2010 overall record: 6-7
2010 conference record: 3-5
Offense: 6; Defense: 7; Kicker/punter: 2
OG Clint Boling, OT Josh Davis, WR A.J. Green, WR Kris Durham, DE/LB Justin Houston, DE Demarcus Dobbs, LB Akeem Dent, LB Darryl Gamble
2010 statistical leaders (* returners)
Rushing: Washaun Ealey (811 yards)
Passing: Aaron Murray* (3,049 yards)
Receiving: A.J. Green (848 yards)
Tackles: Akeem Dent (126)
Sacks: Justin Houston (10)
Interceptions: Bacarri Rambo*, Brandon Boykin*, Sanders Commings* (3)
1. Murray’s team: There’s no question that this is Aaron Murray’s team. He developed a ton of respect from his teammates and coaches last season, but this spring he really took hold of the Bulldogs. He spent more time meticulously studying film and came away with improved footwork and better timing on his passes. He also spent more time working with a group of unproven receivers this spring attempting to not only enhance his play on the field but he wanted to better his teammates as well. Without a target like A.J. Green out there to take some of the pressure off, things won’t be easy for Murray, but the coaches don’t seemed concerned. Murray is the leader this team needs going forward.
2. Strong linebacker corps: Georgia has one of the fastest, most athletic groups at linebacker. The Bulldogs added USC transfer Jarvis Jones to the strong side, while converted safety Alec Ogletree is the new face in the middle. The loss of outside linebacker/defensive end Justin Houston hurt, but Jones helped ease the stress of not having him by being a force on the outside this spring. Some even think Jones might have more physical ability than Houston. Ogletree adds tremendous speed to the unit and should be able to fly all around the field for the Bulldogs. Christian Robinson is back in the middle as well and has the mindset of the perfect leader for this defense.
3. New flanker in town: A.J. Green is gone, but Tavarres King did a pretty good job of filling that void this spring after moving into Green’s flanker spot. Obviously, King doesn’t have the outright talent of Green, but he should be Murray’s go-to-guy this fall and he’s ready to step up and accept that responsibility. Having King step up is certainly a good thing for Murray. There aren’t any other proven receivers for Murray to throw to. Coaches are hoping King will draw some double-teams, which should open the offense up for other players to get involved. There’s talent at the position, but King is the only one who seems immediately ready to make an impact.
1. Finding a running back: Things became more complicated for the Bulldogs when junior Washaun Ealey decided to transfer Monday. Ealey was equipped with the most skill to be the feature back, but his off-the-field issues finally caught up with him. Caleb King is a senior, and while he had a solid spring, he has never taken hold of the position. Ken Malcome and Carlton Thomas dealt with injuries this spring, but Malcome had a solid spring game. The one who should get most of the attention when he arrives this summer is freshman Isaiah Crowell. He was one of the top running back prospects in the country and head coach Mark Richt made it well known that he won’t hesitate to immediately give Crowell the ball on Day 1.
2. The right side: The Bulldogs suffered a major hit to its entire offense this spring when senior Trinton Sturdivant suffered his third severe knee injury. He’s expected to miss the 2011 season, so converted guard Cordy Glenn has moved to left tackle. Glenn should be fine there, but the right side could be an issue. Guard Justin Anderson, who moved from the defensive line, and tackle A.J. Harmon split reps at right tackle this spring, but neither surpassed the other. Tackle Austin Long could also play there, but dealt with a shoulder injury this spring. Guard Kenarious Gates could play tackle if needed as well. The Bulldogs will have to cross-train linemen at guard and tackle and will have to accelerate the development of a handful of incoming freshmen.
3. Championship mindset: Every year it seems like Georgia has the talent to compete for the SEC East crown, but the Bulldogs haven’t made it to Atlanta since 2005. Richt’s seat in Athens is hot and it won’t cool down anytime soon if the Bulldogs don’t get over the hump of underachievement. With the East in disarray at the moment, this is the perfect opportunity for the Bulldogs to strike. Finding a running back and at least one more wide receiver will be crucial, but this team has to escape the habit of not getting the most out of its players. If Georgia doesn’t make a strong run this fall, Richt might be out of chances to get something done in Athens.