Outside the Bulldog Nation, Mark Richt’s 2012 team is being viewed as a preseason Top 10 lock, thanks to returning talent (including virtually the entire defense) and a favorable schedule. But all that enthusiasm is being tempered among many Dogs fans by concerns about some of the things on Richt’s offseason to-do list.
The head coach himself has listed improvement on special teams as a top priority for the offseason, saying “there’s no doubt that we’ve got to be a whole lot better on special teams top to bottom.”
In the absence of naming a special teams coordinator (which many of us still would like to see), that’s likely to come down to a commitment to play more starters on the punt and kick teams and an overall greater emphasis on preparation in that area of the game. Of course, the Dogs also will be breaking in a new placekicker and a new punter, so those remain question marks, too.
Then there’s Georgia’s anemic running attack, which limped its way to near-irrelevance in the last couple of games of 2011. Bringing Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley into the backfield is a big step, but there’s still the shorthanded offensive line to deal with.
Not exactly a major strength this past season, it has to basically be rebuilt thanks to graduation, and there wasn’t a lot of depth to start with. Can an OL that’s likely to start a true freshman get the job done? As Richt said, “That’s going to be a big challenge for us breaking in some new linemen offensively.”
There’s no mystery who’ll be Georgia’s starter at quarterback, but as we’ve discussed here at length, Aaron Murray still needs some polishing, and with Hutson Mason planning on taking a redshirt season the backup duties most likely will fall to the promising but untried Christian LeMay, who hasn’t played football in a couple of years. So there’s work to be done developing depth there as well.
And while the Bulldogs overall looked to be in better shape in 2011 thanks to a revamped strength and conditioning program, there’s still improvement needed there, as Richt noted after the defense looked gassed late in the bowl game against Michigan State. As the coach summed up, “we’ve got to make sure we can finish games like we start them.”
So there’s still quite a bit of work for the Georgia coaching staff before the team is ready to live up to those preseason expectations.
Which aspect of the 2012 Dogs concerns you the most, and what would you like to see Richt and company do about it?
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg