UGA is underrated, or overrated, or maybe even both

I’m so confused. Georgia is either way underrated or way overrated, and I can’t tell which. On the one hand …

• Georgia should never lack for players, which means that even in a down year it should be really good. Joe Cox has started one game as a Bulldog, but he’d have started two years ago at some other SEC schools. On the other hand …

• Georgia is ranked No. 13, which seems a bit high for a team finished last season No. 13 in the Associated Press and saw six players drafted, two of them among the first dozen. And what happened when last the Bulldogs had so many players drafted? Well, the year was 2006 and seven Bulldogs were picked by NFL teams, and how did the next Georgia team fare? It lost four regular-season games, the worst showing under Mark Richt. On the other hand …

• The first three Bulldogs drafted were skill players. Georgia didn’t lose an offensive lineman to the draft. In fact, Georgia believes it  has six bona fide starters returning along the O-line, which technically has only five positions. And an offensive line can make a difference. Go ask Alabama. On the other hand …

• Richt’s teams aren’t power teams. They’re based on finesse. And without Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno and Mohamed Massaquoi, is there enough finesse to go around? On the other hand …

• The next-to-last time Georgia went with an untested quarterback, it won the SEC title. On the other hand …

• The last time Georgia went with an untested quarterback, it lost those four regular-season games. Remember Joe Tereshinski III? Somehow everyone in Athens forgets him. On the other hand …

• Cox is better than Tereshinski. On the other hand …

Describe the Bulldogs.

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• Cox isn’t as good as D.J. Shockley. On the other hand …

• The Georgia defense promises to play like Junkyard Dawgs this year, as opposed simply to dogs. On the other hand …

• Willie Martinez is still the defensive coordinator.

I’ve been saying 8-4 for a while now, what with a new quarterback and a difficult schedule. But a lot of Georgia folks believe this team should go 10-2 or better. I’m not backing off my prediction, but I am willing to say I’m intrigued by this team. I’m so intrigued I just ran through nine “other hands.” Which I guess makes me an even bigger meanie than Dr. Octopus.

(And, on yet another other hand: Just to prove I’m an equal-opportunity ditherer, Georgia Tech gets the same treatment.)

171 comments Add your comment

Bob in SF

September 2nd, 2009
2:23 am

Dez Bryant is really, really good; if the Dawgs can stop him they have a shot.

Ted Striker

September 2nd, 2009
3:32 am

My main man, Mark: That’s a lot of “other hands.” But it’s perfect given the Doc Ock tie-in.

anotherdawg

September 2nd, 2009
3:37 am

I can’t believe I’m awake at this hour. Nice article Mark! On the other hand – - – lol – Go Dawgs !!!

honest_abe

September 2nd, 2009
3:44 am

2006 is a bad comparison… the qb issue was between a redshirt freshmen and a redshirt freshment. this year the dawgs have a clear cut starter.

it can’t be said enough that although the 2008 georgia team was very talented they were also really banged up! for some reason you seem oblivious to that fact brad. last years team also had a lot of off the field issues. most were dreaming of making that big paycheck and playing on sundays. add to fact that everyone had them consensus #1 and an overrated team is what you get.

this years team is much more focuses and motivated. they are stronger and deeper along both lines and they have enough playmakers to get them by. not sayin they’ll win a national championship but they’ll do better than 8-4.

Mark Bradley

September 2nd, 2009
3:50 am

I’m awake, too. Alas.

anotherdawg

September 2nd, 2009
3:55 am

I’m just glad Saint Simons is asleep!

Ostrich Racer

September 2nd, 2009
3:59 am

So, who will you use for the Tech piece — Electro? “With Jonathan Dwyer, the Tech option attack should be powerful. As usual, though, they’ll receive a shocking lack of fan support.”

Ed-Covington

September 2nd, 2009
4:03 am

Saint Simons is awake! He’s just, uh, distracted by other sites at this hour.

Ed-Covington

September 2nd, 2009
4:05 am

OR: Got something nice to say about uga, or just trash to talk about TECH?

anotherdawg

September 2nd, 2009
4:09 am

Bob, I think the key to stopping OSU’s offense will be containing their quarterback. They have a ton of weapons, but Robinson really makes their team click with his mobility.

Ed-Covington

September 2nd, 2009
4:12 am

OsRa: Got anything nice to say about uga, or just trash about TECH?

Ed-Covington

September 2nd, 2009
4:13 am

Sorry for the repetition, thought my original comment had been lost.

WTF

September 2nd, 2009
4:17 am

Little paranoid, Ed-Covington?

Whopper Dawg

September 2nd, 2009
4:31 am

I hate to be a broken record, but Coix and the O will be absolutely fine. More balance run to pass and more ball distribution. The Willie master is where the questions abound, he has got the guys no doubt, but can he coach pre-game and in-game. Consensus among hearty fans is not.

Preview of post game comments on our D’s performance:

“Well, they will score a lot of points on everybody”. You heard it here first.

Record with Willie – Four losses at least.

Go Vols

September 2nd, 2009
5:14 am

Good column, interesting points of view. It will be a challenging year for Georgia, I think, with a few ups and downs. I’m expecting them to perform well in some games, not so well in others and end up with a nice, but unsatisfying season from the perspective of its fan base – figure enough of a tease to do well. Defense will be better, offense will struggle to maintain consistency.

Oh, and let me get this out of the way to avoid the bashes – yes, you’ll beat my Big Orange. We have two more years in the wilderness.

Ostrich Racer

September 2nd, 2009
5:22 am

The Tech crack was just low-hanging fruit. Ed-Covington makes a fair (if repetitive) point, so:
UGA goes 9-3 this year, but starts with a win over OSU. With Cox, Samuel and the ballyhooed O-line, I think Dez Bryant, et al. spend most of their night on the sidelines. Nobody will beat Florida this year, but the Dogs will beat Tech.

ToccoaDawg

September 2nd, 2009
5:28 am

Don’t worry be happy. Its football season

"Chef" Tim Dix

September 2nd, 2009
5:30 am

Mark, let’s have the Cox / D.J. comparison again in December.

ToccoaDawg

September 2nd, 2009
5:30 am

The Dawgs D will be better than the Falcons D. As mark witnessed Saturday.

innocent bystander

September 2nd, 2009
5:34 am

Mark we don’t KNOW that DJ is better than Cox .That question will begin to be resolved Saturday. Neither do we KNOW that we will beat UT as Go VOLS concedes. I hope Joe outshines DJ. And I think that DJ and David Pollack are the most popular players since Hershel. The loyalty of DJ and Joe is something we will always owe them for. I hope they both coach between the hedges one day.It looks like OSU is in disarray at the critical moment only days before kickoff.It helps our chances that they have lost 2 starters in 5 days but I would rather have beaten their best on the field.

heeldawg

September 2nd, 2009
5:47 am

Here’s a guess (and my guess is as good as Bradley’s–or maybe worse. Or perhaps better):

Line play affords Joe Cox a little more of a margin of error than Joe T and Stafford had in 2006. The OL should be quite good–and, thus far, they’ve avoided the decimating injury factor that crippled last year’s team. I’d remind folks that Cox, coming out of high school, was a higher-rated QB than John Parker Wilson–and JPW led his last ‘Bama team to a 12-2 record behind a solid OL

Line play should also allow the backs to have less prodigious talent than Knowshon Moreno and still be very productive. That’s not to say that Richard Samuel, Caleb King and Carlton Thomas aren’t talented, but they are green. With a patchwork OL, KM made a lot of his yards last year on his own. The backs this season shouldn’t have to do that.

Barring injury, the receiving corps is actually quite talented. AJ Green is a bona fide stud, Moore played well in the bowl game, and several of the freshmen (Wooten, Charles, Brown) should contribute early. Depth could be an issue with injuries, but luckily, that’s not been a major factor—yet.

The interior DL is the deepest and most talented Mark Richt has had at Georgia. There are three future NFL players, all seniors, in the lineup (Atkins, Owens, Weston) and a bevy of talented underclassmen to spell them. It all adds up to a great rotation, which will keep the interior line fresh. We did not have that luxury last season. And you cannot underestimate the leadership advantage of having Jeff Owens back.

Most of the LBs return, led by the SEC’s leading tackler, Rennie Curran, who is also a great leader.

DE play will be no worse (the starters both return), and likely will be better. There is certainly more depth at that position.

The DBs will be as good or better overall. Losing Asher Allen hurt somewhat, but he played most of last season with a broken hand anyway, and his backups are solid athletes. Reshad Jones, a five-star prospect in high school, is looking for a redemption season, and I think he finds it this year. In addition, a better pass rush will give opposing QBs less time to throw–which will make pass defense that much better. It’s all about the team in football. One variable influences another.

The intangible aspects (leadership, motivation, team play) are actually a good bit better this season. There’s a chip-on-the-shoulder aspect this year that was missing in 2008. My guess is that this will translate into better focus and determination–sort of like Florida 2008 versus Florida 2007. Let’s hope the results are the same.

My overall take? Last year’s Georgia team was less than the sum of its parts. Some of that was due to injuries (the most I’ve ever seen one team have in a season). Some was due to poor coaching decisions (the “no hitting at practice” decision stands out; Richt admits that). And some was due to poor leadership, with a couple of star athletes who made it very clear that they were thinking of themselves first, as opposed to the team. That attitude infected the whole 2008 squad.

So Georgia lost those stars, and now everyone thinks they’re going to suck.

My take is that this will be addition by subtraction. For the 2009 Bulldogs will be greater than the sum of its parts, and will surprise a few folks along the way.

Starting this Saturday.

Bring on the ‘Pokes!

Spike

September 2nd, 2009
6:51 am

Do not underestimate the Dawgs!

I believe honest_abe...

September 2nd, 2009
6:58 am

meant to say the qb issue in 2006 was between an unproven redshirt SENIOR and a TRUE freshman – but at that time in the morning (3:44AM), who knows?

Big time?? Not

September 2nd, 2009
7:04 am

Four tickets, four hot dogs, four cokes

Big time?? Yes

September 2nd, 2009
7:07 am

UGA sells out every home game

honest_abe

September 2nd, 2009
7:12 am

hmmm.. “i believe” i guess if you really think tereshinki was battling for the starting spot. the guy blocked on special teams. probably the only qb in last decade to have that responsibility. but i digress. the main competition that year was between stafford and cox.

preciate the correction though… arse.

Atticus

September 2nd, 2009
7:23 am

Something else to consider Mark……Georgia is better at all but possibly 3 positions and because of a very talented freshmen class, they have much more depth. Knowshon, Stafford and Asher. That is 18 out of 22 positions. Football is still a team sport.

Fat Phil

September 2nd, 2009
7:24 am

Hey Go Vols….are you nuts? Are you a gigantic wussy? One thing you are not is a UT fan. Turn in your badge right now. WTF are you talking about when you say UGA will “beat my Big Orange”??? Right now, I will put up $1000 saying that TN wins in Neyland on October 10th. So put your money where your mouth is. We will let a neutral 3rd party hold the money. I am as serious as a heart attack on this. You obviously have not been following the Vols through camp. If you had then you would know how much the O & D has progressed. You would know what kind of coaching talent is in Knoxville now. You would know of the highly touted freshmen that will contribute big. You would know about the heart of this year’s team. You obviously are not a trut UT fan. Fans like you disgust me! Final score…. UT 24 – UGA 13

mike on lake hartwell

September 2nd, 2009
7:25 am

mark, interesting article. love your work.
at least youre not choosing us as nat’l champs
this year. we know how well that turned out.
GO DAWGS!

Atticus

September 2nd, 2009
7:26 am

Actually 4, I forgot MoMass.

SuperB

September 2nd, 2009
7:36 am

This Georgia team has more depth than the last four-loss team. As always, avoiding injuries is the key. Georgia also has to play smarter and avoid penalties and turnovers. The defense needs to turn it over more than in 2008. Accomplish those objectives and a big season is within reach. With Joe Cox, Aaron Murray, and Logan Gray– QB is not a problem!

Required Reading | Hard Knox Sports

September 2nd, 2009
7:40 am

[...] Georgia is either underrated or overrated. [AJC] [...]

Sigmund

September 2nd, 2009
7:42 am

That Mike Gundy’s a little touched isn’t he? Afraid of a brawl from a pre-game handshake. What a maroon.

Zach Mettenberger

September 2nd, 2009
7:43 am

What am I, chopped liver?

Larry

September 2nd, 2009
7:45 am

It’ll be two hobnail boots up the wazoo, there Fat Phil. Keep dreaming … or drinking … whichever you’re doing.

Gen Neyland

September 2nd, 2009
7:46 am

With the overwhelming sense that Florida and maybe Ole Miss can score mass quantity points, looks like defensive battles will be where it’s at in the SEC this season. Sounds like some good dusty and bloody scrum matchups with spreads hovering between 1-4 points, just like the good ol’ days my Granpappy talked about…

Not Disappointed!

September 2nd, 2009
7:47 am

<————- Loyal Jacket Fan here.

Joe Cox may surprise a lot of people this Saturday. If his running backs preform decent he may be pretty good. If not, it’s going to be a long day. I don’t know about 10-2 record, but I don’t think it will be 7-5. I know the pup nation has high standards, but before Coach Richt came it was a toss up under the previous regime.

College Football is here! It doesn’t matter who’s your team! But for me, “Ramblin Wreck!”

Rabbit

September 2nd, 2009
7:49 am

Considering you’ve been moldering in the ground for 47 years Gen. Neyland, looks like you are your Grandpappy.

TommyP

September 2nd, 2009
7:53 am

Valid, every one of your “on the other hands”……

The main points are Joe Cox is not Tereshinski….he’s going to be a solid QB…very solid. You don’t need a Knowshown to win the SEC. Richt has proven he can win with a collection of RBs. That said, Samuel will be a star.

Defense will be better….has to.

Gen Neyland

September 2nd, 2009
7:57 am

Fat Phil : Go Vols is trying to keep peace in the hood. I have tickets to that meet in October and am fully expecting to be happy with the outcome…At this time of the season, why not..? I’ve said it here before, UGA is my 4th favorite team in the SEC behind Tennessee, UT and the Big Orange…

DUFFY

September 2nd, 2009
7:58 am

Big Guy, you are off on the finesse comment. Think back to Richt’s better teams: the ‘02 Team was built on a great defense and a power running game behind Musa Smith and a huge O-line. The ‘03 and ‘04 teams had very powerful Defenses, loaded with NFL talent on that side of the ball. I would argue that Richt has been much too conservative to be a “finesse” coach, and I would simply refer to the Jeremy Thomas in the flats call on 3rd and goal from the 4 in ‘03 vs Florida as a reminder. Surely a finesse coach would have come up with something a bit more creative? Alas, don’t forget when GA and Richt turned the corner in ‘07 it was behind 184 yards by 24 in Jacksonville, all on the ground. Bobo called 8 straight runs to start that game. Richt and Bobo both want to run the ball to set up the play action downfield passing game. They were not able to do this last year to their liking due to a depleted and young o-line.

I will make a gentlemen’s bet with you that the ole “finesse” coach and his O Coordinator run the ball 40+ times for 200+ yards against an OSU defense that does not have a single player who could start for Bama, LSU, or Florida.

Spike

September 2nd, 2009
8:05 am

Fat Phil.. I’ll take that bet, big talker!!

Fat Phil

September 2nd, 2009
8:06 am

Thanks for your words Gen Neyland. “Go Vols” is a poser and not a true fan of the Big Orange. I hope to be at that game as well and fully expect to be happy with the outcome. Neyland will be rocking that day. Eric Berry will be looking to lay some wood to UGA players. Bryce Brown will scorch a few UGA defenders and the chorus of Rocky Top will fill the stadium. I hope “Go Vols” is at home in his double-wide unable to watch the game because he could not afford to pay his cable bill. Gooooo Vols!!!!

Fat Phil

September 2nd, 2009
8:10 am

Hey Spike…I once had a dog named Spike. I sold him to Michael Vick but thats another story. Bring it on Spikey…maybe you can put your pick-up truck up for collateral on the bet. I doubt you have $1000 cash to put up. WalMart does not pay that well I heard. Give me your email address and I will send you my full contact info. We will give the money to a 3rd party. I talk big but I back up what I say. Do you???

Huh?

September 2nd, 2009
8:10 am

I think Fat Phil started drinking a little early today. What is a trut UT fan anyway?

Gen Neyland

September 2nd, 2009
8:12 am

Rabbit : Phoenix and ashes. All things are possible. Seems like just yesterday CPF was heading home from the Corn Chip Bowl with a jelly filled Crystal Football…

Paddy

September 2nd, 2009
8:16 am

UGA by 10 and we all will be talking about how mature Joe Cox was in this game. So much talent and now a little “edge” to them. I think they are a dangerous outfit that should not be overlooked. 10-2

OnTheOtherHand

September 2nd, 2009
8:18 am

Richt is still here and has he ever beaten a team that he was an underdog to? (And if you can find one….show the many he was favored to win and lost!) UGA will lose a minimimum of 4. I love the Dawgs and will be at every game but 2 (including away games) but the finesse nature of Richts teams don’t fare well against teams with equal talent that attempts to control the line. Shoot see all three losses from last year as the example. Last year the AJC posted an article about “Not if but when” for Richt to lead the Dawgs to the NC. I know with our talent we should always win 9 or 10 games especially with UT and Aub having several subpar years but Richt is incapable of coaching us to the NC. He in fact will be out coached by the elite coaches. Are we going to be happy with 10 win seasons forever but generally losing to the elite programs with less or equal football talent?

SatchelBuzz

September 2nd, 2009
8:19 am

8-4 is about right,….starting out 0-1. Plenty of talent,…just down a few notches in the conference pecking order.

Jon Hughes

September 2nd, 2009
8:19 am

Mark we know Joe Cox is better than Joe T and not quite DJ but how would you compare him to david greene and mike bobo talent wise?