Georgia Bulldogs: Predictions for 2009

Matthew BurnsAnalyst IJanuary 9, 2009

So here's my prediction for the Georgia Bulldogs next year.

Thanks to 24/7 for all their accomplishments and fine play over the past few years. We'll miss the devastating cuts, spin-moves and 75-yard outs.

In all honesty though, and I hope I'm not wrong on this, but I think the 2009 version of college football in Athens will be a return to football the way we like it.

Joe Cox, Logan Gray, Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenberger, all return. Whoever lines up under center will not be Matthew Stafford. We all know that. Will he make mistakes? Yes. Did Stafford inexplicably decide to throw a touchdown for the Jackets a few weeks ago? Yes. We will be OK. Our QB situation is far from the nightmare many Georgia fans are envisioning.

RB: Caleb King, Dick Samuel (although I'm not convinced he shouldn't line up next to Rennie), DJax, Carlton Thomas, etc. These guys aren't Knowshon Moreno, but like I said about Stafford, who is? However, we do have a bunch of guys who can get the job done and an offensive line that won't make monumental mistakes. Hell, our offensive line may be one of the best in the SEC (if not the nation) next year because of our surprisingly youthful depth.

Getting Searels back will make this team one to be reckoned with. In the game of football, controlling the line of scrimmage can make a mediocre football team into a very, very good football team. We will dominate the line of scrimmage on the offensive side of the ball like a hard-nosed football team should.

On the defensive line, the possibility of Geno Atkins and Jeff Owens taking a play off to let someone better than them get some reps is not that far fetched. Unlike 2008, we will not have a porous run defense. Geno, JO, Kade and co. are simply too good.

Our linebackers and secondary need to step up. They will probably be better than 2008 if we find some semblance of a pass rush, but I would love to see more physical man-coverage and more fundamental tackling. If we tackle the way a Division I football player should tackle, we will see PPG and YPG stats back in the top 20 in the nation.

Special teams scares me. Walsh has a powerful leg on field goals but is somewhat inconsistent. Do we lack confidence in our athletes to the point that we cannot tell walsh to boom it down the middle on kickoffs. I promise our guys can tackle the opposing return man before the 40-yard-line. We kicked the ball out of bounds and gave the other team 40-yards of field position what seemed like a dozen times this year. Our punt return is non existent because we are forced to fair catch nearly every punt. Even when we are not in punt block formation, there seems to be little, to no effort in blocking.

We have an off-season fix our weaknesses and improve our strengths. We have an off-season for our players to stay out of trouble. We have an off-season to mold a new recruiting class into the future of the red and black.

Most importantly, I believe, we have an off-season out of the spotlight. We are not preseason number one and we are not home to current Heisman hopefuls. This team will have to get it done with defense, special teams and offensive execution.

I predict we will. Is it September yet?