Why Georgia won't win

Two positions can get you beat quicker than any others – quarterback and defensive back. A mistake at quarterback usually means a change of possession. A mistake in the secondary usually means six points.

That's why I don't like Georgia's chances to successfully defend the Southeastern Conference championship it won last fall. The Dawgs are strong at every position except two, but those two happen to be quarterback and defensive back.

Are two positions that important? Yep. Last fall Georgia parlayed the SEC's most versatile quarterback and the league's most talented secondary into a league championship.

D.J. Shockley was voted 2005 Offensive Player of the Year after passing for 2,588 yards running for 322 more. He also produced 28 touchdowns (24 passing, 4 rushing). Meanwhile, the starting secondary featured three seniors who won All-SEC recognition – Greg Blue, DeMario Minter and Tim Jennings.

Shockley is gone now, and the Dawgs are faced with the task of filling the void with freshman Matthew Stafford. Blue, Minter and Jennings are gone, too, leaving some gaping holes in the secondary.

Here's a breakdown of all 12 SEC schools, with each team graded on how its QB/DB situation compares to last fall:

ALABAMA: Quarterback Brodie Croyle is gone. So are three secondary starters from 2005. GRADE: D

ARKANSAS: Quarterback Casey Dick is back after starting four games in 2005. Three of the four secondary starters are back, as well. GRADE: B

AUBURN: Quarterback Brandon Cox is back after passing for 2,324 yards and 15 TDs in 2005. All four secondary starters return. GRADE: A

FLORIDA: Quarterback Chris Leak returns after passing for 2,639 yards and 20 TDs last fall. Three of four 2005 starters are missing from the secondary. GRADE: C-plus

GEORGIA: Already covered. GRADE: D

KENTUCKY: Quarterback Andre Woodson is back after passing for 1,644 yards and 6 TDs last year. Three secondary starters must be replaced. GRADE: D-plus

LSU: Both JaMarcus Russell (2,443 passing yards, 15 TDs) and backup Matt Flynn (457 yards, 7 TDs) return at quarterback. Three starters are back in the secondary. GRADE: A-minus

OLE MISS: Quarterback Michael Spurlock is gone, and juco transfer Brent Schaeffer looms as the heir-apparent. Three of the top four defensive backs return. GRADE: C

MISSISSIPPI STATE: Quarterback Michael Henig is back after starting the final four games of 2005 but completing just 44.4 percent of his passes. Three of four starters return in the secondary. GRADE: C-plus

TENNESSEE: Quarterback Erik Ainge is back but he's coming off a shaky performance in 2005. All four starters are back in the defensive backfield. GRADE: B

SOUTH CAROLINA: Quarterback Blake Mitchell returns after passing for 2,370 yards and 17 TDs last fall. Three secondary starters are missing but the returnee (Fred Bennett) is a preseason All-American. GRADE: C-plus

VANDERBILT: Quarterback Jay Cutler is gone. So is half of last fall's starting secondary. GRADE: C-minus


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