What’s on Mark Richt’s to-do list for 2013 Dawgs?

Who's going to help Garrison Smith on the defensive line? (Associated Press)

Who's going to help Garrison Smith on the defensive line? (Associated Press)

It’s pretty obvious that what’s driving all those very early preseason Top 10 rankings for Mark Richt’s 2013 Bulldogs is the return of almost the entire starting lineup of the explosive, productive offense led by veteran quarterback Aaron Murray.

It’s just as clear that what’s tempering those expectations, keeping Georgia from being an outright pick to battle Alabama again for a spot in the BCS title game, is the almost complete rebuilding job that must be done on defense after losing a dozen players to graduation and early departure for the NFL.

So finding a way to fill the void left by Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree and company is Job One for the Georgia coaching staff this offseason, particularly replacing the big beef to help Garrison Smith up front and finding the right combination in the secondary.

Yes, as Richt has noted, there is a lot of talent “waiting in the wings.” The big question, though, is whether Todd Grantham (assuming he doesn’t depart for the NFL) will be able to mold that talent into a cohesive, aggressive unit in time to handle the early-season onslaught of Clemson, South Carolina and LSU. It’s a really tough early schedule so, as Richt has noted, “We better be ready.”

But what are some of the other areas of concern as Richt and his staff prepare for the 2013 season?

Kicker Marshall Morgan is still lacking consistency. Who'll be coaching him? (Associated Press)

Kicker Marshall Morgan is still lacking consistency. Who'll be coaching him? (Associated Press)

Foremost, I think, is solidifying the gains made this past season on special teams. Kick coverage was improved, for the most part, and the Dogs actually blocked some kicks. And Collin Barber appears to be coming along nicely at punter.

But placekicking remains a worrisome area. While he finally got in a groove on PATs, Marshall Morgan was entirely too unreliable when it came to field goals in his freshman season, and with no dedicated special teams coach in the program he’s pretty much been on his own.

Richt has talked about taking over coaching this area himself. If he does indeed decide to do that, he needs to do some traveling (like to Minnesota, where they straightened out Blair Walsh). With the graduation of backup Jamie Lindley, who alternated quite frequently with Morgan on on kickoffs, Rich also needs to think about some invited walk-ons at the placekicking position.

Elsewhere, Georgia needs to continue developing depth on its offensive line. While all the starters of this past season’s young line will be returning and hopefully John Theus will start to become more of a force up front, the Dogs are still very thin on the OL. With starting guard Chris Burnette out for the spring with surgery, the coaches should get a good look at the contenders. And, of course, adding prospect Laremy Tunsil to the mix would be a real coup for the Georgia staff.

John Theus and the offensive line need to continue to develop. (Associated Press)

John Theus and the offensive line need to continue to develop. (Associated Press)

Speaking of depth, with the departure of Boo Malcome, work also is needed on building it behind Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall at tailback so that Mike Bobo’s offense doesn’t become one-dimensional (as it was late in the 2011 season) if something happens to those two.

As for the other big concern — avoiding disruptive early-season suspensions resulting from off-the-field misbehavior — I’m not sure what, if anything, Richt and his staff can do about that (other than, possibly, scheduling drug tests before spring break instead of immediately afterward). This is an area where the future team leaders really need to step up and apply some heavy peer pressure if the Dogs are going to break the cycle of offseason problems.

That’s what worries me about the 2013 Bulldogs. What other areas of concern do you have?

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90 comments Add your comment

Hunting Dawg

January 23rd, 2013
10:54 am

The rebuilding of the defense is the biggest concern. Hope CTG stays and we get the necessary recruits (Tunsil & Adams). Go Dawgs!

The Other Lake Dawg

January 23rd, 2013
11:00 am

Assuming the young players continue to develop, UGa should not be thin on the OL. In fact, there are more scholarship tackles on the roster now than in quite some time.

mvdawg

January 23rd, 2013
11:04 am

Dawg_Mike

January 23rd, 2013
11:15 am

I look at it like this. If we gave up huge amounts of yardage WITH the impact players we had on D, would it really matter that we are reloading ? How much worse could it get ?

JimDog85

January 23rd, 2013
11:16 am

The curse of the AJC. Already talkig about how great our offense is going to be will just insure that they will be stuck in first gear for the whole season. The defense will be the ones to carry the team because if the AJC says one thing, the opposite will happen.

GeoffDawg

January 23rd, 2013
11:30 am

One item that should be on the agenda is doing what it takes to keep Grantham in town. Losing him so close to signing day would be devastating. That’s also with the understanding that Grantham’s to do list includes figuring out how to stop the rush consistently with only three down linemen.

Bill Arp

January 23rd, 2013
11:32 am

-PK is a huge concern.
-The trenches on both sides of the ball. (I’m still surprised that out of the ‘Dream team’, only D. Andrews is getting playing time).
-LB is a concern.(inside LB mainly)
-And then, the QB controversy that will be apparent by the end of September.

schmeckdawg

January 23rd, 2013
11:35 am

GeoffDawg

January 23rd, 2013
11:30 am
One item that should be on the agenda is doing what it takes to keep Grantham in town. Losing him so close to signing day would be devastating. That’s also with the understanding that Grantham’s to do list includes figuring out how to stop the rush consistently with only three down linemen.

*****************************************************************************************************************

You are 1,000% correct about losing Grantham!!!!

Walker

January 23rd, 2013
11:38 am

We have a chance to be better with the return of several injured players and if we can sign 3or 4 of the big 5 star recruits especially Tunsil and Foster and Adams it will be another run for a chance at playing in the big game. I think we have some real leaders on this team and they will handle any off season issues. All teams have them but we need to just handle them different. We hear so much since we read all the negative by the AJC, They have had Grantham on the front of Dwag page everyday and he stated he wants to stay with the Dawgs and yet they keep that issue hanging out there. Georgia Recruits need to stay in the State so we can follow their advancements as Bulldogs. Let’s show some State Pride.

Baddawg

January 23rd, 2013
11:43 am

I think our defense will be better in 2013 other than losing Jarvis. These new guys stepping up are unproven but will be hungry and aggressive. The high powered defense we had in 2012 were mostly a bunch of lazy pot smoking seniors/juniors trying not to get hurt before the NFL draft. Why else would Shawn Williams have to call them out for not playing hard and not having any heart.

G'Vegas Dawg

January 23rd, 2013
11:51 am

I’m concerned that CMR is not putting enough of an all out assault to land Deshaun Watson for the class of 2014. Brice Ramsey will never see the field if that kid lands at UGA!

LawDawg

January 23rd, 2013
11:55 am

1) Finding two safeties who will, at the very least, not cost us games.

2) Depth on the DL. Our biggest problem last year is that we had Jenkin, Geathers, and Smith playing basically all game. They got tired against Bama and could not stop the run in the second half. We need at least a 6-man rotation and it is past time for a couple of guys like Drew to step up to help out Garrison Smith (who is an absolute beast).

3) Keeping everyone healthy. We still have another calendar year until we are deep enough to shake off a couple of big injuries.

01HAWK

January 23rd, 2013
11:56 am

Could go from top 10 to totally out of the top 25 in the first month with that schedule.

jw

January 23rd, 2013
11:58 am

Top 5 improvements Richt, et al, should focus on, regardless of who steps into vacated positions:

1. Tackling
2. Tackling
3. Tackling
4. Tackling
5. Tackling

We aren’t the only team with this problem, but it is the one thing that stood out and SCREAMED at us in the SEC and national championship games. There was an obvious and tangible difference in how Alabama put people on the ground in both games.

Of course there are many factors that play into tackling like size, speed, strength, etc. But the bottom line is that is HOW PLAYERS PLAY, not how good they are, that makes a difference.

In other words, discipline.

bham dawg

January 23rd, 2013
12:01 pm

@G’Vegas Dawg… they offered him last weekend and will take their best shot at him. He is a hell of a player but has said he wants to play in a spread offense. We will give it our best shot but we must sell him on the pro-style offense which will be hard to do. However, richt and bobo have a very good tract record when it comes to identifying the qb they want and landing them.

@Walker… Grantham hasn’t said anything publicly. This is why the story hangs around. Grantham is obviously on the radar but at this time i think it is safe to say he isn’t their #1 target but if offered he would go. Where did you hear he wanted to stay at georgia? just curious bc he has said nothing I’m aware of.

UGA 11'

January 23rd, 2013
12:02 pm

@Baddawg– I would have to agree, dont get me wrong, you never want to lose that much talent on 1 side of the ball, but we still have a ton of guys who the coaches love and they honestly can not be anyw orse than the subpar production we saw last year. I mean can we really give up any more yards ruching than 350 to Bama with or without that talent. I honestly think the only concern we should have is at safety

DawginLex

January 23rd, 2013
12:04 pm

Florida Gator Football

Knocking on the Door of Greatness in the Big East Conference

:) :) :)

bham dawg

January 23rd, 2013
12:05 pm

i think the number 1 priority for Mark Richt and Todd Grantham should be to identify what position Josh Harvey-Clemons is going to play. This guy is an absolute stud and we must find a way to get him on the field. with that said i think he is our startig free safety next year.

Ace

January 23rd, 2013
12:07 pm

Richt rides with Bobby Cox, can’t win the big ones.

bubba4dawgs

January 23rd, 2013
12:14 pm

I just hope the early teams the DAWGS are playing will be losing several key players also that will help balance the playing field. CMR always relies on new player to step up and make a difference and he believes that somehow they do just that. I say they will need experience and about the only way they will be able to reload with experience is the JUCO route with some key big guys who can add size strength and experience to the line which is where it all begins. Offense appears to be OK with a bit of tweaking here and there but the defense needs some major work with or without Grantham. He knows his work is cut out for him this year which makes his decision to go NFL more attractive.

G'Vegas Dawg

January 23rd, 2013
12:16 pm

bham – I think it says a lot that CMR had him (DW) down to Athens the same weekend that we were entertaining Laremy Tunsil. I think that UGA would be hard pressed not to adapt to him if that’s what it took to land him. I’ve watched this kid play since he was an 8th grader at Gainesville Middle School. He is special in every sense of the word. You will never see his name in the headlines for getting in trouble. He’s smart and a heck of an athlete.

BigDawg

January 23rd, 2013
12:31 pm

As always football is won in the trenches the team that controls the line of scrimmage will win most of the time. The players we will miss most on defense are Jarvis Jones, Ogletree, and Williams. Armarlo Herrera will finally get his due this year if he stays healthy, Garrison Smith is a player, Jordan Jenkins also, Ray Drew will get a chance to show what he is made of. Swann will have to continue to develop into a consistently great DB and others will have to step up.

Honestly fellow Dawgs as to the rushing total for Alabama that was aided and abetted by very poor officiating in the SECCG, they were spotting the ball forward for Bama, they did not call one offensive holding the entire game on Bama and I counted at least 10 flagrant holds that should have been called. The lack of substituting on the defensive line really showed in the second half. Plus Herrara should have been playing and other things. Anyways it is what it is, some guys will just have to step up and jell together to get the job done is all.

Go Dawgs

aaron in arizona

January 23rd, 2013
12:36 pm

bham dawg

January 23rd, 2013
12:38 pm

@G’Vegas… we will not adapt our offense just to land watson. hell of a player yes. changing your whole philosophy on offense absolutely not. not to mention you would have to start recruiting different type of players to work in a spread. not going to happen. the only way deshaun ends up at uga is if we can sell him on playing in a pro-style offense will prepare him much more for the professional level.

aaron in arizona

January 23rd, 2013
12:43 pm

first, main concern is special teams, mainly the place kicking. even if richt said he was going to focus on pk’ing/coaching special teams, i doubt we’ll see any difference. i mean, we’ve heard that before, about focusing on football and such, and we don’t see much difference.

second, i agree w/jw. tackling. alec ogletree was a great player for us but he tackled opposing players around the shoulder pads/high all the time. we seem to be, as a whole, not great form tacklers. maybe it’s just me.

of course, staying out of trouble should be a constant emphasis. cause we do punish players for breaking rules. unlike many places where “internal handling” of problems happens but players play or just don’t “start” a game.

anyway, gooooo dawgs! aaron

Spartan

January 23rd, 2013
12:44 pm

a bunch of lazy pot smoking seniors/juniors

Now that’s funny. Sad but true – still funny.

WDE

January 23rd, 2013
1:04 pm

First order of business is keep these guys out of trouble, second get them into the weight room, I was pleased at the progress we made as a team this year. And I can’t wait to see how Gurshall performs with a year of our S&C program behind them…Go Dogs!

1969 Graduate

January 23rd, 2013
1:27 pm

Good comments so far, I think.

Off season S&C is always a major factor, but how much influence does CMR have over that? I really don’t know, do you?

Developing a considerably stronger line is within the coach’s control via recruitment. Seems to me the recruitment of excellent lineman has not been always a super high priority. I hope CMR has it on his list, and high on that list.

Someone mentioned “tackling.” I noticed that Alabama’s defense worked more as a unit that ours, and that ours seemed to feature more guys looking like stars, or would be stars, as opposed to team players. One way I see this showing up is in the tackles made without the use of arms. In other words, knocking people down instead of tackling them, or, rather, trying to look cool by knocking them down, and then watching them continue the run. While there’s obviously a place for this sort of defensive move – like on the sideline where the ball carrier can be bumped out of bounds – it is, for the most part, a coaching and discipline breakdown.

I wasn’t terribly impressed by the defense last year, especially considering all the talent. I don’t know exactly what the problem is, but I’d hope CMR has fixing it high on his agenda.

If I were CMR (or any other college coach) I might be looking to see what CNS is doing and how I could do a few more things more like him!

Go, Dawgs!

G'Vegas Dawg

January 23rd, 2013
1:28 pm

bham – I’m not talking about changing our entire offense I am just saying to add in a few new wrinkles. If you look at what a lot of the great offensive programs have done lately as far as change goes, they all say the same thing “adapt to the kinds of kids that you have”. I could not imagine us going away from the pro set, but, I would love to see a fast paced spread package for the right player. Believe me, DW could easily adapt to the pro, but, why take away one of the best weapons that the kid has – his legs?

Pdx

January 23rd, 2013
1:33 pm

If blair walsh’s turn around in the NFL isn’t a wake-up call to richt that they are doing something wrong I don’t know what is

Pdx

January 23rd, 2013
1:35 pm

And I’m really not interested in seeing anymore of the “wild dawg” until they commit to being able to do it correctly and effectively. It’s always a cluster unless they’re playing a cup cake team

Pdx

January 23rd, 2013
1:38 pm

The defense this year looked more interested in making the crowd go “oooooohhhhhh” with big hits then getting them on the ground. They don’t need to suplex (sp?) just tackle the guy

Arnold

January 23rd, 2013
1:44 pm

2013 UGA Priorities:
1- Finding a new QB who can win the SEC Championship
2- Finding a new QB who is better than 1-10 vs. top 20 teams
3- Finding a new QB who doesn’t get sacked 25+ times every year
4- Finding a new QB who doesn’t throw 8-14 interceptions every year

But yeah, like evertybody said here all year, putting Hutson Mason in would fix practically everything.

The defense can’t be worse than last year.

Arnold

January 23rd, 2013
1:45 pm

P.S. The defense was pretty good in 2010, and we went 6 wins, 7 losses.

Arnold

January 23rd, 2013
1:49 pm

The defense was #11 in rush defense in 2011 = No SEC Championship

The UGA defense was top 25 in scoring in 2011 & 2012 = NO SEC Championship

The problem of course, as everyone’s been saying for three (3) years, is #11, Aaron Murray. He chokes in big games.

the defense is a top 25 type of defense.

DawginLex

January 23rd, 2013
1:49 pm

I can’t wait for 2014 when Hutson Mason shows you how good Aaron Murray really is

Hairy Dawg

January 23rd, 2013
1:52 pm

I think our defense was a lot more talented individually than as a unit. Remember how Bama ran all over us? How does that happen to a team with a great defense? It doesn’t. Our defense can be better if it plays better together. That’s what I’m expecting to see in 2013. There will be a drop-off in talent, but the overall performance could be better without the NFL/big money awaiting so many guys after the season.

Arnold

January 23rd, 2013
2:05 pm

It won’t matter how good the defense is, until we change QB’s.

We’ve had a top 25 scoering defense last 2 years, and still = O SEC Championships.

Of course, defense isn’t the issue as everybody’s said here for 3 years.

Arnold

January 23rd, 2013
2:07 pm

Actually, Murray’s had quite a few chances to show us how much better he was than Hutson Mason, and Mason’s stats always beat #11. G-Day preseason, regular season games, and ever SEC Championships, Mason always beats Murray in passing efficiency.

Arnold

January 23rd, 2013
2:08 pm

Wonder if Murray’s 1-10 record aagainst teams that finish in the top 20 has a lot to do with

0 SEC Championships?

Arnold

January 23rd, 2013
2:11 pm

Murray’s pass effic and accuracy, against ranked teams, get worse every year.

Arnold

January 23rd, 2013
2:14 pm

Since Murray became the starter at UGA,

1-10 VS. TEAMS THAT FINISH TOP 25

0 SEC CHampionships

DawgFaithful

January 23rd, 2013
2:40 pm

Arnold,

You’re an idiot. If Hutson Mason was better than Aaron Murray don’t you think the coaches would play him? He’s already broken every UGA passing record and he’s about to become the most prolific passer in SEC history. Matt Stafford never won an SEC Championship either. I suppose he’s chopped liver too. Murray picked apart Albama’s defense which was #1 in the country. It’s not his fault we lost that game. He played great except for an early pick. He set the Capital One bowl record for passing against Nebraska. They had the number 1 Pass Defense in the country coming in. He threw 5 Td’s for crying out loud. Hutson Mason doesn’t have the arm or the Athleticism that Murray has. If he was better then he’d play. If there’s one thing that Richt and Bobo do right, it’s evaluate and Coach QB’s.

You Hutson Mason people are clueless.

DawgFaithful

January 23rd, 2013
2:47 pm

I’m not sure where you got your 1-10 against ranked teams stat either. We beat Nebraska and Florida this year alone. Florida was the #2 team in the country at the time and finished in the top 10. He struggled in that game but in the 4th quarter Bobo put the games on Murray’s shoulders and what did he do? He led us down the field and threw the game winning TD pass. That’s all.

Moron

DawgFaithful

January 23rd, 2013
2:59 pm

“4- Finding a new QB who doesn’t throw 8-14 interceptions every year

But yeah, like evertybody said here all year, putting Hutson Mason in would fix practically everything.

The defense can’t be worse than last year.”

I didn’t hear everybody saying that all year buddy. Just a select few morons like yourself. You want less than 8-14 Int’s. Check the stats for the year dude. Of The top 10 passers in College football most had at least 8. Murray had 10. I’ll take that with 36TD’s all day long. He was second in the country in Passer efficiency you idiot. When you throw for 10,000 yds and 100 TD’s in 3 years, there’s going to be some interceptions retard.

Are you watching the same games that I am?

tide roll

January 23rd, 2013
2:59 pm

Failing to sign the best dual threat Quarterback in America, UGA legacy ANTHONY JENNINGS, thus allowing him to early enroll at LSU should be a concern. WHAT A BUNCH OF DUMMIES! 33 years. NO DAMN WONDER!

stephen

January 23rd, 2013
2:59 pm

Staying away from pot brownies is a big concern.

DawgFaithful

January 23rd, 2013
3:01 pm

Tide Troll,

Just go away. Tech still sucks. You’ll never beat UGA again. Sorry buddy.

tide roll

January 23rd, 2013
3:09 pm

You know. COREY MOORE needs to get the Hell out of there. They’ll give him some award in the Spriing to make him think he’s earned a starting position, then come Fall, it will be former walkon Conner Norman penciled in as starter. At FREE SAFETY of all places! No wonder South Carolina hammered y’all! Moore needs to quit messing around. He has NFL potential, but iif he only gets 1 real year of starting he’ll go the way of D. J. Shockley. Y’all remember him. He’s the ATHLETIC Quarterback who led you to your last SEC title, WAY BACK in 2005, and was cut by the Falcons. Damn, what a program.

FRED Russo

January 23rd, 2013
3:15 pm

It’s mind boggling that the poor people of Georgia have such bad luck with their sports teams. Falcons, Braves basketball UGA The state just stands for mediocrity. UGA will never win the big prize with CMR! What blows my mind is how the UGA fans just go along with it.