2009 overall record: 8-5
2009 conference record: 4-4
Offense: 10; Defense: 5; Kicker/punter: 2
QB Joe Cox, DT Jeff Owens, DT Geno Atkins, LB Rennie Curran, S Reshad Jones
2009 statistical leaders (* returners)
Rushing: Washaun Ealey* (717 yards)
Passing: Joe Cox (2,584 yards)
Receiving: A.J. Green* (808 yards)
Tackles: Rennie Curran (130)
Sacks: Justin Houston* (7.5)
Interceptions: Reshad Jones (4)
1. Murray’s the man: There’s no quarterback controversy going into the preseason. Georgia coach Mark Richt named redshirt freshman Aaron Murray the Bulldogs’ No. 1 quarterback coming out of the spring. Murray’s ability to do a little bit of everything was the difference. It helped that fellow redshirt freshman Zach Mettenberger had been dismissed from the team a week earlier. But Murray was already on his way to winning the job. In reality, he was the favorite all along. He just had to go do it.
2. Ealey and Green together: The idea of running back Washaun Ealey and receiver A.J. Green on the field together (and healthy) at the same time is an enticing one for Georgia fans, not to mention Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. When Ealey started to get it going last November, Green was struggling with injuries. And when Green was tearing it up at the beginning of the season, Ealey wasn’t playing. They should be dynamite together in 2010 and keep defenses from ganging up on one or the other.
3. Switching to the 3-4: One of the toughest parts of the transition is over. First-year defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has installed his 3-4 defense. Defensive ends have made the switch to outside linebackers, and a few other guys have swapped positions. Grantham was pleased with the way his guys picked up on the terminology and how fast they played this spring, especially given now new everything was. He’ll obviously want to see them play even faster in the fall, and there will be a strong emphasis placed on getting after the quarterback.
1. Numbers at quarterback: Even though Murray got the nod, and Richt insists that he still has to hold onto the job in preseason camp, the Bulldogs all of a sudden have some numbers issues at quarterback. Mettenberger was kicked off the team, and junior Logan Gray is still deciding whether or not he wants to be on the team, and if so, if he wants to play quarterback. Richt would certainly like for him to stay. Because after Murray, all the Bulldogs really have at the position is incoming freshman Hutson Mason. Remember when the Bulldogs' quarterback position almost looked crowded?
2. Outside linebacker play: One of the keys to being a good 3-4 defensive club is having enough outside linebackers, and more importantly, enough guys who can effectively play the position. Justin Houston, who had 7.5 sacks last season, has moved over there from defensive end and should adapt nicely. But one of Grantham’s concerns going into the spring was whether he had enough guys who could legitimately play there, and that was before Montrez Robinson was booted from the team. Senior Darryl Gamble made the move from inside to outside linebacker later in the spring.
3. Defending the pass: Georgia lost most of its defensive backfield from a year ago, but that might not necessarily be a bad thing when you look at how poorly the Bulldogs defended the pass at times. Sophomore cornerback Branden Smith should be better the second time around, and the addition of junior college safety Jakar Hamilton was huge. He was one of the stars of the spring. Junior cornerback Brandon Boykin is adamant that the Bulldogs will be just fine in the secondary next season. One thing’s for sure: They can’t give up 25 touchdown passes again and expect to be better on defense.