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?

JUNKYARD MAIL CALL

Got something you want to discuss concerning the Dawgs? Or a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Email me at  junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

Find me on Facebook.

Follow me on Twitter.

— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

211 comments Add your comment

DawgVoiceofReason

January 24th, 2014
6:57 pm

Bill, Fix the blog software, please.

DawgVoiceofReason

January 24th, 2014
7:04 pm

Dawgfan,

You do realize, don’t you, that Bulldawg35 is one of the reasons our program doesn’t have the success it could, according to you, because he contributed directly to Coach Richt’s continued employment by attending the Bowl game this year? That’s got to just grate on you. Doesn’t that make him one of the “kool-aiders”, as you call them? And, of course, you don’t contribute or attend any games or patronize any of the sponsors of the games, right? And, you’ve personally contacted Greg McGarity to let him know your dissatisfaction with the program’s direction right? No good can possibly come from hiring the DC of the defending national champion and number one scoring defense, right? Not with Coach Richt in charge, according to your expert and beyond question opinion.

jc_dawgs

January 24th, 2014
7:25 pm

The min playoff formula for Ga will be to go 10-2 and win the east….then win the sec.
It will be really tough for the committee to leave out an 11-2 sec champ.

Amber

January 24th, 2014
8:08 pm

Many people do not think like me but part of the reason why I’m a dawg fan is because they don’t put up with drug use….their athletes and all have a goal of going to the NFL and the rules there are stricter!!! I can’t stand when you hear about well this player wad arrested for this but its ok he won’t do it again..its like children let them get away with something once and the trend will stay… I got into to football when Cox was the QB so any season will be better and those who play by rules always get a victory eventually!!!

Amber

January 24th, 2014
8:23 pm

I remember the statement Richt made about continuity….but yall are forgetting he also said everybody had to do what’s best for them as far as other job opportunities and such…thats just summed up…for all we know he told Grantham that it was time for him to consider other options and leave peacefully like forcing him out…ive been a boss and my husband is a boss and when it comes to the dirty work you do it as neatly and discreetly as possible…. I love Richt and think he’s right he wants to be he’s quite and stays clam to keep the players clam…. Murray even mentioned that in an interview he said you never know what is thinking because he’s always clam….the one time I’ve seen him lose it was against auburn and we came up with the call but they still called it their ball…you never know what a man is thinking and just a few years ago everyone had him on the hot seat and he turned the season completely around…my take how do you feel when no one gives you a chance yall are judging someone you’ve never met yet alone seen!!! And according to ESPN they are looking for a special teams coach he knows what needs to done and he will do it and the dogs will prevail!! Wait and see!!

dawgfan

January 24th, 2014
10:07 pm

“Wait and see!!!”

That pretty much sums up the past 13 years.

We should make T-shirts.

Flo-Ri-Duh

January 25th, 2014
12:48 am

Ole Dope (5:43 pm) No one gives a diddly what your opinion is. You don’t have enough knowledge of football to coacha powder puff team. You would have to improve 100% just to register UP to the level of stupid. NO one cares for your opinion TROLL!!!

GHWB

January 25th, 2014
10:32 am

#Amber

“I love Richt”

Enough said.

IrateDawgFan

January 25th, 2014
10:42 am

The problem is we need a professional radio announcer. Scott Howard is awful.

UGA man

January 25th, 2014
10:49 am

All schools have a mission, usually academics drive. UGA ADMN folks and the Athletic Board do dovetail on UGA’s REAL mission. That mission is to continue to make UGA into what is has become over the last 20 years. UGA is a topflight s-c-h-o-o-l.
No, UGA is NOT Cal Tech or Northwestern or Duke or even UVA BUT as a state school, it is top drawer.
Research $$ are part of this strategy. FOOTBALL revenue is part of the overall equation BECAUSE it supports the non revenue sports like Equine, or Volleyball or lady Basketball, etc.

UGA cruises in on 8-4, 9-3 with a “decent” bowl like Chic Fil A, Cap One, then the IVORY TOWER folks are so excited.

Pass the plate of Brie and the carafe, please. UGA IS NOT a football factory gang. Sorry!!

As for the suspensions, these same Ivory Tower folks LOVE the concept of “redirecting” youth from their wayward,”poor boy” ways.

Go Dogs

dawgman3000

January 25th, 2014
1:42 pm

GHWB @ 1:13pm

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

If anyone ever wondered whats holding UGA back from greatness, that comment tells you all you need to know.