anything going, and that was after quarterback D.J. Shockley went down in the middle of the contest. Thomas Brown and Danny Ware have taken most of the snaps as rushers, and Kregg Lumpkin has looked good, too. Even with Shockley out against Florida and Joe Tereshinski managing to get by in the passing game, the Bulldogs ran the ball successfully against a crowded Florida front. If Georgia is to win the SEC East, and then the conference, they will need the running game to control the tempo the way it did in September and early October.
Passing Offense, B-minus: Shockley can't do it all by himself, but he's giving it a heck of an effort. Georgia's offensive line is giving Shockley time and the running backs are protecting well. However, Georgia's receivers are not threatening anyone. Dropped passes killed the Dawgs against Florida, and when the Bulldogs do catch the ball they aren't running for big gains after the catch. Shockley spreads the ball around a lot – to running backs, tight ends and wide receivers – but there is no go-to guy. Even Leonard Pope is having a less than expected season. These Bulldogs really miss Fred Gibson and Reggie Brown.
Rushing Defense, B-plus: Until the last two weeks, and the injuries on the defensive line and at linebacker, this defense looked unstoppable. Fortunately for the Bulldogs it appears all the injured players on the defensive line, most importantly Kedric Golston, will return for the matchup against Auburn. Florida ran the ball well in the first quarter, but the Dawgs shut down the Gators the rest of the game. South Carolina, Tennessee and Mississippi State were clueless running against this unit. Auburn depends on the run game; Georgia Tech and Kentucky will need something on the ground to win. If Georgia throws out three more under-100-yard defensive performances they will play for the SEC Title.
Passing Defense, A-plus: This group is allowing only 174 passing yards per game. Demario Minter, Tim Jennings, Greg Blue and Tra Battle are getting the job done against the pass. The group has forced 11 interceptions while only giving up five passing touchdowns. Only three times this season has this secondary allowed more than 200 yards passing (South Carolina, Tennessee and Mississippi State). This group is rock solid.
Special Teams, A-minus: This group is what makes Georgia football go. If they struggle, like they did against Florida, the team might lose. A solid effort from special teams leads to big wins like the upset at Tennessee. Brandon Coutu is the team's best place kicker and has missed a few kicks – although none were gimmies considering the conditions and the length of all of them. Coutu has proved he can make the big kick. Gordon Ely-Kelso might be the best punter in the SEC. He can boom punts or pin teams inside their own ten-yard line. Kickoff return leaves something to be desired, but Thomas Flowers has been game-changing in big moments on punt return.
FIRST-HALF OFFENSIVE MVP: Shockley
FIRST-HALF DEFENSIVE MVP: Moses
FIRST-HALF SPECIAL TEAMS MVP: Ely-Kelso
PREDICTED FINISH: 10-1, first in SEC East