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

Big Wally

January 4th, 2012
9:18 pm

All this time, I thought it was illegal for anyone other than a defensive back to gain yardage on a a running play. Learn something new everyday.

Still@theKool-aidBAR

January 4th, 2012
9:20 pm

WOW a 3rd and 4 and Clen&sons throws the ball. Was not caught but he TRIED something besides the UP GUT Bobo standard call.

Still@theKool-aidBAR

January 4th, 2012
9:22 pm

Did you see the Offside D tackle drop and cross the field to cover that Screen pass?

Marci Bowen

January 4th, 2012
9:25 pm

The main 2 problems remain:
1) Bobo is incompetent and need to go far away. A new agressive offensive coach is long over due.
2) Once again, Georgia looses in the game in the second half. This is all about being out of shape. They need a new strength and conditioning coach. They need that coach to start now! Just look at Alabama and other top programs. There is no excuse with the educational programs at the university and have an out of shape football team.
3) Richt needs to remember his job is to bring championships to Georgia. Focus on that Richt! Discipline the team. Demand excellence.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

January 4th, 2012
9:31 pm

Still@theKool-aidBAR

In all seriousness after thinking about Tech for many years

Your never going to have a good Defense under Johnson I dont care who you hire because your Defense doesnt have the luxury to practice against offenses that they will see every week.

Instead they have to practice against that old time offense Johnson runs and thats why your players cannot adjust during game time.

Thats why Johnsons offense gets a bunch of yards and points because every team Tech plays doesnt face a Johnson style offense but 1 time so they are unable to make adjustments as needed. and thats why Johnson cant win bowl games because people have a month to prepare. Its the same principal just in reverse

Still@theKool-aidBAR

January 4th, 2012
9:31 pm

BAD BAD BAD ATTEMPT tackling. HIT the Mo Fo and wrap the runner up.

smart dawg

January 4th, 2012
9:32 pm

Loaded o, we’ve heard this same delusional crap every year, which coined the term “Perennial preseason national champ”. It lasts until the first loss by uga, and then the FMR/Fire Booboo crowd comes out of the closet. Face it buddy, it ain’t gonna happen.

smart dawg

January 4th, 2012
9:34 pm

Anyone else like the Direct TV commercial about the grandson with the dog collar?

ARdawg

January 4th, 2012
9:35 pm

I’m all about some West Virginny. A WV win might just propel me over the top in out pool. A healthy pool at that

Big Wally

January 4th, 2012
9:36 pm

Since Bobo is a hot topic today, who was the last great OC that Ga. had? I can’t remember anyone who was our OC and was so great, they went on to become a head coach at a big school or anything. But I could be wrong.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

January 4th, 2012
9:41 pm

Big Wally

I thought Goffs OC was good cant remember his name now.

I know one year he had us ranked as the #1 offense in the country, I wanna say 1992

Goff just never heard of the word Defense

Big Wally

January 4th, 2012
9:44 pm

Yea, I can’t remember his name, I think he later committed suicide, but may be mistaken. So basically in 20 years, we have had 1 great offensive coordinator. Nice.

Still@theKool-aidBAR

January 4th, 2012
9:45 pm

Clemson was DOWN I do believe

Still@theKool-aidBAR

January 4th, 2012
9:45 pm

He is STOPPED and DOWN.

Still@theKool-aidBAR

January 4th, 2012
9:46 pm

NO way.

CRAZY PLAY!!!!!!!!!!!

Big Wally

January 4th, 2012
9:48 pm

Go you hillbillies. Going to be some serious incest going on tonight if this lead holds.

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
9:53 pm

I like my women , like I like my chicken, with a little bit of fat on the end!
Not to fat, but not to skinny, just enough to make me grin!

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

January 4th, 2012
9:55 pm

This game is taking forever

Still@theKool-aidBAR

January 4th, 2012
9:56 pm

48 you like your WOMEN like you like your coffee. Big, Strong, and Black. LMAO

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
9:57 pm

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
9:58 pm

I took BOBO to Outback steak house for dinner tonight.

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
10:00 pm

Do y’all remember that fullback from WV Smitt? Ithink that was his last name….

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

January 4th, 2012
10:01 pm

Still@theKool-aidBAR

LOL!!!!!!!!!!

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

January 4th, 2012
10:03 pm

Dawg48

What did Bobo talk about?

Did he mention anything about we are knocking on the door to greatness

NOBODYYOUKNOW

January 4th, 2012
10:04 pm

It still wasn’t a bad season. No, they didn’t WIN EM ALL but most teams didn’t. The recruiting was good. They should be in great shape next season. GGGOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO DOGS!!!!

Erk Russell's Dog

January 4th, 2012
10:06 pm

Wayne McDuffie was the OC. he left and went to Florida State ,and later did himself in.

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
10:06 pm

Rummor is Shawn Williams may turn pro.

Big Wally

January 4th, 2012
10:08 pm

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

January 4th, 2012
10:08 pm

Erk Russell’s Dog

Yes thats him

Still@theKool-aidBAR

January 4th, 2012
10:09 pm

SOrry FOLKS but the ACC is getting SCREWED on the REF calls. That was a Tackle Pass Interference on 2nd down and VT scored a TD in Overtime. This is getting to be a JOKE on the refs and unless you are just a HATER you even KNOW those are bad calls. Looking like the AJ GREEN celebration against LSU a few years ago. a Phantom Call

Still@theKool-aidBAR

January 4th, 2012
10:11 pm

48 the PROBLEM is you only have a LIL Twinkie to sell to your Big Strong black Woman. She eats that snack and wants SO SO SO Much more. LMAO.

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
10:12 pm

Go for 2! get up by 16 no team could come back and win with a 16 point deficit.

Dawg93

January 4th, 2012
10:12 pm

I sit here and watch the W. Virginia vs. Clemson game; yesterday, VT vs. Michigan. I wonder to myself, “What ever happened to great football in Athens?” I’m truly sadden. I’m so damn jealous that everybody else in these bowl games has such good team spirit and excitement. I think I’m going to give up on the Dawgs until Richt and Bobo are gone. I don’t have the heart or energy anymore to pull for such an average football team. They’ve ruined UGA football for me. There is no excitement, no get-up and go. I can’t get excited for the Dawgs anymore, because they don’t make me want to pull for them. I think I’m going to start pulling for Northwestern…

Please, just put Bama back on the schdule so that we don’t look like a wuzz football team next year. Please, UGA, get a run game. Please do something so this team doesn’t die in Athens. G-d forbid that we start losing to Tech year in and year out… that would just about do it for me…

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

January 4th, 2012
10:13 pm

I remember when the Orange Bowl was the best bowl game of the year

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
10:13 pm

Still

Who cares about her as long as Im happy! Lol

Still@theKool-aidBAR

January 4th, 2012
10:14 pm

ANY MARINE or NAVY pilots on tonight? I am making a F-14A Tomcat. is there a diff in paint job other than the Marine Decal on the tail and the marine name on the side?

Clem&Sons looking BAD having to force it.

Dabo is the Mike BOBO of HEAD COACHES.

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
10:15 pm

Why throw that ball? Dumb!

Big Wally

January 4th, 2012
10:15 pm

Go you hairy, toothless, mountaineers. They came to play tonight. Their giving 110%, etc, etc,

Still@theKool-aidBAR

January 4th, 2012
10:15 pm

48 just don’t TALK back or you might be picking up your TOOTH. LOL

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
10:16 pm

Country roads take me home!

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

January 4th, 2012
10:18 pm

Dawg93

Mcgarity will be on here in a few days to announce the 10 year contract to mediocrity with an enormous buyout clause to make sure he this program stays in a ditch for a decade

Still@theKool-aidBAR

January 4th, 2012
10:19 pm

His KNEE is DOWN.

smart dawg

January 4th, 2012
10:19 pm

Clempson thinking about how this stadium reminds them of Bobby Dodd.

smart dawg

January 4th, 2012
10:21 pm

Still, thinking about VT last night, have we reached the point where these slomo replays have become too much?

smart dawg

January 4th, 2012
10:22 pm

Another BS call

Still@theKool-aidBAR

January 4th, 2012
10:22 pm

This is getting to be a JOKE. His KNEE is DOWN and the ball is still on his HIP & in his Arm. WHAT a JOKE.

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
10:22 pm

http://collegefootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/01/04/vandy-boots-a-pair-of-players/

Vandy kicked two players off the team today.
One was the guy that put that cheap shot on geathers.

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
10:23 pm

That was a crap call if I ever seen one!

ESPN trying to save the Big East!

AthensDawg

January 4th, 2012
10:24 pm

Crowell, do you see how those guys run around on the field with the ball, towards the end-zone. “Wow…,” you must be saying to yourself. “So that is how it is done…”

I’m impressed with with the Clemson OL. Let’s get their OL coach to Athens, and LSU’s running back coach… sorry, I’m dreaming…

Aaron Murray — are you watching. Look how, with confidence, they are throwing the ball down field…with striking precision…and scoring TDs.

Bobo, I know you can’t be watching because you would realize what junior high football play calling you have been making, and that would embarrass you, I know. Those are real men, real coaches, and real play calling out there at West Virginia and Clemson. Maybe you’re watching Oprah…that’s okay, you need a break. I understand.

I almost forgot what great tailback running looked like until I sat down and started watching the Orange Bowl. Wow, and their names are not even Herschel, or Walker…

What was it, the running stat UGA had against MSU? 39 rushes for 51 yards. That’s not a run game, that’s a middle school basketall score.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

January 4th, 2012
10:24 pm

Now we all know if Richt and Bobo were in WVU place right now they would take a knee and go to the locker room to get out the slip and slide