5 questions for UGA football: From Dream Team to Drew

Me, I'm thinking Mr. Drew is the Dreamiest Dream Teamer. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Me, I'm thinking Ray Drew is the Dreamiest Dream Teamer. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

It was a indeed a long weekend for Georgia football. Eventful, too. Mark Richt turned 51 on Friday. Aaron Murray played soccer on Saturday. On President’s Day Murray went from having a broken ankle, which is bad, to having a sprained ankle, which is less bad. And now we’re all back at work, and this worker feels moved to pose five questions regarding the Bulldogs, only some of which relate to ankles and European football.

1. New feature back. New line coach. Is a new offensive approach in the offing? Will Friend was hired to replace the overrated Stacy Searels, who left for Texas. Friend spent the past four seasons at UAB, and a check of the Blazers’ stats reveals … well, I’m not sure what. Last season they were 59th among FBS teams in rushing; in 2009 they were seventh; in 2008 they were 40th; in 2007 they were 104th.

Even if UAB had led the nation in rushing four of the past four years, I’m not sure it would indicate a change in Georgia philosophy. The Bulldogs have the same offensive coordinator and the same head coach, and Mike Bobo’s philosophy is essentially Richt’s. Georgia is a finesse offense, has been since 2001. It runs as a counterpoint to the forward pass. Isaiah Crowell might well break more runs than Washaun Ealey and Caleb King, but this isn’t going to revert to Tailback U. because of one recruit. The quarterback will remain the biggest man on this roster.

2. Speaking of whom: Will Murray enter the season as the SEC’s best returning quarterback? Absolutely. Cam Newton is gone. Ryan Mallett is gone. Greg McElroy is gone. Mike Hartline is gone. Jeremiah Masoli is gone. Jordan Jefferson and Stephen Garcia and John Brantley return, but none is assured of holding his starting job.

Tennessee fans will argue that Tyler Bray was just as impressive as Murray last season, but they’re wrong. Murray started every game. Bray didn’t start until November, and his numbers, while good, don’t compare to Murray’s. Georgia has had some pretty fair freshman quarterbacks — Eric Zeier, Quincy Carter, David Greene, Matthew Stafford — and not one of them was as good in Year 1 as Murray. You could look it up.

3. Won’t Murray miss A.J. Green? Well, yeah. Tony Pauline of TFYDraft.com wrote last week on SI.com that Green is the No. 1 prospect in this NFL draft class. As a rule of thumb, a team tends to miss a player of such eminence. But the Bulldogs will miss Kris Durham almost as much. Great as he was, Green averaged 14.9 yards per catch last season. Durham averaged 20.9.

4. Will JUCO nose tackle  John Jenkins galvanize Todd Grantham’s 3-4? When Grantham arrived in Athens last winter, he took pains to note that his defense doesn’t require the 340-pound nose middleman — a Grady Jackson — that some 3-4’s do. But Jenkins’ signing gives Grantham a 340-pounder anyway. And Terrence Cody, who was likewise a plus-sized JUCO product, seemed to have some positive effect on the Alabama program, did he not?

5. Is Crowell really the most important member of the Dream Team? He stands to be an impact player at an impact position, but the guess here is that the key Dreamer is the defensive end Ray Drew. He could become the leader among players that, to be frank, Georgia has long lacked. He is, as you know, a licensed minister, and his call to other recruits to come join the UGA flock had real resonance.

Oh, yeah. Drew is a 5-star prospect who played defensive end at Thomas County Central but will switch to outside linebacker, which is the featured position in the 3-4. And Georgia just happened to lose Justin Houston, its best outside linebacker, to the NFL a year early.

Whenever the new man records a sack, you could say, “Ah, just like the coordinator Drew it up.” You could, but I won’t. I have my reputation as a professional writer to protect.

By Mark Bradley

193 comments Add your comment

mmgtfan

February 22nd, 2011
11:29 am

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

February 22nd, 2011
11:30 am

Big season coming

February 22nd, 2011
11:30 am

SEC East title with a weak schedule. Get excited.

Fish Bisch

February 22nd, 2011
11:31 am

dang it
fourth

TommyP

February 22nd, 2011
11:31 am

Crowell is by far the most important part of the Dream Team.

And the Dawgs will miss Durham “almost as much” as AJ? That’s a ridiculous statement.

Fish Bisch

February 22nd, 2011
11:32 am

SC will win the East again though.

DENNY

February 22nd, 2011
11:33 am

Mark-

1- New approach better be there for offense, got to figure out hw to run the ball to win the SEC. QB, H-Back, RB, something.

2- Murray threw 7 td’s against winning teams out of his 24 and went 0-6 against them. He’s simply jacked up his numbers against bad teams.

3- Murray went 1-3 without AJ Green, lost 75% of his games.

4- NT better, run defense has to keeep teams under 100 yards rushing to win the SEC, points scored have to drop below 20.

5- Crowell, no doesn’t even get on campus till June. Ealey and King are both averaging over 5 ypc. And Crowell can’t passblock. Agree about Drew, also think Lemay has the same kind of leadership qualities.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

February 22nd, 2011
11:34 am

If UGA can 2k yards rushing between Crowell,King,Ealey then it will be a banner year in Athens. That puts it between 140-150 yards a game. That would take pressure of the defense and the passing game. Control the ball on the ground and it will go a long way in making all other 4 on your list look alot better.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

February 22nd, 2011
11:37 am

Boo might have the greatest impact he might be the back getting the calls on fourth and inches if we go for it .
time will tell as for the dream team i agree with Drew being the impact member

Homer N Butts

February 22nd, 2011
11:39 am

Is it my imagination or is Mark Fox’s team the softest bunch in the conference. Trey Thompkins has got to stop whining and play ball.

secbama

February 22nd, 2011
11:40 am

Cocks win East, Bammer wins West. Kirby Smart UGA head coach in 2012.

Goldenrod

February 22nd, 2011
11:41 am

Nobody cares about the leg-humping mutts Mark, get that through your thick skill.

Down on the Flats is where it’s at!

Al From Dadeville

February 22nd, 2011
11:42 am

Can someone direct me to the Tree that Owns Itself?

Bubba

February 22nd, 2011
11:46 am

Enter your comments here

Bubba

February 22nd, 2011
11:46 am

wdm

February 22nd, 2011
11:47 am

Mark Bradley tried harder than any person in the world to get Richt fired after last season. He did not succeed (not unusual.) Mark Richt follows one of, what most could assume, the toughest year in his coaching career with a top 10 recruiting class and several good additions to the coaching staff and lets not forget the gesture to the family of the young man who passed away. Mark Bradley knows the Dawgs are going to rock next year that is why he is slowly slithering his way back into the good graces of Mark Richt and UGA.

UGABugKiller

February 22nd, 2011
11:50 am

This is pretty spot on.

Murray is the best returning QB in the SEC, though I’m sure others (such as Chris Low over at ESPN) will deem Stephen Garcia as the best SEC QB during Sping Practices.

And I also agree with your statement that Georgia hasn’t had a leader on either side of the ball since Pollack left after 2004 and DJ Shockly left after 2005. As talented as guys like Howard, Stafford, Moreno, and Houston were, they were not leaders. And as many intangibles as Joe Cox had, his play was so poor it undermined whatever leadership ability he may have had.

Where Mark Richt has failed so spectacularly has been in accountability, both with his players and his coaches, and that trickled down into becoming the bad disciplinary issues because there were no leaders amongst the players who could stop it, who could stop other players from taking their frustrations about Richt and other coaches have favorites who didn’t deserve to play, let alone start (Cox, Evans) or seeing how Richt would throw them under the bus for their coach’s shortcomings (Soft Willy, Searels, Bobo’s playcalling).

Ray Drew and Aaron Murray are guys you can build a program around. Leaders guys will follow. Murray proved this last year in games, such as Auburn, in which he was getting cheap-shots, when he was getting killed, and kept on getting up, refusing to go down until the last Fairley cheap shot almost blew out his knee.

Leadership on the field will also translate into leadership off the field.

I have a feeling we won’t have many, if any, off the field incidents this summer with Murray looking after guys, and especially next year, with Drew in the program for a full year.

cliff

February 22nd, 2011
11:50 am

Al from Dadveille,

I can’t remember the street name, but it turns south off Broad Street about 3 blocks west of the Holiday Inn, and “climbs the hill”. The tree is at the top of the hill (about 100 yards from Broad) and has a historical marker.

rduck

February 22nd, 2011
11:50 am

I think the offense will have to change some for the Dawgs. It’s hard to replace a top tier WR like Green, and even harder when you lose your other top WR as well. Durham was a very reliable WR for them last year and IMO their leader as far as WR’s go. They will need to step up the running game a bit and utilize the herd of quality TE’s they have on the roster. Some WR’s are going to have to step up and produce, but I don’t see any of them having the overall production of Green and Durham. Jenkins will be a force in the middle but their are alot of unknowns surounding him at the DE and LB positions. Going to need some of the new guys to come in and produce some and add quality depth at those positions. Murray is a good QB and one would think he will only get better. He just has to work on his consistancy and poise in the big games.

The Greatest Game Ever Played

February 22nd, 2011
11:58 am

It was magical that November night in 2008. 45-42.

Mark Bradley

February 22nd, 2011
12:03 pm

Belated kudos, mmgtfan.

UGASlobberknocker

February 22nd, 2011
12:05 pm

Denny’s comments above prove two things:

1statistics can say anything you want them to say..it just depends on how and where you slice them up. whoever said the following was accurate:..there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

2-some people are just gonna complain no matter what..I used to know people who,, in 1980, complained that we didnt pass enough.!!! We did have some dude named Herschel then. I’ve come to the conclusion that these type of people think that by complaining and then occasionally offering up their perfect alternative, they are showing their expertise..as opposed to their obstinacy. I just hope this gut isnt sitting next to me in Sanford next yr.

wdm....whaaaaat?

February 22nd, 2011
12:10 pm

you cant seriously think MB or anyone is TRYING to get someone fired..I dont know who would find that more ridiculous, MB or McGarrity. Im pretty sure that while McGarrity may enjoy Bradley’s column, he isn’t using it as an evaluative tool.

I think the only tool around here is….wdm.

UGABugKiller

February 22nd, 2011
12:11 pm

Denny, and his ignorant ilk:

You can keep on running down what Aaron Murray did last year, but you only prove yourself more, and more ignorant for trying.

Murray was a FRESHMAN. He set records last year that broke records of junior and senior QBs. Why don’t you go back and look at Stafford’s or Greene’s stats against “winning” and “losing” football teams. You will find that their numbers were ALSO better against the “losing” teams, you ignoramus.

Another factor you refuse to acknowledge was having Bobo as a playcaller. While the man might be the best QB Coach in all of college football, he’s a fairly piss-poor playcaller, and put Murray in many bad situations.

That also doesn’t excuse Murray for the INTs that were bad decisions, but again… HE WAS A FRESHMAN.

Some of you people are so stupid.

wdm....whaaaaat?

February 22nd, 2011
12:11 pm

I’m pretty sure that McGarrity is not using Bradley’s column as an evaluative tool.

Denny's crack dealer

February 22nd, 2011
12:12 pm

I see you’ve been smokin again

Mark Bradley

February 22nd, 2011
12:13 pm

Oh, and for the record: The Georgia Tech-Georgia game of 2008 was played in the afternoon.

Herschel Talker

February 22nd, 2011
12:21 pm

MB:

The Dream Team will be solid.

But not solid enough for Mark Richt to keep his job.

Then we get a real coach in 2012 who can take these studs and lead us to the promised land.

Maybe Richt will stay on as recruiting coordinator for the new coach.

HT

PreyDawg

February 22nd, 2011
12:27 pm

I only disagree with one point here Mark. Murray would be the best returning quarterback even if several of those listed above WERE returning. Not all…but several.

Another minor point of your article is the one that gives me the most concern. How the heck did we not get the ball to A.J. Green more than we did. I am a big enough nut to re-watch most games on TIVO…yes the wife hates it when I tie up the family room doing this.

There were LOTS of times when AJ was WIDE open and Murray not only did not throw that way….he never LOOKED that way…

This is a flaw of scheme and coaching. If it happend one game then it is on Murray. But it happend repeatedly in every game after AJ came back. This is my biggest single concern going in to this season. I am a Richt fan but this is a recurring concern. We dont always use our stars to the fullest or anywhere near to the fullest extent.

The Sham

February 22nd, 2011
12:32 pm

@MB – it’s too late to worry about your reputation now :) JK – but your storied predictions should be more of a concern for you than well used punns.

For the record, I agree with you (gasp!) – THE MINISTER OF DEFENSE is the most important key to this dream team. But I think his contributions will be greater over the long haul as Crowells could be more impactful for this year. IMO…

DOUBLE G

February 22nd, 2011
12:38 pm

Mark, your reputation dropped a couple of floors with that last paragraph. Please. Don’t try that again. You’ll hurt yourself.

Otherwise, you’re close. Good points.

DoolyDawg

February 22nd, 2011
12:40 pm

Cliff, Obviously you don’t know who Al from Dadesville is.

Hankie Aron

February 22nd, 2011
12:41 pm

HT- I think this fall after UGA has a great rebound year, you will have to come to the realization that Mark Richt isn’t going anywhere. IF you are a true UGA fan, then I hope you will support them no matter who is coach. If Richt fails this fall, then I will stand with you at the gates with torch in hand

Hankie Aron

February 22nd, 2011
12:42 pm

I like your insight Preydawg. Maybe that last part changes with Murray’s second year as quarterback and not a freshman anymore.

The Sham

February 22nd, 2011
12:43 pm

My apologies if this gets posted twice as the filter doesn’t seem to like my comments. Or maybe MB doesn’t

@MB – it’s your predictions that put your reputation at risk, not your punns.

But I do agree. THE MINISTER OF DEFENSE will prove to have the biggest impact of this class, but I think it will be over the long haul as Crowell will likely make the biggest splash (assuming he can block).

Gene

February 22nd, 2011
12:43 pm

Murray is tough and a very good player, but he was a fill in for Mettenburger, who couldn’t keep his hands to himself. I guess we will see who is the better quarterback when Mett lines up with LSU. Richt’s pandering to Crowell has to affect other players with its clear double standard. Richt is great at recruiting talent, but he can’t develop it or control it off the field. We will see if Crowell develops the sense of entitlement that King and Ealey have shown in their off-field behavior. Crowell will surely not be as important to the program as Richt and Crowell think he will be, and he may well turn out to be another highly-recruited flop and spoilled child like Caleb King.

Stockdog

February 22nd, 2011
12:48 pm

I am optimistic about the dawgs this year. I wasn’t sold on Crowell. However, it appears that a lot of running backs in the 2012 class are going elsewhere. Apparently, they think that Crowell is the real deal. Most good running backs would love to challenge another running back, unless he thought that the other back is great. Apparently, a lot of backs in the state think that Crowell is a great back.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Bradley, Parrish Walton. Parrish Walton said: RT @MarkBradleyAJC: 5 questions involving #UGA football, including, "Who's the dreamiest of the Dream Team?" http://bit.ly/hgLemr [...]

gdawginkalamazoo

February 22nd, 2011
12:50 pm

“Ah, just like the coordinator Drew it up.”

I hope you didn’t hurt yourself coming up with that one Mark. How many beers did it take?

Chicago

February 22nd, 2011
12:50 pm

Dawgs are feeling stronger every day.

Bring Back Wally Butts

February 22nd, 2011
12:52 pm

Mark Bradley has the dubious distinction of being the worst AJC Sports writer now that Terrance Moore is gone. Fire Richt one day and suck up the next. What a waste.

For some reason (probably because he is a UGA hater), Mark’s UGA columns (which I don’t ordinarily read on purpose to keep down the web hits) seem to bring out the fans of other teams and the whole mess quickly denigrates into a unintelligent bashing of UGA, the coaching staff and each other.
Think I will go back to not reading his columns. Thought that this one would be more interesting. NOT.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by SoccerNow and Georgia Bulldogs-UGA, Candice Nicholson. Candice Nicholson said: 5 questions for UGA football: From Dream Team to Drew: (AJC photo by Jason Getz) It was a indeed a long weekend … http://bit.ly/eRyipn [...]

YardDawg

February 22nd, 2011
12:56 pm

Jenkins may be the most important. The Nose position is the foundation of a 3-4 defense.

Shane

February 22nd, 2011
1:00 pm

MB, you have already told us that tech is on the rise and UGA is gonna fail. Stick to your word and stopping writing dumb articles. There is no way in heck that gt is on the rise. They are falling further behind. They will have to change coaches again in a year or two. When they do that they will not have the personel to draw any tier one team. So please stop writing about UGA! We know you love tech, now stick to your guns so all of us UGA fans can have someone to laugh at for the next ten years!!!

Jimmy Crack

February 22nd, 2011
1:01 pm

“Can someone direct me to the Tree that Owns Itself?”

Why, whatcha gonna do? lol

I’m pretty sure it is at the corner of S. Pope and Waddell.

Jimmy Crack

February 22nd, 2011
1:03 pm

Sorry, S. Finley and Waddell Streets.

82Dawg

February 22nd, 2011
1:09 pm

H.T. ….go back to your basement productions…Richt is not going anywhere until he is ready..

KeepDreaming

February 22nd, 2011
1:11 pm

Mark, please do not use the name Quincy Carter included with the sentence “pretty fair freshman QBs” That guy was a disgrace!

tsk, tsk

February 22nd, 2011
1:11 pm

ahh yes, another year, another top recruiting class and everybody’s on the band wagon. It seems like just a few years ago UGA began the season #1. we all know how that ended up. At least with great recruiting you can feel great about the team, until they begin play.

PreyDawg

February 22nd, 2011
1:14 pm

Thanks Hankie. Let’s hope we meet back here in January of next year all smiles.