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

pooh p

January 4th, 2012
10:25 pm

I’m rooting for the Tigers. I’d much rather seen a tiger beat a mountaneer, especially with west virginia and all those jerks making coal that spews into our environment. wv is way more dangerous to man than any tiger. Either way we all lose at the mega bank orange bowl.

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
10:25 pm

Turn out the lights the party is over!

Big Wally

January 4th, 2012
10:25 pm

Goodness gracious. 49 points in 1 half? Against the ACC Champs? I may have to rethink my stance on conference champions getting automatic bids.

Still@theKool-aidBAR

January 4th, 2012
10:25 pm

Dabo tell your BOYS at the HALF to BREAK the QBs Neck and the RBs and WRs LEGS. Take the Personal Foul and JUST END the WVU players careers.

Clen&Sons LBs don’t worry about the PLAY TACKLE the REF and put the OLD Man Ref in the Hospital. KILL the REFS on every play just like the movie LONGEST YARD.

Pope UGA XXIII

January 4th, 2012
10:28 pm

Ya’ think we have some offensive line and special team problems for 2012 ????
Somebody has overdosed on chili dogs and onion rings at the ” V ” if this is
any kind of headline.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

January 4th, 2012
10:28 pm

I wonder if Richt and Bobo are watching WVU

Maybe they can learn a lesson on when you have a team on the ropes you press down on the peddle and never let off

UGA Dawg

January 4th, 2012
10:28 pm

Can we hire either one of those two coaches from the Orange Bowl. At least it looks like their is life in their faces and expressions….

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
10:29 pm

That fumble call was horrible!
Dang I don’t care about this game but C’mon man!

OkieDawg

January 4th, 2012
10:30 pm

Bad day for the Barners…M. Dyer leaving Auburn, The program is imploding under Cheese_ick.

Big Wally

January 4th, 2012
10:30 pm

If Ga. was playing Clemson, we’d have two touchdowns and ten field goal attempts.

smart dawg

January 4th, 2012
10:30 pm

Poopee, if you don’t like coal, you can sit in the dark and freeze.

UGA Dawg

January 4th, 2012
10:31 pm

Flat Tire on I-95: The “slip and slide” comment cracked me up! Keep typing…

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
10:31 pm

Still

Are you going to invite any more to the baseball game?

smart dawg

January 4th, 2012
10:33 pm

Athensdawg, if you want Highsaiah to emulate someone, have him watch the Oregon rb’s. Those guys are quick & fast, they take a beating, jump up and run back to the huddle.

FrustratedDog

January 4th, 2012
10:33 pm

I thought we learned a long time ago that signing a 5 star running back didn’t mean much at all . . .

pooh p

January 4th, 2012
10:34 pm

I have gas heat so who’s the smart dawg now? Go tigers! Beat the coal making polluters!

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
10:37 pm

Pooh p

Gas heat is expensive…… Lol

MiddleJawgDawg

January 4th, 2012
10:39 pm

Big Wally: 10 field goal attempts… you’re out of you’re mind… You need to go sit out with poopee in the cold and dark… We would be much too far away to attempt a field goal as the OC would have called several run plays up the gut for negative eight yards, obviously putting us out of field goal range! But, I like the optimism.

I say we don’t get any new kickers in Athens, and only try to win by TDs, but that would nearly be impossible as well since we can’t score against anybody except Coastal Carolina. I just hate field goals and would rather all games be decided by TDs, especially in overtime.

smart dawg

January 4th, 2012
10:41 pm

dawg48, the Spring Classic doubleheader at the ted is personal to me. Proceeds from this event benefit neurosciences at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, specifically to help pay for an intraoperative MRI at Scottish Rite. This machine is located between two operating rooms. The MRI is primarily used for pediatric brain tumor surgeries. It allows the neurosurgeons to be much more precise than ever before. It saves little lifes. (I am a parent of a pediatric brain tumor survivor. 12 years ago yesterday since surgery) This event is important.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

January 4th, 2012
10:41 pm

FrustratedDog

I dont think signing anyone means much for UGA; they sign; they disappear; then we see them a few years later on Sundays

wasadawgfan

January 4th, 2012
10:41 pm

Looked as if the Dawgs didn’t finish the drill in the fourth quarter. Even the announcers mentioned how tired they looked. Guess the S&C coach didn’t do his job. Should never have gotten rid of the original S&C coach.

smart dawg

January 4th, 2012
10:42 pm

Poopee, gas doesn’t turn your lights on. Or your TV.

Sautee Dawg

January 4th, 2012
10:43 pm

Bill as you know by now, CMR has players that are going to start and play regardless of whether they have earned the spot or not.
Mettingberger outplayed Murray by a sizeable margin in their debut in the spring game a few seasons ago, you see how that ended up.
Was Joe T. the best qb the year he started?
Was Joe Cox better than Matt Stafford sitting on the bench?
The same thing is going on with Hutson Mason.
Remember when Shockley came in every 3rd series for David Greene, not because he was better than Greene but CMR felt obligated to give him playing time.
Do you really think Mason will stick around? If he were going to get more playing time he would have gotten it this season. Murray is CMR’s chosen qb and until he leaves UGA he will be the qb to lead us win or lose.
Don’t forget Lemay is watching this qb situation too and if he don’t play some this coming season will he transfer?
UGA has 2 more qb’s on the roster with another one in the upcoming recruiting class.
Not but 1 of CMR’s qb’s ever made it in the NFL but Stafford and his talent was wasted at UGA because of lack of defensive support..
Maybe 2012 will be better Bill, but several of those games on our schedule will be hard to come out on top, Missouri, S. Carolina, Florida and Auburn, all these games will be hard to win if our best players are not on the field.
Be a big help too if all our players were coached to win instead of coached not to lose.
One example of being coached not to lose was putting Logan Grey in to fair catch punts his time at UGA, we had 10 players on the bench capable of returning a punt instead of fair catching.
Returning a punt Bill is like getting an extra play on offense, and by using a fair-catch your robbing yourself of an opportunity for that extra play. Logan Grey must have had 40 or more fair catches in just that 1 season.
Just my opinion’s Bill.
Thanks for your input.

AthensDawg

January 4th, 2012
10:45 pm

The Oregon game was awesome, as it is awesome to see players giving their all and not being “gassed or hurt”. I’m so sick and tired of hearing about UGA players being tired. Another slogan is all we need, “Finish he drill!” Bull-crap, just get in shape and play as hard as the Oregon players do; or at least as hard as the game going on in the Orange Bowl. Where do all the Oregon kids come from? Are they all from California and the west coast?

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

January 4th, 2012
10:46 pm

smart dawg

My best friends niece just had a brain tumor removed a few weeks ago up in Atlanta and is now having cancer treatments done in Jacksonville

It was a shock because I saw her at his sons Birthday party and she seemed like a normal 14 year old then just a few weeks later that happened. Im praying the treatments clears it up as they were not able to get all of the tumor

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
10:47 pm

Smat dawg

I will stator by saying I hope all is well with that situation.
Still@thebar is trying to set up with chip towers to get the regular bloggers on here ( UGA & GT fans ) to meet each other and talk and have a good time and watch some baseball for a good cause.
If interested let Still@the bar know.

Dawg Whisperer

January 4th, 2012
10:49 pm

SSIgator… could it be that the Grantham detractors are UGA haters such as yourself and UGA fan imposters? That is a rhetorical question. Don’t deliberate on it for very long.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

January 4th, 2012
10:49 pm

Sautee Dawg

Great post and thats why this program is on the road to nowhere

pooh p

January 4th, 2012
10:50 pm

I use as little of my power as i can but at least i dont make coal like they do in wv. If they win it will only encourage them and mega banks like discover to keep ripping us off. I like the name dabo too! lmao

Sautee Dawg

January 4th, 2012
10:51 pm

I too hope all goes well for the 14 year old and will say a prayer also.

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
10:51 pm

Flat tire

If your interested in getting together let Still@ thebar know.
He sent a message to Chip towers about trying to put it together.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

January 4th, 2012
10:51 pm

Athens Dawg

Richts new slogan just the other day

“We are knocking on the door to greatness”

T-shirts should be on sale next week

ATeamDawg

January 4th, 2012
10:51 pm

Good observation and analysis of the punt return situation from the game Sautee Dawg. (I hate it when so many others are so right about such obvious things that I miss…) Keeping me humble.

Still@theKool-aidBAR

January 4th, 2012
10:53 pm

48 yes still trying to get CHIP and KEN the UGA & GT blogger to do a TECH v UGA baseball game where we can meet and the tickets are for a Good Charity.

After this BOWL season I am considering not buying Tech season tickets. I will not pay good money to watch the REFS screw-up calls. I can pay to see it on TV at home.

If I was DABO I would tell my players to SCREW the PLAY and NAIL every REF on the field as hard as they can. NO Refs no Game.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

January 4th, 2012
10:53 pm

Dawg48

Yes If I cant make it;

Im still letting my friend and his family know about it

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
10:56 pm

Smart dawg

My niece as well had problems with a tumor and they helped her as well.

smart dawg

January 4th, 2012
10:56 pm

Flat, if she had it done in Atl, it was at Scottish Rite. She was in marvelous hands there. Chances are, the machine I talked about was used in her surgery. These iMRI’s are few and far between. My prayers for her. I hope none of you ever know the feeling that family knows. We were at Scottish Rite for the dedication ceremony for this machine. I don’t ever want to see it again. But I’m glad it’s there.
Dawg48, my daughter is great. We are among the very fortunate few who get through this. More children die from brain tumors than any other form of pediatric cancer.
This event has grown through the years, but the more the merrier. Thanks to all of you!

Still@theKool-aidBAR

January 4th, 2012
10:57 pm

GAME is OVER. TIME to KILL the REFS just for fun. PUT the REFS in the Hospital.

AthensDawg

January 4th, 2012
10:57 pm

Flat Tire:
What the crap? WV is up by several TDs, and still putting on the pressure by passing!!! Com’on man! Put in Bobo to stop this madness. Run the d*man ball up the middle three times in a row and quite scoring!

Tbat does it, I’m buying the new Richt & Bobo tee-shirt!

Sautee Dawg

January 4th, 2012
10:58 pm

Thanks Flat Tire, hope the 14 year old makes a full recovery, saddens you for any child to have to go through something like that.

smart dawg

January 4th, 2012
11:00 pm

Poopee, are you part of occupy wall st?

Still@theKool-aidBAR

January 4th, 2012
11:00 pm

Buddy’s son was a Scottish Rite at EMORY for the last 10 years. he died this past year. They treated him so good. It is real hard when it is a child. He did get to play baseball and his dad let him drive in a cheap car they purchased. he drove around the neighborhood. he never got LAID though. Brain Cancer from 5 to 15.

ATLDawg

January 4th, 2012
11:01 pm

The price of coal just went up; sorry environDawgs…and Clemson fans.

Pago Pago DAWG

January 4th, 2012
11:02 pm

The DAWGS don’t want WVU!!!! Nor Clemson…..

BoBoDawg

January 4th, 2012
11:03 pm

I wanna “knock on the door of greatness too”. Where do I sign up?

smart dawg

January 4th, 2012
11:04 pm

Still,
I think it would be a great idea if UGA/GT guys from way back who were part of the old Thanksgiving day frosh game “Strong legs will run so that weak legs may walk” did public service announcements on Atl area tv stations plugging this event. I’m talking guys like Vince and Bill Curry. Comments?

AThensDawg

January 4th, 2012
11:08 pm

What’s the chance of AM making that scramble and pass that the WVU quarterback just made? I hope AM grows tremendously from now until next year. Is there any chance he can grow/mature that quickly by next fall, or is that just a dream?

Wait, what the hay, WVU just scored again! Throwing!?! Still scoring? BooBoo, did you see that?

smart dawg

January 4th, 2012
11:09 pm

Atlanta is also home to a group that provides support to families going through this horror. Google “Brain Tumor Foundation for children”. This is a fantastic organization.

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
11:09 pm

Clemson needs a STRAW! Cause they SUCK!

bwell

January 4th, 2012
11:09 pm

Hey the bottom line is Ga dont know how to finish a team off. The outback bowl was a mirror of the SEC C’ship game. Ga lack mental toughness! They could not finish off LSU, they could not finish off Mich St. The coaches need to get tough on the players, because CMR wont.

Another thing is we need an Offensive Coordinator. ANYTIME you run into the strength of a def a-la LSU and MIch St. DT’s. You are bound to loose; and once again we showed everyone “give us time we will give you the game” We should have never lost and it hurts! Ga should have played in at least two or three Nat’l C’ship in the last 5 years, but we figured out how to give a game away instead of putting a team away. We should be in contention in 12′ gotta wait and see. The bottom line is till Ga get mental tough, we aint going nowhere! When we finally get an OC who dont get conserative and adapt a killer mentality maybe we can win the big games.