SEC Glance: Georgia

Georgia's 2009 season was considered to be a rebuilding year, but when the Bulldogs ended the season with five losses, head coach Mark Richt cleaned house on one side of the ball. Can new names step forward to carry this UGA side?

Georgia enters the 2010 season after what has to be considered a rebuilding effort in 2009. The most turbulent season of Mark Richt’s time in Athens resulted in him dismissing nearly the entire defensive staff before the bowl game. Georgia’s quarterback play was below Bulldog standards as well… it all added up to an 8-5 season – unacceptable in Athens.  

Enter Todd Grantham and redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray. As those two go so shall the Dawgs. Murray will likely replace Joe Cox as the starting quarterback and will give the Dawgs more options through the air. Grantham, who is moving the Dawgs from a 4-3 scheme to a 3-4, has been charged with changing the attitude of the Dawgs’ defense, which has become unreliable in big games. 

Murray was named the No. 1 quarterback coming out of spring football and has the pedigree to be the next great signal caller at Georgia. Experience is not Murray’s friend, but talent is. The youngster won’t have the burden of NFL expectations the way Matthew Stafford did when he arrived at Georgia, but there is a fair amount of expectation for Murray, who was considered one of the top quarterbacks in the country when he signed in 2009.  

Grantham, who has toiled in the NFL over the last decade, is expecting to take advantage of Georgia’s top playmakers on the edge of the defense. He plans on creating one-on-one matchups that are advantageous to Georgia. To say Grantham has infused new energy into Georgia’s program would be an understatement. Still, transferring energy into results might be more challenging when SEC offenses are staring the Dawgs in the face this fall.  

The schedule is much more manageable than last year. A road trip to Oklahoma State is replaced by a trip to Boulder to face Colorado. Arizona State is replaced by Idaho State. Instead of playing LSU, Georgia will travel to Mississippi State. Instead of traveling to Atlanta and Knoxville, the Dawgs will host Tennessee and Georgia Tech. Trips to Auburn and Jacksonville for the annual fight with Florida loom, as does a home date with Arkansas and a trip to Columbia for the always-feisty Gamecocks.  

The Bulldogs’ offense returns 10 of 11 starters, and the quarterback position should be an upgrade. Georgia is going to score points at a pretty good clip in 2010. Junior A.J. Green, a future first-round NFL pick, may be the best receiver in the country and is a reliable playmaking target for Murray. The tight ends run four deep, and Orson Charles is a likely All-SEC performer at that spot. The offensive line, anchored by probable high-round NFL pick Clint Boling, might be the best since 2002. The one-two combination of Caleb King and Washuan Ealey at running back should have SEC defenses concerned. When Georgia got its line in order and started running that pair no one they played – not even mighty Florida – could stop them.  

The defense has playmakers, too, but not as many as on offense. Justin Houston is probably the best overall defender and will be featured at outside linebacker in the new 3-4 scheme. Cornelius Washington could emerge as a big time playmaker by the time 2010 ends. The defensive line could be a curious thing to watch develop. New starters take over for veterans who, while they played many snaps in their career, seemed to have lower production as their time in Athens went on.  

Keep an eye on DeAngelo Tyson at nose. If he has a good year Georgia’s defense is going to be hard to score on. The secondary should be much improved. Playmakers Bacarri Rambo and Brandon Boykin seem locked in as starters. The fight to replace Prince Miller and Bryan Evans, an often-picked on duo in the secondary, might be fierce, but no matter who replaces them it will be a tremendous upgrade.  

A win over Florida, which has been rare, will probably get the Dawgs to Atlanta. Road trips against Kentucky, South Carolina and Auburn could be tricky. Tennessee, Arkansas and Georgia Tech will be formidable opponents at home. Georgia is more talented than lat year, and its 2010 record will reflect that.  

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