Dawgs winning the East: Pie in the sky or realistic?

Catching up on my Bulldogs reading after a few days off and away from the blogosphere, I came across the roundtable discussion of UGA football posted at College Football Zealots.

We’ve actually already dealt here in the Blawg with several of the questions posted, including which game is more critical for Georgia to win: Boise State or South Carolina? (To recap: While the Boise game is an opportunity for Mark Richt’s program to get back on the national radar, the South Carolina game a week later looms much bigger for the Dogs in terms of their SEC East hopes.)

But the last question in the roundtable is something I’ve actually been pondering lately as I play out in my head just how likely the more optimistic scenarios are for the 2011 Dogs.

The question: Athlon Sports has rated the Dawgs at #14 and Phil Steele has them at #9 in their pre-season polls. Both have Georgia winning the SEC East and playing in the Capital One Bowl. What needs to happen for Georgia to live up to these lofty expectations?

Well, in terms of wins and losses, obviously, beating South Carolina would be a big step in that direction. You can draw up various scenarios in which Georgia could win the SEC East after losing to the Gamecocks (all of which would require the Dogs to win in Jacksonville), but that definitely would be doing it the hard way.

Are the elements in place for such a season? That’s tougher to gauge. Aaron Murray certainly looks like the class of the conference when it comes to quarterback, the schedule is pretty favorable once you get past those first two games, and Isaiah Crowell has a lot of folks excited. But he still has to run behind a questionable offensive line. And while the arrival of John Jenkins should make Georgia’s defense tougher up front, the secondary still has me worried. And then there are the questions about who steps up at wide receiver to replace A.J. Green and Kris Durham.

Plus, of course, whether the team is going to be able to rise to the occasion in the fourth quarter in big games, something that all too often hasn’t happened recently.

A little luck wouldn’t hurt, either.

So what do you think has to happen for Georgia to live up to those “lofty expectations”? Is this pie-in-the-sky thinking, or do Richt’s 2011 Dogs really have what it takes to be a contender?

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

370 comments Add your comment

powerhouse?

June 14th, 2011
11:05 am

The Boise game will have a large impact on the SC game. Win the first and you probably will beat SC. However, lose the first and you probably will lose the SC game….it’s call MO.

Probably depend on Murry though.

DCJohn

June 14th, 2011
11:06 am

If we GATA we’ll live up to those expectations.

Newman

June 14th, 2011
11:10 am

Pass the pie.

SC receivers

June 14th, 2011
11:11 am

alshon jeffery will win the game for SC in Athens. i’m thinking 140 yds and 2 td’s. UGA had no answers for him last year, and this year’s secondary looks as shaky, esp in the 2nd game of the year. Boise will look to exploit this as well, and the BSU game will be close. I’m expecting both games to be high-scoring affairs…

WORM

June 14th, 2011
11:12 am

Frank Lane

June 14th, 2011
11:12 am

I think that you will find Conner Norman, a walk on, eventually as our current day Jake Scott or Scot Woerner. This kid may not have the physical assets of our other defensive backs, but he flat out knows where to be on very play. Reminds me of Len Hughes in the 60’s but with better physical skills.

I a pretty sure the secondary would all play better if he was back there at safety, probably free safety.

deezcoons

June 14th, 2011
11:13 am

i just don’t believe in this coaching staff anymore so i think 8 wins is probably where we are headed

reality

June 14th, 2011
11:14 am

4th in the East.

SSG Dessert Dawg

June 14th, 2011
11:15 am

I must be the only Dawg fan worried about Aaron Murray. I think he really needs to improve on his accuracy from last year if he is going to be as good as we all hope he is. Just seems like too many times A.J., Durham, OC, or Aaron White were having to make great catches to pull in one of his passes. He needs to hit them in stride more consistantly and not hang them out to dry so much. Got A.J. and Durham both creamed the the Florida game last year. I’m just sayin…Go Dawgs!

Beast from the East

June 14th, 2011
11:15 am

Pie in the sky or realistic?

I’ve said numerous times that I think South Carolina will win the East. UGA and UF still have way too many questions to be answered. That doesn’t mean that neither has a shot, but they will have to be MUCH better than last year.

Buckeye

June 14th, 2011
11:15 am

Junkyard,

Didn’t we just have this discussion after Bradley put out his predictions?

PB

June 14th, 2011
11:18 am

Depends how you look at it…….

When Boise beats UGA by 2-3 td’s and the UGA goes on to win the East then that will mean Boise would own the SEC…

Oh but we already know they would, after all, Boise owns the ACC, Pac-12, WAC, Mtn. West, Big 12, and we know they would destroy any big east champ. Considering Alabama can’t beat Utah loses to 1-AA teams and Boise destroys Utah and destroys 1-AA teams then by virtue of recent games we can all see that it is more important for UGA to beat Boise.

But UGA will lose and lose bad, this will be embarrassing for the SEC and UGA. But thanks for letting Boise warm up with another scrimmage basically.

BSU 52-14

Really?

June 14th, 2011
11:18 am

SSG Dessert Dawg – It was his freshmen year! Do you think he did ok for a freshmen starter in the SEC? I mean Really? He had a better completion ratio than most QB’s in the league.

knoxdawg

June 14th, 2011
11:19 am

Really need to win both to gain momentum for the whole season. Both games are winnable but you need a little luck. Pre-season prep will go a long way in determining how well this team fares during the season. Richt has to get after it every day and work them till they are dog tired and have to suck it up to make it back to the locker room. Hitting and tackling live drills to the ground every day are a must. Dawgs can win it but will they we don’t know. However, the opportunity is there so how bad do they want it. Also, how well will SC handle the pre-season expectations??

BIG JOE

June 14th, 2011
11:20 am

Sitting here reading this article & I was thinking: Why do we keep discussing which game, Boise St OR SCar is more important to win?? What in the world has UGA football come to when we are EXPECTING to be 1-1 two games into a new season???!!!!! How in the world –or WHY in the world would & could we be realistically thinking of a 10-2 season when we drop a game the first two weeks? Seriously?? I say win them BOTH! I just hope the players have more confidence than everyone else does –if not it will be another L-O-N-G year.

Patrick Pattson

June 14th, 2011
11:20 am

The secondary has to step up in the fourth quarter …too many times we had the lead and the team threw the ball at the heart of our secondary (Arkansas), easily getting the score. Secondary is the key.

Really?

June 14th, 2011
11:20 am

PB – I started to read your post and then was laughing so hard I stopped.
reading.

LMAO!

June 14th, 2011
11:23 am

PB – Boise deoesn’t own the mighty Wolfpack from Nevada. That is a WAC team that Boise couldn’t hang with.

BIG JOE

June 14th, 2011
11:23 am

knowdaeg, I think you & I are on the same page. Good point of SCar handling expectations. Spurrier has been there –but this team has not. Lets hope they choke..

Patrick Pattson

June 14th, 2011
11:24 am

@PB

?? hahaha if it helps u sleep at night to think your on an SEC level …you’ll never be one of the big boys til u get in a relevant conference. dont get fat over there in Idaho playing cupcakes week in week out.

Douglas

June 14th, 2011
11:24 am

I don’t have confidence in these coaches either. It seems to me that when Van Gorder was the DC, he kept UGA in a lot of games with the defense. I still do not buy into Bobo’s offense no matter how many points his teams averages. The question is can the offense make the big play when it needs to not how many points does the offense average? I think he runs the same plays over and over and refuses to stick with the run first which wears down the defense. I believe in running the I formation more where the FB blocks and the TB runs behind the FB. The spread offense seems to get you down the field but not into the end zone when you get near the 10 yard line.

UGA Insider

June 14th, 2011
11:27 am

USCe is still the front-runner in the East. A good OLine, Ashlon, Lattimore and an absolutely loaded defense. People in Columbia are not only thinking SEC Championship but Nat’l Championship. All they have to do they feel is beat UGA in Athens. That is going to be one helluva game.

SSG Dessert Dawg

June 14th, 2011
11:29 am

Really?

I realize he was a freshman, and I realize he never started before. I just didn’t see as much improvement as I would have though. I fear that many of those completions won’t be there without 2 6′4″+ receivers going up there to get them. I think he has a lot of great qualities a quaterback. Great leader, great confidence…I just hope he improved the accuracy a lot, because now it is the receivers who are young and in experienced, and they need all the help they can get.

truedawg

June 14th, 2011
11:29 am

UGA has to win these first two games. This team needs some swagger or confidence atleast. The biggest thing to make the team live up to any hype fans or blogs might have is going on now in Athens. STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING. We saw the secondary and both sides of the line, run out of gas last year against Ark. and UF and AU. Tough games will drain you and it comes down to sure will, but if the body isn’t able to “hang” with the mind, it doesn’t matter. I believe UGA has the talent and the will, but they have to have the will now! The work done now will show up in the Dome and in Athens when USC comes to town.

BIG JOE

June 14th, 2011
11:30 am

PB — If we are reminiscing you should also throw that last trip Boise St made to the state of Georgia — I believe UGA won that game 48-13 & took their starters out barely into the 3rd quarter. Yeah, the media touted Boise St up that year too..

UGA Insider

June 14th, 2011
11:30 am

Plus anyone who scored 6 points against UCF should not be expected to do much.

W.I.N.

June 14th, 2011
11:30 am

First of all, throw out all of the stats against losing teams, they don’t count, they arn’t going to help figure out what’s wrong.

Now, once you’re looking at how Georgia did against WINNING TEAMS, according to cfbstats.com:
1) 12th in SEC in Turnover margin
2) 10th in SEC in Offen scoring
3) 11th in SEC in offen rushing
4) 12th in SEC Def 3rd down conversions
5) 8th in SEC in rush def

Finish in the top 3 in the SEC AGAINST WINNING TEAMS in offen rushing, def rushing, offen scoring, you have a chance.

Innocent Bystander

June 14th, 2011
11:31 am

It’s been noted by others before that beating Boise may set up the more dangerous scenario where we’re not desperate enough against SC. If we handle the first game we could forget the difference between an SEC defense and the rest of the world.I won’t be confident until we hark back to the the 2001-2005 era for at least one season. But I’m hopeful in any case. If we win the first two there’s no reason not to win the East. If we win the East there’s no reason not to win the SECC. Although the West has been riding high no team this year will match the power of Alabama and Auburn in 2009-2010. That doesn’t mean Bama doesn;t have a chance to win it all. They do.But it’s not inevitable.Like most others I’m very wary of our secondary and worried sick about Ashlon J.I think we have the right coach back there though.And if our line gets to the quarterback like they haven’t since 2007 it will make a world of difference.

DawginLex

June 14th, 2011
11:32 am

PB, what a joke. Our worst loss last year was a close game until the 4th quarter and you predict that score vs Boise?

What a joke.

I’ll bet you all the money we can both drum up and you will be living in a cardboard box.

BIG JOE

June 14th, 2011
11:33 am

Patrick Pattson

Peanut Butter is just an envious Tech fan..

78 DAWG

June 14th, 2011
11:33 am

Of course we will, we always win the SEC East and beat Florida in June.

That Guy

June 14th, 2011
11:33 am

PB, What you’ve just said….is one of the most insanely idiotic things I’ve ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response was there anything that could even be considered a rational thought. Everyone on this blog is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

SSIgator

June 14th, 2011
11:34 am

Bill King –

In this short article you stated the following:

“beating South Carolina would be a big step in that direction” – Lost to them last year and probably will again this year.

“all of which would require the Dogs to win in Jacksonville” – UGA 3-21 vs UF in Jax are you serious?

“he still has to run behind a questionable offensive line” – And the way it is starting to patch together this year is even more questionable.

“the secondary still has me worried” – Correct. The only ones not worried are the opposing teams QB’s.

“the questions about who steps up at wide receiver to replace A.J. Green and Kris Durham” – There is noboby. Just wannabees.

“Plus, of course, whether the team is going to be able to rise to the occasion in the fourth quarter in big games” – They sure have not in the last three years. Why would they start now?

You answered your own question Bill – Totally pie in the sky with a glass of KoolAid to wash it down.

UGA Insider

June 14th, 2011
11:34 am

Stop worrying about the secondary UGA fans…. Our first “shutdown corner” since Champ Bailey is in town. His name is Nick Marshall.

Ca dawg

June 14th, 2011
11:35 am

Man, this place is hater central. Theres clearly a high uncertainty estimate about the 2011 dawgs. Guess we’ll have to wait and see who wins the east…

Really?

June 14th, 2011
11:35 am

SSG Dessert Dawg – you need to worry about who is going to block for Murray and not Murray…Just saying

SSG Dessert Dawg

June 14th, 2011
11:35 am

BIG JOE,

I went to school at USC, and I can tell you, no one is realistically thinking National Championship. USC has a tendancy to choke at the end of the year when pressure and expectations start to mount. They still do not have much depth which is also part of their late season falls. I think we will beat them, and come out on top in the East, but even if we don’t beat them we will still take the East with a win in Jacksonville.

truedawg

June 14th, 2011
11:35 am

As far as luck goes, it’ll take the O line being healthy. no more ref’s like we had 2 years ago at home Vs LSU. The first two games will be close, USC always a close game. Anyone thinking SC or UGA will steam roll past the other hasn’t ever watched the game. winner will win with only 10 over the loser. Games is in Athens though, and UGA has a better D this year. I’ll pick UGA.
The Boise game will also be low scoring. Really a toss up, if the UGA secondary is better, and we can get a good pass ruch, UGA will when that game.

SoCarBravesFan

June 14th, 2011
11:37 am

Talent wise UGA can’t compete with SC. If the secondary did a great day and locked down Jeffrey, then Lattimore will just do what he did last season to UGA. Sometimes a lot of talent doesn’t mean championships, but in this case it does. SC will win the SEC East again this season.

AceDawg

June 14th, 2011
11:37 am

If Aaron Murray avoids his difficulties against teams from Florida, he could be stellar this year. I’m optimistic that the defense will improve, but the jury is out until the results are in. UGA should not worry about last year’s record, however, and should internally have high expectations. Starting the season worse than 2-0 would be a failure in my opinion, as the Dawgs have the power to beat Boise and should have motivation at home to avenge USC.

SoCarBravesFan

June 14th, 2011
11:38 am

That is if Garcia can stay sober the whole season.

A midget QB won't get it done

June 14th, 2011
11:38 am

Murray has yet to win a game against a winning team. He is a RS Sophomore which is the same as a junior. Humpers you need to at least admit the truth to yourselves; Murray is as good as he will get.

Chi Town

June 14th, 2011
11:39 am

The Voice

June 14th, 2011
11:40 am

How can you win the east with losses to Boise, USC, Tenn, MSU, UF, AU and GT???

SoCarBravesFan

June 14th, 2011
11:40 am

And Lattimore will do the same thing he did last year. There is no cahnce a defense can get better from one season to the next. So UGA will suck again on D. It just isn’t possible for a team to get better. It has never happened before in the history of college football. That is why I know Lattimore will just run all over UGA again.

Rip Van Winkle

June 14th, 2011
11:41 am

Unless I just woke up from 1980, last years debacle against UCF should tell the Leg Humping Nation all they need to know. Unless this HC leaves it will be more of the same. Even Ron Zook owned this bozo.

Good Point!

June 14th, 2011
11:41 am

A midget QB won’t get it done – That works for us! Murray was great last year so if he is as good as he is going to get that would be awesome.

2012 FEAR THE END

June 14th, 2011
11:42 am

SoCar

What happen to Bama’s defense in year 2

W.I.N.

June 14th, 2011
11:43 am

A lot of games can be won, if you’ll do well in 3 areas AGAINST WINNING TEAMS:

1- 4th Quarter
2- 3rd down
3- Red zone

TechGuy

June 14th, 2011
11:43 am

The Voice – Shows what a moron you are. Losses to Tech or Boise wouldn’t affect UGA winning the East.