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.

Find me on Facebook.

Follow me on Twitter.

— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

828 comments Add your comment

pooh p

January 4th, 2012
11:10 pm

does that mean I cant watch sports smart dawg? I think deep down you all agree with me on why I dont like wv. Same goes for Purdue, the steelers, etc…

smart dawg

January 4th, 2012
11:10 pm

Sorry, Athensdawg–you’re dreaming…

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

January 4th, 2012
11:11 pm

The ACC should not be allow to attend a BCS bowl game, they are now 2-13 in BCS bowls

pooh p

January 4th, 2012
11:11 pm

venderbilt and duke too

smart dawg

January 4th, 2012
11:12 pm

Go further east, poopee. Start with New Jersey…

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
11:12 pm

Just asking… Did the ACC win a bowl game this year?

Big Wally

January 4th, 2012
11:13 pm

Clemson’s offense is following the Bobo blueprint. Show up for a quarter or two, have a bunch of turnovers, and then call it a night.

smart dawg

January 4th, 2012
11:14 pm

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
11:14 pm

Still@the bar

Come on back! Where did you go?

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

January 4th, 2012
11:14 pm

I really thought Clemson would win but I think you can add Dabo to the cant win big club as well

Big Wally

January 4th, 2012
11:15 pm

FSU beat Notre Dame

Still@theKool-aidBAR

January 4th, 2012
11:15 pm

SMART send Email to CHIP and see if we can make it happen. I think the Baseball game is our best shot.

Clemson can’t come back after the REFS put then in a HUGE hole. Sorry I don’t buy some of the calls in this game and I HATE Clems&Sons like FSU and UGA, but bad officiating effect all games.

smart dawg

January 4th, 2012
11:16 pm

FSU and NC State won. who woulda thunk?

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

January 4th, 2012
11:17 pm

Yes the Bobo blueprint

Call plays for a quarter then put the playbook on autopilot aka (run up the middle50 times for no gain with a sideline screen pass or 2) while Bobo goes and help in the concession stand

Still@theKool-aidBAR

January 4th, 2012
11:18 pm

DABO is the BOBO of Head Coaches.

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
11:18 pm

Still@theKool-aidBAR

January 4th, 2012
11:18 pm

FUMBLE and WVU scores a TD on the punt form their 8 yardline.

pooh p

January 4th, 2012
11:19 pm

Don’t worry smart dog, I’ll cancle your vote in november. I do like georgia, so we are kinda alike. at least their mascot isnt barbaric, polluting, or big corporations, except for rict and his fancy ford commercials. he should worry more about football than his gas guzzling truck.

Still@theKool-aidBAR

January 4th, 2012
11:20 pm

I’m telling you CLEMSON Players HIT the CRAP out of the REFS. PUT them in the Hospital.

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
11:22 pm

What confrense are the refs from?

smart dawg

January 4th, 2012
11:22 pm

poopee, people like you are scheduled to vote on Wednesday; not Tuesday.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

January 4th, 2012
11:22 pm

Can anyone at Ford Motor company teach Richt how to press down the gas peddle?

I would like someone teach him how to do it like WVU and Spurier so that when you have a 16 point lead at halftime you dont let off the gas

Still@theKool-aidBAR

January 4th, 2012
11:25 pm

WHAT that wasn’t pass interference against Clemson?

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
11:25 pm

Pooh p

Must have the gerbils in the row boat generating power for his computer! Lol

Row, Row , Row

KB

January 4th, 2012
11:25 pm

It’s a shame that it takes 3-4 years for CMR to drop crappy assistants, i.e. Martinez, Van Halanger, McClendon and Bozo.

I’m sick and tired hearing about “loyatly” to some mediocre assistant. How about some loyatly to the institution that pays you 3 million a year! How about some loyatly to the fan base that supports the program and deserves at least a competitive program!!!!

AltamahaDawg

January 4th, 2012
11:26 pm

maybe that “real OC” that Clemson hired can show him.

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
11:26 pm

Clemson mounting a come back!

pooh p

January 4th, 2012
11:27 pm

I don’t even know what that means. Oh well, looks like the coal making polluter school is gonna win this one. Chalk one up for Bu$h and Regan and their fatcat buddies. smh Go Georgia!!

Bad Dawg

January 4th, 2012
11:27 pm

Flat Tire, I don’t think Richt knows how to step on the gas, he would rather let the other team hang around and give them a chance to win. It really helps with the tv ratings and it allows Aaron Murray to stay in the game and have a potential turnover.

smart dawg

January 4th, 2012
11:29 pm

poopee, the funny thing is, I probably have a “greener” footprint than you. I have 12 acres of trees. How about your trailer?

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
11:30 pm

On side kick right here!

RED DOG 77

January 4th, 2012
11:31 pm

I’ve noted it over and over, Bill King, as a student of the game of college football, I can prove with facts and statistics that the “big brand” schools run in cycles……………Under Richt, Georgia came close to the MNC at least [3] times in his 11 years at Georgia. It would seem to me that 2011 was just a preview of what to expect over the next few years at Georgia……..a continued up-swing. If a Georgia fan really wants to know, just look at Georgia pre Richt……….then post Richt……….The ultimate Georgia fan seemed to sum it up best, when he was quoted as saying “All we need today is “ol lady luck to smile on us today”………….While the “big boys” of college football DO run incycles, sometimes a little luck is needed to seal the deal………………The University of Georgia Football proram made me proud to be a DAWG in 2011…………..Me? I’m looking for even greater feats in 2012 and beyond………….Though I disagreed with you quite a bit this year Bill, I thank you for some entertaining stories…………..God Bless you Bill, and to All BULLDOG NATION………….RED

Still@theKool-aidBAR

January 4th, 2012
11:32 pm

Smart i have 50 acres with Pecan trees 2 acre pond and I can’t count the Pine trees . Buddies love to hunt deer and turkey on my farm.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

January 4th, 2012
11:32 pm

Bad Dawg

“helps the tv ratings”

LOL!!!!

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
11:32 pm

Smart dawg

Do you need some one to come clean the deer off that 12 acres? :)

pooh p

January 4th, 2012
11:32 pm

Then we are more alike than you think smart dog, except i live in midtown atlanta so not to many trees. you’ll come around. tigers can still win!

smart dawg

January 4th, 2012
11:33 pm

I think we will see Gino Smith playing on Sundays.

smart dawg

January 4th, 2012
11:36 pm

48, poachers already got them. Seriously, I watched a bear walk through the yard a month ago. (N Ga mtns)

poopee, I’m not surprised you live in midtown. Get him, Still.

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
11:36 pm

Still

Do you need someone to clean the deer off your 50 acres? :)

NewnanRxDawg

January 4th, 2012
11:37 pm

Let Bobo coach the QB’s and recruit. Let Richt run Special teams and Recruit. Let Grantham run the Defense and Recruit. And bring in Sean Peyton’s Assistant OC to call plays. Check please.

pooh p

January 4th, 2012
11:38 pm

Thats the funniest post of the day. bring it still

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
11:38 pm

Smart, what part off the mountains? I live in bartow county.
I love going trout fishing, There may not be a stream I have not wet a hook in.

Bad Dawg

January 4th, 2012
11:38 pm

Mark Richt’s Ten Commandments
1. Thou shalt not have a killer instinct
2. Thou shall be loyal to your friends
3. Thou shalt not win against top 25 teams
4. Thou shall wear spray tan and sunglasses
5. Thou shall be nice to your opponent
6. Thou shall play not to lose
7. Thou shall underachieve
8. Thou shall not win a national championship
9. Thou shall begin studying football after coaching 11 years
10. Thou shall do whatever it takes to keep UGA football average as long as possible.

Still@theKool-aidBAR

January 4th, 2012
11:39 pm

48 Cousin does it and a few buddies. Had a Gator in the pond once too. Have a beaver now.

smart dawg

January 4th, 2012
11:41 pm

Still@theKool-aidBAR

January 4th, 2012
11:41 pm

48 are ALL those bartow co. women that easy that you can WET a Hook so easy?

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
11:41 pm

Still,kill that beaver and make me a hat! Lol

Allen

January 4th, 2012
11:42 pm

We need better coaching. Period. Richt has shown no signs of taking us to the mountaintop . . . our record of late vs. Top 20 teams is absolutely dismal . . . and there is zero creativity on offense.

smart dawg

January 4th, 2012
11:43 pm

bad dawg, that’s funny. What about no discipline, encourage your inner self?

Dawg48

January 4th, 2012
11:43 pm

Smart, do you know where dial GA is?