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
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
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.