Big questions temper optimism as Dogs look ahead to 2012

Georgia returns a lot of talent, including Aaron Murray, but still has some major concerns to deal with in 2012. (Associated Press)

Georgia returns a lot of talent, including Aaron Murray, but still has some major concerns to deal with in 2012. (Associated Press)

A week ago, in the wake of the SEC’s 2012 schedule being announced, optimism was running wild in the Bulldog Nation.

This week, after watching the Dogs again collapse in the second half amid continued problems with special teams play and establishing a running game, many Georgia fans are tempering their optimism.

The Dogs still may start out next season as a Top 10 team based on a load of returning talent and an even more favorable schedule than this year’s, but there will be some big challenges, especially if the team is hit with major losses to the NFL. Orson Charles going pro would hurt, but the chance of the defense possibly losing two or three underclassmen is more worrisome.

Meanwhile, the offensive line, which was good enough against middling teams this season but gave up 33 sacks and faltered against the four best defenses Georgia faced, will lose three senior starters and will have little returning experience.

The Dogs will have to replace both their placekicker and their punter and still haven’t solved the problem of spotty special teams play overall.

Record-setting QB Aaron Murray will return but has some ball security problems to deal with (his turnovers when pressured or scrambling played a major role in three of the Dogs’ four losses), and Georgia could lose what little backup experience it has at the position if Hutson Mason decides to transfer.

And then there’s the running game, which went from inconsistent to pathetic late in the season as Isaiah Crowell found myriad ways to stay off the field. The bright spot there in 2012 is the arrival of Keith Marshall and probably at least one other freshman tailback, but we learned this season that signing a five-star recruit at that position is no guarantee of long-term success.

So, yes, Georgia reeled off 10 wins in a row this season and took the SEC East but as Mark Richt said, “our guys had a good year, not a great year,” losing to the four teams they played that ended up ranked in the Top 20 while getting their wins against teams that finished the season unranked.

All of which raises this question: Were the 2011 Dogs that much better than the 2010 team that finished 6-7, or was the SEC East title more a function of scheduling?

I think the answer is a qualified yes, the Dogs were much improved — mainly on defense. But they remained, as Richt noted, far from a great team. There’s no denying that a schedule that didn’t include the toughest teams from the SEC West probably was the biggest factor in Georgia’s 2011 turnaround.

They’ll get that break again next season. But it’s going to take more than that for Richt and company to improve on a 10-4 record.

Got something on your mind concerning UGA athletics or a question for the Junkyard Blawg? Send it to junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

828 comments Add your comment

BG

January 4th, 2012
10:39 am

Joey

January 4th, 2012
10:41 am

coaching………….only problem

danielsdawgs

January 4th, 2012
10:43 am

One problem… Bobo is still there calling plays!!!!!! GO DAWGS!!!

jokurone

January 4th, 2012
10:45 am

1st if no one else wants it

Junkyard Dawg

January 4th, 2012
10:46 am

Play calling in the second half of most of our games this season hurt us and almost cost us mutiple games. They need to take a long hard look at that this off season.

gratefuldawghead

January 4th, 2012
10:47 am

Fire Bobo and let Grantham give the halftime speech!

Matt

January 4th, 2012
10:48 am

If the SEC west schedule is reversed and we play Ark, Bama, and LSU, our record is 7-5 instead of 10-2, no SEC East title, and Mark Richt is fired. Facts.

Notso Fast

January 4th, 2012
10:48 am

It has been the coaching that has been lacking for several years. Great teams usually have great coaching. The Dogs don’t have great coaching.

DawginLex

January 4th, 2012
10:48 am

in order to improve, changes must be made. No changes, no big wins

1.) Hire an NFL caliber offensive coordinator and give him full control of the offense just like Grantham does with the D
2.) Keep Mike Bobo on staff as QB coach and recruiter
3.) fire our running backs coach and replace him with a coach who understands and teaches the importance of securing the football and running downhill
4.) Place Richt in charge of special teams and play scholarship players and go back to making this unit a difference maker
5.) Throw all the money you can get to secure Todd Grantham
6.) Give Richt a 2 year extension ONLY if he agrees with all of the above.

RTR22

January 4th, 2012
10:49 am

At least you have that watered down SEC in front of you…..4 losses in 2011 with one of the weakest
SEC in memory. Where was the signature win for the DREAM TEAM? Fla lol……or Dooleys little orange? All the big boys took you OUT.

Just Sayin......

January 4th, 2012
10:49 am

The O-line losses, Murray’s poor performance against above average defenses and losing Boykin and possibly 2 others on defense has me concerned about this teams performance and quite honestly the coaching staffs adjustments against winning teams. Everyone wants to blame Bobo, but he does not call a single play or prepare a game plan without Richt’s approval. Luckily Grantham bailed the team out against the worst Gator team since Emmitt Smith or Richt might be gone already. My question is, if you were McGarrity would you give Richt a contract extension which would increase the buyout if he were to fire him or wait 1 more year to see further needed progress?

rednblack28

January 4th, 2012
10:49 am

we will never be good enough with sorry a** o-line production.Everybody want to bash bobo but even still how can you open up the playbook if you cant decent blocking .

Joey

January 4th, 2012
10:51 am

@DawginLex
SPOT ON!

The Dawgfather

January 4th, 2012
10:51 am

Bobo must also go if we are to get better. He’s had long enough time to figure out there’s another side to the play chart.

Joey

January 4th, 2012
10:53 am

Just for info: Boo Malcome played with a seperated shoulder(((cough))) CROWELL?
Via Twitter: Shockley supports BoBo, says”players have to execute”

Chris

January 4th, 2012
10:54 am

The only improvement was on defense. Without that, we would have lost more games.

The offense did not improve at all. In some aspects, it got worse. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what is wrong with the offense, and until Bobo is replaced these problems will persist. It’s Willie Martinez all over again.

icedawg

January 4th, 2012
10:54 am

Fair analysis. Murray under pressure has been a liability season before the this past season. He has consistently turned the ball over in the big games that have cost us dearly. Not much improvement there. The offensive line for the past several seasons has not done a very good job in run blocking. It was the glaring weakness in the MSU game. This would explain why 5 star RBs are consistently swamped and smashed at the line of scrimmage. I don’t blame the running backs for not wanting to become pulp. Running for Georgia is like a death sentence. Maybe the OL replacements will be better run blockers. If not, the DAWGS will not be an upper tier team. Boykin was sensational he’ll be a huge loss when he goes. I’ve been most impressed with the improvement of the defense. With Jenkins in there they have been pretty stout against everyone we’ve played. Ironically special teams which were supposed to be a strength cost us some important games. But I thought that they improved over the last half of the season, except for the field goal kicker. Poor Walsh what a great career but a downer of a final season. Go DAWGS!

Just the facts sir, just the facts.

January 4th, 2012
10:55 am

Bama and LSU will both come back on the schedule nlt 2013, so 2012 will be Richt’s last shot for the forseeable future. No Championship in 2012 and Richt should be fired. Quit the fire Bobo already; I agree with Just Sayin…., Richt approves EVERY play Bobo calls!

2012

January 4th, 2012
10:55 am

while there are always concerns about replacing players, when you breakdown who is leaving and potentially, it doesn’t look so bad. Orson should go. with the success of his style of TE in the NFL right now, he should jump. That leaves the door open for Jay Rome who won’t get the double teams that Orson got this year bacause of the big play threats outside. While losing Orson is big, it should not be that hard to overcome. Even though 3 seniors leave the O-Line, does it matter? They started to play well as a unit only when the schedule got easier and i have let to watch them dominate a well coached team. I am excited to see what youth can do (I would be more excited if Will Friend could teach them to knock somebody off the ball on 4th and 1). On Defense, the only concern is Rambo. Boyken has to go, but there should be enough depth to replace 1 DB, but Rambo’s experience and how he learned to cover a bit better as the year wore would be missed. That being said, the LBs will be the best in the nation with Jarvis taking a backseat only to Ogletree (Defensive MVP next year). Dawgs win plenty next year, but can only be SPECIAL if the coaching staff learns that games are 4 quarters long

Nooga Dawg

January 4th, 2012
10:56 am

Richt needs to make some major changes and soon. His loyalty to Bobo and Murray is the main reason the Dawgs cannot reach their goals.

Cuz

January 4th, 2012
10:56 am

Hutson should probably transfer. LeMay will/could beat him out as second string. Hutson should do what is best for Hutson.

DawginLex

January 4th, 2012
10:56 am

Richt approves EVERY play Bobo calls

****************

That’s why the AD must mandate to Richt the hiring of an OC with full control of the offense

Still@theKool-aidBAR

January 4th, 2012
10:56 am

No Stupid Copy & Paste comments from TRUE DAWG FAN yet? He is still fighting on the recruiting blog.

dostadawg

January 4th, 2012
10:56 am

It doesn’t matter if Orson Charles leaves or not, we dont throw to the poor guy anyway. I think we need to open up the QB position in the spring and see who wins it. Until we fix the “BOBO PROBLEM”, our offense is stuck in the mud!!

schmeckdawg

January 4th, 2012
10:57 am

Did anyone ever find out what happened to John Jenkins?

The Dawgfather

January 4th, 2012
10:57 am

Players have to execute when all things are equal. With no running game, poor special teams play, and a banged up O-line, play calling makes a difference.

Just the facts sir, just the facts.

January 4th, 2012
10:58 am

DawginLex, I agree but that would make him a CEO just like his mentor and I don’t know if that story will end positively.

Still@theKool-aidBAR

January 4th, 2012
10:58 am

CUZ I have been saying that since Mason didn’t get much playing time last year.
How is Baylie doing? Still prayer going out for you and her.

DawginLex

January 4th, 2012
10:58 am

why are we feeling bad about losing Bean Anderson. Good lord, he tried hard but he changed from defense to offense and had no mobility. Wonder why we never ran a toss sweep to his side?

I rather have Dantzler or Theus or Beard in 2012 who are a little smaller but still big enough to get the job done and can move side to side

double degree dawg

January 4th, 2012
10:59 am

Let’s hope Richt takes a hard objective look at all phases of our game. Recruits – five star talent but a two star heart equals a three star player. Three star talent plus a five star heart equals a four and a half star player.

2012

January 4th, 2012
11:00 am

sec schedule isn’t easier this year. ooc is.
gotta play at sc mizzou aub. mizzou game will play a big role in determining the 2012 season. lose that one and i see another 3-4 loss season. uf will be better than last year.

The Dawgfather

January 4th, 2012
11:00 am

Richt doesn’t approve EVERY play Bobo calls.

DawginLex

January 4th, 2012
11:01 am

You are right

Dap01

January 4th, 2012
11:01 am

First of all: Losing our kicker will be a blessing.

Second: If we get the best running backs in the world, Bobo’s stupid offense will not allow them to be successful. Why can’t CMR watch Alabama and LSU and see that our running offense is horrible. Who coaches the QB to point the ball to the running back as he goes back to hand off?

UGA will be fine in every other area. Murray needs to grow up and quit being a choke artist.

Bobo is the major reason to NOT be optimistic.

Joey

January 4th, 2012
11:03 am

Jenkins has a sprained shoulder

Just the facts sir, just the facts.

January 4th, 2012
11:03 am

The Dawgfather, so he just listens to stupid calls on his headset and says nothing? And then game after game of dumb calls by Bobo and Richt does not evaluate Bobo? He DOES approve of every play that Bobo calls or then he is detatched from his own team.

Jeff

January 4th, 2012
11:04 am

As fans, we need to manage our expectations a little better. I remember in 2008, when we were preseason No. 1, everyone said “Well, Georgia might win 10 games, but their schedule is very hard.” That prediction by most pundits turned out to be true. However, us fans were surprised. The next year, people KNEW we would be struggling with Joe Cox at quarterback. However, us fans were surprised by the outcome. Then last year with a freshmen quarterback and new defense, and many new pieces in general, not even I thought we would have a 6-7 season, but we new all those factors would be difficult. 10-4 was about what I predicted for this year. Most people had us losing the first 2 games. I always genuinely thought Boise and SC were better teams. LSU was obvious. Maybe I thought we would beat Michigan State. But our record this year wasn’t surprising. Sorry guys.

SSIgator

January 4th, 2012
11:04 am

“was the SEC East title more a function of scheduling?”

Bingo

Greg

January 4th, 2012
11:04 am

Jarvis is gone man. Accept it.

Coach Bobo

January 4th, 2012
11:05 am

I love how all the simpletons blame me. We scored 30 points, we should have won. Do you think i coach the offense to cough the ball up 3 times a game. I am much smarter and richer than you. Thats why i make 6 figures to coach a game and you still live with your mom.

Nooga Dawg

January 4th, 2012
11:05 am

Mason should transfer, way to good to always be behind Murray.

DawginLex

January 4th, 2012
11:05 am

Bingo

*********

A game that SSIgator can actually understand. Bless her little heart

icedawg

January 4th, 2012
11:06 am

BTW. Game on the line. You’re within striking distance. Your place kicker has struggled throughout the season. Your running game has been shut down. 1st and 10. Run three times for virtually no gain and then kick. The person who concocted that plan needs to find another job soon.

homer

January 4th, 2012
11:06 am

Big Dawg

January 4th, 2012
11:07 am

Murray is no Drew Brees.

bayoudawg

January 4th, 2012
11:08 am

Murray appeared to be trying to impress the home town folks. We looked as though we tried to keep from losing insted of winning! All those run up the middle plays with consistant loss of yardage…what was that all about?

?

January 4th, 2012
11:08 am

ANYBODY HEARD ANYTHING FROM REVEREND RICHT, SEEMS LIKE HE IS IN HIDING. I HOPE HE AND BONZO BOBO HAS LEFT TOWN.

Dawgdad (The Original)

January 4th, 2012
11:08 am

Richt needs to go. He plays favorites, always has, always will. His steadfast commitment to Murray is not warrented. He needs to throw open the QB competition or Hutson needs to transfer.

No reason Boo should have spent the entire season inactive. We should have given the other RB more PT early in the season as Crowell was not having the success that Richt seemed to think he was. Keeping a fresh back in the game makes sense when none of them outclass the others.

Richt needs to admit that Bobo is not getting the job done and quit playing favorites again, didn’t he learn anything from the Willie Martinez fiasco? Same ole, same ole every year. We need a new coach.

bruce mac

January 4th, 2012
11:09 am

Why does everyone put Arkansas on a pedestal. They didn’t beat anybody except South Carolina and that was because SC lost their quarterback and running back by that game. Bama and LSU are superior to everyone in the country but Arkansas is just good, not great.

Just the facts sir, just the facts.

January 4th, 2012
11:09 am

icedawg

January 4th, 2012
11:06 am
BTW. Game on the line. You’re within striking distance. Your place kicker has struggled throughout the season. Your running game has been shut down. 1st and 10. Run three times for virtually no gain and then kick. The person who concocted that plan needs to find another job soon.

If ANYONE thinks that Bobo comes up with this crap on without Richt’s input, is one of the reasons that we have un-attainable expectations year after year.