Dogs a Top 25 team? Depends on who’s picking

A.J. Green is just one reason for Dogs fans to be excited about the coming season. (Associated Press)

A.J. Green is just one reason for Dogs fans to be excited about the coming season. (Associated Press)

Spring summaries of the college football landscape are popping up all over the place this week, and there’s been a good bit of head-scratching in the Bulldog Nation over Sports Illustrated snubbing the Dogs by not even including them in the also-considered category for its early Top 25.

On the other hand, ESPN’s Mark Schlabach, who follows the UGA program a lot more closely than anyone at SI, has Georgia at No. 20 in his post-spring To 25.

Here’s what Schlabach has to say about Mark Richt’s team: “Georgia’s recipe for 2010: keep quarterback Aaron Murray healthy and play better defense. Georgia might go into the season without a proven backup quarterback if junior Logan Gray decides to transfer. Murray beat out Gray and freshman Zach Mettenberger for the starting job before Mettenberger was dismissed from the team after his arrest during spring break. Georgia figures to rely on its running game to take the pressure off Murray, and it needs to find a consistent receiver to complement A.J. Green. The defense will be more aggressive in new coordinator Todd Grantham’s 3-4 scheme, but the Dawgs have to find more defensive linemen. Cornerback Vance Cuff was a pleasant surprise during spring practice, easing Grantham’s concerns about the secondary. With the SEC’s best punter and kicker coming back, Georgia could be a surprise depending on how quickly Murray gets comfortable at quarterback.”

A pretty fair assessment, I’d say.

Elsewhere, in a chat with readers, Schlabach offered this view of the coming season for the Dogs: “I think as long as they get something out of Murray, they could win nine or 10 games. Experienced OL. Best WR in the SEC. Two great TEs. Best kicker and punter in the league. Big ? mark is defense. Can they get pressure on the QB? Vance Cuff gives them optimism in the secondary.”

As for the nonsensical but persistent “hot seat” talk about Richt among bloggers and columnists, Schlabach says: “I don’t think Richt is going to be fired anytime soon.”

Meanwhile, Chris Low, who covers the SEC for ESPN.com, has posted his spring summary of the Dogs. On the offensive side, he mirrors the excitement a lot of Dogs fans have about a couple of the returning stars: “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.”

I like the sound of that.

Key questions facing the Dogs besides lack of depth at quarterback, Low notes, include who besides Justin Houston is likely to make some noise at outside linebacker, and how the retooled secondary does against the pass. Says Low: “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.”

Speaking of which, there’s been considerable attention paid online to a quote from a Palm Beach Post story on former Georgia safety Reshad Jones, newly signed to the Miami Dolphins.

Explaining why he moved from free safety to strong safety his junior season at Georgia, Jones says: “We had an older guy on the team who was kind of struggling at the corner, but they wanted to keep him on the field, so they moved him to free safety and me to strong safety.”

That older guy who was struggling was, of course, Bryan Evans, who continued to struggle even after the switch. The obsession with keeping Evans on the field will remain one of the unfortunate legacies (and mysteries) of the Willie Martinez era.

264 comments Add your comment

Chucktown

May 5th, 2010
11:08 am

DDPO

May 5th, 2010
11:10 am

Schlabach is an SEC and UGA homer….

DDPO

May 5th, 2010
11:12 am

On a different note, I’m surprised that Bill linked an article that has any disparaging remarks about UGA. (Even if it was by a former player)

I thought protocol on his blog was to let Doggie fans trash everyone else but not allow anyone to say anything terrible… Weird?

Reptillicide

May 5th, 2010
11:20 am

Based on the past 9 years, I’d say you have to be a fool to not include UGA in any pre-season top 25. The results speak for themselves.

Whatever

May 5th, 2010
11:22 am

DDPO — Not sure what protocol you are referring to but Bill loves to trash Bryan Evans.

I am the dog

May 5th, 2010
11:31 am

Schlabach is an SEC and UGA homer….oh and UGA alum. don’t look for him to see UGA as a down team. He can’t help it he’s just like ole Bill here.

Richolds

May 5th, 2010
11:48 am

Speculation is worthless. Georgia will be good or they won’t. Sitting at a computer and arguing about it will change nothing. It only serves to make one side look foolish when the toe finally does meet the leather. Go Dawgs.

hipdawg

May 5th, 2010
11:49 am

Around #20 sounds about right.Nowhere to go except up ,right?Hope Mason is for real.

cyberdawg

May 5th, 2010
11:49 am

Reptillicide is right on. From 2000 – 2008 the dawgs averaged about #12 on the final AP poll during those 9 yrs. Any poll leaving the dogs out of the top 25 pre-seaason for 2010 is just basing that on last year alone.

Minnesota Dawg

May 5th, 2010
12:07 pm

If we could establish a good running game first, the passing could develope into a real threat. We just need to seize the opportunities when the passing game is there. Hope our offensive line is right on. Might remind us of the days of Hershel, but more balanced with A.J. Green in the mix with the passing game.

TigerTime

May 5th, 2010
12:17 pm

THuga in the top 25? Dream on leghumpers!!

tormentor

May 5th, 2010
12:24 pm

hipdawg, If you hope Mason is real, check out his performance in his last game of last years HS Playoffs.

Fridawg

May 5th, 2010
12:27 pm

I’m just glad that Bryan Evans will FINALLY be off the field for good now. Ealey, King, Green, and the OL give me hope for a decent offensive year. I think we’ll see lightyears of improvement from the secondary with new technique changes. The DL will struggle until we get the right personnel.

CFB fan.

May 5th, 2010
12:34 pm

UGA is a bad call against LSU and even worse defense away from beating them, getting our head right and keeping a lead against Kentucky, and they beat the ACC champs. UGA beat everyone’s picks this year to challenge Alabama out west in Auburn and Arkansas. Georgia is not far away. This season they drop Ok. State and Arizona St. and pick up two automatic wins. Not to mention they drop LSU and pick up Miss. St. I would say UGA, who has excellent talent will surprise many this year. It is about match ups. Tennessee will be way down, South Carolina will challenge UGA, and Florida is a probable loss. A one or two loss campaign with 11 wins is not a stretch. I say UGA will lose a close call to So. Car. and get thumped by loaded Florida. Their best wins being Arkansas, who Richt owns and a grown up Georgia will beat Auburn and Tech. The third best SEC team means a trip back to Orlando for a matchup with I would say, Wisconsin or Penn State.

chazzo

May 5th, 2010
12:43 pm

As usual, everyone is leaving THE most important thing out: THE DAWGS MUST DEVELOP TEAM MENTALITY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Reptillicide

May 5th, 2010
12:45 pm

I’m beyond caring about preseason rankings, they just don’t matter… but you haters that don’t think UGA belongs in a preseason top need to look at where UGA has finished in the top 25 over the past 9 years. Plainly speaking, they finish in the top 25 more frequently than almost any other program.

tormentor

May 5th, 2010
12:46 pm

CFB fan you really think so? The refs made the same call against LSU and if the UGA defense could tackle Charles Scott instead of whining with their fans and coaches, they would of won the game. I bet they lose to Arkansas, Auburn, South Carolina, Miss St and Florida.

HBTD

May 5th, 2010
12:54 pm

IF Dawgs can get past USC (big IF), they should head into Jax undefeated. SEC East championship is a better than not reality this year for the Dawgs.

11Dawg

May 5th, 2010
12:55 pm

No, tormentor, the refs make a different call, and LSU starts out further down the field, so they pass more and are more likely to make a mistake.

Reality

May 5th, 2010
12:57 pm

Someone doesn’t include uga in the pre-season top 25, and its a “snub?” How about it is a “fair evaluation?” Ever thought of that?

In fact, most top 25 lists only include 3 SEC teams. Yeah, that ‘mighty’ SEC conference that you guys crow about all of the time has only 3.

The reality of the SEC is that there are only 2 decent teams: AL and FL. The rest are average at best. However, I’m sure that no SEC would ever admit to reality and prefer to continue wearing those rose-colored glasses.

tormentor

May 5th, 2010
1:03 pm

No 11Dawg, did your sorry D miss tackle after tackle or not? There was still over a minute when Scott ran about 35 yards. Everybody has it in for jawja, ESPN, Holtz, Herbstreit, Corso, May (well I guess he really does), SEC refs, everybody. And make a mistake against your turnoverless secondary? Please wake up! Your D sucked.

F-105 Thunderchief

May 5th, 2010
1:06 pm

I actually know Staples and think he’s pretty astute. He’s just misinformed on this one, I think. UGA has all the pieces and I think will have the attitude change and better coaching to have a really good season.

tormentor

May 5th, 2010
1:09 pm

F-105 Thunderchief they still have losses to:Arkansas, Auburn, South Carolina, Miss St and Florida.

You know him personally? cause my son went to school with him.

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

May 5th, 2010
1:17 pm

Reality, the reality is when it’s ll said and done the SEC will have 5 or 6 in the top 25, no other conference is even close. See SC vs Clemson and Ga vs G Tech for confirmation of this inconvenient truth. (I know it hurts, but I don’t care)

NoGaGator

May 5th, 2010
1:19 pm

Reptillicide –

These rankings go in the CURRENT world reality.

The pre-season #1 pick in the polls in 2008, UGA spit the bit, losing 3 times. Last year they had 5 losses. That’s 8 in 2 years. UGA has a new QB, a new DC and has to replace 6 starters on D.

You need to be in the present, not the past 9 yrs before the last 2 because the polls aren’t. You sound like the UGA fans who try to make UGA a better current program than UF by going back to past eras while ignoring the fact that UGA’s recent record against UF is 3-17.

Have a good record this year, then talk because the Dogs will have then earned it.

JB

May 5th, 2010
1:26 pm

9-3 and play in chicken bowl in atlanta on the downside…..10-2 on the up……play in Fla. somewhere New years day.

george

May 5th, 2010
1:26 pm

Top 25???????????????????????? ha ha ha ha ha ha that makes me laugh when if sayig it and UGA in the same sentence. brand new d, new qb, NO depth at wr, and on and on and on. And by the way the best kicker and punter in the SEC?????????? can i please have some of the crack you are on. Dawgs will lose to Fl, AU, and USC no doubt. U will also lose to either ark or tech. 8-4 and a trip to the dome for the puppies.

F-105 Thunderchief

May 5th, 2010
2:12 pm

Then your son went to UF, right? UGA wins four of those five, tormentor, and Florida ain’t necessarily an L for the Dawgs.

Yeah right

May 5th, 2010
2:15 pm

A freshman qb who hasn’t played in 2 years! And even more funny that dawg fans have to discuss if their team is top 25 with all those great recruiting classes!

Smells like another 7-5 season

Portland Dawg

May 5th, 2010
2:22 pm

same old haters as usual. Go find something else to do if UGA is such an afterthought. It’s amazing how many people who think UGA football is a joke continue to obsess and follow the Dawgs. Get a life!

george

May 5th, 2010
2:22 pm

“florida aint necessarily an L for the dawgs” ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Portland Dawg

May 5th, 2010
2:26 pm

george….you’re on the “Junkyard Blawg”….what makes us laugh is your pathetic life trolling blogs that dont concern you….then again, maybe the Dawgs DO concern you and thats why you’re here. So transparent. LOL.

RxDawg

May 5th, 2010
2:28 pm

You think Evans was blackmailing the coaches? Let the conspiricies fly!

I think with our recent history and bowl win, we deserve a top 25 spot.

I never thought about Ealy and Green never really played together. That’s a good point. Still way too many questions to answer for me to get myself all worked up without seeing us after USC and Arkansas. Consider me the cautiously opptomistic fan.

RomeDawg

May 5th, 2010
2:30 pm

Thank God Willie is GONE! Good guy and I wish him luck in Oklahoma but he SUCKED as a DC! The schedule is too weak not to atleast win 9 and might surprise with 11 wins. GATA!!!

RxDawg

May 5th, 2010
2:31 pm

“May (well I guess he really does),”

tormentor, that’s pretty funny. He really does hate to say anything positive about UGA.

Portland Dawg

May 5th, 2010
2:32 pm

BTW, I couldnt care less about preseason polls, especially pre-preseason polls. They are meaningless, obviously. Respect is not awarded, it is earned. I look forward to seeing the Dawgs try and earn that respect come fall.

bug spray

May 5th, 2010
2:33 pm

The gaytors and the nerds will lose more games the DAWGS this year. The nerds will probably lose twice as many.

dale

May 5th, 2010
2:38 pm

It was personal between you and Evans.

GBrooks

May 5th, 2010
2:49 pm

yeah. they’ll go 7-5

Gillislee

May 5th, 2010
3:12 pm

Maybe top 25, but this is a sure bet……The Dawgs, coaches, and their fans will be sitting in front of the TV on January 10th for the 31st straight year….mark it down!

Say What???

May 5th, 2010
3:12 pm

I don’t see where some people are saying there is a lack of depth at reciever. UGA is for the vast majority of the time is gonna be in a pro set or pro I package with only two recievers on the field while occassionally dropping a TE or FB and going with a three reciever set. They currently have ’six’ guys to fill those ‘two’ or ‘three’ positions. Also taking in consideration that Orson Charles will split out wide on occassion, there is plenty of depth there.

76- Dawg

May 5th, 2010
3:20 pm

With a much better QB than last year, who ever it will end up being, an effort needs to try and , if nothing else, get the ball to the other teams 35 to 40 yard line so at least Blair Walsh can do his thing. I don’t think enough thinking , by BOBO , went into play calling to make sure you at least gave Walsh a shot at a field goal. Too many “hail Mary’s” to Green that didn’t work and UGA ended up 4th down and kicked. UGA could lose or win 3 or 4 games this year by a field goal made or missed. Auburn, Tennessee , Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Arkansas. all could be that close. UGA in the past , has won a lot of close games by setting up their field goal kicker the whole game. If they make a touchdown then great but at least they get a field goal try out of it. This was a big negative last year for BOBO..

tormentor

May 5th, 2010
3:30 pm

76, I wouldnt be so quick on him being better than cox. Murray looked worse in this years gday than last years. just sayin……..

Saint Simons

May 5th, 2010
3:44 pm

If you can’t count to 25 you shoudn’t be in the top 25!!!!!!!! hahahahahahaha

nickj0321

May 5th, 2010
3:45 pm

In a word – NO….LMAO its gonna be another rough year for the “dawgs”

SOUTHGADAWG88

May 5th, 2010
3:48 pm

David Greene looked horrible in the first THREE spring games he played.

tormentor

May 5th, 2010
3:59 pm

southie, Greene wasnt a midget either.

KimZ's Package

May 5th, 2010
4:00 pm

The dawgs play an easy schedule that should allow then to have a top25 ranking based on their record. The fact that the dawgs don’t play any real Bad A$$es this year should hurt them. Arkansas, Vols, and Tech are at home. Auburn is away but shouldn’t be too tuff. The dawgs couldn’t beat the gators even if the Gators didn’t show-up. A 6-6 La-Laf, 3-9 Colorado, 1-10 Idaho St., and 11-3 Tech real hard OCC for sure. The teams that are not TECH didn’t win as many games together as Tech won. And all dawgs will tell you they OWN Tech so that isn’t a hard game.

txdawg

May 5th, 2010
4:01 pm

Tormentor, of course he looked better in last year’s G-Day game, last year he was going against a WM coached defense. I would take this as a good sign for the overall team’s success b/c the offense will be getting quality reps in practice against an agressive D that will better prepare them for the SEC schedule.

76- Dawg

May 5th, 2010
4:09 pm

I think Murray is a great QB in High School and in 1-AA in college he would be great but in 1-A ,SEC I too worry about his size . At barely 6 FT Murray can’t be a pocket passer. He better be able to pick out receiver’s on the run and hit his mark. You need a lot of targets to throw to and they need to think that after running their route if Murray hasn’t run the ball yet they , the receiver’s , need to adjust and come back toward Murray hoping he can find them. This is going to be a big adjustment from what they are use to doing. BOBO better have everyone ready for a lot different look on offense .Unless, Ealey and King can gain 100 yards per game each.