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

Ricky4

January 23rd, 2014
10:47 am

Sounds about right

SC Dog fan

January 23rd, 2014
10:52 am

I’m planning to look on the bright side this summer and then grumble about having been so gullible in the fall. It has worked for me every year so far.

Teasley51

January 23rd, 2014
10:53 am

I am forever the optimist. We have a lot to be thankful for. I think our chances for a great season ar certainly real. As we know from the 2013 season, the fans in Sanford Stadium can be a factor. I say let’s get behind these young men…no boos for our team. Go Dawgs! Section 104.

Bulldawg35

January 23rd, 2014
10:58 am

1.. OL- not enough 5 star talent. Recruiting guys you have too bulk up. Will friend’s coaching is suspect.
2. Qb- Hutson mason cannot throw the ball down field. Plain and simple.

3. JHC our best safety just can’t stay on the field whether it’s injuries or suspensions.

4. Pruitt’s first year will come with some headaches

5. Richt chokes in crunch time!

6 we are cursed with injuries

These are my reasons….thanks!

Hendo Dawg

January 23rd, 2014
11:06 am

O-Line, O-Line, O-Line! I believe the old adage, ‘you win championships with defense’ is a thing of the past. In today’s football world, you win by scoring points…LOTS of them…and you can’t do that if your OL is weak or suspect. We’ll see…

Bulldog_greg

January 23rd, 2014
11:07 am

Reasons why we will not be in playoff!
1. Mark Richt has no fire or enthusiasm
2. Quarterback is not good enough
3. Suspensions for the first 2 games will bite us again. (can we please play Troy and Ga Southern)
4. SEC West is superior right now in conference game

gtcaryd

January 23rd, 2014
11:08 am

Bill Kings homer mentality is being tested somewhat, sounds like more pessimism than optimism.

DirtyDawg

January 23rd, 2014
11:13 am

That’s right Bill…avoid the rush, start your complaining early. Of course that’s what you have to do to get people to pay any attention at all.

NoAxeToGrind

January 23rd, 2014
11:14 am

The biggest reason for aother mediocre season: Murray won’t be pulling the trigger. The second biggest reason: Richt will still be calling the shots.

RollDog

January 23rd, 2014
11:20 am

While I approach each season with optimism, I always know at some point in the season, the team will break down due to lack of leadership. Great hire in JP, and defense has to better this season, but with a Richt, there isn’t any urgency with the man. Make no mistake, we wouldn’t have a new DC if it were left only to Richt. We’d still be stuck with Grantham; “continuity is good.”

We urgently need to recruit OL but we seem to focus on RB, WR and DB every year and take whatever OL are left after Bama, Auburn and SC have picked the bones clean.

So many areas of concern, and they all begin and end with Richt, but he’s comfortable with who and where he is. He knows he isn’t going to be replaced by McGarity so there is no great urgency with him to change anything; why would he be?

swimdawg68

January 23rd, 2014
11:39 am

As some of the previous posts above, our OL needs a serious improvement in talant and coaching. Seems like we have been stating this for years, odd how CMR does not see this as a major problem with his offense. When was the last time you witnessed a UGA OL dominate an opponent in an SEC game? I can’t remember, heck, we can’t even dominate Vandy.

Mobile Dawg

January 23rd, 2014
11:41 am

I use to be the ultimate optimist. Now my pendulum swings in the pessimistic direction. Not much fun being a Dawg these days, it’s kinda like going to the movies when you already know what’s going to happen.

Silly Bloggers

January 23rd, 2014
11:43 am

I’m more on the “Glass is half full of emptiness” side. Pruitt is a coup and I am excited by the hire, but losing Wilson really hampers an area of strenght. All things being equal, getting Pruitt and losing Wilson far outweighs separating ourselves from Grantham.

As addressed above, the O-line is a debacle at times and it seems Friend bought himself some time by his relationship with Pruitt. I guess if you can’t get it done on the field, buy yourself some time by being a major factor in acquiring a coach. Bill, I couldn’t agree more with the lack of talent developing. I have always been pessimistic about our O-line recruiting, but what does it matter if we can’t coach them up like Example A, Theus.

Drug policy? We have to deal with it. I hate the imbalance of it, but despite all my issues with Richt, the policy is a good one and one of the few things that proudly separates us from the other football factories out there. As much as Tech fans like to throw out the academics at UGA, the school is strong academically and we have seen many a player not get into UGA or get kicked off the team just to show up at Auburn, Arkansas, or a Mississippi school.

Special Teams? I just vomited in my mouth a little bit.

At the end of the day, throw it all out the window. Richt has been a shadow of his former self since 2006. He can’t and won’t win a Championship at UGA. He appears to be a great guy, but he seems like such a better fit for schools like Wake Forest, Duke, or Northwestern. Schools that have a better class of athlete typically…and schools that he can have a nine-or-10 win season at every 10 years (like Cutcliffe at Duke) and never have to deal with the masses as he does at UGA.

Go Dawgs!

P-Man

January 23rd, 2014
11:49 am

Wow! I’m amazed at how many of you know what goes on in Richt’s mind! No fire? No sense of urgency? You KNOW that? Seriuosly, maybe you need to walk a mile in his shoes before criticizing his state of mind. You can criticize his actions, his words, etc., but it’s a stretch to say you know what drives him or motivates him.

On another note… I will ALWAYS believe my team will win them all until proven wrong. That makes me a FAN. And those of you who criticize fans are just silly. It’s why we watch: because we believe our team will win. Even back in the 80s, I believed the Braves (for example) were going to win the World Series, when common sense told me they didn’t have a prayer to win the division. But I’m a FAN. It’s who I am and what I do.

Castle pine canine

January 23rd, 2014
11:50 am

You think all of the defensive coaches left on their own? Really you believe that? Wilson left on his own with his son a senior in high school? Lakatos left on his own? Grantham.? All happened within days of Richt/Mcgarity meeting! Have any of you ever hired or fired people? Most of us that have fired people do it discreetly and with class. Looks like some of you expected public executions and not terminations. We will see how well the defense is with new coaching. New coaching, that is what we all wanted right?

Mobile Dawg

January 23rd, 2014
12:06 pm

Yes, I think the defensive coaches left of their own accord. Grantham got a better offer and knew the water was hot in Athens. No brainer for him. The others know the routine, a new DC usually brings his own in. They had opportunities to protect themselves and took it. Anyone who doesn’t think that is being naïve.

Cuz

January 23rd, 2014
12:07 pm

P-man that is always how I feel which is why I do not bet on the Dawgs.

Columbus Dawg

January 23rd, 2014
12:09 pm

Here’s hoping the D is much better, and special teams, and OL, and that Hutson Mason , the latest UGA QB to be “given” the job on a promise, ect.,ect., and that Gurley actually cares enough to do what takes to get into football shape, and that the team in general is ready to play it’s opening game, ect., ect.

DGD

January 23rd, 2014
12:11 pm

Number one reason why will not be in the playoff is…..Because the Georgia is not man enough……Period…. Until we start a season with our whole team ready not suspended next year will always be our year…….

ga4life

January 23rd, 2014
12:18 pm

Guys…..please don’t do this to yourself. We will not win it all, we will not win the sec and we will not be better on special teams. The Defense may improve but everything else will be the same……
Stop drinking the kool aid, for the love of God stop it. Until we get a leader, who sets a standard that 8-5 is not good enough expect the same results…. suspensions, poor oline play,dui, dwi.bui, poor special teams, sleepwalking until the forth quarter….that is Georgia football. But at least we beat GT right?

Dawghog

January 23rd, 2014
12:21 pm

I’m going to rent a billboard in Athens that reads Georgia football, next year is always our year. maybe the players will use it as motivation, or maybe they will just laugh at it on their way to the pool while the others teams are practicing…….

dawgfan

January 23rd, 2014
12:29 pm

Should: We’re Georgia. We have gobs and gobs of talent right at our front door step. We have all the resources and support a program needs to go all the way.

Won’t: Mark Richt is our head coach.

Skint

January 23rd, 2014
12:33 pm

Not only did Friend buy him some time, so did Richt. He can now blame a couple of losses on the new coaching scheme. We have a serious problem on the OL, both coaching and recruiting and S&C. Why we continue to recruit private school kids to play OL is beyond me. I suppose it comes from a higher up. Why we employ a former video coordinator as S&C coach is beyond me(Dooley?). Why we let elite QB talent from Ga. go elsewhere is beyond me. Until we make serious changes at the top, UGA will be a good, but not elite program.

Bulldawg35

January 23rd, 2014
12:34 pm

The only guy I would like to have back is Chris B. We need some lineman too step up fast.

Bulldawg35

January 23rd, 2014
12:37 pm

I would feel better about this team if we were able to sign tunsil last year and if we could of gotten David sharpe this year. Also if we would of gotten de Shawn Watson.

Flo-Ri-Duh

January 23rd, 2014
12:37 pm

JHC was not going to start at safety anyway….. and you heard it hear 1st. He will be moved to OLB ’cause he is now 6′5″ 225 lbs. There were a lot of injuries in the secondary in 2013 – even to the rookies. Garrison Smith will be missed on the DL but there is depth and size there and they will be even better in 2014. Dawgs are LOADED with talent at LB and that will be the strength of the defense. Pruitt is expert with fitting the right guys in the secondary and since he wasn’t there last year there won’t be any “seniority” which means the best guy starts…. Damien Swann will be moved back to star.

The OL will be equal to last year – starters will be fine but there is a question about depth. WR’s are proven. Rome will be one of the best TE’s in the SEC. As I said before, Hutson Mason is not Aaron Murray and shouldn’t be expected to play up to his level. He lacks PLAYING experience. As long as Mason doesn’t average a pick a game (like he did in 2013) and protect the ball all he has to do is “manage” the offense. Hand the ball off, short to mid range passes and keep turnovers to a minimum. He needs to speed up his progressions and that will come with experience. The RBs will simply be the best in the nation – when they get average blocking.

old dawg

January 23rd, 2014
12:39 pm

I like the 4 team playoff as it gives UGA a better chance but it gives all the other teams a better chance as well. The ESPN TV money will move the athletic directors to an 8 team playoff soon enough so the odds get even better. As for UGA’s strict drug enforcement…why do we have to be the ones to go the harder road? Just like the over reaction to the Jan Kemp mess…UGA has to go above and beyond. Why? What has it bought us? Not much as I see it.

Don’t get me started on the ‘close but no cigar’ performance that plagues the team. 8-5 gets you high praise and a raise at Kentucky. 8-5 gets you fired at Alabama. I’ll always pull for the Dawgs but I see more of business as usual. I hope I’m wrong.

Flo-Ri-Duh

January 23rd, 2014
12:47 pm

UGA has plenty of highly ranked QBs … Bobo needs to develop them. DeShaun Watson does not fit the pro offense scheme employed by Bobo. He’s a spread offense guy. That’s why he chose Clemson.

The defense will be better – can’t get worse.
The offense will be more ball control than quick strike under Mason.
Special teams at kicker and punter is settled and the deep snapper finally got his act together around mid season. Kick coverage was good. Kick returning is still in question.

I see a minimum of 10 wins in 2014 simply because a lot f UGA’s competitors lost multiple key players to graduation and the NFL. UGA has most of their cast back with the obvious exception of Aaron Murray.

Bulldawg35

January 23rd, 2014
12:57 pm

Flo ri duh

Heck it don’t matter if he fit….I’m pretty sure bobo could of found some plays that would work for him. We need a scrambling qb that can move the ball with their legs. Mason is nothing but a turtle.

maconexpress

January 23rd, 2014
1:07 pm

@Flo-Ri-Duh January 23rd, 2014 12:47 pm – “DeShaun Watson does not fit the pro offense scheme employed by Bobo”

______________________________________________________________________

Did DeShaun Watson say he doesn’t fit in a pro style offense?

Class of '98

January 23rd, 2014
1:30 pm

I don’t have exact figures in front of me, but I swear there have been a few UGA recruiting classes in the past few years that included five running backs and/or five wide receivers and two offensive linemen.

And Richt continues to lament being so thin on the O-line.

UGA Insider

January 23rd, 2014
1:36 pm

Let’s get real. The UGA punt and kick-off return teams are the worst I have ever seen in 30 years of watching football. Folks we averaged just under 2 yards a punt return and 18 yards a kick-off. I’m being serious here.

Now the homers will come out and say those numbers don’t matter but it is actually a very important part of the game. In close games field position is everything but CMR just simply will not fix this problem by recruiting a few guys who handle punts and kick-offs exclusively.

dawgfan

January 23rd, 2014
1:42 pm

The 4 team playoff does not give us a better chance. That is Kool Aid fueled malarkey. The likely scenario for us to win a national title now will require 3 consecutive victories over Top 10 teams, all on neutral fields. Mark Richt hasn’t beaten 3 Top 10 teams in the past 5 freaking seasons, but he’s now going to do it all in a row on neutral fields? Laughable. Simply laughable.

I’m sorry but you Kool Aiders are out to lunch.

Bulldawg35

January 23rd, 2014
1:52 pm

If Lamont galliard de- commits then this class will be a bust! We need more 5* star lineman!!! I want more 5 star lineman or I want Richt fired! Mcgarity help! Galliard even has a UGA tattoo but Is thinking about going to Louisville with Grantham!

Bulldawg35

January 23rd, 2014
2:03 pm

Did y’all know SC has signed 130 players the last 5 years and we have only signed 116 in the last 5 years????

Sc 49-17 the last 5 years

UGA 44-23 the last 5 years…

Richt sign more players!!!!!! Spurrier does whatever it takes to win and Richt doesn’t! I’m just sick of it! Mcgarity get somebody in their that wants to win at all cost!

Snoop Dawg

January 23rd, 2014
2:05 pm

Two big reasons UGA will not make the playoffs anytime soon: RICHT AND BOBO.

Skint

January 23rd, 2014
2:13 pm

With our OL problems, we need a more mobile QB. Mason will feel the heat. Move Atkins to OL and quit recruiting private school kids.

DawginColorado

January 23rd, 2014
2:16 pm

No need to read further folks…if you’ve read this far you have heard all there is to hear on this subject from this crowd.

JB

January 23rd, 2014
2:16 pm

Gurley hopefully was hurt all last year. I say that because he looked nothing like the back he was his freshman year. The OL is a big concern. There is little surge for the running game. Defense will be better. Grantham was awful. 9-3. Mason no Murray. Go Dawgs

DawginColorado

January 23rd, 2014
2:16 pm

Save yourself a bunch of repetitions of the same post, slightly worded differently.

DawginColorado

January 23rd, 2014
2:21 pm

These serial pessimists declare unilaterally that the Dawgs will not make the playoffs simply because Mark Richt is still the head coach. No need to think about it or debate it. If you do debate it prepare to be ridiculed and called a “Disney Dawg”, “kool-iad drinker” “homer” or “delusional”.

DawginColorado

January 23rd, 2014
2:22 pm

There you go…proceed at your own risk.

DawginColorado

January 23rd, 2014
2:25 pm

You have been warned. You’ll get numb after the same guys says the same thing for the 4th or 5th time… they just cut and paste their comments…

DawginColorado

January 23rd, 2014
2:25 pm

rememebr…no need to think at all…they have spoken…

7576DAWG

January 23rd, 2014
2:26 pm

Our Defense will be much improved from 2013. The question is whether Bobo and the Offense can keep up.The most important person on the team is the Quarterback and Mason had a problem pulling the trigger the two games he started. He threw the ball late a lot. He has got to make a decision faster and act on it. I hope that Bobo will be open to giving Ramsey and Park a fair chance to beat Mason out in case Mason turns out to be a dud.
Georgia had the best Field Goal kicker in College last year. I guess the reason he wasn’t mentioned on All American teams was because he can’t kick it out of the end zone. A lot of his kicks were returned. The Offense can not turn the ball over. Last year it killed us because the Defense would bust their rear ends stopping our opponent just to be back on the field again because of a turn over or three and out. That is when our opponent scored a lot of their points. Our Offense has got to give the Defense some rest.
This year we will see if Bobo has progressed from 2012’s Offensive disasters especially in play calling. He actually did pretty good in 2013. We were completely inept in creating turnovers on the Defense which I think will be a strong point in 2014. But, whoever wins the Quarterback job has got to not turn the ball over.

DawginColorado

January 23rd, 2014
2:26 pm

they are the sole voice of the Bulldog Nation… the keepers of all football knowledge

DawginColorado

January 23rd, 2014
2:27 pm

Your opinion doesn’t matter… you are just delusional…

DawginColorado

January 23rd, 2014
2:27 pm

great stuff isn’t it?

7576DAWG

January 23rd, 2014
2:34 pm

Georgia had 7 close games last year. We won 2 and lost 5. We have nearly the entire team back. If Pruitt can fix the Defense and our Quarterback is not a problem Georgia has the team to be one of the 4 teams in the playoff. With us already playing a very hard opponent every year in the second game I hope McGarity will not ever schedule another hard team to open the season. Schedule them later in the year when suspensions and not know who our starters will be yet , will not play a factor into whether we win .

Bulldawg35

January 23rd, 2014
2:34 pm

Colorado

I think you are gut rake! The cat is out of the bag!