Let’s jump straight into some of this week’s Junkyard Mail …
Robert Nesbitt writes: Junkyard, I heard on the [NFL] draft coverage of the 1st round something that has me hopping mad. Gil Brandt, the resident draft guru, was pontificating on why Cordy Glenn may not have been drafted. Gil indicated it is well known Georgia players do much better in the pros (than college)and that Glenn (and by association) other Bulldogs are soft in they way they play college ball. This burns me up, because the truth hurts. What are your thoughts?
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this rap on Georgia players. NFL scouts were dissing the strength and conditioning of Mark Richt’s players at least a couple of years before the head coach decided an overhall of the conditioning staff was in order. And while the team overall looked stronger last year, the fourth-quarter fade in the bowl game showed there’s still room for improvement in that regard. Of course, Georgia has still had 57 draft picks in the past 10 years (tops in the SEC), though the rate has fallen off somewhat in the past five years. Still, I’m not sure Brandt’s citing of the Dawgs’ reputation around the league for being “soft” was really at play in Glenn not getting drafted until the Bills took him in the 41st spot in the second round. There was some talk about him occasionally showing lazy technique, plus there probably were questions about his weight (somewhere in the vicinity of 345), though he’s shown himself to be remarkably quick for a big man. More likely there were questions about his suitability at tackle, since he was a guard for 32 of his 50 starts at UGA. Still, those 50 starts for a team playing in the SEC (tying Clint Boling’s record for a UGA offensive lineman) belie the “soft” tag and it should be noted that another draft guru, Jon Gruden, professed himself “shocked” that Glenn was still available in the second round. “I thought he was a legitimate first rounder. He’s handled consistently SEC competition,” Gruden said. But back to your overall point: Joe Tereshinski has only had one season to turn things around in the strength and conditioning department. It’ll take some demonstrable improvement there to get rid of the Dogs’ previous reputation among NFL types.
Terry Lively writes: Bill, I appreciate your insights. I just have to ask: Why do you think the Dawgs consistently struggle in recruiting the offensive line position? This is prompted by the most recent “should have had him” in Max Garcia. We have the need, we have the skill players and we have the offensive style (allegedly) that should make it attractive for MANY linemen, yet we always seem to lose way more than we win. Take Garcia — wanted to be closer to home, an OT (and Lord knows we need them), and we were his leader at least at one point … but we lost him. Tell me where I’m off in my assessment or why you think we are always lagging at that position. And by the way, yes I know it’s a long way to signing day, but we seem to say that every year down the stretch but don’t close well in this area, and right now out of 15 commitments we have ONE OL on the board. It just doesn’t make sense given the opportunity in Athens.
We all know the offensive line has been a weak point for Richt’s program in recent years and recruiting no doubt lies at the heart of that. Of course, Will Friend is only in his second year as OL coach but, yeah, letting Maryland transfer Max Garcia slip away falls on him. The Georgia native left the Terps because he wanted to play closer to home and listed Georgia as his favorite early on. You can’t say Georgia doesn’t ever get quality OL players, though. John Theus, who’ll join the team this summer, is a highly touted five-star signee. And while three-star tackle Aulden Bynum is currently the only offensive lineman committed to Georgia in the 2013 class, recruiting experts see the Dogs having a good shot at quite a few others, including five-star player Laremy Tunsil. The Dawgs are considered likely to sign several tackles and another center and guard or two. I’m not ready to write off Georgia’s OL recruiting just on the basis of not snagging Garcia.
Steve Yearta writes: First, I thought that we should be as good as last year; maybe [Aaron] Murray will make it through the season without throwing pick 6’s at inopportune times; the running back corps will be vastly improved; and the OL and special teams probably won’t be any worse; and we’ll wind up winning 10 and losing 3. Now, however, I’ve drifted to: the offensive line will not be, even with the starters healthy, a strength and if, heaven forbid, injuries occur, it will be a struggle to have any consistency; no, [Murray] hasn’t beaten a good team yet, and I have great concern about his effectiveness and health if the OL is ineffective; and considering the lack of attention to special teams under this regime who knows what will happen there? Obviously, my concerns are with the offense and special teams. I think the defensive line and backers are excellent and can probably cover up some deficiencies in the defensive backfield. I wouldn’t be surprised if we wound up losing 1 game or 5. Just too hard to read this team. Thanks for your blog!
You’re right that on first blush it’s easy to think that in 2012 Georgia should at the very least repeat as SEC East champ and perhaps be a bit better than the 2011 team. But, as you correctly note, there are a lot of questions still to be answered. As I’ve made clear here, Murray isn’t among my primary worries. I’m much more concerned about the offensive line and whether it will allow our impressive stable of tailbacks to get anything going. And, as you noted, there’s a huge question mark hanging over special teams play. Until we see how the freshman specialists perform and whether the offseason tinkering improves kick coverage, that must remain on the list of the Dogs’ major liabilities.
On a more positive note, Jerry Cochran writes: Bill, I truly believe Mark Richt’s team this year has a chance to be special. I know the offensive line has to be rebuilt and we’re going to be missing some starters in the secondary against Missouri, but I really feel Aaron Murray is about to come into his own and I’m just plain excited by the prospects in the running game. I think the addition of Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley is going to spark Isaiah Crowell to fully live up to his potential and give Georgia the kind of versatility in the running game that LSU showed this past season. Am I being overly optimistic?
A lot depends on how the OL develops, in terms of both Murray’s progression at QB and the running game, but if that unit can gel before the South Carolina game, Georgia’s defense plays up to its considerable capabilities and the aforementioned special teams situation stablizes, the 2012 Dawgs certainly could be a Top 5 team.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg