Question marks temper season predictions for the Dawgs

How many times will we be able to say this during the 2012 season? (Photo by Olivia King)

How many times will we be able to say this during the 2012 season? (Photo by Olivia King)

Even though I know in advance what he’s going to say, I always get a kick out of asking my brother Jon for his prediction of what sort of season the football Dawgs will have.

Just about every year it’s the same answer: “Undefeated!”

This year, thanks to the amped up preseason ranking Mark Richt’s team is enjoying, Jon isn’t alone in seeing a chance for Georgia to win it all, but the expectations of most fans I’ve heard from are slightly more modest, with the vast majority predicting regular-season records of 11-1 or 10-2 and probably another SEC East title.

That’s the way it generally went when I asked Blawg friends on Facebook for their opinion, though there were a handful of doubters who saw a 9-3 record (or worse). But considering the favorable schedule and all the returning talent, I think anything less than a 10-win regular season would be viewed as a disappointment by many in the Bulldog Nation.

I’m generally pretty conservative in my annual venture out on a limb to make a season prediction. Last year, I went for 9-3 and said I couldn’t quite see the Dawgs getting 10 regular-season wins.

I love being wrong in those situations!

Anyway, in looking at the 2012 season, I’ve been fluctuating between 11-1 and 10-2. I think if they get past Missouri, 11-1 looks pretty reasonable. And if they get past Missouri and South Carolina, I think the odds increase dramatically that they’d enter the conference championship game undefeated.

But I finally decided 10-2 looks more likely, with the most probable losses being to South Carolina and either Mizzou or the Gators, though if the Dawgs don’t play their best they could come up short against a Brian Van Gorder Auburn defense, too. Depending on who the Gamecocks lose to, that still could be good enough to put Georgia back in the SEC championship game, though.

Here’s why I see Georgia with a couple of losses this season:

Aside from the possible impact of suspensions for the Missouri game, I think the team will be fine defensively, assuming the offense doesn’t sputter and keep the D out on the field too long, as it did in last year’s bowl game.

But like my son (who also sees the Dogs going 10-2), I’m concerned about the offense. The Dawgs have a young and not very deep offensive line combined with running backs who are either young or not super talented. So, running the ball could be hard against really good defenses and D-lines (as in the games against LSU and Michigan State last year).

Between the 20-yard lines, Mike Bobo is a master, but inside the red zone it gets trickier. That’s where the Georgia offense worries me, especially with Orson Charles gone as Aaron Murray’s safety valve.

And what worries me even more is special teams. We saw last year what a difference they can make. This season, not only do the Dawgs have an unproven freshman stepping in as placekicker, but I’m not convinced Richt has done enough to fix the problem. There’s still no one person in charge of the special teams. Also, reports from players are that more time has not been allotted to special teams in practices, though there’s been more talk about the need to get better and more starters are likely to play on coverage teams. Will that be enough? I’m skeptical.

Overall, the Dawgs are talented enough to beat every team on their schedule, but I believe the question marks about the OL and special teams loom large enough to derail brother Jon’s prediction.

How about you? What regular-season record do you see Georgia finishing with this year?

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180 comments Add your comment

The Honest Truth

August 29th, 2012
10:53 am

Dawgs finish the regular season 11-1, with a loss to either Mizzou or dare I say Spurrier’s Gamecoks (no God spare us)!

FaithfulDawg86

August 29th, 2012
10:54 am

Kicking game will be fine; we’ve started plenty of true freshmen over the years… O-line might by tricky, but I think we’ve got the talent and they have at least one game (Buffalo) to start to gel as a unit. I love the enthusiasm I’m hearing from Athens, from the team and coahes. I don’t see SC or FL beating us this year, so I’m going to wear the rosy glasses and agree with your brother Jon :)

Cuz

August 29th, 2012
10:54 am

I just figure the loss is to the Gators. Tough voodoo to fight on that one.

Goldenrod

August 29th, 2012
11:00 am

FIRST!

THWG, Tech Runs This State!

SSIgator

August 29th, 2012
11:06 am

Bill King -

Not sure if I like the new layout for AJC-Sports, but it is a shame that your spot & picture have to share space with Twit Towers on the same page.

RAWDAWG

August 29th, 2012
11:06 am

I see the DAWGS losing one game in the regular season. Unlike most, however, I don’t think it will be in Columbia. Although their front 4 are pretty good, there are major question marks on both sides of the ball at the other positions. Outside of Lattimore, no big name play makers. With our full D back for that game, I think we get the W. I think we could slip up either at Missouri or in Jacksonville, or possibly against Auburn who is a very talented bunch. I would say 11-1 at best or 10-2…

RAWDAWG

August 29th, 2012
11:09 am

SSIgator-

Just curious… what makes Mr. Towers, “a twit” as you so eloquently state above?

SSIgator

August 29th, 2012
11:13 am

“Question marks temper season predictions for the Dawgs”
___________________________

Why? Aren’t St. Markus Rectumus and Booboo still there?

And isn’t Murray the Midget still the starting QB?

There should not be any questions. Class dismissed.

Frank Lane

August 29th, 2012
11:16 am

11-1 losing only to South Carolina.

chilidawg

August 29th, 2012
11:17 am

I see them going undefeated and meeting Bama in the SEC championship, where we get revenge for the 2008 blackout debacle. Then, according to the Mayans, the world will end on December 21st before we get to play for the BCS title.

AltamahaDawg

August 29th, 2012
11:17 am

Not worried about the kickers. As pointed out, we have done OK with freshman. And our seniors didn’t exactly have the best year. We are probabaly going to be wise and treat them as freshman, and not rely on them being great Seniors (and not). It’s the coverage team that had a bad year. They either fixed that or they didn’t. I believe they have, or should have. The question is, at what cost.

Rooster

August 29th, 2012
11:17 am

8-4. To much koolaid being passed around in Athens. Murray will have roughly 30 turnovers between interceptions and turnovers. Richt and Bobo are not championship caliber coaches period.

Moobs Johnson

August 29th, 2012
11:18 am

9-3 at best, Coach MediocRe is at the helm after all.

AltamahaDawg

August 29th, 2012
11:31 am

And really just the punt coverage was bad. UGA has also been at or near the top in that over the past few years, so obviously they KNOW what to do. They just did not put the right guys out there last year to do it.

Punt returns, we were pretty normal last year.around 10 ypp. Middle of the pack.

KO (both defense and return), there really isn’t that big of a spread between the top and bottom of the league. These new rules will probably narrow that even more.

sc fan

August 29th, 2012
11:36 am

UGA defense is overrated and offense is underrated. 9-3 losses to SC , fl, au. wins east

UGA Alumnus

August 29th, 2012
11:36 am

Take it w/ a grain of salt, but here’s my SEC 2012 prediction (11-1 for UGA with lone loss 24-23 to Florida):

1. Alabama (SEC’s most talented team w/ best O-line, defense, and coaching staff)

2. LSU: (SEC’s 4th most talented team…fwiw, I don’t like Coach Miles’ personality [comes across to me as a condescending jerk], but I think he consistently fields a quality, competitive team)

3. Georgia: (SEC’s 3rd most talented team, but I think our O-line, special teams, and lack of depth will conspire against us at some point)

4. Florida: (SEC’s 2nd most talented team, but I don’t think Muschamp is a great coach and the Gators have some depth problems; with that said, I think the Gators new offensive coordinator will help them move the ball)

5. S. Carolina: (SEC’s 7th most talented team…fwiw, I’m not a Spurrier fan [comes across to me as a jackass], but he’s clever and has adapted to the times….QB Connor Shaw, RB Marcus Lattimore, and DE Jadveon Clowney will keep them in the hunt)

6. Auburn: (SEC’s 5th most talented team…fwiw, I’m not sold on Coach Chizik, but I think Coach VanGorder is going to significantly improve the Tigers defense; still, they have some depth issues like UGA which will hurt them over a course of a season)

7. Tennessee: (SEC’s 6th most talented team….fwiw, I think Coach Dooley is a decent coach, but w/ 7 new assistant coaches and a new defense (3-4), I think they will be a middle-of-the-pack SEC team)

8. Texas A&M: (SEC’s 8th most talented team….fwiw, I like Coach Sumlin, but it’s very hard to win big your first year at a program…esp. w/ a frosh QB…given that, they have a good OL so I think they’ll be competitive but need to improve their defense)

9. Arkansas: (SEC’s 9th most talented team….fwiw, I think the Razorbacks are the most overrated team in the SEC…getting Knile Davis back will help their O, but I’m not impressed w/ their D)

10. Mississippi St: (SEC’s 10th most talented team…fwiw, I think Coach Mullen is a promising coach, but the Maroons lack elite offensive talent….btw, losing their WR coach and being investigated by the NCAA for a “recruiting irregularity” can only be a distraction)

11. Missouri: (SEC’s 11th most talented team…fwiw, I think Coach Pinkel is a good coach, but losing their top RB [Josey] and multiple injuries to their O-line will limit their spread offense…still, dual-threat QB James Franklin and talented WRs T.J. Moe & true frosh DGB will move the ball; unfortunately for the Tigers, they lack elite defensive players so I expect they’ll be in shootouts this season)

12. Vanderbilt: (SEC’s 13th most talented team…fwiw, I think Coach Franklin is doing a fine job w/ the Commodores and will improve their competitiveness and talent…but right now they just don’t have the talent to beat the big boys)

13. Kentucky: (SEC’s least talented team….fwiw, I think Joker Phillips hasn’t got much to work w/ and will compete w/ Ole Miss as the SEC’s worst team)

14. Ole Miss: (SEC’s 12th most talented team…new head coach, SEC’s worst defense last season….I think they’ll compete w/ Kentucky as the SEC’s bottom feeder)

zbulldawg

August 29th, 2012
11:39 am

Why is it every time I post some thing positive on here about the DAWGS ? IT doesn’t get posted

CHDawg

August 29th, 2012
11:39 am

A couple of intangibles: one is that this is a very mature group overall with great team chemistry (I believe). Team chemistry is hard to figure out, even for the coaches. We’ll have to see them play a few games to know for sure, but I think they have greatness written all over them. Even some of our second string guys are great players and leaders! You can go over just about every defensive player and say he is as good or better than any player we have had there in years. Two is that they played with some great teams last year, and stupid mistakes cost them a whole lot on the scoreboard and in momentum. They are hungry to right those mistakes. Bill is dead on with his concerns, and don’t forget injuries could cause real problems, too, but hallelujah–Jon may finally be right. This schedule gets tougher and tougher as the season goes on, so it gives the offense and special teams a chance to mature. One other point is reminding people that the year is yet to play out for other teams, too, and there are always surprises. I personally think the Gators are going to be much better than people expect. I think they may beat LSU and show up in Jax undefeated.

zbulldawg

August 29th, 2012
11:41 am

Be real DAWGS go UNDEFEATED !!

zbulldawg

August 29th, 2012
11:42 am

Hey Bill King where’s my comment ?

zbulldawg

August 29th, 2012
11:43 am

It was clean & to the point !

dawgdmd

August 29th, 2012
11:47 am

eh……RB’s not super talented?

Just Sayin

August 29th, 2012
11:52 am

I think we will knock-off Missouri and SC, but slip-up against FL, Auburn or Tenn…….and finish 11-1.

Desert Fox

August 29th, 2012
11:54 am

Cannot see GA’s offense as good as it was last season w/new and young OL, talented but unproven RB corps w/few exceptions, no Orson Charles, attrition on both sides of the ball, suspensions, et al. Games where losses are possible are MO, SC, and AU (Van Gorder as noted). SC will again take advantage of our special teams. Other opponents as well. That area is GA’s achilles heel. Best guess the dawgs will go (w/luck) 12-0 or more likely 9-3.

CHDawg

August 29th, 2012
11:54 am

One other interesting topic that I haven’t seen covered here on AJC. I read in the Charlotte Observer, of all places, an interesting discussion about this year’s play calling. Murray pointed out that we were going to do a lot more hurry-up/no huddle. The interesting thing about our receivers is that we have about eight guys who could play for most teams in America, but no real superstars at this point. We could run most teams to death with our depth if we can keep the ball and the line can execute. A heavy pass offense will likely fix our running game, too. I think we have had plenty of talent in the past. It is just that for the last few years, opposing DCs stack the box with 7-9 players, daring us to pass. This will be a much riskier proposition with Murray this year, and it could lead to a remarkable offense. We will see. You might google it and read it if you are down on Richt and Bobo’s play calling.

Just Sayin

August 29th, 2012
11:58 am

I agree with dawgdmd……..I sincerely believe we have very talented RBs and potentially the best group of RBs in UGa history. Not only are they big and fast, at least 3 are potential Phi Beta Kappas…….something we have never seen before. Only time will tell because we have historically had some great ones.

Huh?

August 29th, 2012
12:01 pm

The Dawgs go 9-3. I am not convinced that this team is a great team (the 10 wins last year came against un-ranked teams) yet. Protecting the quarterback, running the football, and the kicking game are hallmarks of great teams, and I agree with you Bill that those are big question marks.

I think UGA wins the Missouri game, splits between Florida and SC, then loses one game that it shouldn’t lose. Typically, UGA finds itself, inexplicably, under-performing in a game that it should win every season. So 9-3.

dale

August 29th, 2012
12:01 pm

AJC, worst new layout ever.

Dawg Bite

August 29th, 2012
12:03 pm

10-2, possibly 9-3 ? CMR’s teams have a tendency to lose one they shouldn’t, and there are several here that could play the “spoiler”. Auburn, UF, Mizzou, even Vandy, and Heaven forbid, GAT. I think it a given most think USCE is a loss. That being said, this team could just as well go 12-0, 11-1. O line and special teams may be the difference along with AM cutting down on his devastating turnovers. At any rate, can’t wait for the season to begin,as baseball, golf and now tennis are getting a bit boring on the tube. Go Dogs, and GATA!!

Huh?

August 29th, 2012
12:09 pm

Correction….I meant to lose in the Missouri game. Split between FL and SC, and one more loss that shouldn’t happen. 9-3

Bill King

August 29th, 2012
12:10 pm

I said the running backs are either young OR not super talented. Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall both appear to be very talented, but they are also very young and inexperienced. The backs with experience, Boo Malcome and Richard Samuel, probably can move the pile some, but neither is likely to draw “next Herschel” comparisons.

Lazarus

August 29th, 2012
12:26 pm

9-3.

O-LINE, O-LINE, O-LINE.

We are shaky there AT BEST and that is crazy scary if 1 of them goes down to injury. And they will. It is football. I am afraid we will see alot of #11 scrambling for his life without Orson to bail him out.

And running the ball?

Look at the scrimmage ’stats’ and when you take out the long runs, we averaged less than 3 ypc. And that was 1’s vs. 2’s.

Make your reservations for The ChickFilA Bowl.

Roll Tide ROLL!

August 29th, 2012
12:26 pm

No way you’re doggies win ten games. Saban would whup you if you were man enouagh to play him.

Old Dawg

August 29th, 2012
12:27 pm

Just win baby. Just win.

chazzo

August 29th, 2012
12:33 pm

12-0 is conceivable if two or three tight ones go the Dawgs way. For that to happen, UGA has to win the turnover ratio and watch the penalties. I honestly think the D can keep the Dawgs in a game with most anyone in the country for at least three quarters. The rest is up to the O and Specials not blowing it.

Just Sayin

August 29th, 2012
12:35 pm

Thanks Bill for the clarification……and you are correct about the RBs.

CHDawg

August 29th, 2012
12:38 pm

Malcome reminds me a little of Danny Ware, not Hershcel, and I think he has a chance to be better than Ware. I thought Ware was an excellent TB, and another of the UGA TBs who went on to have careers in the NFL even though they didn’t play much for Georgia–i.e. they rode the pine a lot. Obviously, I think Malcome has NFL potential. I think Samuel has a chance to play in the NFL, but more likely at FB than TB. Both should be great contributors. I was extremely impressed with Samuel against UF, and his runs on GDay. If he learns to lean behind his pads, he is going to be about as fun to tackle as a dump truck. Go Dawgs.

CHDawg

August 29th, 2012
12:47 pm

oops, Herschel

ARdawg

August 29th, 2012
12:48 pm

invariably, we’ll stumble and lose, get caught looking ahead. We’ll beat Mizzou and SC, we’ll lose to someone, TN, FL or AU in the coxky time of year while feeling entitled. Really, there is no reason why we lose to anyone on this schedule but, it’ll happen

BKbroila

August 29th, 2012
12:48 pm

First of all, I never saw Orson Charles as Aaron Murray’s “Safety Valve” at all….Murray feeling that 2-3 times/Game that he had to Force the ball to his Buddy in traffic caused 2 pick six’s last year and probably brought his Completion % down 4-5 points..Murray will do better now that OC is catching balls on Sunday….

SSIgator

August 29th, 2012
12:54 pm

ARdawg -

Coming down off of the Kool-Aid are we? Or has reality struck?

Randy Marsh

August 29th, 2012
12:56 pm

Your brother is delusional. I see 9-3 and with a little luck and staying healthy, maybe 10 or 11 wins. With the Jax jinx, I don’t see us beating FL 2 years in a row. Also, FL, TN and AU should all be better, so the schedule won’t be as easy as all the bashers on these blogs say. I’m counting on Murray to cost us 2 games with turnovers also.

CHDawg

August 29th, 2012
12:59 pm

BK, you remember the Gday when Mett hit Lynch for a lot of yards on a few plays? I was a huge fan of Charles, but honestly, Lynch reminds me of the monster pro TEs from the 70s. Hard to say from a few catches, but he seems to be a great runner after the catch, and very hard to bring down. He may end up being one of the top TEs in the country, imho. He can block, too.

Randy Marsh

August 29th, 2012
1:00 pm

Roll Tide Roll, get a spellchecker program on your computer! You’re an embarrassment to the school you cheer for. I’m surprised you have internet access in that double-wide.

ARdawg

August 29th, 2012
1:05 pm

SSI

If you think even for a second I have ever been a koolaid drinker, you’re drinking “that” koolaid yourself. I am not a homer, more of a realist. Besides the fact that going undefeated is a near impossible task, once a team hit’s double digit victories (any team) they get too full of themselves. It goes with the territory. But still, I am Bulldog born, Bulldog bred and when I die, I’ll be Bulldog dead

ARdawg

August 29th, 2012
1:10 pm

SSI

Besides the target on the backs of UGA “just because”, I do see an improved East this year along with AU. Your Gators are going to beat someone and TN will too. If Georgia gets two cocxky, we’ll lose either or both of those. Mizzou doesn’t have the horses and SC is a wilting flash in the pan. We win those

ARdawg

August 29th, 2012
1:14 pm

Bill King

BTW, I’m digging the new UGA sports landing page

ole yeller

August 29th, 2012
1:44 pm

The only way to shutup the doubters is for the season to unfold and watch the Dawgs roll. I not saying the Dawgs are the best in the country but I’m saying they cay play with anyone in the couintry. The Dawgs this season is a STUD TEAM. I feel they can get to the SEC Champinship game with out a loss. From there it will be a test of will. But with a bit of luck they could be National Champs.

Chris

August 29th, 2012
1:47 pm

9-3….We loose to Missouri, S.C., and Florida, and somehow Mike Bobo will be solely responsible for all three losses. It will be a down year, and S.C. will win the east. We will also continue to have huge problems with special teams since Richt has no desire to improve our special teams. That seat will start getting warm again, and maybe in another 2 or 3 years McGarity will see the writing on the wall, and find a coach that can make this team better.

I strongly disagree that Bobo is “Masterful” betwen the 20’s. The only thing he is “Masterful” at is popping out kids. He is for sure NOT masterful when it comes to calling plays.

441North

August 29th, 2012
1:56 pm

Bill, I think we have the talent to be extra special this year. No team is ever perfect entering the season, and we have a couple of possible weak links (special teams, OL), but we are LOADED on defense and have a seasoned QB and receivers,and a stable of running backs. If we don’t make it to the Dome and a BCS game, we need to consider a changing of the guard.