Dogs drawing mixed predictions in SEC race

If Aaron Murray can lead the Dogs past South Carolina, just how far can Mark Richt's team go? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

If Aaron Murray can lead the Dogs past South Carolina, just how far can Mark Richt's team go? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Amid all the speculation about Jim Tressel being toast and Will Muschamp’s Gators being toasted (giving new meaning to the “Florida Way”!), some college football observers have been paying a bit of attention to Mark Richt’s 2011 Dogs, who seem to have become something of a dark horse favorite in the SEC East.

As I wrote last week, Georgia has a high-risk start to its season that could pay off big, opening with Boise State and South Carolina. And while the game against the Broncos has the higher profile, the meeting in Athens with the Gamecocks could have more impact on UGA’s season, since a win there would put the Dogs in the driver’s seat in a division where Florida and Tennessee are rebuilding and Kentucky and Vandy are Kentucky and Vandy.

Barrett Sallee of College Football News says that with “the quarterback issues at South Carolina, the offensive ineptitude that Florida showed in its spring game, and the way Georgia’s schedule shapes up, the SEC East is there for Georgia’s taking. If the Bulldogs beat South Carolina the second week of the season, they absolutely have to get to Atlanta. They don’t play Arkansas, LSU and Alabama this season — the three primary contenders in the SEC West. Plus they get Auburn and Mississippi State, the next two in line on the other side of the division, at home. Sure, the Florida game in Jacksonville is always a tough matchup for the Bulldogs, but even if they lose that game, it’s hard to find two more losses on the schedule, provided that they get past the Gamecocks.”

Where will the 2011 Dogs finish in the SEC East?

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Not everyone is convinced, however. CBSSports.com has had a poll up asking where Georgia will finish in the SEC East, and as of this morning the largest chunk of voters, 38 percent, were pegging the Dogs to finish third in the division. Fifteen percent saw UGA in first, 22 percent in second, 14 percent in fourth, 4 percent in fifth and 7 percent in sixth.

That’s a fairly underwhelming assessment considering that as poorly as Georgia played overall last season the Dogs still managed to finish third in the SEC East.

We haven’t done a poll in a while here, so let’s see if Blawg readers are as pessimistic as those at the CBS site, or whether you’re thinking the CFN view is closer to the mark. Feel free to vote in the poll, comment, or do both.

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398 comments Add your comment

Jeff

April 26th, 2011
10:24 am

Everyone’s predictions are valid.

Jeff

April 26th, 2011
10:26 am

Honestly, there is no excuse to not win th eeast this year. It’s right there for the taking…

Dean Tate

April 26th, 2011
10:27 am

The optimist in me says first, the realist says third. Sure, Florida’s down. They were down last year. They’ve beaten us 4 or 5 times when we were the better team. As for South Carolina, it’s a winnable game if we can tackle Lattimore.

Daniel's Dawgs

April 26th, 2011
10:29 am

that is why they play the games.

Timbodog

April 26th, 2011
10:31 am

Realistically, third. We’ll lose to Florida and one of either Tennessee or South Carolina

DawginLex

April 26th, 2011
10:32 am

Justin Houston confirms Chritian Robinson’s statements.

Flunk a drug test 2 days before the draft?

This guy was our leader last year?

No wonder we went 6-7.

I have no idea whether we can beat Boise and SC. We could win those and get swept by the Mississippi schools. UT on the road won’t be fun and florida is still loaded with talent on defense.

I’ve said 9-3 and I think i will stick to that.

Dawgs97

April 26th, 2011
10:33 am

Not to be pollyanna Dawgs fan, but yes, I think we win the East this year and I think we win the East for two primary reasons:

1) Aaron Murray will be the best Quarterback in the SEC and one of the best in the country

2) our Defense will be “night and day” better than last year, starting wit those beats we have up front, Jenkins and Geathers. Todd Grantham’s system now has legit stars (add in guys like Branden Smith, Ogletree and Jarvis Jones to boot).

But look at Auburn last year – star, top notch Quarterbackl and stout leaders on defense – that’s the blueprint. If Georgia doesn’t win the East or at minimum, come out of THIS schedule with 10 wins, Mark Richt’s time will (sadly) be up.

Timbodog

April 26th, 2011
10:33 am

Lucky for Richt we don’t play Arkansas, LSU, or Alabama this year. That’s three automatic losses off the schedule.

But Miss State will still beat us, and Auburn is a toss-up.

We should beat Ole Miss, Vandy, and Kentucky.

DawginLex

April 26th, 2011
10:34 am

I still can’t get over the stupidity of Justin Houston.

No wonder the rest of the league laughs at us.

It is disgusting.

Dawgs97

April 26th, 2011
10:34 am

DawginLex,

I can’t see us losing to Ole Miss. I am sorry, that’s a BAD football team who recently lost their top defensive player.

And Miss State is a good football team but we get them in between the hedges. I got us sweeping the Mississippi schools. We’d have to really go out of our to lose both of those.

JaxDawg05

April 26th, 2011
10:35 am

Nobody thinking the Bulldogs will do well this year is EXACTLY where I like them to be, lying in the weeds.

Timbodog

April 26th, 2011
10:35 am

The sad thing is 9-3 is not a good record with this schedule, but it will save Richt’s job

GaGator

April 26th, 2011
10:35 am

If Georgia doesnt win the east this year it may not happen for a while…..If the Gators come out of October games with Bama, LSU, Auburn, and GA with no more than one loss they will win the east.

I know Barstools

April 26th, 2011
10:35 am

I think we still beat Tennessee this year. Carolina will be tough, and Florida is Florida. We will of course beat the Nerds.

ChewDawg

April 26th, 2011
10:36 am

Before Sturdivant’s injury, I felt encouraged that UGA was the team to beat in the East. Now, it’s very unclear. Defense has come a long way. Murray will be the best QB in the SEC this year. But we have a roller coaster of a running game and our receivers, while talented, have yet to prove their ability to fill the gap left by AJ. Granted no one can replace an AJ Green. The one receiver who stepped it up during Green’s suspension, Kris Durham, is graduating. And a sketchy running game and unproven receivers won’t be helped by an o-line that just lost a key player.

Still, UGA has a lot of talent. With Richt’s new-found determination to harness that talent, I think they still have a shot at the East. But we’ll need some help…and a lot of luck.

OldFan

April 26th, 2011
10:36 am

We’ll have a winning season—barely. It’ll get better over time. This year the Dawgs move from mid-mediocrity to top-mediocrity. But at least we’re moving.

Timbodog

April 26th, 2011
10:37 am

I don’t care where we’re playing them, I don’t see us beating the other Bulldogs. Dan Mullen is the real deal.

Timbodog

April 26th, 2011
10:37 am

I say worst case scenario is 3-5, best case scenario is 5-3.

jay

April 26th, 2011
10:40 am

Much more concerned with SCarolina than little Boise St.

Timbodog

April 26th, 2011
10:40 am

I do have faith in Murray, but I don’t know about the rest of the team. I also don’t know if Murray can be counted on consistently when the pressure is on.

I am hopeful, but realistic.

Timbodog

April 26th, 2011
10:41 am

Silly attitude, jay…

Boise State will come in here and knock our teeth out if our players have the same attitude as you.

Timbodog

April 26th, 2011
10:44 am

Let’s consider the source for a moment here as well…collegefootballnews.com last year selected us as a preseason top 5 team.

Someone over there likes us…or really doesn’t like us, depending on how you see it.

RxDawg

April 26th, 2011
10:44 am

Well on one hand I want to get excited. I want to say Murrary should excell in his second year. UT and UF are down. Our defense should be able to stand up to USC’s running game better this year. Auburn is a revenge beat down if I ever saw it. UK and Vandy don’t seem to pose any real threat. Yeh, I’d like to get excited. But…

On the other hand, we lost to Colarado and UCF last year…. And the UCF game was just a few months ago. So until I see our boys put it together I’m just going to wait and see. No trash talking (well, not much) from me this preseason. It’s time to earn our credibility back. So I’m going to quietly sit back and pull for our boys to lay some wood again.

truedawg

April 26th, 2011
10:47 am

This is the year of the dawg….or the year CMR leaves. I hope he gets to stay and UGA plays up to the talent level they have. SC will be tough, so will the other bulldogs in Miss. Looking at the schedual I see no excuse for this team not winning the East. Tougher games for SC and for UF. I see only one loss this year in regular season, maybe SC or Miss state. With all of the problems at UF right now i believe a loss there is unexcuseable. But really this is a weak schedual after the first two games, and i really think Boise won’t be as tough of a game as SC, i see the dawgs beating the blue bellys with a strong D and a better running game this year. close at the half and pulling away by the 4th 35-10 GO DAWGS!! SC will be close, but it always is, look how close it was last year and we had a crappy D and a red shirt QB…and STILL SC didn’t blow the Dawgs out, welcome to ATHENS CHICKENS….we like our chicken fried!

Alabama | MrSEC.com

April 26th, 2011
10:48 am

[...] more info on Billy Donovan’s hire of hoops assistant Matt McCall from Florida Atlantic.2.  Pre-preseason publications are all over the board when it comes to Georgia’s finish in the SEC East this fall.3.  Here’s a look at [...]

ncb34

April 26th, 2011
10:49 am

miss. state scares me, it already looks like they’re being over looked?
this will be a good team, but that game worries me.

Dawgs97

April 26th, 2011
10:50 am

Wow, what a deflated group of Dawgs. We’ve had a bad stretch the last few years but we have the talent and the drive and the schedule. C’mon Dawgs, WAKE UP. Have hope…10-11 wins.

R U KIdding me

April 26th, 2011
10:53 am

We have NOBODY To catch the ball- young line and average D.
NO way we winn the East. No way

Timbodog

April 26th, 2011
10:54 am

ncb,
Not by me, man. I keep saying it, but as long as Mullen is there they’re just gonna keep getting better and better.

Most of my fellow Bulldog fans don’t wanna hear it, but Richt’s time is up as far as I’m concerned. We’ve gotta find a way to get Mullen in Athens. He’s the best coach in the conference right now.

BG

April 26th, 2011
10:55 am

GO DAWGS!! Aaron Murray is the #1 Qb in the SEC and 2011 will be very good to the Dawgs!

JDawg1785

April 26th, 2011
10:56 am

Mixed predictions are to be expected. The team played terribly last season and there should be no reason to easily assume they can win the East in 2011. That being said, the division is really up for grabs and it sounds like things in Athens are headed in the right direction.

Everyone knows that good defense wins SEC championships and it seems that CTG has done a good job of getting the right personnel in there in only his second year. Geathers and Jenkins should be terrifying up front, while Jones and Tree rush QBs all game long. The seconday is a little bit of an uncertainty but Smith and Boykin should have solid years.

Things on the offensive side of ball should be OK as well. The OL is still a huge question mark, but we have a gamer in Murray and T. King should be the guy to step up in A.J.’s role. Look for a huge year from Orson Charles, too. I’m expecting good things from Ken Malcome, who looked like a stud at G-Day, at RB. And who knows, Caleb King and/or Washaun Ealey could have good years, too. Crowell could also prove to be a reliable back as a true freshman. Lots of uncertainty, but nothing too ominous, IMO.

I’m staying optimistic and will say that the Dawgs should at least be a factor in the race this year, if not win it outright. But that’s why they play the game.

Go Dawgs!

DawginLex

April 26th, 2011
10:57 am

I guess we should be excited about 2011 since Justin houston is gone.

What an idiot.

So let’s think about this. You leave college early to get drafted. You interview with all these teams trying to convince them you have the character to be a good teammate. Then, you get caught smoking weed and flunk a drug test 2 days before the draft!

Does anyone think he was not doing drugs last year?
Is this why he was considered a “team cancer”???

Do we now believe that Christian Robinson was right?
Do we now believe that one Mr Robinson might be the high character leader we have DESPERATELY been looking for since David Pollack was in Athens?

I call all of this reason for optimism. Helps explain 6-7 doesn’t it?

Buckeye

April 26th, 2011
10:58 am

Not first. Not last. Just another mediocre performance. Enjoy the September Dome.

DawginLex

April 26th, 2011
10:59 am

Hey buckeye,

At least our games will count……..

:) :) :)

Red

April 26th, 2011
10:59 am

I think it ironic that Richt may save his job NOT from improving his squad but from everyone else just being that bad. A lousy SEC in a down year means mediocrity continues on in Athens. Richt squeaks by one more year with a decent record against lousy teams.

truedawg

April 26th, 2011
11:01 am

Miss state will be tough, so will SC but I like our chances. Our D will be lights out, wait and see. Not a big BOBO fan, but if we can find a running games, I think we’ll see that 30 points a game streak start back again. But no, this Dawg fan isn’t looking past miss state. But Mullen isn’t a better coach than CMR…what has he won?? where is his SEC champ banners? do we count the drug infested crew that he won with as an assistant at Cronic U?

beebee

April 26th, 2011
11:01 am

Bulldogs fans: I think you can take Boise if you don’t get into a shootout with them. I know you don’t have a true established running back you can get on the back of. But a grind ‘em out, old-fashioned Bulldog game will wear Boise down, I think.

I think otherwise Boise may eke out the win if it’s a Throwfest game.

But win or lose, it’s the South Carolina game that will make or break the season, even though it will only be Game 2 of the year. You DON’T want to start 0-2. However, 1-0 in SEC play with the East favorite having been defeated will do wonders for the team the rest of the way.

beebee a Tech fan

FWIW...

April 26th, 2011
11:02 am

Jeff, I agree. The SEC as a whole this year has more questions than I can remember in a long time.

EAST-

UGA – how will the influx of new talent affect the team chemistry & more importantly have the coaches fixed what they needed to fix. I think Dawg fans will be pleasantly surprised.

SC- I think if anyone but Garcia starts it’s going to be a long day-in Athens and a long season. SC/UGA will likely decide the east winner much in the fashion that UF/Tenn has in the past.

Tenn – Here’s your darkhorse team. Derek Dooley is as good as anyone in getting more out of less. His team was playing well down the stretch, and was very young. This is the team not to sleep on.

UF- Muschamp is already in for a rocky season. Discipline problems that have been previously swept under the rug are starting to come to light. Changes in offensive and defenisive philosophy will slow them down as well.

Kentucky – No Cobb, no chance. In addition to Cobb they lost some other key players and I’m not sure they have players that are ready to replace them. Joker will have to earn his money for sure this year.

Vandy – new coach same Vandy.

WEST-
LSU- Probably the most loaded team returning even with the loss of Peterson. Problem is Les Miles game/clock management could cost them at least 1-2 close games. No way lightnig strikes twice and he gets away with what he did last year, but still should have enough pieces to make it to Atlanta

Bama – They too have to replace some key players, but have a lot of talent to do so, but G.McLeroy, J.Jones, M.Ingram, and M.Dareus are a LOT of production to replace.

Arkansas – No Ryan Mallet, but Petrino has been known to be able to plug and play QBs. If the defense continues to improve and he can get early production out of his QB they could wind up in Atlanta.

Miss St – Mullen will prove that last year wasn’t a fluke. Still missing some pieces, but give him another year or so and they will be competing for the west

Auburn – Waaay too much to overcome. They lose not only Newton and Fairley but a few other key linemen on both sides of the ball. It’s going to be a long season for them.

Ole Miss – The downward spiral continues, although don’t be surpised if H.Nutt gets his team to rise up and upset somebody.

JDawg1785

April 26th, 2011
11:02 am

We can only hope, DawginLex. The situation with Houston is just what’s been wrong with the program over the past few seasons: tons of talent but no leadership. Christian Robinson would be a good candidate to step in there and assume a leadership role. If not him, then Ray Drew will have to win the guys over as a true freshman.

truedawg

April 26th, 2011
11:03 am

Cancer is a harsh word….but very well chosen. Glad he’s gone, last year we had too many ME’s and not enough team.

D A DoubleU G

April 26th, 2011
11:03 am

So it sounds like our Dawgs can beat Georgia Tech while high as a kite??

DawginLex

April 26th, 2011
11:05 am

I don’t know Red.

A lot of folks think UGA Insider is an idiot but he has been right a lot more than he has been wrong, especially about UGA stuff.

He says McGarity is tough behind closed doors and has said to the staff that an 0-2 start gets them fired. I can believe that but I don’t believe he is already talking to Chris Peterson about the job.

I know folks who have met McGarity and talked to him and they also believe the leash is very short for Richt in 2011. I would say anything less than starting 1-1 and ending 10-3 with a bowl win would get Richt replaced.

My guess is it will depend on how the team performs. 10-3 with embarrassments against Florida, SC, Miss St, Boise or UT will still get Richt run out of Athens IMO.

All depends on how much power Adams has granted McGarity.

Timbodog

April 26th, 2011
11:06 am

“truedawg,”
Mullen is building a very good team in STARKVILLE…You ever been there, pal?

He is at a major disadvantage and is doing good things. He is light years ahead of Richt, despite the fact that Richt has better talent, facilities, fan support, etc.

Timbodog

April 26th, 2011
11:07 am

“D A DOUBLE,”
Go away troll. Back to your Tech board.

Go Dawgs!

April 26th, 2011
11:07 am

Buckeye- why are you here? Don’t you have more pressing matters to attend to? What a train wrek Tressel and OSU have become!

Black Toenail

April 26th, 2011
11:08 am

Same ole prediction every year……… If they could only crown a champion based on recruiting classes.

McDawg

April 26th, 2011
11:08 am

the dawgs have lost the benefit of the doubt–which makes alot of this offseason speculation irrelevant -we will or we won’t

shankit

April 26th, 2011
11:09 am

“Don’t have anyone to catchj the ball?”
Malcom Mitchell will make everyone forget
about A. J. for more reasons than one.

WDE

April 26th, 2011
11:10 am

Red news flash CMR didn’t make this schedule. Buckeye its a damn shame that OSU didn’t get to play this schedule you’d lose to SC,UT, Miss and Fla even with a full complement of cheaters..er players. And Buckeye you can be a great cheater and not be arrested..

beebee

April 26th, 2011
11:10 am

more from beebee!

And I got to hand it to you UGA! Those first two games are a college football fan’s DREAM!
Don’t get me wrong. I love my Jackets. But I love COLLEGE FOOTBALL more.
And I don’t even know who GT’s first two games are against!