Will anything less than a New Year’s Day bowl for Dogs be a ‘mega-disappointment’?

Justin Houston is seen as a big weapon for the Dogs' defense. (Georgiadogs.com)

Justin Houston is seen as a big weapon for the Dogs' defense. (Georgiadogs.com)

If you haven’t yet checked out CollegeFootballNews.com’s preview of the 2010 Georgia Bulldogs, by all means do so. It’s a remarkably optimistic and yet balanced look at the strengths and weaknesses of Mark Richt’s team.

Writes CFN’s Pete Fiutak: “Georgia can absolutely win the East and it can absolutely rise up at the right time to win the conference championship if everything breaks right. And lately, if you win the SEC Championship, big things tend to follow. No, this isn’t a national title team, but that’s not to say it can’t come back and rebound in a huge way.”

Fiutak correctly pegs the health of the veteran offensive line as a key to the season and says it might be “the best in America” if injuries are avoided. He thinks turning NFL prospect Justin Houston loose to harass quarterbacks will help ease the transition to a 3-4 defense.

And he notes that the team will be better than last year’s if “it wins the turnover battle and if it stops screwing up. Georgia, with enough talent and speed to hang around with anyone in the SEC, forced two fumbles and picked off 10 passes, while the offense gave it away 28 times. Alright, so takeaways aren’t necessarily indicative of success (Florida and Cincinnati only recovered three fumbles and Alabama came up with seven), but the knucklehead streak when it came to penalties didn’t help. The Bulldogs were flagged 105 times; only five teams got hit with more penalties.”

What about QB Aaron Murray? Fiutak says, “Murray isn’t all that big, but he has a next-level arm and has just enough talent to grow into the job over the next few years. If he’s outstanding right away, Georgia has a legitimate shot to win the SEC title. If he’s inconsistent, the ceiling is a Florida bowl on New Year’s Day.”

Another factor in the Dogs’ favor, Fiutak notes: “Georgia won’t be the best team in the SEC, but it has the schedule to look that way. Any SEC East team worth its salt would take this slate in a heartbeat. There’s no Alabama or LSU to deal with, Florida, as always, is at a neutral site, Tennessee is a home game, and the road games are at South Carolina, Mississippi State, Kentucky, and Auburn. Throw in a home date against Vanderbilt and anything less than a New Year’s Day bowl appearance will be a mega-disappointment.”

Fiutak is setting the bar high for the 2010 Dogs, saying their season will be a success if “Georgia wins the SEC East. If you’re going to catch Florida, do it now. The Bulldogs might still be growing, too, but they have the schedule and just enough talent to win the division to get to the SEC title game. For a team with so many concerns, anything else would be gravy. If this isn’t a division-winning year, 10-2 with a January 1st bowl game would signal a big bounceback.”

Is Fiutak expecting too much of a team that’s rebuilding its defense and starting a completely inexperienced quarterback? I tend to agree with the Senator, who thinks 2011 looks much more like the year of the Dawg.

But the CFN assessment isn’t pie-in-the-sky. Bama and Florida both lost a lot of talent off last year’s teams. Georgia’s schedule is favorable. The Dogs return 10 starters on offense. Willie Martinez is no longer in Athens. The big “ifs” are staying healthy, fixing that turnover ratio, cutting way back on penalties, continuing last season’s surge in the running game, and getting at least a decently productive first season out of Murray.

Still, I think it’s going a bit far to say that success for Georgia this season will be defined by whether it wins the SEC East or not. How about you?

METTENBERGER UPDATE

Former Dog Kelin Johnson has launched a Web site/blog and reports Zach Mettenberger told him he has two scholarship offers on the table — Louisville and Cincinnati — and has had heavy interest and calls from other schools, including Tennessee, USC, Texas A&M, Kentucky, Troy, Memphis and Colorado. So even if Mett doesn’t wind up at Louisville, the Dogs still could face their former teammate. You know CBS and/or ESPN would love that storyline.

253 comments Add your comment

dale

May 6th, 2010
11:15 am

I don’t know if Mett would want to play for a future UGA opponent, it would only bring up and rehash the details of his release from Georgia. I imagine he just wants that event to fade away.

38 Yardline Dawg

May 6th, 2010
11:16 am

Why get all hyped up over premature rankings and conjecture? I for one and disappointed we lost Mettenberger over what he did…and dread a day when he would be across the ball from us.

dap01

May 6th, 2010
11:24 am

Mettenberger is not the UGA QB. Who cares about where he goes?
Murray is our QB, the defense is going to be much improved. Our special teams will be much improved. Our running game will be much improved. Our offensive line will be a strenght and will be improved.
Our scheduling is much easier than last years.

Go Dawgs!

guy

May 6th, 2010
11:27 am

next year is totally the year!

Hutson Mason

May 6th, 2010
11:29 am

Don’t know about the record but one thing is for sure GA will lead the nation in arrests in 2010 BABY!!!!!!

ATL XMAN

May 6th, 2010
11:34 am

i wouldnt call it a mega dissapointment if uga doesnt get that new years day bowl but i would be suprised if they didnt. i agree with this guy completely with our team..we beat fla and get that chance to beat ala, who is about equal talent wise, we could be sitting pretty for the bowl season. it all goes back to UGA upperclassmen on the O-line. fla and ala had that same type of lines when they won the NC. our guys are talented enough to pretty good enough on defense this year to cause some havoc and murry will be fine as he had all last year to learn how to be a SEC qb andwhat it takes to be a winner at this level.

ATL XMAN

May 6th, 2010
11:35 am

just look at the schedules…tech could be 2-4 or 3-3 after the first 6 games with wins aginst south carolina st and Kansas and losses against North Carolina , north carolina st ,wake forest and virgina where they have just as much talent or more at every position than you guys do and with only 1 good player on your high school offense back there and a very weak defense, tech is in deep trouble…the Next 6 games are even harder. tech could finish up the year going 2-4 or 1-5 if duke sneaks a win from you wich they easily could. so that would make your final record 4-8 or 5-7 at best. the reason for the big drop off is that gailys NFL players are gone and thus your team is left with nesbit and about 20 or so div 1aa players to run that high school offense up against some off the better div 1a defenses in the acc…look foward to reading you techies post of how bad you guys need another coach asap about half way into the season..

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Mike

May 6th, 2010
11:36 am

I like UGA in 2010 & 2011. Richt will bounceback big-time, he always does. After the tough 200 & 2006, he finished in the top 3 in the country. After the difficult 2009, I expect a #1 finish. Richt has an amazing record against every good team on this year’s schedule except Florida, and they are WAY, WAY down (no tebow, no strong, 9 nfl players gone) , Florida might finish 3rd in the SEC East again, like Meyer did before. Florida QB Bentley is not tested and no better than Joe COX WAS AT THIS TIME LAST YEAR–AND COX WENT 8-5, , and the running game, well, 4 runs by the rb’s for 16 yards in the SEC Championship says it all.

Exley DAWG

May 6th, 2010
11:37 am

I agree totally with Mr. Fiutak. Screw 2011, we can win in 2010. No way Richt will have 3 mediocre seasons in a row. People….we have a jam up offense that will control the clock and wear down opponents. Our special teams which cost us games in past should be improved. Defense is the only question and it can’t be any worse than the last 2.

L-Dawg

May 6th, 2010
11:40 am

GLORY GLORY TO OLE’ GEORGIA!!!

ITS UNFORTUNATE, BUT WE HAVE TO ACCEPT REALITY THAT WE ARE STIL IN “REBUILDING MODE” THIS SEASON. BUT I SURE WAS PLEASED WITH THE SIGNS GIVEN AT THE END OF LAST SEASON.

PLEASE DONT EXPECT TOO MUCH OUT OF MURRAY. NOW MORE THAN EVER, WITH LEMAY COMING IN, I WISH WE HAD BURNED THAT RED SHIRT THAT WAS ON MURRAY’S BACK LAST SEASON, WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN INVALUABLE EXPERIENCE FOR THIS COMING SEASON.

WASHAUN, THIS IS GOING TO BE YOUR SEASON. I HOPE YOU STAY HEALTHY AND CONTINUE TO IMPROVE. I TRUST BEING THE SECOND YEAR IN THE SYSTEM, WE WILL SEE YOU SMARTER AND STRONGER THIS UPCOMING YEAR. YOU WILL GET LOTS AND LOTS OF OPPORTUNITIES, ESPECIALLY EARLY, WITH OUR UNPROVEN FRESHMAN QB RUNNING THE SHOW. YOU ARE THE ONE I PERSONALLY AM LOOKING FORWARD TO WATCHING.

TECH FANS…… {{{{{30-24}}}}} YOU KNOW IT STILL HURTS.

Sherman

May 6th, 2010
11:44 am

Why would USC want someone who has had one good scrimmage against the third team defense? Don’t see Coach Richt releasing him to an SEC or ACC school.

AceDawg

May 6th, 2010
11:44 am

CBS would “love” the story line of sexual assaulting QB returns to state of his sexual assault? Eh, I don’t know…

Anyway, the Dawgs with the same head coach as they’ve had for over 10 years means they should always be in a New Years Day bowl at minimum or bust scenario.

Let’s consider that UGA even last year was a couple plays away from also beating LSU and Kentucky, which would’ve gotten them to 10-3.
This year, don’t we expect the offense to be BETTER with Murray than Cox? This year, don’t we expect the defense to be BETTER with Grantham than Martinez at the helm. That is a check and check for me, so the Dawgs ought to speak cautiously but think optimistically. If Richt is the guy for our future still, he should be able to prove it by having a very strong year and by pounding a few of the wannabee teams like Arkansas.

ugaaccountant

May 6th, 2010
11:45 am

TALKING IN CAPS IS STUPID!!!!

OEJ

May 6th, 2010
11:46 am

I honestly think the defense is what is going to help us. They wont be great yet, but they will be. The only thing that im really focusing on is the play of the secondary. With the new deense there is more man defense and i hope there arent a lot of pass interference calls. But if the secodary can improve form last year the defense should be ok, everything else should be fine on defense especially with more blitzing being done. The offense should be fine, and if we do good this year next year could be our year.

OEJ

May 6th, 2010
11:47 am

“I meant defense”

nam dog

May 6th, 2010
11:49 am

transfered from the dogs to the u of s vietnam in 66 cmr is no vince, but maybe his policys will pay off ps we have qbs we dont need the showboat from nc

Sam

May 6th, 2010
12:02 pm

38, I am not clear on your post. Do you think that Mett did not deserve to get tossed off the team for the sexual battery charge or that Mett did it?

ugaclassof2004

May 6th, 2010
12:04 pm

OK first off…

Uga has a GOOD offense line but not a GREAT one. They really didn’t start playing well until the end of the year, and even then they were better at run blocking than pass blocking. I can’t even count how many passes were batted down at the line of scrimmage and anyone who has ever played football knows that’s the O-line’s fault for not getting their hands up. Also, the teams that they did have success running the ball on( Auburn, Tech, Texas A & M) were lousy against the run. So I can’t determine if our line was really good or if the opponents D-line/LB’s really sucked. Perhaps a bit of both?

As for the New Year’s bowl game, it’s possible for this team to make the Outback or maybe the Chick-fil-A bowl, but beyond that is a bit unrealistic. This team just as too many questions marks!

L-Dawg

May 6th, 2010
12:06 pm

ugaaccountant- so is your wife

Dan

May 6th, 2010
12:11 pm

10-3 would be a good season, we are young, have QB questions, new defense, a weak schedule, and tend to drop a game we have no business losing (Kentucky last year, SC in 2008, etc.)

McDawg

May 6th, 2010
12:16 pm

we need to recruit some LBs

SSIgator

May 6th, 2010
12:16 pm

“Florida, as always, is at a neutral site”

Not according to the UGA folks. To hear them talk about it you would think that UGA only gets 10,000 tix for the game. Whiners.

Otto

May 6th, 2010
12:26 pm

Special teams will be the biggest help this year, mostly kick coverage.

Defense should improve but will likely blow some assignments. If the defense just finished tackles the past few years UGA wins several close game. I doubt that is a problem with the new coaches.

Offense…we’ll see I’m not very up on this year. The running game took off on teams that were soft on the run, Vandy, GT (pull up the Miss. St and Iowa box scores), and an Auburn team that was very thin at LB. Murray didn’t look that good in the spring game. If CMR takes over a very large part of the game planning and play calling the year could turn out very well. I think UGA had a very good OL last year and a decent RB tandom maybe trio with Jackson but bland playcalling made them work for every yard.

I expect a Florida bowl, Outback or Capital One after a 3 or 4 loss season. 2011 is the year UGA should aiming for a SEC title.

K-Town Dawg

May 6th, 2010
12:30 pm

I fully expect the D to be much better. The fact is that the roster is littered with talent from years of high profile recruiting and the chances of ALL of those recruits being busts is virtually zero. So, the talent is there. I for one, want to see some smash mouth football including a blitz heavy defense and a strong dose of the run game on offense. The Dawgs really need some headhunters to step up. If Rambo and the Hitman deliver as promised, I expect a positive turnover margin with a few pick sixes. Hopefully CTG can get a pass rush going.

The other big thing is Aaron Murray. I personally think the kid has the knowledge, moxie, and heart to come up big time. I also think his accuracy and running ability will keep defenses guessing just enough to keep them honest. CMR also has a chip on his shoulder and has rediscovered the fire in his belly. Renewed team discipline and a fiery CTG propel the Dawgs to 10 or 11 wins.

I think the Dawgs will suprise this year, but hope always springs eternal.

[...] Green and Brandon Boykin could both leave Georgia after their upcoming junior seasons.5.  Is it New Year’s Day bowl or bust for the Dawgs this year?6.  This blogger says dismissed Georgia quarterback Zach Mettenberger is getting calls [...]

SSIgator

May 6th, 2010
12:31 pm

The only way UGA plays a New Years Day bowl is if they move the Shreveport bowl to January 1st.

Otto

May 6th, 2010
12:32 pm

SSIgator, Jax is neutral, the travel time is about the same for the teams, and better coaching (game plan and execution) has won majority of the games.

A UGA fan.

PS I still don’t want Urban despite the compliment above.

how2fish

May 6th, 2010
12:43 pm

I think we could go 9-4 , 10-3 but with some breaks and IF the D is half as improved as we are HOPING and IF our running game is picking up where it left off last year and IF the QB play is decent we could end up playing for the SEC East. Lot of IF’s but we shall see…but No not a mega dissapointment…2011 well that maybe a differnet story.

italian_29

May 6th, 2010
12:53 pm

AceDawg, I don’t know if the offense will be better with Murray than Cox, the offense wasn’t really a HUGE problem last year, we scored enough points, in most games, to win, the D, stupid penalties, T.O.s and Lousy arm tackling killed us, not to mention awful kick coverage that gave opposing team a short field. I think we will have alot of things fixed, like the stupid penalties, looking back for the ball while in coverage will take care of a few of those, but there are some BIG questions. How fast does the team pick up the 3-4, how does Murry cope with real game situations, and of course how much does CMR involve himself in the Offensive play calling. I also don’t think FL will be down as bad as everyone is thinking, that team has some talent, all around, but if we are going to get them, it better be this year.

76- Dawg

May 6th, 2010
12:56 pm

For those of you that have your doubts about Murray I think he will be night and day better than Cox. Cox had a lot of passes caught by Green and others that were completed only because of the great ability of our receivers. In the Oklahoma State game Cox should have had 6 or 7 passes intercepted but when he threw the ball right into the chest of the Okla. State defenders it surprised them so much they dropped the should be interception. That happened all year. Also, it took 6 games before we found a tailback. If the offense stay’s healthy we will average 38 to 40 pts. per game easily and if it wasn’t for CMR’s conservative way’s, running the ball 40 or more times per game, UGA would average 45 to 50 pts per game this year. UGA is going to have a great offense this year. CAN’T WAIT!

italian_29

May 6th, 2010
12:57 pm

how2fish, you and I are on the same wavelength. I think we could pull out 10-3, but I wouldn’t be disappointed in 9-4. 2011, is the year that I will be mad, if we aren’t in contention for at least the SEC title.

Crazy Dawg

May 6th, 2010
12:58 pm

Sugar Bowl all the way! The DAWGS

Crazy Dawg

May 6th, 2010
1:00 pm

NOLA OR BUST! The DAWGS are shooting for the sugar bowl! I just be facetious and say maybe the Nat’l Championship, it a possibility.

Lane Pimpin

May 6th, 2010
1:02 pm

Poodle fans will be elated to be anywhere but Shreveport during bowl season. Shreveport is a long distance for UGA fans to ride tractors. Somewhere like the Peach is up the UGA alley, so that fans who never get to see the SEC championship can at least attend a game in the Dome.

Minnesota Dawg

May 6th, 2010
1:04 pm

Dawgs need to just stay under the radar, take care of business and then whoop them gators!

Minnesota Dawg

May 6th, 2010
1:06 pm

Lane Pimpin, we are not Poodles, but Junk Yard DAWGS!!!!! Watch your backside!

Ol Bawl Coach

May 6th, 2010
1:09 pm

No disappointment; they liked Shreveport.

1eyedJack

May 6th, 2010
1:19 pm

While we are wishing for the future I’m going to wish for 14-0. Then should we lose one I’m wishing for 12-1. Then….

Realistically, any right-minded Dawg should hope for 10+ wins every year.

Dorsey Hill

May 6th, 2010
1:46 pm

If you aren’t playing on New Year’s Day or later you are in Shreveport, Nashville or Birmingham, so absolutely that’s a disappointment. Given the way the schedule works out anything worse than a 6-2 Conference record is a disappointment. We have 5 really big conference games: UT, UF, Arky, USC and Auburn. We need to go at least 3-2 in those games. MSU, Vandy and UK ought to be considered automatic even if that’s not the reality.

Then to finish worse than 10-2 it means you’ve lost to Colorado or Tech which would also be a disappointment. So it would seem that, absent serious injury issues, that 10-2 is the mark to reach or to better. I wouldn’t slit my wrists over 9-3, but it wouldn’t be entirely satisfactory either.

My prediction has been and remains that we win the East with a record of 6-2 or better.

Pago Pago Dawg

May 6th, 2010
1:46 pm

If we can’t beat UF/UT/UK it really doesn’t matter does it!

dale

May 6th, 2010
1:47 pm

I absolutely can’t wait for 2014. LeMay will be a senior and if some of the recruits currently in 8th grade pan out we’re going to be looking good.

I am the dog

May 6th, 2010
1:50 pm

Atl axeman….you must be 8…and add…dogs muster 7 wins and Tech gets 9. wishing wont get it done fellas. Florida beats us by 30.

Sweet Home...

May 6th, 2010
2:01 pm

UGA playing in a bowl on New Years Day? When did they move the Liberty Bowl to Jan 1??

poopdawg

May 6th, 2010
2:09 pm

I would be happy with 4-8, as long as the wins are SC, TENN, GT and the Stinking Gators!

AltamahaDawg

May 6th, 2010
2:15 pm

“And he notes that the team will be better than last year’s if “it wins the turnover battle and if it stops screwing up.”

Just hang on, while I go get the ladder.

chuck

May 6th, 2010
2:29 pm

Better be careful overlooking Dan Mullen in Starkville this year. I wouldn’t be so quick to chalk that one up for the Dawgs just yet.
If Murray goes down, we are totally and completely screwed. All you need to know about Logan is that he couldn’t beat out the red headed stepchild. And for all of you goobers chomping at the bits for Mason, are you kidding me? If this kid was freshman-ready, he would have been a much hotter recruit.

AltamahaDawg

May 6th, 2010
2:38 pm

With the change of the Gator Bowl, there are now 3 SEC/Big 10 matchups on New Years day in the sunshine state. Obviously the SEC will have at least one more in a BCS bowl. The Cotton Bowl usually takes an SEC team. Debatable if (Jan 2) is a technicality or qualifies in the New Years day-esque spirit of the question. The SEC could very well send half it’s team to Bowl games in January this year.

ca dawg

May 6th, 2010
2:47 pm

good piece, bill. i agree that we could win the east this year, but that it is silly to say anything less would be a disappointment. we absolutely need to win more games than last year, but i’ll measure success this year less by W’s and L’s than by substantial improvement in what have been problems areas the last couple of years: fewer penalties, blown defensive assignments and turnovers, better tackling and kick coverage, a more consistent pass rush, and getting our hands on more turnovers. if we do those things, i’m happy to let the chips fall where they may.

i’m cautiously optimistic about next year. there is definitely a new energy in the program and i think CMR looks reinvigorated. we’re more talented across the board than last year, and our schedule is considerably more forgiving. the secondary and running game are going to be our strengths. major concerns are at QB and the front 7 on defense. we are a little thin up front and may need a couple of freshman (tj stripling and garrison smith) to step up and contribute.

ARdawg

May 6th, 2010
2:56 pm

Anything less than a New Years day bowl is a season failure. I agree with Flutak and he is optimistic as well as I. Last two years our schedule was a Murderer’s row. This year, not so much the case. It’s no cake walk but doable and lined up to where UGA could do some sneaking into an SECCG. Other than your Georgia faithful, nobody is looking out for us in 2010. We could do great things with a few breaks. Staying healthy and away from penalties being the top of the list.

KimZ's Package

May 6th, 2010
3:17 pm

minnesota: JUNKYARD DAWG? Don’t you mean Excercise Yard Butt Sniffer! Even with the QB and other issues, the Lame schedule UGA has this year should allow the Clarke Central High QB win 8 games for the Dawgs. 3 of your OOC teams together only won 10 games, and not real dawg fear TECH right? That is 4 wins with your scout team playing right?