What’s the biggest concern on Mark Richt’s to-do list?

Mark Richt has some work ahead of him if he wants to have another celebration like this in 2012. (Associated Press)

Mark Richt has some work ahead of him if he wants to have another celebration like this in 2012. (Associated Press)

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

413 comments Add your comment

Cody

January 20th, 2012
10:23 am

O-Line will be a big concern until Friend get’s the player he wants in place and having depth never hurts in the SEC.

BMDPD

January 20th, 2012
10:26 am

Cody, I agree. I notice everyone slams Bobo, but Friend has got to shoulder some of the blame too.

SouthSide Dawg

January 20th, 2012
10:26 am

All of those topics are concerning.

BMDPD

January 20th, 2012
10:28 am

Also, the D looked gassed in the MSU game because or O was flat. Not sure that was a conditioning issue or an OC/OL issue.

SouthSide Dawg

January 20th, 2012
10:29 am

If I was a High School DB, WR, or OL, I would be looking closely at UGA for some early playing time.

seabass

January 20th, 2012
10:31 am

What is Kolton Houston’s status? Has he been cleared to play? Cannot find any info on this question.

UGA dawg

January 20th, 2012
10:31 am

O-line depth, the running game in general and the kicking game. our defense may be stout but to win ballgames, you gotta be able to score. i don’t see our offense consistently putting up a ton of points so more often than not, we may need a FG or 2 to seal the deal. hopefully the new guy can get it done.

whatya got loren

January 20th, 2012
10:32 am

OL has to the at the top of the list and for the most part I agree with your take Mr. King.

Strength and Conditioning was bandaided. Special Teams are anything but and our drama in the backfield. Then our current QB has areas to improve for sure.

GREAT article that’s a master of the obvious. That’s not a slam but a compliment.

Go DAWGS

Kevin

January 20th, 2012
10:32 am

O-line would be better if we had a solid fullback to help them. Let’s start a campaign to move Richard Samuels to FB.

KeepDreaming

January 20th, 2012
10:34 am

WIN A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP to silence the nay-Sayers!!

Braddawg

January 20th, 2012
10:35 am

The O-Line is the biggest concern. It all starts on the line of scrimmage. We need experience and depth and it looks like we may have little of both. It may be time for Richt to dip into the junior college ranks to see if there are any diamonds in the rough like Jenkins! GO DAWGS!!

Moobs Johnson

January 20th, 2012
10:36 am

One reason the D looks gassed in the second half is the pathetic performance of the offense at times. Richt and Bobo seem to go into turtle mode whenever the Dawgs take a lead. Time to realize that they need to learn how to step on the throats of opponents and quit worrying if you are going to embarrass them. It’s the other teams job to stop your offense, not your own offensive coordinator.

bardawg

January 20th, 2012
10:36 am

Special Teams, Strength &Conditioning should fix a lot of our ills.

harold

January 20th, 2012
10:36 am

IT IS PAST TIME FOR RICHT TO QUIT “DREAMING” AND TO START DELIVERING. SINCE TENNESSEE WON THE INAGURAL BCS TITLE GAME IN 1998, ALABAMA, FLORIDA, LSU, AND AUBURN HAVE WON A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP. UGA HAS NOT EVEN PLAYED FOR IT.

RICHT MUST WIN IT THIS YEAR OR HE NEEDS TO GO! UGA FANS ARE TIRED OF DREAMING ABOUT IT!

SBC Pastor

January 20th, 2012
10:36 am

While Special Teams have GOT to be better this next year, football is won at the line of scrimmage. Our O-line is probably our biggest concern, followed by Special Teams.

GTBob

January 20th, 2012
10:38 am

If Mark Richt really wants UGA to succeed then the first thing he should do is quit.

harold

January 20th, 2012
10:38 am

UGA STILL “TALKING” ABOUT IT WHILE TENNESSEE LSU ALABAMA AUBURN AND FLORIDA ALL HAVE A BCS TITLE. TIME FOR RICHT TO WIN OR GO!

abe lincoln

January 20th, 2012
10:40 am

We need more quality bodies in the offensive line. Quality depth at all positions on both sides of the ball. Get the tailbacks to perform or hire a new running back coach. Same goes for the strength and conditioning program. Have the best program in America ! Lock down Coach Grantham and Coach Bobo to long term contracts.

modawg

January 20th, 2012
10:43 am

we do not trust our 2’s. The great basketball teams play alot of 2’s early on to give them experience and then finish with the fresh 1’s. The more we use the 2’s, the quicker they will get up to speed and challenge the 1’s. The one thing I took away from watching LSU & Alabama, was how many people they used. We the talent, we are acquiring, we should be able to do the same.

Dawg Tired

January 20th, 2012
10:43 am

A 5-star offensive line can make a 3-star running back look great. Reverse is much more difficult. O-Line was THE main concern of 2011’s team and will be again in 2012.

Gdawg

January 20th, 2012
10:43 am

We can bring in whatever and whoever we want at FB, RB, WR, TE, QB and on and on. Until we have a good D1 offensive coordinator, we can’t do anything. I see someone said Will Friend needs to shoulder some of the blame…it was his first year in Athens. The O-Line has been sad for a long time. We had a starting O-line of many Seniors and size was larger than many NFL teams, yet we couldn’t move BOISE Frickin’ State off the ball! No way we get back to relevance until we can get those big uglies to move people off the ball. Bobo will call a 3rd and long draw play every time…nope! We can’t win if even someone like me knows every play he’s calling. No creativity…no heart! I love my Dawgs but dang I want to see the Offense start clicking.

SouthSide Dawg

January 20th, 2012
10:43 am

Bill,

Please find out for us what the status of Kolton Houston is. His situation seems to be a mystery that has dropped out of the news. Thanks.

abe lincoln

January 20th, 2012
10:44 am

INDOOR FACILITY ! The only school in the SEC without a full size indoor facility.

knoxdawg

January 20th, 2012
10:45 am

For the defense not be gassed at the end of the game the offense needs to step up. O line and running game biggest concern, next is philosophy. Our head coach and his offense staff must learn to treat the second half just like the game is 0 – 0. We must atack, attack, attack throughout the whole game. Our defense is better because of one thing, that being Grantham’s philosophy to take the attack to the opposition. Lets see if Richt and Bobo can adopt that same thinking.

Dawgs need depth.

January 20th, 2012
10:48 am

o-line/special teams seem to be the biggest concern, murray needs a running game so he isnt pressured into bad situations. o-line could be good enough if a few recruits come in and make immediate impacts. staying healthy is gonna be huge too, special teams should end up with a coach to give uga an edge when its needed. adding more depth along with alot of returning studs on defense will only make grathams 3-4 become seen even more as an elite sec defense!

old timer

January 20th, 2012
10:50 am

OL has been at the front of the needs for a while now.What i can’t see is why we don’t make that a priority.Surely there are some very good OL in the area.Do we not have the right recuriters on board at UGA?

BullDawg Rick

January 20th, 2012
10:51 am

I believe the O-Line play is the beginning of what makes or breaks this team. They could not fget one first down at some critical times in games this year & it cost a few games.. The very inconsistant play of Murray is a concern. If the line breaks down take the sack or throw the ball away. too many fumbles & pic 6’s from the QB spot.
Another thing that puzzles me is that CMR & staff does not “Keep the boot on the throat” till the clock is at 0:00. THe O has gotten the ball with 1:00 to half & take a knee… WTHeck is that all about!?!?! In the SEC there are so many great “go for the kill” coaches that until we take that approach, we’ll always be a very good team, but not NC calibur…

That being said, if the SEC reels in the oversigning issue that many others take advantage of, we’ll be all that much better as we’ll have nothing to change & the others will.. I love that CMR is a great character & Christian man/coach & does lead by example & molds children into men at this the most impressionate timelines in the players growth..

Go Dawgs!!

Defense was gassed but . . .

January 20th, 2012
10:52 am

Better running game and better run playing calling (i.e. like a sweep call maybe 4 to 5 times a game from the I-formation) will help the Defense. Those guys were in great shape just need to sustain drives — Again, Bobo will need to show that he can put together some 4 to 5 minute drives instead of score on long passes, etc.

cmac22

January 20th, 2012
10:56 am

Special teams & O-Line are the most concerns. Also, open the QB position up to some competition!!

JB

January 20th, 2012
10:57 am

THE OL with out a doubt. New starters are a good thing. I’m hoping they bring some of their “good” high school coaching to Athens. If Murray had a sound ,dependable running game that the other teams defense HAD to worry about, he would really improve. And then Richt is correct about special teams. It really seems on kick offs the other teams start at like the 35 or so. Covering punts is weak also. Wit little luck, this team could go 12-0

monty

January 20th, 2012
10:57 am

If we would of had an O-line worth it’s salt we would have marched to #1 status. Could you imagine our offense if we had a running game that was dangerous? Bring in some JUCO guys on the offensive line or else all the talent on defense won’t bring a NC run. How do we have 2 guys on the O-line go pro and we can’t block?

TDF

January 20th, 2012
10:58 am

Herschel Talker

January 20th, 2012
9:28 am
Someone please explain to me why Garner is making only a “late offer” to the state’s #1 WR. Why would the #1 of any position in the state of Georgia be receiving a “late offer”?

I see you are hear spewing your usual garbage that means nothing to anyone but yourself

monty

January 20th, 2012
10:59 am

BAMA made the honey badger look like a tree sloth, we made him look like speedii-Gonzalez. Way to go special teams

TDF

January 20th, 2012
11:00 am

GTBob

January 20th, 2012
10:38 am
If Mark Richt really wants UGA to succeed then the first thing he should do is quit.

Get something new to say. Richt isnt going anywhere. He will be here with CTG for a long time, which means it will be a long time before tech wins more than 1 in a decade!!

TDF

January 20th, 2012
11:00 am

monty

January 20th, 2012
10:57 am
If we would of had an O-line worth it’s salt we would have marched to #1 status. Could you imagine our offense if we had a running game that was dangerous? Bring in some JUCO guys on the offensive line or else all the talent on defense won’t bring a NC run. How do we have 2 guys on the O-line go pro and we can’t block?

Simple see Mel kipers evaluation of Charles, kid cant block for anything. Hard to believe we will be better without him.

JB

January 20th, 2012
11:01 am

OH, one more thing………………..Richt has got to quit ” conceding” going for a first down late in the game when we have a lead under 7 points. Giving the ball back to the other team against our tired defense with 2 minutes to go has cost this team wins the last three years. See MSU bowl game as example 1.

Supes

January 20th, 2012
11:01 am

Biggest concern…Richt’s refusal to “emphasize special teams” , Mike Bobo’s questionable play calling and refusal to get creative with the offense, Aaron Murray’s knack for going into “zombie mode” for a stretch during big games where he’s a turnover machine…that’s the short list.

Joe Mason

January 20th, 2012
11:01 am

Regardless of who plays what on offense–if the wrong plays are called, we’re always going to have 3 and out most of the game, meaning the defense will always be exhausted in 4Q–because they’ve played twice as much as the offense. Until we replace Bobo-the-clown, we can be good, but never great. So we settle for the high side of mediocrity again!

TDF

January 20th, 2012
11:02 am

JB

January 20th, 2012
11:01 am
If we had the Oline and RBs it would work, unfortunately Bobo forgot that part agaisnt MSU.

Summit Dawg

January 20th, 2012
11:02 am

Richt is a good man, but not too good on the field on gameday! Don’t see him ever having the fire needed to take us to a National Championship. The reason the defense looked “gassed” is because
Murray turned the ball over too many time leaving them on the field too long.Don’t think he’s the QB to take us to the championship level nationally either! And as for Bobo’s play calling…..we’ll never get there……Love the Dawgs, but question the coaches!!!!!!!!!!!

JDub

January 20th, 2012
11:03 am

D will be fine! Agreed.
O will definitely hinge on how well Friend can coach up a new O-line, and whether Bobo’s play calling can keep our offense on the field long enough to keep our D fresh and aggressive. Just like you guys are saying above…it’s that simple.
These quick strike exciting offensive plays that result in touchdowns and big gains sometimes help work against our D because they have to get right back on the field without enough time to recharge. By the end of the game (especially a triple overtime game), our guys are sucking wind hard.
Bobo’s offense has always scored points…but when they score fast and then churn out several 3 and outs, it takes its toll. AND NO MORE 3rd and long, run the little backs up the the middle!!

Dawg_Mike

January 20th, 2012
11:04 am

Tim Dawg

January 20th, 2012
11:05 am

Dawgs need better game planning. When we have a lead step on their throat with a HOBB NAILED BOOT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ray

January 20th, 2012
11:06 am

Be nice to run the ball on first and have the success of the real college football teams.

Nothing short of dumpin the flag-football OC will result in our actuall tapping into our talent’s potential next year…yet again.

UGA has become a great place for top HS talent to party for 3 yrs before they go pro…

geez…

JDub

January 20th, 2012
11:06 am

Oh yeah….GO DAWGS!!!

JB

January 20th, 2012
11:07 am

Who remembers the Dooley days when we would take the kick off at start at say the 22. You could get up, go the bathroom, stand in line for food and go back to your seat……And the Dawgs would be 1st and 10 on their own 45….. You missed Nothing.

OldFan

January 20th, 2012
11:08 am

Line play wins championships in the SEC. D-line looks solid. O-line is the biggest concern.

old dog

January 20th, 2012
11:11 am

Starts with the o-line. We have not had a top-notch o-line in awhile! I know eveyone feels like they’re the expert, but ANYBODY who played line even on the high-school level can see we cannot run-block! We have other areas of weakness, but if we could get an SEC caliber line, Murray, Bobo, and EVERYONE would look better! No run in SEC, no win in SEC! If we are incapable of putting the hosses up front, then everything needs to be re-assessed. Thats where it starts!

reality check (the original)

January 20th, 2012
11:12 am

1. Special teams. What a disaster this year!

2. Better offensive play calling, especially quicker developing plays. We are good at throwing long, but not so much on 3rd down. We have become predictable throwing long on 3rd down, so opposing defenses have tended to bring the most pressure and it puts us in a bad situation. We seldom throw shorter passes earlier in the down sequence and that creates problems

3. Re establish the ground game. Georgia’s best teams are always good at running the ball. I believe OL development and better running backs are equal opportunity improvement areas.

59bulldawg

January 20th, 2012
11:13 am

O-line / special teams / running game / play calling