2003 SEC Football Preview- Georgia

The Georgia Bulldogs went 13-1 in 2002 on the way to the school's first SEC Championship since 1982. Can Coach Mark Richt's Dawgs repeat? Today's edition of VandyMania 2003 SEC Football preview looks at the defending conference champions, and our staff predicts the outcome of all 12 games.

COACHING

Head Coach: Mark Richt (Career Rec: 21-5)
Offensive Coordinator: Neil Callaway
Defensive Coordinator: Brian VanGorder

2002 Record: 13-1 overall (8-1 SEC)

2002 NCAA STATS RANKINGS

Total Offense: 49th (384.93)
Rushing Offense: 67th (139.57)
Passing Offense: 39th (245.36)
Scoring Offense: 4th (15.14)
Total Defense:15th (303.50)
Rushing Defense: 19th (114.00)
Pass Efficiency Defense: 34th (112.92)
Scoring Defense: 22nd (32.14)

Georgia quarterback David Greene hands off during 2001 win at Tennessee. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

STARTERS RETURNING

Offense (3):

TE Ben Watson (6-3, 253, Sr.)
*QB David Greene (6-3, 227, Jr.)
*FL Fred Gibson (6-4, 190, Jr.)

Defense (7):

DE Will Thompson (6-3, 243, Jr.)
NT Ken Veal (6-1, 311, Sr.)
*DE David Pollack (6-3, 264, Jr.)
WC Decory Bryant (5-11, 184, Sr.)
ROV Kentrell Curry (6-1, 198, Sr.)
FS Sean Jones (6-2, 209, Jr.)
SC Bruce Thornton (5-10, 192, Sr.)

* All-Star Candidates

Georgia Roster

TEAM STRENGTHS

Defensive line, quarterback.

TEAM QUESTION MARKS

Offensive line, running back.

KEY GAME

September 13, South Carolina. If the Dawgs can take care of business when the Gamecocks visit they might just be in for an outstanding season. I loss would be disastorous.

HEAD COACHES COMMENTS

Going to be an interesting season for us. First couple seasons at Georgia, we had 20-25 seniors, both of those year, had really a strong junior-senior class, now situation where 11 seniors, 12 juniors on scholarships. Have proven players in our league, but lot that are not proven at all."

"Went from all senior offensive line to nothing but (last year's) freshmen. And their backups are true freshmen. If we stay healthy, be challenge get that group ready to play and if have key injuries, playing true freshmen. Lost all three linebackers but like the guys we have, runners and hitters, the attitude and energy they bring. But defensive football has a lot to do with not giving up the big play, reason not give up big plays last season had a lot to do with Boss Bailey and Tony Gilbert and their ability to communicate. Our secondary is back, and every one of those guys are experienced for us. By committee on the inside (DL) we have enough people . . . have enough people that I think we will be able to get the job done on the inside. Only time will tell if someone can play like Jonathon Sullivan played for us last year. Billy Bennett (K) being back is huge for us."

"Offensively, very excited Ben Watson decided he would stay with us, at one time was going to go to the league, then decided to stick around, felt good enough about us as coaches and a program that he decided to stay for his senior year. Our QB situation is as good as any in nation, Greene one of best players in country today, Shockley potential to be just as good. Enough receivers that have made big catches in big games, At RB, losing Musa Smith is a concern for us, Tony Milton is a solid player, think he will be consistent in running the ball physically, wrapping up the football and having an attitude about picking up blitzing linebackers. At fullback, walk-on Jeremy Thomas, recently put on aid, will be our starting fullback, One of thrills of being a head coach is tell a walk-on that's he's got a scholarship."

"The leadership we lost was a very big concern. Seniors, small group, but have taken on responsibility of making sure things were taken care of in the summer. Most underrated thing in football leadership of seniors, leadership of your team. These guys have taken that responsibility."

"Biggest thing for us as staff is when we started our off-season program, we saw that Boss wasn't there, Gilbert and Stinchcomb, all those guys are gone, we saw what we have left, know we have a lot of work to do. I don't really look at us as the Hunted, as much as Auburn or LSU, if I was picking, I thought Tennessee probably be first in the East in my opinion. A situation where we starting over, see what these guys can do."

"Got Thomas Davis replacing Boss Bailey. Can he jump 46 inches, not quite, but very athletic, very fast, intelligent football player and has a lot of experience. He played some safety for us. We got him at 190-something pounds, now he's 220 or 225. Confident he can play well. Odell Thurman at Mike linebacker, probably 230 pounds, runs very fast, very physical. All are high energy football players. Tony Taylor at Will linebacker, very intelligent player, very quick, maybe not quite as fast. Very instinctive player who has some experience. They are the ones who have to communicate to the perimeter and linemen ahead of them to make the adjustments we have to make."

VandyMania Projection

Georgia lost its entire offensive line. 6-8 wins is very likely. Excellent coaching will get them the higher number of wins. 8-4 overall. 5-3 SEC.

2003 SCHEDULE AND PREDICTIONS


Aug. 30 at Clemson, L 21-17
Sept. 6 Middle Tennessee, W 34-6
Sept. 13 South Carolina, W 31-28
Sept. 20 at Louisiana State, L 31-24
Oct. 4 Alabama, W 24-14
Oct. 11 at Tennessee, L 24-17
Oct. 18 at Vanderbilt, W 24-13
Oct. 25 UAB, W 31-6
Nov. 1 at Florida, L 27-23
Nov. 15 Auburn, W 21-20
Nov. 22 Kentucky, W 27-14
Nov. 29 at Georgia Tech, W 20-17


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