Richt ready for run at title?

When your biggest worry heading into spring practice is finding a kicker ... well, you've got one loaded football team. Apparently, the University of Georgia has one loaded football team.

Head coach Mark Richt commented earlier this spring that his greatest concern for 2008 might be finding a successor to Brandon Coutu, who nailed 18 of 23 field-goal tries in '07. If that's the Top Dawg's main headache, he may be in line for one fabulous fall.

Even without Coutu, Georgia's run of top-drawer kicking specialists should continue. Brian Behr nailed a 52-yard field goal and Andrew Jensen a 47-yarder in the recent G-Day Game. Even so, they're stuck behind Brian Mimbs, who is projected to do double duty this fall after averaging 42.4 yards as the starting punter last fall.

Assuming SOMEONE proves capable of kicking field goals, the Bulldogs have everything in place to make a serious run at the national title. Matthew Stafford (2,523 passing yards and 19 passing touchdowns in '07) is a gifted quarterback, and he has a quality backup in fellow junior Joe Cox.

Sophomore Knowshon Moreno could be the NCAA's premier running back after rushing for 1,334 (in just six starts) a year ago. He's backed up by redshirt freshman Caleb King, who some observers believe has even more upside than Moreno.

All of Georgia's top receivers of 2007 return except for Sean Bailey. In addition, four of five starters are back on the offensive line. Also returning is tight end Tripp Chandler, a 6-6, 263-pound behemoth who averaged 13.5 yards per catch on 21 receptions last season.

Georgia appears to be just as imposing defensively. Senior Jeff Owens and junior Geno Atkins might be the best pair of tackles this side of Baton Rouge. Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe is back after leading the team in tackles last fall. And, like Tennessee, Georgia has a glut of quality defensive backs on hand.

If there are any holes on the two-deep depth chart needing to be filled, Richt might choose to plug them with members of a signing class that Scout.com ranked No. 4 nationally last February.

Georgia carries a seven-game winning streak into the '08 season, having rallied from a 4-2 start last fall to finish 11-2 and ranked No. 2 nationally. Based on the return of 15 starters from that team, a lot of folks are projecting the Dawgs to finish one notch higher this year.

Could the Dawgs win it all this fall? Sure. When the biggest worry is finding a kicker, odds are your team will be pretty special.


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