PREVIEWING THE SEC: Georgia Bulldogs

The Georgia Bulldogs, under sixth year head coach Mark Richt, will have their work cut out for them as the prepare to defend their 2005 South Eastern Conference Championship this season, losing 15 starters from last years squad.

 

A year ago, the Dawgs went 7-2 in the SEC, beating LSU in the championship game to claim the title before losing by three points to West Virginia in the Sugar Bowl.

 

Offensively, Georgia returns just four starters to the field in 2006, but should be able to fill the gaps with experienced players, as the roster holds 20 offensive lettermen.

 

Returning to aid the Bulldogs ground game in the fall will be the running back tandem of  Thomas Brown (5-8, 185 Jr.) and fullback Brannan Sutherland (6-0, 242, So.). Brown led the team with 736 rushing yards for 4 touchdowns in 2005, while Southerland totaled five touchdowns; three on the ground and two through the air.

 

Composing the receiving corps this year looks to be Mohamed Massaquoi (6-2, 198, So.), Mario Raley (6-1, 190, Sr.), Kenneth Harris (6-3, 214, So.), A.J. Bryant (6-2, 195, Jr.) and T.J. Gartrell (6-1, 186, Jr.), all of whom lettered last season. Massaquoi was the second leading receiver for the Bulldogs last season, recording 505 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

 

At tight end, which is a position Georgia depended on heavily in 2005, Martrez Milner (6-4, 240, Sr.) will be stepping up to replace Leonard Pope, who was the team's top receiver a year ago. Milner caught for 291 yards and two touchdowns during his junior campaign.

 

The offensive line will bring back a pair of third year starters in 2nd team All-SEC tackle 

Daniel Inman (6-7, 319, Sr.) and center Nick Jones (6-3, 295 Sr.). Inman's 25 consecutive starts make him the most experienced Bulldog on the 2006 team, while Jones is second with 19.

 

Joining the two veterans on the line will be Ken Shackleford (6-5, 315, Sr.) at tackle and either Fernando Velasco (6-4, 315 Jr.) or Zeb McKinzey (6-3, 285, Jr.) and Chester Adams (6-4, 320, Jr.) at guard.

 

The biggest question for Georgia is how well they will fill in the quarterback spot in the absence of D.J. Shockley, who threw for 2,588 yards and 24 touchdowns with just five interceptions last season.

 

The leading candidate for the quarterback is last years backup, Joe Tereshinski (6-3, 217, Sr.), who compiled 371yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions a year ago. Also competing for the job will be redshirt freshman Joe Cox (6-1, 200), Blake Barnes (6-3, 219, So.) and the high touted newcomer Matthew Stafford (6-3, 225, Fr.), who many feel was the top quarterback recruit in the country.

 

Defensively, the Bulldogs bring back five starters from last year's squad, including a trio of linebackers in Jarvis Jackson (6-2, 218, Sr.), Tony Taylor (6-1, 237, Sr.) and Brandon Miller (6-4, 248 Jr.). Jackson was second on the team last season with 84 tackles, while Taylor recorded 56 and Miller finished with 41.

 

In the Georgia secondary, the lone returnee from last season's squad will be Rover Trev Battle (5-11, 176, Sr.), who recorded two interceptions and 71 tackles during the 2005 campaign.

 

Joining Battle in the defensive backfield will likely be Paul Oliver (6-0, 205, Jr.) and Thomas Flowers (5-10, 186, Jr.) at cornerback. Oliver recorded three interceptions with as many forced fumbles a year ago, with Flowers adding one interception to the team total of 16.

 

Another potential factor at cornerback will be true freshman Asher Allen (5-10, 180), who enrolled at Georgia in January, and put out a strong spring performance, including a 100 yard interception return in the G-Day spring game.

 

At free safety, the earlier front runner is Kelin Johnson (6-1, 192, Jr.), though he could also share time with returning letterman Drew Williams (6-0, 197, Jr.) and redshirt freshman Antavious Coates (6-4, 200).

 

Anchoring the Bulldog defensive line will be 2005 All-SEC selection Quentin Moses (6-5, 250, Sr.) at end. Moses led the defensive charge for Georgia last season, recording an impressive 11.5 sacks and 38 quarterback hurries to lead the team. Playing opposite Moses at the other defensive end position will be Charles Johnson (6-2, 275, Jr.), who was second behind Moses with four sacks last year.

 

The two defensive tackle positions will be filled by returning lettermen Jeff Owens (6-3, 280, So.) and Ray Gant (6-2, 277, Sr.).

 

On special teams, Georgia will be returning the coaches' 2nd team All-SEC punter Gordon Ely-Kelso (6-2, 215, Sr.) with a net punting average of 42.9 yards.

 

Also returning to the kicking game will be place kicker Brandon Coutu (6-0, 185, Jr.). During the 2005 campaign, Coutu was 23-29 on field goal attempts, including three successful tries over 50 yards. He was also a perfect 45-45 on extra points.

 

Looking to return kicks this season will be Ramarcus Brown (5-11, 173, So.). Thomas Flowers will take the lead role of punter returner again in 2006. Last season, Flowers returned 32 punts for 438 yards and one touchdown.

 

 

QUICK FACTS: GEORGIA BULLDOGS

 

All-Time Series: 14-10-1

 

Stadium: Sanford (92,746)

 

First Meeting: 1928, LSU 13, Georgia 12

 

Last Meeting: 2004, Georgia 34, LSU 14 (SEC)

 

Head Coach: Mark Richt, 52-12, 5 years and overall

 

2005 in Review: 10-3, 6-2 SEC

 

Final '05 Ranking: 10 both AP and Coaches

 

Off. / Def. Systems: Pro-Style / 4-3 Multiple

 

Returning Starters: 11; 4 offense, 5 defense, kicker, punter

 

Last Bowl Appearance: 2006 Sugar Bowl

                                       West Virginia 38, Georgia 35

 

Last Conference Championship: 2005

 

 

STATE BREAKDOWN

 

Total Offense: 391.2 (3rd - SEC / 49th - NCAA)

 

Rushing Offense: 162.2 (3rd - SEC / 43rd - NCAA)

 

Passing Offense: 229.0 (2nd - SEC / 49th - NCAA)

 

Scoring Offense: 29.5 (2nd - SEC / 42nd - NCAA)

 

Total Defense: 313.5 (5th - SEC / 18th - NCAA)

 

Rushing Defense: 143.8 (8th - SEC / 52nd - NCAA)

 

Passing Defense: 169.6 (2nd - SEC / 7th - NCAA)

 

Scoring Defense: 16.4 (4th - SEC / 8th - NCAA)

 

Turnover Margin: +11 (2nd - SEC / 14th - NCAA)

 

 

RETURNING LEADERS

 

Rushing: Thomas Brown – 147 rushes, 736 yards, 4 TD

 

Passing: Joe Tereshinski – 49-25-2, 371 yards, 1 TD

 

Receiving: Mohamed Massaquoi – 38 catches, 505 yards, 2 TD

 

Tackles: Jarvis Jackson – 84 TT (56S, 28A)

 

 

2006 SCHEDULE

 

Date                 Opponent                     '05 Result

 

S-2                  Western Kentucky           ---

 

S-9                  at South Carolina            W, 17-15

 

S-16                Ala.-Birmingham              ---

 

S-23                Colorado                        ---

 

S-30                at Ole Miss                    ---

 

O-7                  Tennessee                    W, 27-14

 

O-14                Vanderbilt                     W, 34-17

 

O-21                Mississippi State             W, 23-10

 

O-28                vs. Florida (Jax)              L, 14-10

 

N-4                  at Kentucky                   W, 45-13

 

N-11                at Auburn                      L, 31-30

 

N-25                Georgia Tech                 W, 14-7

 

 

VIEW FORM THE OTHER SIDE:

 

When Georgia lines up for its 2006 season, they will be defending the SEC title for the second time in four seasons, but the number one question on Georgia's football team is which quarterback will be the starter.

 

Senior Joe Tereshinski, who has one career start, will get the nod at the start of the campaign, but young Matthew Stafford will get his shot if things don't go well for the Dawgs in September.

 

Title talk…

 

If Georgia can get steady production from the quarterback, and its defense continues to be one of the best in the country, there is no reason Georgia can't successfully defend the SEC title. But if the quarterback controversy drags on all season long, the Bulldogs could be in for a sub-par bowl game.

Diamonds in the rough…

 

The best Bulldog you have never heard of is cornerback Paul Oliver, who takes over as the top pass defender for the Bulldogs this fall. Oliver is big and fast, and it now looks like he's starting to live up to his potential. Asher Allen, a true freshman who returns kicks and also plays cornerback, should certainly be considered an impact freshman along with Stafford. After enrolling early, Oliver had an impressive spring in Athens.

 

- Dave McMahon, DawgPost.com


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