Georgia Football: Bulldogs' Strengths and Weaknesses Heading into Fall Practice
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Believe it or not, the college football season starts in less than two months.
This means nearly all the teams across the country will start fall practice at the end of July, including the Georgia Bulldogs.
At the conclusion of spring practice, the Bulldogs got numerous things accomplished and looked strong in key positions. However, they also left spring practice with some questions that will need to be addressed when fall practice begins.
Here are the Bulldogs' strengths and weaknesses heading into fall practice.
The biggest strength for the Bulldogs has to be the return of Aaron Murray, who is entering his final season with the team.
Murray had a very strong 2012 season but knows he has a lot to prove this year in order to solidify his legacy.
He was solid during spring practice and shows no signs of slowing down in the fall. In order for the Bulldogs to have a great (not good) season, Murray has to put up even better numbers than he did in 2012.
And with the talent he has coming back on offense, that should not be an issue.
Speaking of talent, Murray will have a slew of talented receivers to throw to this season.
Malcolm Mitchell and Michael Bennett will be the go-to guys, but the backups can also get the job done.
Chris Conley will be the No. 3 receiver, and he’s coming off a year where he was second on the team in receiving touchdowns (six).
Rhett McGowan is a solid possession receiver, and Justin Scott-Wesley showed glimpses of what he is capable of with three big receptions in the Capital One Bowl last season.
And let’s not forget about tight ends Jay Rome and Arthur Lynch, who can block and be a security blanket for Murray on third down.
Strength: Offensive Line Depth
Murray can’t get the job done if the offensive line is not stable across the board.
The good thing about the Bulldogs' offensive line is all five starters and the three backups return from last season.
The one thing to watch, though, is there may be some minor changes as John Theus could play left tackle instead of right.
If that happens, Kenarious Gates could start at right tackle or play one of the guard positions if Chris Burnette and Dallas Lee get hurt.
Xzavier Ward was listed as the starter at right tackle at the end of spring practice and will have a chance to hold on to the spot when fall practice begins. He did a lot of good things in the spring and has come a long way since joining the Bulldogs a year ago.
Guards Burnette, Lee and Center David Andrews anchor the line, and they were a huge reason Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley thrived last season. Those three, along with the rest of the offensive linemen, are also a reason the offense has a chance to be the best in the country this season.
The biggest weakness for the Bulldogs would be the depth and experience in the secondary.
Damian Swann is the only returning starter, and it’s a good thing he’s. After a strong sophomore season, he is on the Jim Thorpe Award watch list.
Swann will have to make sure that Tray Matthews, Josh Harvey-Clemons and Sheldon Dawson are all on the right page this season. The talent is there, but they are going to be attacked by opposing quarterbacks all season long.
There will be some growing pains with the unit. But if Swann can play better than he did last season, and Matthews along with Harvey-Clemons emerge as the players they are expected to be, then the secondary will be a strong unit by season’s end.
Weakness: Running Back Depth
Another big weakness for the Bulldogs is the depth at running back.
It’s understood that Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall are a great one-two punch, but after those two, there is little to zero experience.
True freshman J.J. Green took snaps at running back this spring and played well. Another true freshman, A.J. Turman, is also expected to contribute right away, and Brandon Harton has seen limited action the last few years.
The loss of Ken Malcome was a blow to the unit, but as long as Gurley and Marshall don’t suffer any major injuries, running back depth won’t be a huge issue.
Weakness: Defensive Line Depth
Like the secondary, the defensive line has its own issues with depth thanks to the loss of John Jenkins, Kwame Geathers, Abry Jones and Cornelius Washington.
Defensive end Garrison Smith is the only returning starter for the D-Line and will look to build on a strong 2012 season. Nose tackle Mike Thornton and DE Sterling Bailey are the other projected starters on defensive line, but what assistant coach Chris Wilson wants to do is maintain a steady rotation. That means Ray Drew, Chris Mayes and Jonathan Taylor will see a ton of action this season.
Again, talent is not an issue with the unit. It’s experience, and they will have come together quickly if the Bulldogs want to repeat as SEC East champions.