Reasons Georgia should/won’t make the College Football Playoff

college football playoff logoBetween the disappointing ending to a once-promising season and the offseason juice provided by an exciting hire on the defensive side of the ball, you can’t blame fans of the Georgia Bulldogs for bouncing back and forth in a sort of manic depressive state so far this winter.

Optimism, pessimism — the Bulldog Nation has reasons for both. For example …

Three reasons Georgia should make the inaugural four-team College Football Playoff:

1. A complete season of a healthy Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall, Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley. Even with the loss of SEC record-meister Aaron Murray, the Dogs’ talent at the offensive skill positions is kind of mind-boggling. Despite all the injuries that kept many of them out for multiple games or the remainder of the season in 2013, Georgia had one of the most dangerous and prolific offenses in the country. If all those guys somehow manage to stay healthy in 2014, look out!

A healthy Todd Gurley makes Georgia hard to stop. (Associated Press)

A healthy Todd Gurley makes Georgia hard to stop. (Associated Press)

2. Mike Bobo and Jeremy Pruitt. Georgia’s offensive coordinator still had his off days in 2013, mainly as a result of the injury bug that plagued the team, but when Bobo has all his offensive weapons at his command there’s hardly a defense in the country that can stop the Dogs. Despite all the missed games by the stars mentioned above and an inconsistent offensive line (see below), the Bulldogs still racked up 36.7 points and 484.2 yards of offense per game this past season. What’s held Georgia back the past couple of years has been its defense under Todd Grantham, who might have thought he was the “backbone” of the program but managed to fall short of expectations with a team loaded with stellar NFL talent in 2012 and an inexperienced team that didn’t progress as much as hoped for in 2013. While I think some folks are slightly blinded by the national championship rings Pruitt has from his stints at Alabama and FSU and may be overestimating the likely instant impact the new defensive coordinator might have in Athens, prospects seem good for him getting more out of Georgia’s considerable but underperforming talent on that side of the ball.

3. The schedule. While the 2013 Dogs proved you can’t always judge a schedule by past performances — with Georgia triumphing over South Carolina and LSU, only to lose to unexpectedly tough Vandy and Missouri — there’s no denying that the 2014 slate of games could work in Georgia’s favor. Opening again with Clemson and South Carolina is still tough, though the Tigers don’t look to be as formidable as last season and Georgia has an open date before the Gamecocks, who will be replacing some key talent. Also, the Dogs have struggling Arkansas as their SEC West road trip, and while Auburn again should be a challenge (though finally that game will be back in Athens), Georgia doesn’t face Alabama, LSU or Texas A&M. The main downside is that the Dogs will be away from Athens for a long stretch in the middle of the season.

On the other hand, here are three reasons why Georgia might not make the playoff:

1. Suspensions. Because of UGA’s strict disciplinary policies, Mark Richt’s team is at a disadvantage compared with other SEC and major college programs. Already, the Dogs will be without a couple of starters for the opening game and Josh Harvey-Clemons will miss the first three games, again meaning the defense will have to be reshuffled, and there’s still a long offseason full of temptation ahead. As long as Georgia operates by different rules from opponents when it comes to marijuana use, there are going to be suspensions to deal with.

Does UGA even know what to do with offensive line talent like John Theus when it gets it? (University of Georgia)

Does UGA even know what to do with offensive line talent like John Theus when it gets it? (University of Georgia)

2. The offensive line. As I’ve noted before, inconsistent OLs have been a weak point of Richt teams ever since Jim Donnan’s players graduated, and the outlook for 2014 is mixed, with starters Kenarious Gates, Chris Burnette and Dallas Lee departing. Plus, as Bernie’s Dawg Blawg noted recently, Georgia’s recruiting in this area hasn’t exactly been impressive in recent years, with the emphasis seemingly more on skill players — unlike, say, Alabama, which has become Offensive Line U. A case also can be made that it’s not just recruiting; John Theus was a very highly touted recruit when he arrived in Athens, but his development has left much to be desired. With a rookie quarterback in 2014, it’s especially important for the Georgia OL to play up to expectations, which too often hasn’t been the case.

3. Special teams. This has been a long-standing problem for Richt, who has generally shown a Bobby Bowden-like disregard for this portion of the game. However, in recent years Georgia’s special teams have gotten worse, becoming known for catastrophic breakdowns that result in big breaks (and points) for the opponent. After a disappointing year of special teams play in 2012, Richt pledged to work toward improvement — and instead things got even worse. From high snaps and blocked punts to, especially, fumbled punts, the Dogs were disaster-prone. The only real superlative on special teams for Georgia in 2013 was placekicker Marshall Morgan. Otherwise Georgia was generally mediocre or poor, ranking last in the SEC in kickoff returns and punt returns (on those few occasions when the “punt safe” Dogs even attempted to return a punt). Again, Richt is promising to do something about the problem, but we’ve heard that before. …

So, there you have good reasons to look on the bright side or to grumble. What are your thoughts on Georgia’s chances of being one of the four teams that make the playoff in 2014?

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211 comments Add your comment

Jim

January 23rd, 2014
11:12 pm

I got a few reasons why UGA might struggle:

1- Coach Richt’s big game record
Coach Richt gets schooled vs ranked teams, his record is a lousy 6 wins, 14 losses since 2010. Considering ESPN has Auburn #3, South Carolina #13, Clemson #18, and Florida #23, Richt usually loses 70% of these type of games. So look for 3 losses right there.
2. Interceptions
UGA Qb’s are interception prone since 2009, Cox threw 15 in 2009, Murray threw an unreal 41 interceptions in 4 seasons, and Hutson’s on track to blow both of them away. UGA just beats itself.
3. Rush game
SEC winner finishes in top 3 in conf in rushing for last 8 seasons. UGA hasn’t finished in the top 3 in rushing in the conference in a long time, relies on the pass, which translates to too many interceptions.
4. Inexperienced quarterback
coach Richt’s record with 1st year qb;s Greene (8 win season in 2001), Stafford went 8-4 in hist 1st year starting, Cox went 7-5, and Murray went 6-6. Hutson will likely win between 6 and 8 games in the regular season.
5. Poor scheduling
Who in the world schedule 2 top 20 ranked teams for the first two games, when you have the #1 toughest drug policies in the SEC?
6. Suspensions
Happens every year.

Few reasons Georgia might make playoffs:
1- Auburn and Florida have catastrophic injuries
2- Clemson and South Carolina struggle with inexperienced Qb’s
3- Pruitt’s team created a lot of turnovers last season, really need him to repeat that to have any chance
4- Gurley, Mitchell, Bennett and Mason have to all get through the season uninjured.
5- Mark Richt suddenly starts winning 90% of games vs ranked teams instead of 30%
6- Hutson Mason has a phenomenal season
7- Entire Mizzou team get suspended before Georgia game
8- For the first time ever, no important Georgia players get suspended for first one or two games

Toole1120

January 23rd, 2014
11:18 pm

Georgia will look like world beaters, then look below average in Fayetteville. Losing to mediocre teams gets old!

jurdanhare

January 24th, 2014
12:27 am

LA: Also took Auburn coming back from 2 TD deficit in 2nd half! U dummy!

LADawg

January 24th, 2014
12:53 am

jurdanhare; I forgot about that. Not a fan. Bama and Auburn is like watching two jackasses fight over a turnip. Guess the Tigers, War Eagles, Plainsmen, whatever you guys are used the remainer of your allotment of luck against Bama..

aaron in arizona

January 24th, 2014
1:13 am

SILLY BLOGGERS: “Special Teams? I just vomited in my mouth a little bit”
————————————————————————————————————————————

O MY GOODNESS!!! That line just cracked me up!! HILARIOUS!!

after reading that I wet my pants just a little bit, then messed my pants a little bit, then passed out and fell on the floor a little bit from hypoxia laughing so hard, and by falling down exacerbated my lumbar disc herniations causing more compression on the lumbar nerve roots a little bit resulting in loss of control of all bladder and bowel control a little bit, now going into emergency surgery a little bit.

DUDE, Silly bloggers, you are awesome. agree w/your points totally. thanks for making me laugh.

Bring Back the RR Track Dawg

January 24th, 2014
6:19 am

okay folks – “real world 101″ – you’re headed to work today – the “demand” is that you produce 100% efficiency at your job – oh – I forgot to tell you – 30% of your key workers are “out” today – sorry, you can’t use that as a “crutch” – and when you don’t “produce” 100% I’m going to jump all over you publicly – welcome to the world of Coach Bobo – coach, you did a great job in some tough circumstances – now the former DC – umm, let’s don’t go there – have a nice weekend Dawg fans -

gtcaryd

January 24th, 2014
6:49 am

Where is an article on the Dawgs new coach?

RHall

January 24th, 2014
7:44 am

Why doesn’t CMR see most of the same things that the bloggers see…look above…a broken record: Poor OL Play and ST Teams Play…fix those and UGA moves forward…but that may be a pipedream w/ Will Friend as OL Coach and nobody directly responsible for ST Teams!!! Please replace CWF…under-coaching..ie John Theus…under-recruiting…ie look @ the gets and the misses!!!! Also please keep an eye of the productivity of Tony Ball and his recruiting….ie look @ the misses, decommits and the gets…C’mon Man: TIME TO WIN A NC…4 years or bye,bye!!!

GHWB

January 24th, 2014
8:09 am

1980 – 1942 = 38 years.

1980 + 38 = 2018.

Read my lips… Four more years. Wouldn’t be prudent to win a Championship in 2014.

Flo-Ri-Duh

January 24th, 2014
8:59 am

HELLO ! WELCOME to the WHINERS club!!!! A mixture of TROLLS that live down in mama’s basement and spend their miserable lives playing Nintendo & attacking UGA and others that claim to know football and claim to be Dawg fans but have never set foot on a field in uniform and only support the Dawgs if they go undefeated. You are a pathetic collection of lost souls.

maconexpress

January 24th, 2014
9:00 am

I think Jeremy Pruitt is in for a rude of awakening. Once he get a dose of all the deficiencies that exist within the football program he might wish he had stayed @fsu. If the fans can see the deficiencies from afar it won’t take long for a championship caliber coach to recognize them.

This should be good news for the anti Richt supporters because if he can’t get it done with a championship caliber DC, no one left to blame but CMR himself.

Bulldawg35

January 24th, 2014
9:03 am

Jim is most defintley a tech fan!

whiskeybreath

January 24th, 2014
9:29 am

Nice and fair article Bill. Little shocked you aren’t doing the homer thing. Why didn’t you just simplify on negative reasons with ” Uncertainty with CMR” . You know damn well you think it.
Brother and the AD are counting on the easier schedule too. You are dead on about the OL.
The AD isn’t helping either. He is a politician.
WB

old dog

January 24th, 2014
9:35 am

Flo-ri-dumb,
If you cannot see that our special teams blow one long as a railroad track and that we lack in o-line talent, then perhaps you are the one who ain’t a fan. Real fans stick with the team through thick and thin…..and that includes me. However, when I see other SEC teams out-recruiting us (badly out recruiting us) on the o-line, then yes it needs to be pointed out. Nobody expects to win the championship every year, but when the D was not getting taught, the o-line was mediocre at best, and the special teams were a wreck, folks will take notice.

whiskeybreath

January 24th, 2014
9:38 am

So you guys have decided that Will Friend is the next whipping boy for Brother Richt?
So Ga., I wish I could tell my boss things are not my fault because I am a great Christian.
He wouldn’t care.
WB

GHWB

January 24th, 2014
9:48 am

@Flo-Ri-Duh

“only support the Dawgs if they go undefeated.”

Nonsense. Most of them aren’t even old enough to remember 1980.

BigDawg

January 24th, 2014
9:50 am

Yes the things that have exemplified the Dawgs the last 13 years has been:

1. Inconsistent offensive line play due to poor coaching, favoritism and lack of adequate priority on recruiting.
2. Terrible special teams at times
3. Lackadaisical team play due to a head coach with no emotion and lifeless on the sidelines with no clue as to what is happening on the field at times.
4. Favoritism in playing certain players over better game players i.e. Gates over Beard and others
5. Defense wins championships hopefully Coach Richt has made a good hire as a defensive coordinator, the last 2 were total failures.

These are my opinions and only my opinion which are based on what I have witnessed over the last 13 seasons.

Go Dawgs

Bulldawg35

January 24th, 2014
9:51 am

The space eating blog is back….I will try again later.

RVS3

January 24th, 2014
10:12 am

Bill, I’ve heard this nonsense about special teams for an entire season and now, starting the off-season too. Granted, the ST’s play cost us dearly last year. I was sick watching and waiting for the next bad play by that unit. But let’s look at it from some other perspective than “it must be Mark Richt’s fault”. How many times do you think they practiced snapping for kicks? A million? How about catching the snap? How about fielding the punt? You can only practice those things so many times. Maybe it’s about time the PLAYERS started doing what they’ve been practicing to do. I’m not hating on any of them, but come on! Just catch the friggin ball. And addressing the pitiful return statistics on kickoffs and punts…When the ball sails through the endzone, it’s not gonna be returned by anybody. I bet the number of chances we even had to return kickoffs was extremely low. And punt returns? When the opposing offense drives to midfield or better every series, you can bet your punt returns will be few and far between. And a special teams coordinator would have been useful on one or two plays, like Vandy’s fake field goal. I can see where a ST coordinator might have had us ready for that. But for the most part, our players need to improve for our special teams to improve. CATCH the ball!

UGA Insider

January 24th, 2014
10:48 am

RVS3 is giving us the typical Kool-Aid answer to our ST’s. Change nothing and hope things get better. Hey dude our ST’s have been horrible since 2008! It’s jus the past 2 years it has cost us games and the fans have noticed it. We averaged 1.92 yards a punt return in 2013. We can catch it but we don’t have anyone who knows what to do after the catch. It is embarrassing and won’t change unless someone coaches them up.

dawgfan

January 24th, 2014
11:09 am

So to sum up the typical Kool Aider perspective,

Win: Fire Mark Richt? Are you crazy? Look at how many games HE’S won.

Lose: The players just need to execute better. The coordinators and assistants need to do their jobs better. We should have worn more red and been louder. Mark Richt can only do so much.

It’s all very convenient.

RVS3

January 24th, 2014
11:17 am

As usual, Insider blows it again. The biggest problem we had on special teams were the mistakes, namely, fumbles. Tell me this…How many times did we have a decent chance of returning a punt? I’m talking about fielding one somewhere besides inside the 10 or 15 yard line? How many times did we actually have a chance to return a kickoff? Not many. Special teams will be better when the defense is better and the players learn to catch a football. I’ll bet this…If and when the Dawgs win a NC, the Richt haters will find another reason to whine. In the BCS era, there have been, what, 10 different coaches win a title? I guess the other 200+ that have coached during that time have sucked, eh?

UGA Insider

January 24th, 2014
11:26 am

UGA had as many chances to field punts as say Oregon…..or as anyone else for that matter. We just don’t have anyone who has been trained to do it. Stop making excuses for a poorly coached team. You can’t fool most fans who close their eyes when a punt is kicked to a UGA player. It has been that way for years.

By the say I don’t hate CMR or hate anyone else on this planet. I just disagree with the way some things are done and I have watched this enough to know I am correct. I have been to many practices and I know how little ST’s is coached.

GHWB

January 24th, 2014
11:32 am

@RVS3

If, as you imply, the coaching at UGA is everything that it needs to be, and all of the mistakes are actually the fault of the players, then who is it that is responsible for recruiting players who are incapable of being coached or lack the basic skills necessary to make the plays?

If the problem lies in the attitude of the players, then who is responsible for that?

You can wait around until you’re old and gray for UGA to win a National Championship so that you can prove that “the Richt haters will find another reason to whine”, but until one of Mark Richt’s teams actually manages an undefeated regular season, that isn’t very likely to happen.

Bulldawg35

January 24th, 2014
11:34 am

Richt needs to hire somebody that will work predominantly with ST’s….this is non sense! For UGA to be an contender in the sec we have to field kickoffs and punts! It’s a must!

Macclenny_dawg

January 24th, 2014
12:04 pm

Mason is a step down from Murray. The o line I expect to be about the same. Running backs should be better. Overall the offense will be worse. The defense should be improved just do to focusing on the fundamentals. Special teams will be slightly better just do to more emphasis. Coaching probably the same because it starts with the coach. Schedule is easier. So add it all up and 9 win season. Just another year without a chance for the title. Don’t matter how many skill players we have they can’t do anything with the ball when you get whipped up front.

dawgfan

January 24th, 2014
12:06 pm

I think we go 1-1 vs. Clemson and South Carolina in no particular order at best. You know, the usual. When’ the last time we’ve won two back to back big games under Richt? I can’t even remember, if ever.

It’ll be interesting to see how many preseason practices he skips this year. It’s a great strategy. Who needs practice?

Bulldawg35

January 24th, 2014
12:24 pm

What’s wrong everybody?? Richt is just waiting on the NCAA too ban kickoffs and punt returns! Lmao!

Bulldawg35

January 24th, 2014
12:28 pm

We should be better on the o- line….with Dyshon Simms and Isaiah Wynn….plus Kendal Baker. We also have Brandon K. And big Greg pike! So we will see but I don’t know about will friend!

DawginColorado

January 24th, 2014
12:58 pm

“You realize had the Auburn debacle not occurred our coaching staff still would have never taught our players to knock the ball down during Techs last play and Tech might have won and Johnson would have gotten a statue for the victory.”

Come on, that is BS. The situation was completely different. They didn’t mention knocking the ball down because the primary goal was to prevent Auburn from getting a 1st down on a 4th and 18. The pass was so poorly thrown and off target those guys thought they had an easy interception.

You allow your distaste for the coaching staff to color every single one of your comments Flat Tire. That is not sound thinking. You want to find fault and I can tell you from experience that if you go looking for fault, you will find fault. You have no objectivity. You approach every single question from a “how can I hang this on the coaching staff.” That isn’t they way it should be and you know it.

DawginColorado

January 24th, 2014
1:01 pm

You do not allow that other supposedly superior coaching staffs make big mistakes all the time. You measure everything by “well they’ve won a championship so they are excused”. What is wrong with this picture? You claim to not live in delusionville but you delude yourself into believing that your observations are not seriously tainted with an irrational desire to speak poorly of the coaching staff at every opportunity.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

January 24th, 2014
1:02 pm

The ole when are the players going to step it up excuse

So today we learned from the kool-aiders that players are eligible to play for 8 seasons

Yea the players need to step up; cause the last 8 years these same players have been at UGA…..

we have had 6 seasons of 3 or more losses and are now in the Ray Goff years of 3 seasons out of 5 with 5 or more losses

DawginColorado

January 24th, 2014
1:03 pm

For what any of that is worth. You’ll defend your view without even considering that you are starting from an off base point of view.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

January 24th, 2014
1:07 pm

off base point of view……..

yea I really enjoyed the timeout against FL only to get a penalty for too many men on the field right after

DawginColorado

January 24th, 2014
1:09 pm

RSV3 – you are making the same point a few others have made several times but still goes unheeded. The problem is that many of these posters start from the premise that everything is Mark Richt’s fault and just work backwards. You are asking for objectivity. You are asking them to try to look at something from a different POV and they will not do it. Just read these blogs. This one especially.

Prepare for the kool aid attack.

DawginColorado

January 24th, 2014
1:10 pm

Did you realize that Bama, Auburn and LSU all had similar things happen to them? Probably not… they are exempt from the “perfection microscope”.

Bulldawg35

January 24th, 2014
1:11 pm

Colorado

Flat tire has well respected views and opinions! Unlike your Disney drivel!

GHWB

January 24th, 2014
1:13 pm

Mark Richt is the right man for the job.

Georgia will win a National Championship whenever Jesus is ready for them to win one.

Until such time, nothing any mortal man could do will make any difference. Be patient and have faith.

Bulldawg35

January 24th, 2014
1:13 pm

I still to this very day get a sick stomach when I think about the Tennessee game. We should of blew them out but Richt took his foot off the gas pedal.

Bulldawg35

January 24th, 2014
1:14 pm

Ghwb

Are you being sarcastic or what?

DawginColorado

January 24th, 2014
1:15 pm

I do not think our coaching is perfect and you will not see me say that at any time. Mistakes are made and sometimes they suck pretty badly. The difference is I realize that it happens everywhere and all the time. I don’t like it and I get mad about it just the same as you and the others do when it happens but I understand that it happens no matter how much I dislike it.

If you were to completely replace this staff with a new one, you would see what I mean. The issues might be the same or they might be different but they would crop up just the same. And I am sad to say that you would find no satisfaction in what you find.

DawginColorado

January 24th, 2014
1:21 pm

Bulldawg35 – well respected? LOL…there are dozens and dozens of former posters that will not come to this blog because of those “well respected opinions”. That is absolute fact. You just like them because it provides cover from your herd mentality. You hide behind those opinions and just act as a rah rah guy egging them on.

People stick around to debate well respected opinions. They walk away from dogmatic repetition. I guess I’m too stubborn to be driven off.

Bulldawg35

January 24th, 2014
1:31 pm

Colorado

Who are these dozen of posters you’re talking about. NC dawg left because he couldn’t take the heat….I really can’t think of anybody else. I’m not egging them on. Remember I started this whole fringe way back in the summer! I’m happy with the progression!

UGA Insider

January 24th, 2014
1:39 pm

I know I have a well respected opinion on here because I am constantly asked questions and I give accurate interpretation on what to expect week to week. I predicted so many things this year it was sick. Most recently I told you that the UGA players were partying their faces off and that would lose Nebraska and there would be MAJOR changes to the coaching staff. Nobody listed then it happened just as I said it would. Then pics were leaked of kids partying their asses off at 4am and Grantham bolted. Man was I dead on about that one.

PS… I also predicted the Kirby Smart train has passed and he will never coach again at UGA as long as McGoofy is around. He thinks our S & C program is weak as water.

Bulldawg35

January 24th, 2014
2:02 pm

Insider..

Keep up the good work man!!!

todd44dawg

January 24th, 2014
3:49 pm

First of all it is way too early for predictions. However stop drinking the koolaid. We will possibly lose to SC and Aubarn. Never goin to compete with this staff.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

January 24th, 2014
4:10 pm

dogmatic repetition…….

Just like the 3 or more losses repeated almost every single year, correct?

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

January 24th, 2014
4:18 pm

“there are dozens and dozens of former posters that will not come to this blog because of those “well respected opinions”.

They dont come to this blog anymore because after they continued predicting year after year of pre-season national titles and knocking on the door to greatness mumbo jumbo most of them realized how stupid they looked when they finally realized someone predicting a 2 or more loss season every year might just be right after all

dawgfan

January 24th, 2014
5:43 pm

Now, if we can just get the Kool Aiders so frustrated with reality that they stop buying tickets and attending games we’ll be in good shape.

They are ruining our football program over their love affair with Richt.

Old Dawg

January 24th, 2014
5:43 pm

Like many people, I’m not always pleased with the work of UGA’s offensive line but to say they don’t have any linemen on the roster simply isn’t true. The Dawgs have 17 returning offensive linemen, and three committed recruits in the 2014 signing class, two of them 4-Star players.

Like I said, the play of the O-line needs improvement. If the OL coach can develop the players currently on the roster and the new signees perform as expected, maybe there will be improvement this season.

We’ll see.