2010 College Football Predictions - Georgia
By James Boyd
2009 marked a low point during the Mark Richt era. The Bulldogs' 8-5 record was the worst in Richt's nine seasons. Georgia finished in the bottom half of the SEC in both scoring offense and defense. The defense was bad by just about any standards, causing Richt to part ways with three of his four defensive assistants. But there is reason to believe that 2010 will treat the Dawgs better. Richt is 90-27 during his stay in Athens, and wins don't pile up like that unless you're doing something right. With Tim Tebow and eight other Gators making the jump to the NFL Georgia is optimistic that it can get back to the top of the SEC East this season, but I can assure you it won't be easy. After all, Florida crushed the Dawgs 41-17 last season and the cupboard is not empty in Gainesville. The Dawgs rebounded from that loss to win four of their final five games, including a victory over Texas A&M in the Independence Bowl. That gives them some nice momentum heading into the season. Additionally, one has to think Georgia will do a better job of taking care of the football. The Bulldogs ranked last in the SEC and 118th out of 120 nationally in turnover margin a year ago.
LINE-HEIGHT: 1.5em; MARGIN: 0px 0px 1em; PADDING-LEFT: 0px; PADDING-RIGHT: 0px; PADDING-TOP: 0px">Offense - Georgia has an offense loaded with talent and experience, but a lack of experience at the quarterback position could be what keeps the Dawgs from an SEC East title. Logan Gray is the only quarterback on Georgia's roster that has taken a snap in college, and he hasn't taken very many of them. Redshirt freshman Aaron Murray looks to be the better player and that makes him the favorite to land the starting job this fall. Growing pains are expected, but he should benefit from playing behind one of the best offensive lines in the league and from throwing to one of the best wide receivers in the country. The offensive line returns four experienced starters, including stud blindside protector Clint Boling. A.J. Green is a game-breaker, capable of getting behind the defense on any given play. He caught 53 passes for 808 yards and six scores in 2009. In order to take the pressure off of Murray, the Dawgs will go with a heavy dose of running backs Washaun Ealey and Caleb King. Ealey is coming off a 717-yard, three-touchdown season.
Defense - The Dawgs ranked No. 10 in the SEC in scoring defense, allowing 25.9 points per game. That was enough to send three defensive assistants packing. Todd Grantham of the Dallas Cowboys was hired to take over defensive coordinator duties. Georgia also brought Connecticut's Scott Lakatos and Vanderbilt's Warren Belin aboard to coach the secondary and the insider linebackers respectively. Grantham is transitioning the defense into a 3-4 scheme. He wants this unit to be the attacker, so you can count on the new scheme coming with plenty of blitz packages. Being more aggressive on defense should help the Dawgs improve some, but it will also make them susceptible to the big play. The player to watch is outside linebacker Justin Houston. He recorded 7.5 sacks last season.
Prediction - 2nd SEC East - Georgia will be a better football team in 2010, and we will get a much better feel for how much better when it plays South Carolina and Arkansas in September. Right now, Florida still looks to be a little bit ahead of the Dawgs on both sides of the football. That could change by the time these two teams meet in Jacksonville on Halloween eve, but I'm not ready to make that leap yet. Be sure to check out my 2010 SEC football predictions to see how I have the rest of the league playing out.