Why Georgia is nicely positioned to make real hay in 2012

Orson Charles won't have any part in the next UGA-LSU game. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Orson Charles won't have any part in the next UGA-LSU game. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

It now appears that Orson Charles could be the only Georgia player who’ll leave early for the NFL. If that is indeed the case, the Bulldogs will be positioned nicely for 2012.

They could have lost Jarvis Jones, who’s their best player, and also Bacarri Rambo, who’s one of their five best, but both have said they’ll return to school. And coordinator Todd Grantham, whose name has already surfaced as an Atlanta Falcons’ possibility, e-mailed esteemed colleague Chip Towers and confessed a desire “to be at UGA for a very long time.”

(For the record, I’m not sure Grantham is a fit in Flowery Branch for a rather basic reason: He runs the 3-4, and the Falcons, as Mike Smith noted Monday, have spent four seasons drafting for the 4-3.)

We say again: If Georgia enters the 2012 season with 15 starters returning — including nine on defense — the Bulldogs should and will be a Top 10 team.

Others say so, too. Esteemed former colleague Mark Schlabach ranks Georgia No. 6 in his ESPN lookahead. Andy Staples of SI.com slots the Bulldogs at No. 9. And Brett McMurphy of CBS Sports has the Bulldogs ranked third, behind only LSU and Southern Cal.

I’m on record as picking the Bulldogs to go 11-1 in the 2012 regular season and to win the SEC — and not just the SEC East. The Outback Bowl loss, bad as it was, didn’t change that belief. I should, however, note that a post-Outback post to that effect met with scorn from many of you who claim to be Georgia fans. My point, then as now, was: Nine months from now, who’s going to care about what happened in Tampa on Jan. 2?

And why, since you asked, would I pick Georgia to win the SEC championship game when it just lost the SEC championship game by 32 points? Because seasons change, and so do results. Did not Alabama lose to Florida in the Georgia Dome in 2008, Tim Tebow’s junior season? Did not the Tide beat Tebow and his Gators under the same roof the very next year? (And if Georgia should happen to play LSU again, we’ve just been handed evidence that the Tigers are not invincible.)

Seasons change, I say again. Georgia was lousy in 2010 and got good again in 2011. It will be even better in 2012. Carp over the Bulldogs’ schedule all you want, but things don’t appear much different for 2012. If they won 10 games this time, they should win more next season. So say I.

By Mark Bradley

631 comments Add your comment

NC Dawg

January 12th, 2012
10:35 am

“Hay”, I’m First!

Mark Bradley

January 12th, 2012
10:40 am

Too good, NC.

GeoffDawg

January 12th, 2012
10:40 am

Mark, when do you think Georgia will be able to get back to dominant O-line play? We lose several starters there and were already struggling to get much movement against superior D-lines (i.e. Michigan State).

GaDawg

January 12th, 2012
10:40 am

Another Gainesville Florida Dawg

January 12th, 2012
10:40 am

Mark: Do you think Keith Marshall will be an early starter/performer? With a serious running game, the 2011 season could have been even better.

Texas Dawg

January 12th, 2012
10:43 am

NC Dawg

January 12th, 2012
10:45 am

Thanks, Mark. My concern is the offense. Do you think Bobo can adjust his strategy when needed?

George Stein

January 12th, 2012
10:45 am

It’d be an interesting matchup if LSU was there again and Mr. Mettenberger was quarterbacking the Tigers.

ole richie

January 12th, 2012
10:45 am

We are going to get to see what Will Friend is made of coaching up this young oline. Time to earn your keep

DP

January 12th, 2012
10:46 am

“I’m on record as picking the Bulldogs to go 11-1 in the 2012 regular season and to win the SEC — and not just the SEC East.”

So what? You were on record picking them to beat Michigan State, you were on record picking the Falcons to beat the Giants. And you thought Oklahoma State, which gave up 590 yards to Stanford, was better than Alabama.

Pulpwood Smith

January 12th, 2012
10:46 am

Richt-coached teams don’t typically do well when the expectations are high…..most UGA teams have done well when they were “under the radar”. It remains to be seen whether or not Richt can reverse that trend.

GFF

January 12th, 2012
10:46 am

Sounds good to me…..

Lenny

January 12th, 2012
10:48 am

DawginLex

January 12th, 2012
10:49 am

Why are we worried about losing those 3 offensive linemen?

David Andrews will be an adequate replacement for Jones

Bean anderson, while a DGD, has zero lateral movement. That is why we did not run toss sweeps. We have more athletic kids in 2012.

Cordy Glenn is the biggest loss of the three but we can rotate with our young players until one sticks.

Where we need to be wide open competition wise is at QB and running back.

DC

January 12th, 2012
10:49 am

They still aren’t good enough to beat LSU, Bama, or even possibly ARKY…They should win the East…but big deal…East is horrible…

War Eagle!

Bobo for Attorney General

January 12th, 2012
10:52 am

My concern is the same, Dawgs just aren’t physical enough to reach the upper tier. Our offensive line was manhandled by… Michigan State.

Joe in Woodstock

January 12th, 2012
10:53 am

Mark, is it too early to start sending Richt video of my son. He is 11 years old, 5′ 6″ 170 lbs. Plays right tackle and can snap punts/extra points with one hand. I just figure he could help the Dawgs on the O-line.

Any connections in the athletic department you can share;)

UGA 11

January 12th, 2012
10:53 am

This is going to be the longest off season ever…

Sonny Clusters

January 12th, 2012
10:54 am

Orson Charles said he’d reached all his goals at UGA? How about a degree and completion of his scholarship obligation? We was wondering.

True Dawg Fan

January 12th, 2012
10:54 am

Wow Im proud of you MB. First article in months about UGA that actually has a positive tone it (Minus Bill King). First one to not put UGA on blast for something stupid (MC article on the 2 recruits staying where they were??? That had been over for weeks before he finally got around to writing about it and of course had to make a stupid title about to anger people)

So I say thank you for finally doing what Shultz and Carvell refuse to do! Keep it up and there might actually be some hope for this newpapers after all.

DP

January 12th, 2012
10:55 am

“My point, then as now, was: Nine months from now, who’s going to care about what happened in Tampa on Jan. 2?”

Nobody’s going to care, just like they didn’t care about the Central Florida bowl debacle the previous year. (Actually, many cared quite a bit and still do.)

Gutless play calling, no running game, turnovers? That’s all in the past, it’s preseason again and we’re in the top 10!!!!!!

BankerDawg

January 12th, 2012
10:57 am

I have no problem believing that we “could” win 11 games. What I do have a hard time believing is that we are going to win the SECG. One, we will have no barometer of how good we really are if we do make it to that game. I guess you could make an argument that a dominant performance in our Eastern rival games could indicate that we are better, but how will we really know for sure since most are still rebuilding and losing 1st and 2nd rounders. I’d love to believe it, and hope we do it, but the jurry is still out on how good we really are.

Can we put together an Oline that can pass protect and opne holes? We haven’t done it in 6 years. Can we fix our problems on specials teams? We’ll be starting freshmen at punter and kicker and have not changed our philosophy on letting walk on’s play. Can we teach Aaron Murray that he is not Peyton Manning but rather more like a David Greene – throw the ball away, dont take a sack, dont fumble, and by all means dont hurt your team when you have a lead? We’ll see.

Russ, the Temporary Mascot

January 12th, 2012
10:57 am

Everybody knows Coach Grantham started the rumor he was going to the Falcons. He’s looking for bargaining power. He’ll get more doughnuts and more money because of it. Plus, he can improve his choke sign over the off-season.

True Dawg Fan

January 12th, 2012
10:57 am

Sonny Clusters

January 12th, 2012
10:54 am
Orson Charles said he’d reached all his goals at UGA? How about a degree and completion of his scholarship obligation? We was wondering.

Who cares, as talented as he was he never blocked, and in fact was the worst blocking TE all year. He refuses to chip the ends before his route and on run plays. Hence why we had so much trouble running the ball (Especially MSU game, multiple missed chips that led to the DE in the backfield flattening someone)

We will miss his talents but not at all miss his blocking ability (This will also cost him in the draft as he shouldnt be considered a 1st round TE without any run blocking skills.)

john

January 12th, 2012
10:58 am

As long as Richt and Bobo are there we are doomed. Just as Urban did Saban Miles and Spurrier passed by us.

True Dawg Fan

January 12th, 2012
10:58 am

Russ, the Temporary Mascot

January 12th, 2012
10:57 am
Everybody knows Coach Grantham started the rumor he was going to the Falcons. He’s looking for bargaining power. He’ll get more doughnuts and more money because of it. Plus, he can improve his choke sign over the off-season.

No he didnt. Deal had already been agreed upon. This wont get him any extra bump.

True Dawg Fan

January 12th, 2012
10:58 am

john

January 12th, 2012
10:58 am
As long as Richt and Bobo are there we are doomed. Just as Urban did Saban Miles and Spurrier passed by us.

pick a diff team if you dont like it

@DC

January 12th, 2012
10:58 am

Well, they were good enough to beat Auburn, War Eagle.

True Dawg Fan

January 12th, 2012
10:59 am

Bobo for Attorney General

January 12th, 2012
10:52 am
My concern is the same, Dawgs just aren’t physical enough to reach the upper tier. Our offensive line was manhandled by… Michigan State.

You can thank Charles for a LOT of that

DP

January 12th, 2012
10:59 am

Carvell isn’t a big enough UGA homer? He wrote a blog today describing the 18th rated recruit in Georgia as the “hottest prospect” in the state because UGA is thinking about offering him, he regularly uses the “Dream Team” mantra. 80% of his articles on a blog titled “College Recruiting” are about UGA.

But then again, if Bill King doesn’t qualify as a UGA homer you’re impossible to please.

PMC

January 12th, 2012
11:00 am

WHat if they win 10 games though and get bested by the QB who couldn’t keep it in his pants at Georgia?

True Dawg Fan

January 12th, 2012
11:03 am

DP

January 12th, 2012
10:59 am
Carvell isn’t a big enough UGA homer? He wrote a blog today describing the 18th rated recruit in Georgia as the “hottest prospect” in the state because UGA is thinking about offering him, he regularly uses the “Dream Team” mantra. 80% of his articles on a blog titled “College Recruiting” are about UGA.

But then again, if Bill King doesn’t qualify as a UGA homer you’re impossible to please.

wow, you dont read many articles do you??? Carvell hates UGA. Just check the article I referenced earlier. Carvell is a piece of trash and is a complete moron on recruiting. Always post things that most people have known for weeks.

And the kid is a hott prospect bc everyone and their borther just offered him (He just got his passing scores in, which all teams wait on for recruits that may not make the grades)

DP

January 12th, 2012
11:03 am

Mark Bradley, this column is such a joke on so many levels I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve been duped. Is this your attempt at performance art?

Bacardi Rumbo

January 12th, 2012
11:03 am

No so fast, Mark. With an OL that’s probably going to be not as good as this year’s, the running game is likely to suffer a drop-off. That’s not good seeing as the Dawgs had no running game at the end of this year. That and a QB who makes too many bad decisions does not make for an SEC championship next year. Even if the schedule IS ridiculous.

DawgFan

January 12th, 2012
11:03 am

Mark,
Which game do you predict Georgia loses next season. Below is the schedule with my picks for W or L, and the score, just for fun.

Georgia’s Schedule for 2012
Sept. 1 – Buffalo W 48-14
Sept. 8 – at Missouri W 28-14
Sept. 15 – Florida Atlantic W 56-7
Sept. 22 – Vanderbilt W 24-17
Sept. 29 – Tennessee W 31-17
Oct. 6 – at South Carolina W 35-30
Oct. 13 – Open
Oct. 20 – at Kentucky W 28-10
Oct. 27 – Florida (Jacksonville) W 24-20
Nov. 3 – Ole Miss W 35-17
Nov. 10 – at Auburn W 28-20
Nov. 17 – Georgia Southern W 42-17
Nov. 24 – Georgia Tech W 24-14
Dec. 1 – SEC Championship (No Pick)

I can actually see UGA going undefeated. The schedule shapes up nicely.

True Dawg Fan

January 12th, 2012
11:04 am

@DP if you havent checked lately, most of the top 20 players in GA have already committed so being in the top 20 of roughly 120-150 D1 recruits from GA is pretty dang good (Stop making me defend that clown Carvell!!!)

True Dawg Fan

January 12th, 2012
11:05 am

DawgFan

January 12th, 2012
11:03 am

Wouldnt that be nice!

John

January 12th, 2012
11:05 am

Mark, Bama lost to Florida in a very close game that they were leading in the fourth quarter. I don’t dislike UGA but I feel like this upcoming year will be one of disappointment even though they avoid the three good teams from the west again. It seems like UGA will have a big year when they are not supposed to and then disappoint the following season when everyone is high on them. I think that happens again this year. I think they lose two regular season games, which is not great with their schedule. Aaron Murray is the key, but I am starting to think he is not as good as people thought he would be. He played poorly against LSU and has yet to win a big game or game they were not supposed to in two seasons. Murray and McCarron are close and McCarron may have pulled ahead of him in the BCS game. I think the difference between these two programs is highlighted with these two players. All season, people viewed McCarron as a weakness on Bama’s team and Murray as one of the strengths of UGA. However, when you look at the stats there is not a huge difference. Bama is just so good everywhere that a good SEC QB is the only weakness people could point out. However, at UGA a good SEC QB is considered a star because the rest of the team is just good and not great like Bama. Alabama will not have the drop off that people act like they will. Saban has had too many top 3 recruiting classes in a row and this years may be his best yet, even better than the class that brought Ingram, Julio, Upshaw, Hightower, and Barron in. There is no way UGA wins the SEC over LSU, Bama, or Arkansas. They will, and should, win the east though.

george

January 12th, 2012
11:06 am

Mark, who do you have them losing to. MIzz? USC? AU? UF? I dont disagree that UGA will win the east but that is ONLY becasue of the easiest schedule in the sec for the second straight year. But to even suggest the dawgs can even compete with the top tier west teams is beyond absurd. LSU is returning more starters than UGA, Bama is losing quite a few on D but will still be loaded. Not to mention UGA has proven for the last 5 plus years that they can simply not win the big games. I ask again; when was the last great win UGA had?

DawgFan

January 12th, 2012
11:06 am

Like I say, True Dawg Fan, it’s all in good fun. I would like to know who Mark thinks will be the Dawgs sole loss in 2012, though.

Shug

January 12th, 2012
11:07 am

I don’t understand the love for UGA. It hasn’t demonstrated that it can beat a Top 20 team, let alone a Top 10 one. I understand that in college football every season stands on its own, but in its 2011 losses Georgia showed that it hasn’t remedied any of the problems its had for the past 3 years–soft play, lack of focus, shoddy gamesmanship, etc.

Go Dogs, but I’m skeptical.

GTBob

January 12th, 2012
11:07 am

UGA has the easiest schedule next year that any SEC team has ever had. The only competitive game they have will be the SEC championship. That being said, I still expect them to choke a few away. They always do.

Ray Goof's Hat

January 12th, 2012
11:07 am

The Outback Bowl matters because it confirms UGA’s propensity under CMR to underperform and lose games that they should win. Championship teams have a killer instinct that CMR’s teams always seem to lack. I don’t see that changing. UGA will win the East by default, but it will choke away a game or two along the way that will keep them from having a championship season.

John

January 12th, 2012
11:08 am

Also, the real key to winning in the SEC is o-line. UGA’s was not great this year and loses some of their best.

BankerDawg

January 12th, 2012
11:08 am

DawginLex:

Are you that confident that we “got it right” this time with the Oline? Mna, I hope your right but history tends to lead me to a different conclusion. The fact is, this has not been a priority in recruiting and it’s shown on the field every year. It doesn’t matter who is our tailback if the Oline doesnt block or open holes. As far as QB, I’m with you. Murray needs to mature a whole bunch this off season and if there is any indication that he hasn’t, give Mason or Lemay a shot.

sogadog

January 12th, 2012
11:08 am

Dangit, dont jinx us!

There are still a lot of issues on offense such as rebuilding the O line, no running game, no stand out consistent running backs, and lackluster play calling. Special teams are shaky too.

True Dawg Fan

January 12th, 2012
11:08 am

Murray and McCarron are close and McCarron may have pulled ahead of him in the BCS game.

Thats the biggest joke I have ever heard. McCaron is awful, one good game doesnt make up for a season of crappy play. He didnt even play QB very well in that game. They were only taking a 3 step drop and getting rid of it. thats how they do it there, its a retard proof QB system since they havent had a great one in a while (Why else do you think John Parker Wilson had ANY success???)

DP

January 12th, 2012
11:11 am

Georgia loses to LSU by 32. In its next game, LSU is shut out by Alabama 21-0.

Conclusion?

Georgia should be encouraged, LSU is beatable!!!!!!

Bacardi Rumbo

January 12th, 2012
11:11 am

Testing, one two.

David Granger

January 12th, 2012
11:11 am

I’m optimistic about next season, too, Mark…but let’s just let it go at that, OK? Dawg fans don’t seem to handle it real well when we’re heavily favored to have a great team. We start actually believing that pre-season predictions actually MEAN something. (Some even start running their mouths and talking smack…end up sounding about like that FSU/Miami scum.)
We’re much better off just letting things develop on their own…support the team, but don’t start making wild-eyed predictions. I’d much rather see us enter the season ranked around 15th than in the top 10. We usually end up playing better, and having a better year.
Glad we’ve got some good players coming back, especially some leaders on the defensive side.