Last week I ran down some of the things I hope not to see in the coming football season, mostly nagging problems that plagued the Dogs last year. Now it’s time to look ahead to some of the good things I think will have fans on their feet cheering this fall.
So here they are, starting with our big-play man:
1. A.J. Green catching the ball and running the ball. It’s hard to believe the freshman phenom played most of last season hurt and still had 56 catches for 963 yards, some of those catches quite spectacular. He also ran the ball four times for 61 yards, an aspect of his game I’d like to see more of, turning him into a Percy Harvin-style weapon. Of course, Green will be double-covered much of the time, so the Dogs will need some of their other receivers to step up. Michael Moore showed in the bowl game that he’s coming along nicely, and a healthy Tavares King has potential. But it would be really nice to have another big weapon, which leads me to …
2. Marlon Brown making a big splash as a freshman. The wide receiver out of Memphis, who also played quarterback and running back, returned kicks and even played some defense in high school, should make a big target in the Red Zone for Joe Cox and force defenses to pay attention to someone other than Green. If he’s as good as they say, he’ll probably get an early chance to play like Green did last year.
3. Big Jeff Owens, returning from a season-ending injury last year, back on the defensive line with Geno Atkins. That alone should make it easier for our defensive ends to pressure the quarterbacks, one of our biggest deficiencies last year. With linebacker supreme Rennie Curran, easily the cream of the defense a year ago, also returning, Georgia’s defense can take a lot of pressure off the rebuilding offense. Willie Martinez would certainly sleep better.
4. An experienced and (hopefully) healthy offensive line. Considering how green his troops were and the way he had to keep mixing and matching last year, OL coach Stacy Searels worked wonders. If he can keep a stable lineup this season, those battle-tested youngsters should develop into one of the strengths of the team.
5. A healthy team. Georgia had more than 20 players lost to season-ending injuries last year, and nearly that many had to sit out spring drills while recovering or rehabbing from injuries. Along with a lack of team leadership, it was the major reason the Dogs didn’t live up to their advance billing last season. You’ve got to figure the odds are we’ll fare better in that department this year. But keep those fingers crossed.
6. Joe Cox quickly shutting up all those folks who think he might be another Joe T. With the cool way he brought the Dogs back against Colorado a couple of years ago, we know he’s capable of being an on-field leader. And while he doesn’t have Matthew Stafford’s arm strength, we’ve seen him throw some really nice balls in his limited playing time. All Dog fans should want this guy to succeed, because if we reach midseason and there’s any question about who should be starting at quarterback, it’ll mean we’re in trouble. There’s a lot of talent behind Cox, but baptism by fire isn’t the best way to develop it. Speaking of which …
7. Logan Gray in the Red Zone. Although he didn’t get much of a chance to show it last year fielding mostly fair catches on punts, the Dogs’ likely backup QB is the kind of running threat that will make for more versatility inside the 20. I’m not saying Mike Bobo should put him in the game every time we get in the Red Zone, but just enough to keep defenses uncertain about what we’re going to do.
8. Caleb King proving he’s not another Jasper Sanks. Even if Bobo ends up returning to the tailback-by-committee system, Georgia needs a reliable lead back, and King looks to have all the tools. From all reports, he’s improved his blocking, which was his main liability as Knowshon Moreno’s backup. But he didn’t take ownership of the position in the spring as he was expected to do. Here’s hoping he rises to the occasion this fall.
9. Fred Munzenmaier getting a third touchdown on his third career carry. Along with probable starter Shaun Chapas, Munzenmaier gives us valuable experience at fullback, and after his spring play he might even get in at tailback occasionally. Since he’s scored the only two times he’s been given the ball in regular season so far, it would be sweet for him to make it a hat trick.
10. Some big hits by Bacarri Rambo like the one he delivered in the G-Day game. Georgia’s defense is always at its best when it has a really hard hitter who can make receivers think twice about laying out for a ball. And what a great name!
What else has you excited about the coming season?