Georgia preview

Georgia's passing attack left a lot to be desired last fall, but there's reason for some optimism in 2007. Flanker Sean Bailey has rejoined the program after missing all of 2006 with a major knee injury.

Bailey could help considerably. After all, he has seven career touchdown catches to his credit, and last year's Bulldog receiving corps combined for just four.

Another positive note: Former prep All-American Matthew Stafford continues to develop at quarterback. He completed 6 of 12 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns in guiding the Red past the Black 34-21 in the Bulldogs' spring game.

Georgia historically is strong in the blocking front but new offensive line coach Stacy Searels may have his work cut out for him. Hired to replace Neil Callaway, who left to become head man at Alabama Birmingham, Searels is working with a line that will be awfully young this year. The top 10 blockers coming out of spring practice consisted of two seniors, a junior college transfer, a sophomore, three redshirt freshmen and three true freshmen.

In addition, Georgia must find a tight end to replace talented but underachieving Martrez Milner, now with the Atlanta Falcons.

If Georgia's offense struggles to score touchdowns this fall, having the NCAA's premier placement specialist should at least enable the Dawgs to score points three at a time. Brandon Coutu has made 81 percent of his career field goals (35 of 43), putting him on pace to break Billy Bennett's school record of 79 percent. Coutu isn't just kicking gimmes, either. He is 11 of 13 from 40-49 yards and 5 of 9 from 50-plus.

Although Georgia has some holes on offense, its defense appears downright shaky. Charles Johnson's decision to bypass his senior year means the Dawgs must replace him AND fellow starting end Quentin Moses. Both were selected in Round 3 of the recent NFL Draft.

Georgia also must find replacements for all three of last year's starting linebackers, including leading tackler and team MVP Tony Taylor. Making matters even worse, star cornerback Paul Oliver recently was ruled academically ineligible for 2007. Then there's promising linebacker Akeem Hebron, who has been suspended for the season following some off-the-field problems.

Head coach Mark Richt's six-year resume' features three SEC East titles, two overall league titles and a .782 winning percentage (61 victories, 17 defeats) that ranks No. 5 nationally among active coaches. His program has slipped a bit the past two years, however. After going a combined 34-6 in 2002, 2003 and 2004, his Dawgs were a combined 19-7 in 2005 and 2006. Last year's squad won its first five, then saw a loss to Tennessee send the team into a tailspin that produced four losses in the last eight games.

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