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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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg