Returning defensive starters put UGA in strong position

Shawn Williams says all the juniors on Georgia's defense will be back next season. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Shawn Williams says all the juniors on Georgia's defense will be back next season. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

If defense wins championships, as the saying goes, then the latest reports out of Athens mean Georgia should be looking good this coming season.

First, Bacarri Rambo announced that he would be returning for his senior season at UGA rather than enter the NFL draft and now fellow safety Shawn Williams is saying he’ll be staying at Georgia and that he believes “everybody will be back” on defense.

That would mean nine of the regular starters will return from a group that finished the year ranked fifth in the country in total defense, with only departing seniors Brandon Boykin and DeAngelo Tyson missing.

The good news was topped off with defensive coordinator Todd Grantham shooting down return-to-the-NFL rumors by issuing a statement Wednesday that he wants to be at UGA “a long time.” Grantham said he was speaking up “because of the terrific recruiting class we are assembling and the juniors that have communicated to me their desire to come back to Georgia.”

Sure, there’s always the chance someone could change their mind before Sunday’s NFL deadline, but Williams’ statement has to be considered a pretty good indication of what the players are saying to each other, so it looks like Mark Richt’s program has so far weathered the postseason draft period pretty well.

Yeah, it would have been great to have tight end Orson Charles back, but of the two players considered most likely to leave for the pros — Charles and Rambo — losing the defender would have been a bigger blow to the team’s prospects for 2012.

Of course, the defense certainly can’t do it all. The UGA coaching staff still has a lot of issues to address on offense and special teams before we can say the Bulldogs are ready to compete with the likes of Alabama and LSU.

But, as we saw during the Matt Stafford-Knowshon Moreno era, you can have an all-star offense and still not win a championship if your defense isn’t getting it done.

Aren’t you glad those days appear to be past us?

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

162 comments Add your comment

Leroy1970

January 12th, 2012
10:50 am

icedawg

January 12th, 2012
10:59 am

A strong plus having most of the defense back intact. At least we’ll be in most of the games. The offense is the killer. Whether it’s the offensive players or coaches they stunk it up in the had to have games. When Murray is good he’s real good, when he’s bad he’s real bad. Almost non-existent run blocking and therefore no running game. We’ll need a stable of running backs because they’ll all be crushed if they play next year like this past year. And Bobo would be better just to randomly select plays, like roll the dice, then people might not know what he has called. :)

40Watt Dawg

January 12th, 2012
10:59 am

Love Coach Grantham. Coach Richt knows what he is doing, it just took some time to reload. After all the questions we had last year, I feel confident they’ll get the OL, running game, and Special Teams issues fixed this year.

sogadog

January 12th, 2012
11:03 am

The defense is set, to win a championship the Dawgs will have to rebuild the O line and establish the running game.

bill arp

January 12th, 2012
11:05 am

Now, as long as everyone would end their love affair with A Murray, we could be in a serious position to make a run at it. Even with a great defense, when your QB is throwing pick 6’s and fumbling deep down in your own territory, there’s just no way.

Which I think is a major reason why we get the play calling that we do! Murray’s got to be held accountable.

McDawg

January 12th, 2012
11:08 am

kydawg

January 12th, 2012
11:09 am

“Grantham said he was speaking up “because of the terrific recruiting class we are assembling”…well that sure sounds interesting…must be some silent “commits” out there.

Vance Duly

January 12th, 2012
11:11 am

If I were Coach Richt, I would have our offense and defense scheme against each other, with the goal being for Coach Grantham to pick apart Coach Bobo’s playcalling, so that Bobo might move beyond his repetitive weaknesses. To compete, we must have a better offensive line than the past several years. But, Bobo needs to improve as a playcaller if Georgia is ever going to have a legit shot at a BCS title. I would hope that they already do this during the off-season, but I doubt that they do. Our defense MIGHT be good enough next year to get us CLOSE to the title game, but a predictable, overly conservative, “play not to lose” offense is not likely to work well against a team like USC, Oregon, Oklahoma St., etc. …GO DAWGS!

You can't hold me back

January 12th, 2012
11:17 am

Congrats to Orson Charles. You deserve a chance to show what you can do at the next level

Bipolar Dawg

January 12th, 2012
11:18 am

Bill King, most of our players are not ready for pro level so, they might as well stay put and help us win bcs game.

chilidawg

January 12th, 2012
11:19 am

Defense will win them for us if the offense will stop the red zone turnovers.

HOP

January 12th, 2012
11:19 am

Murray is a is a good kid,but he makes too manny mistakes . he has too many turnovers and that has cost uga from being an elite team.

I wish Richt would open up the competition in in the spring for qb.

it would help us with the offensive since we have so many other options.

SSIgator

January 12th, 2012
11:20 am

“it would have been great to have tight end Orson Charles back”

Why? Murray the Midget Hardly ever threw him the ball when it really counted. You just can’t beat that tailback run up the middle from the I-formation.

b-ham dawg

January 12th, 2012
11:27 am

I love coach grantham, and richt should be kissing his feet for saving his job. The defense is going to be scary next year. Grantham has these boys playing with heart, intensity, and swagger. This is what the dawgs have been missing since 2005. All these juniors coming back show that they love playing for ctg. Things are looking up in Athens and I can’t wait to make a run next year. Now lets just close this years recruiting class strong. We really need Coradelle Patterson and Todd Gurley/Mike Davis to sure up things of the offense.Go Dawgs!
GATA

Destin Dawg

January 12th, 2012
11:27 am

Junk Yard dawg defense is BBBAAACCCCKKKK !! can’t win without a dependable QB… Richt Help !!!

Destin Dawg

January 12th, 2012
11:30 am

open up QB. competetion.. LeMay, Mason, Nick Marshall was a great H.S. QB too.. no seniority system for Murray !!

Destin Dawg

January 12th, 2012
11:32 am

Murray is a roll out passer.. scrambler.. not a pocket passer.. throw to TE. for a 10 yard 1st down etc. ball possession passing game !!!!

Spanky

January 12th, 2012
11:32 am

Has anybody heard anything about Christian LeMay? He shot down transfer rumors, so he must be under the impression that he sees playing time,…and what about this Bauta kid?

b-ham dawg

January 12th, 2012
11:39 am

I believe that Lemay will get some snaps next year and will be 2nd on the depth chart. Everything I have read about Bauta is impressive. He is a very intelligent hard worker. I think you will seem him in some goal line situations running the ball.

Michael

January 12th, 2012
11:44 am

What is wrong with you people? Murray is an All-SEC caliber quarterback. One of the best in the country, and could go down as one of the best–if not the best–to play ‘tween the hedges. You are all insane.

As for quarterback situation. Mason is seeking transfer, mainly because he knows LeMay is the heir apparent after Murray. That’s why we saw LeMay redshirt. He’ll have two good years with us after Murray leaves. Bauta will likely play as an athlete somewhere, as will Nick Marshall.

Fridawg

January 12th, 2012
11:50 am

Enough with the Murray hating. He’s a great SEC QB, and set all kinds of records with an offense that you guys think is pathetic. The REAL issue is the OL. Straighten that up, and we’re golden. We’d be able to run the ball with our growing stable of high quality backs, and we will protect Murray. Defenses already have a hard time game-planning us. Fix the OL, and we’ll be unstoppable.

Old Dawg

January 12th, 2012
11:51 am

Can’t wait to see another year of great defense between the hedges!

1997Alum

January 12th, 2012
11:55 am

I am all for each play being assigned a digit then a random number generator on a calculator calling plays next year!

UGA 4 LIFE

January 12th, 2012
11:57 am

I wish Mike Bobo will enter the nfl lol

WillyWonkaDawg

January 12th, 2012
11:57 am

Against ranked teams, in SEC:
Grantham’s D was 11th in defensive scoring points allowed

Also, just overall red zone defense was AMONG THE WORST IN THE NCAA:
allowed scores 27 out of 29 times in red zone (116th ranked)
allowed 21 td scores out of 29 red zone trips (worst in NCAA)

Taco Meat

January 12th, 2012
11:59 am

Bottom line is if we don’t win it all next year, then we never will in the Richt era. We will never have this much returning talent (and depth) on both sides of the ball again.

WillyWonkaDawg

January 12th, 2012
11:59 am

Murray committed 9 turnovers in 3 of the 4 losses (3 against Mich St, 3 against LSU, 3 against South Carolina).

Murray got WORSE at ball protection with experience (14 interceptions, 5 fumbles).

If not for Murray, Dawgs go 12-2 in 2011.

DAWGS forever

January 12th, 2012
12:10 pm

Thankful for coach TG and the juniors staying. Has the look of a GREAT D next year. Thanks Bill for some good insight of the juniors staying.

Who are some of the players that red shirted that look to be real play makers? Kind of like Jarvis Jones. All the talk was how he would disrupt the O while he was on the scout team while redshirting.

Are there other freshmen who redshirted that look to take the next step that soon? I like the sound of Lemay.

I’m sorry but all this talk from commentators and some fans of Murray being great is over hyped. He might be good but no way is he great. He does become careless with the ball at times as noted in this blog. He makes many mistakes that cost dearly.

Let’s finish this recruiting class strong and get ready for championships a coming. Go DAWGS!

Nom Nom Nom Chuck's Taylor, or Norris if he is avaliable

January 12th, 2012
12:14 pm

“Bottom line is if we don’t win it all next year, then we never will in the Richt era. We will never have this much returning talent (and depth) on both sides of the ball again.”

AMEN. Murray the midget needs to study a clipboard some, let another kid get his shot. Those turnovers he commited DOOMED us in our losses. That and the genius playcalling.

Anybody going to miss the shotgun-draw plays for no gain this offseason? Boy, I sure am.

Thank God for CTG….and I am sorry in advance for the offense gassing you in the first half and then having the audacity to implicate you stepping up in the red zone.

Other than that, 2012 looks peachy.

b-ham dawg

January 12th, 2012
12:17 pm

willy wonka… When you have no running game you have to rely on your qb. When you have no running game you become one dimensional like we were vs. every good defense. When a defense can just pin their ears back and rush the passer you put way too much pressure on your qb to make plays. With that being said Murray had one of the best years in school history at UGA. WONKA when you develop some football knowledge you can post again, until then go troll on your on blog. Wait 10-1.
GATA

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

January 12th, 2012
12:18 pm

@ willewonka, and LSU was ranked 100 in red zone. Go back to the chocolate factory with your stupid mean nothing stats.

Columbus Dawg

January 12th, 2012
12:22 pm

Murray does not make the bad decisions when he has protection, and I believe he will benefit from UGA’s new look OL for 2012. I am not going to berate players by name, but the line has been suspect for several years. I do believe Friend in his second year, given some new blood to work with will have the OL ready to knock some heads in 2012. More protection for Murray, coupled with some good run blocking will give UGA a real chance of running the table. Joe T needs to be the meanest SOB in Athens for the next few months!

Desert Fox

January 12th, 2012
12:23 pm

The offense is the anchor around the neck of this GA team. Can’t count on it in big games as shown in all 4 losses this season. Other than Boise game, the O gave games away w/TO’s and a little help from an inept special teams. If the dawgs can ever establish a running game it might wash some of Bobo’s (and CMR’s) predictable play calling. Bobo’s not going anywhere so the dawgs need to offset those bone head plays on O w/run blocking that is better than what we’ve seen over the past several years. That won’t happen overnight so why not take a page from the Malzone playbook and work in some of his Off plays to confuse the D. They worked in the AU bowl game and looked good in the GA game where their TE scored. The Bobo playbook has no imagination and relied too much on running plays that were snuffed at the LOS. If you can’t open holes then try something different. The passing game will not bail you out all the time especially if the opposition knows your OC has no imagination and apparently has no plays that might fool the opposing D. If Bobo has to be the OC, then change the playbook some to include other plays then up the middle fizzlers.

uncle kirk

January 12th, 2012
12:29 pm

Hey willie, other teams were only in the red zone 29 times? What is our ranking on only allowing teams on the red zone 29 times. and the defense only gave up 17 points to USCe. but only a troll like you would count that against the d.

Preston

January 12th, 2012
12:33 pm

They better get a consistent offense that’ll keep that defense off the field a lot and keep them fresh.

icedawg

January 12th, 2012
12:35 pm

Murray haters? I think not. We’re just calling it like it is. He might have good stats in every department but winning the big games and the championships he has not. Just saying. When he has to deliver he has delivered to the opposing team and given them points and we’ve lost. It has happened enough that it is a pattern. David Greene did not turn the ball over like this. He won the SEC Championship. The other DAWG qbs on championships teams had minimal turnovers.

b-ham dawg

January 12th, 2012
12:37 pm

icedawg… David green also had a stout running game and an incredible line. Just saying. When we find a line to protect murray and a running back that doesn’t cry after getting hit watch out.

Mike

January 12th, 2012
12:40 pm

I agree 100%. I would rather have a defense playing top notch, which is exactly how Richt made his mark at UGA with Van Gorder. You have to play defense in this league if you want to win it. However, you can offset that defense with an offense and special teams that make absolutely killer mistakes. UGA would have been better off lining up and taking a knee three times, then punting out of bounds vs the killer mistakes Murray, the offense, and special teams coverage made last year.

To be fair, its not Murray’s fault. Murray was forced into far too many long yardage situations with a line that doesnt block very well. Bobo needs to be a lot more creative this year in order to avoid the long yardage. Use the TE more in the middle of the field. Use the FB more. FB and TE used to be staples in UGA’s offense. FB screen or out in the flats…TE over the middle…quick handoff to the fullback…all staples of early Mark Richt teams that have disappeared recently.

Real Talk

January 12th, 2012
12:44 pm

Murray is NOT a championship caliber QB. You can put 2 losses on him just from this past season.

Go Dawgs!

KB

January 12th, 2012
12:45 pm

williewonka is the handle for today, same guy post same drivel everyday under different hand. He full of meaningless stats and Murray bashing , Murray must’ve screwed his girlfriend.

b-ham dawg

January 12th, 2012
12:46 pm

Arthur Lynch break out player of the year next year. Watch out for Quayvon Hicks to start as a true frosh at FB. Dude is a beast.
GATA

Real Talk

January 12th, 2012
12:49 pm

Passing over the middle (for 4-8 yards) won’t happen as long as Murray is QB. The kid looks so rattled in the pocket. I laugh when people complain about Orson not getting enough touches, and it is somehow Bobo’s fault. (most te routes are drags or hooks across the middle.) The QB throws the ball, and Murray is looking anywhere but the middle of the field.

CHDawg

January 12th, 2012
12:56 pm

There is irony in some of these departures. For instance, most Gator fans were thrilled when Tebow elected to stay. However, one of his backups–Cam Newton, was ready to start or move on. Would he have stayed at UF if Tebow had gone pro? Maybe, and maybe not–due to his troubles. But if he had stayed and played, the Gators might have won the NC a couple of times more. As great as 15 was in college, Newton might have been even better. Point is, you never know how well the next guy will play. Lynch looked great to me in both of the last two Gdays, but particularly two years ago; he is a load to bring down, and it isn’t easy. He also is likely a much better blocker than OC. Rome has awesome genes (I’m dating myself here). So as much as we all love OC, Lynch and Rome could actually fill that gap just fine.

True Dawg

January 12th, 2012
1:00 pm

need to demote Bobo and try a new OC

RP

January 12th, 2012
1:04 pm

I am no fan of Bobo, but i also dont think he’s that bad. It’s hard to look like a genius playcaller when you have absolutely zero running game and the D knows it.

CHDawg

January 12th, 2012
1:06 pm

JMO, but Murray’s line is the problem, not Murray. They gave up an astronomical amount of sacks and TFLs this year–just terrible. The fact that Murray is very quick, elusive, and he has good peripheral vision actually gave UGA good offensive stats, despite the intense pressure! We could have had about thirty more sacks with a less mobile QB, and we were already 97th out of 120! The intense pressure would have affected most other QBs a lot more, imo.

UGA fan...not fanatic

January 12th, 2012
1:15 pm

AM IS NOT THAT GOOD…HE MADE HIS MISTAKES AT THE WORST TIME AND THE WORST PLACE…A GOOD QB WOULD HAVE JUST ATE THE BALL OR THREW IT AWAY.

b-ham dawg

January 12th, 2012
1:15 pm

CHDawg… Well said. Completely agree

UGA fan...not fanatic

January 12th, 2012
1:16 pm

UGA wins 10 straight easy cupcake games this year with Joe Hamilton QB’ing this years team…well, maybe not Joe.

KB

January 12th, 2012
1:19 pm

Icedawg,Murray is a very good QB, . there is room for improvement. Obviously you have forgotten about Greenes 2003 season. 13 tds 11 ints on the season.Yes Greene has won an SEC championship game , he also lost one and threw a pick six in a 34-13 loss to LSU, Hopefully Murray gets a second chance next year.