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

tormentor

May 5th, 2010
4:10 pm

txdawg thats not a good argument because while he looked terrible, Mett and Logan looked better than last year. Believe me, Lemays dad watched several practices and thought Mett was much better, and after he was kicked off, Lemay knew his son had a good chance of coming in right away and unseating Murray.

JS

May 5th, 2010
4:11 pm

Should be ranked around 20. QB & FLA are the huge questions.

JB

May 5th, 2010
4:14 pm

Drew Bree’s……6′0″ 209 lbs. Winner and MVP of super bowl last year. Buck Blue was a marginal size and talent, but found a way to win….of course he had Erk holding the other team to 10 points or so every week.

JB

May 5th, 2010
4:15 pm

Richt had lot’s of good things to say out loud in Augusta last week about Murray. I trust Richt.

Dan

May 5th, 2010
4:24 pm

I’m a Tech fan but Schlabauch is pretty objective. In this case, I think he’s right about UGA’s ranking. I think the defense is probably a mystery but it won’t have to be good to start the season. UL-L will be an easy win and USC’s offense couldn’t score on Paris Hilton with Garcia running it.

As long as UGA doesn’t turn it over with the alarming frequency they did last year and they can do something about the penalties, they’ll probably win around 9 or 10 games, but likely not go to Atlanta.

CM

May 5th, 2010
4:41 pm

3 sec teams ranked! The mighty powerful sec has 3! And uga fans are whining as usual. Baby beyotches.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/andy_staples/05/03/post-spring/index.html

Perspective

May 5th, 2010
4:45 pm

NOBODY knows ANYTHING about this team. My guess is that Murray probably would have played last year had it not been for his shoulder injury early on. A couple of pump fakes last year and we win two more games. The offense WILL be better… that’s a fact. The defense will create more turnovers if nothing else, thus allowing less scoring and increased possession time for the offense… AND better FIELD POSITION. Oh, Coach Belin has already been quoted saying that the best players will play on special teams… and BUTLER and WALSH will show off too. 10 wins is not a stretch. It’s the early games that worry me the most. LSU fan… you almost got beat by us last year… and we were stinking it up… and the year before that we wiped your face in the turf in Baton Rouge. GT’s – we run this state. Gators, we lead the series so chill…

Hmmmm

May 5th, 2010
4:45 pm

For sure not a top 25 team at the start. I think they may be able to surprise some people, but I look for them to finish 3rd in the East. The only problem is that the East isn’t really that competitive anymore. The SEC will be held up by the West for the next two or three years, at least.

rolling tide

May 5th, 2010
4:52 pm

The best UGA can hope for is a fast start and someone in the east upsets Florida. I do agree they should have a pre-season rank given the past 9 years. The only issue they’ve had is getting over that Florida hump and I hope they finally do. The timing is perfect right now with Florida having a new QB and Tennessee stinking it up the next couple of years. It’s been a REALLY long time since UGA beat both in the same year.

atlvol55

May 5th, 2010
4:52 pm

For what’s its worth, Schlabach also picked (I’m pretty sure I’m accurate, although someone may correct me) Georgia to win EVERY game last year on the CSS weakly sports show…

Sherlock

May 5th, 2010
5:00 pm

I think the season will hinge on whether or not Murray re-injures his arm. If so, the season could be down the tubes. If not, and he lives up (even modestly) to expectations, UGA could have a pretty good year. But I really wonder about Murray’s durability.

Sherlock

May 5th, 2010
5:01 pm

Have you GOT that ?

Reality

May 5th, 2010
5:05 pm

HBGD says, UGA is more likely than not to win the SEC east…Hell, they should win it every year….dream on……….

Einsteindawg

May 5th, 2010
5:12 pm

Bryan Evans…thank you for signing with UGA to play football, and you’re welcome for the $200,000+ in scholarship money you received. There has to be a reason that Willie (and Mark) continued to start you other than your lack of ability.

Bulldog59

May 5th, 2010
5:17 pm

Murray was the #3 rated QB in the country coming out of HS, and Meyer was highly disappointed he didn’t commit to the Gators. He will be fine once he gets comfortable in there.

The D, after some early mistakes will settle in to this new scheme and be very strong in the second half of the season.

South Carolina, Arkansas, Florida, and Auburn, are all potential stumbling blocks for the Dogs. The rest of the schedule is all 10+ point wins for the Dogs.

76- Dawg

May 5th, 2010
5:17 pm

I know Drew Bree’s name is mentioned a lot when talking about Murray but even as great as his statistics were at Purdue the win loss record 1998 was 9-4 , 1999 was 7-5 , and 2000 8-4 . Great individual stats. but team record not to good. May be good enough to win the BIG TEN but want even come close in the SEC.

SOUTHGADAWG88

May 5th, 2010
5:37 pm

Bama didn’t exactly have a stud at QB imo.

dagnabit

May 5th, 2010
5:40 pm

Looks to me like Georgia gets the wheels back on for this season. Somewhere in the top 25 for sure.

Me

May 5th, 2010
5:54 pm

I just love revisionist history…”Aaron Murray beat out Logan Gray and Zach Mettenberger before Mettenberger was dismissed”…….NO HE DID’NT!! Murray was not announced the number one guy until it became clear that Mettenberger was no longer a part of the team. Everybody was thinking he was the starter and was wondering why the hesitation?? Then there was even some speculation going around that in fact Logan Gray could be the starter after his superior performance in the spring game. THEN when Richt came out with the depth chart, Logan Gray went to him to tell him he was outta there. But Richt backed off saying it was really still anyones job in the fall…… Man!

KimZ's Package

May 5th, 2010
6:01 pm

I hear Mason is the real deal and will beat Murry for the job. I don’t think Mason makes it the whole year as a redshirt even if Grey stays.

Small Johnson

May 5th, 2010
6:14 pm

The mystery for me is how Captain Nemo Martinez landed another job at a division 1 program much less was kept after his second yr at UGA.

yeah whatever!

May 5th, 2010
6:34 pm

Top 25 lets see

hmmmmm

under Richt

He is 24-7 against the SEC West.

He is 28-16 against the SEC East.

He is 38-4 against nonconference opponents.

He is 8-1 against Georgia Tech.

He won four of his first five games against Tennessee, but has lost three of the last four against the Vols since then.

He was born the same year as Chuck D of Public Enemy.

Ranks third in winning percentage among active college coaches that have coached for at least five years, now that Pete Carroll left USC for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks.

He is 90-27, trailing only Urban Meyer (96-18) and Bob Stoops (117-29).\\yeah he is pretty damn good

Mark Richt is one of only six coaches to win two SEC football championships in their first five years coaching. He is also one of only five head coaches in SEC history to record four straight 10-win seasons

Coach Richt’s Red and Black outfits have never posted a losing record in conference play and six of his last eight squads have finished 6-2 or better in regular-season SEC contests.

Mark Richt’s overall success in Southeastern Conference action—including two SEC titles, three conference championship game appearances, and four finishes of no worse than tied for first place in the East, with no losing records in the process—is without parallel in Georgia football history.

Ere anyone attempts to argue that Coach Richt’s superb out-of-conference ledger is the product of schedules stacked with the likes of

Northwestern State,

Western Kentucky,

Tennessee Tech, and

Hawaii in the 2008 Sugar Bowl,

I should hasten to point out that he is 21-4 against

Arizona State,

Boise State,

Boston College,

Clemson,

Colorado,

Florida State,

Georgia Tech,

Michigan State,

Oklahoma State,

Purdue,

Texas A&M,

Virginia Tech,

West Virginia, and

Wisconsin.

Even if we factor out Division I-AA teams, Sun Belt squads, and similar schedule fodder, Coach Richt is .840 against teams from automatic BCS-qualifying conferences other than the SEC. (Yes, I’m going ahead and counting the Broncos in that category because the Mountain West will get a guaranteed bid as soon as Boise State is invited to join.)

There are those in Bulldog Nation who would like to see Mark Richt run out of town on a rail. Such people should be turned over to the custody of Mike Leach, in the hope that he will treat their obvious head trauma the way he treated Adam James’s

One, two, free, fo, fi, dem der Gator don't take no jive!

May 5th, 2010
6:52 pm

Preach it Statrick!! Keep those “stats”. They’re only going to continue to get worse as each year passes. Dawgs have definetly bakcslid the last 2 years and I don’t see any major imrpovements for this year. Too many holes to fill on the D and implement a new scheme at the same time. The O has tons of talent but huge question mark at QB. Lastly, Richt still has to prove that he can correct the penalties and tunovers. That was upposed to happen (again) last year and we all know how that turned out. I do think UGA is headed back in the right direction, but honestly beilve it’s still about 2-3 years away.

yeah whatever!

May 5th, 2010
7:00 pm

backslide last two years?

2008.lost 18 scholly players due to season ending injury PRIOR to game 3 and STILL won 10 games…a bowl and finished top ten. THATS pure coaching. I will give you 2009

One, two, free, fo, fi, dem der Gator don't take no jive!

May 5th, 2010
7:03 pm

Pre-season #1 and lose 3 games? Sorry, but I don’t need you to “give” me anything. I get what I EARN…..just like the Dawgs!

yeah whatever!

May 5th, 2010
7:05 pm

2008 preseason PRIOR to losing 18 players to season ending injury PRIOR to game 3….10 wins…a bowl win..and top ten finish…I will give you 2009

yeah whatever!

May 5th, 2010
7:06 pm

Name another team in CFB history that lost 18 scholly players to season ending injury that won 10 games….a bowl and finished top ten…I will wait…should I order pizza?

One, two, free, fo, fi, dem der Gator don't take no jive!

May 5th, 2010
7:07 pm

Didn’t realize injuries weren’t part of the game for UGA. Sorry, no one else in the country had any that year did they? More excuses than a 15 year old that stayed out 2 hours late and came home smelling of booze. Like I said….you get what you EARN!!!!

Geno

May 5th, 2010
7:07 pm

Mark Richt has finished in the top 25 8 of of 9 seasons, top 10, 6 out of 9 years. Anyone who doesn’t have Georgia top 25 hasn’t done their homework.

With Richt, every 3 years you get:
1 National Championship run
1 top 10 finish
1 top 25 finish

Not bad.

yeah whatever!

May 5th, 2010
7:09 pm

rephrase….”that lost 18 scholly players PRIOR TO GAME 3″ and still won 10 games… a bowl….and finished top ten…..have you found one yet or should I wait until my pizza gets here and ask again

yeah whatever!

May 5th, 2010
7:10 pm

if it is so common to lose that many scholly players….it should not be all that hard to name another one….the pizza is almost here

yeah whatever!

May 5th, 2010
7:12 pm

so a top ten finish and 10 wins and a bowl win is not earning something? Oh OK who knew…oh did I mention that Richt did it WITH 18 scholly players out with season ending injury PRIOR to game 3?

yeah whatever!

May 5th, 2010
7:15 pm

I am sorry I actually thought 10 wins and a bowl victory and a top ten finish is something not only earned but very good…oh and did I mention that he did it all the while without 18 scholly players that had season ending injuries prior to game 3?

yeah whatever!

May 5th, 2010
7:17 pm

Pizza is here…should I give you more time to find another of the numerous overwhelming large amount of teams that lost 18 scholly players that went on to win 10 games, a bowl and a top ten finish?

KimZ's Package

May 5th, 2010
7:17 pm

yeah whatever 18 out of 85 scholarship players hurt? So, that is why UGA has all those 4 & 5 star high school kids on the team. UGA could start an Athens 8th grader start at QB and win 6 games on your easy schedule in 2010. Tech was 11-3 your 3 other OOC teams were 10-25. HAHAHAHA boy what a hard OCC schedule to over come.

One, two, free, fo, fi, dem der Gator don't take no jive!

May 5th, 2010
7:17 pm

Thanks for the history lesson. Let me know how that fits in the trophy case. NC run??? Now that’s funny. You can’t be in the NC game if you can’t even win your own DIVISION in your own conference. Talk about delusional!!

Me

May 5th, 2010
7:18 pm

Yesterdays third team QB and spring game underperformer…today’s consensus #1 guy “all along” and future All American. What a joke!

yeah whatever!

May 5th, 2010
7:18 pm

But I will give you 2009

yeah whatever!

May 5th, 2010
7:20 pm

ok Kim…so you found another team with that many losses that finished top ten and won 10 games and a bowl?

One, two, free, fo, fi, dem der Gator don't take no jive!

May 5th, 2010
7:21 pm

Don’t waste your time looking, Kim. injuries are part of the game. Excuses are for children and cowards. Guess which one this guy is.

Me

May 5th, 2010
7:23 pm

I just can’t imagine being satisfied with my present day team and program because of what they did 5-9 years ago. But if you are, God bless ya. Maybe you’ll get LUCKY one day and actually win something again.

yeah whatever!

May 5th, 2010
7:23 pm

UGA won its division in 2007. You obviously dont know college football. Tenn and UGA were co champs. Tenn advanced to the SEC title game based on beating the other co champion.

Go to the middle of page you will see the SEC east titles UGA has

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgia_Bulldogs_football

yeah whatever!

May 5th, 2010
7:25 pm

injuries are part of the game…and since it is, UGA buckled down and WON TEN GAMES, A BOWL AND FINISHED TOP TEN. A very good year WITHOUT injuries an awesome coaching job WITH those injuries

KimZ's Package

May 5th, 2010
7:26 pm

SEC EAST Title what trophy comes with that? A T-shirt and Car Tag for the fans and a Handicap Diploma for the players.

yeah whatever!

May 5th, 2010
7:27 pm

I have finished the Pizza…going to grab a beer. let me know when you find any team in the 125 years of college football that had 18 scholly players out and still won 10 games, a bowl and finished top ten. Oh thats right…you cant. hmmmm

yeah whatever!

May 5th, 2010
7:28 pm

what comes with it….. is proof that morons that say UGA didnt win the SEC east are just that…morons

yeah whatever!

May 5th, 2010
7:29 pm

still waiting for Kim and the other moron to give the list of those overwhelming numbers of teams with that kinda loss in injuries that was that successful. Do you think I will ever get that list?

KimZ's Package

May 5th, 2010
7:30 pm

07 was funny at Tech. We lost to UGA but it was so funny when They told the VOLS score. You could hear all the UGA hearts sink. They were real drunk and P..sed off after that even though they won.

yeah whatever!

May 5th, 2010
7:30 pm

Game, Set, Match.

One, two, free, fo, fi, dem der Gator don't take no jive!

May 5th, 2010
7:31 pm

Nice website. Bet that last NC is worth some money by now. Gotta be considered an antique by now don’t ya think?????