Guilty as charged, I look at the world through Gold tinted glasses.
The University of Georgia is a villain, a proverbial Ernst Blofeld to my adored James Bond. But with that said, many times we can learn more about ourselves by studying our enemy. I sincerely try to be objective.
The 2010 Bulldogs are an enigma. A team incapable of truly being accurately forecasted. Why?
UGA’s head coach Mark Richt is a good coach. The problem for most Dawg fans, Mark Richt was on path to be an All-Time Great Coach. For several seasons Mark Richt could do no wrong. Two SEC Championships in his first four years, annual top 10 recruiting rankings, and three BCS game appearances set expectations and hopes for a program affixed in the top tier of college football teams.
Yet, somehow, somewhere, for some reason the perceived rise to the top has stalled for Georgia. After their preseason No. 1 ranking in 2008 the program has been mired in disappointment. Despite a compilation of some of the most prolific talent in the nation, the Bulldogs failed to take the program to the place most onlookers expected it to go.
Fallout from such disappointment turned the burner on under Mark Richt’s seat. After last season’s 8-5 record Mark Richt was effectively forced to fire long time staff member and friend Willie Martinez from the Defensive Coordinators role. The search and subsequent hiring of Todd Grantham (linebackers Coach from the Dallas Cowboys) was held on the public stage and despite what many Georgia fans may think, the perception was they were turned down three times before overpaying their last resort in Grantham.
The good news for UGA fans is that they had the cash to pay whatever was required, and what was needed was a change. Grantham brings in the 3-4 defense, a big change from the base 4-3 that UGA has fielded forever. Grantham has little college experience, but his close ties to Nick Saban and Frank Beamer should provide an expert resource when friendly questions are in need of an answer.
My guess is that the Bulldog defense will be better at times, but also, much like playing a freshman in an important position, it at times will show its inexperience too. How well Grantham can communicate and coach up his young players will be one of the biggest and most speculated points of the remaining offseason.
Speaking of Freshman, the reigns to Georgia’s offense will rest completely in the hands of the highly touted young Aaron Murray. Last season Murray redshirted with fellow QB talent Zach Mettenberger who was recently kicked off the team for off-field indiscretions.
The other roster QB this spring, was redshirt Junior Logan Gray, who has recently decided not to transfer, but will play WR for the bulldogs as well as being a backup QB still leaving Georgia razor thin depth at the most important position on the field.
2010 recruit and true freshman Hutson Mason will presumably back up Murry this season, a situation every Dawg fan is praying will not come into play.
Despite the lack of experience at the QB position, the Bulldogs return the remaining 10 offensive starters, including an upperclassmen laden offensive line. Talent at the skill positions is not lacking either. Washaun Ealey and Caleb King bring talent, speed, and skill into the backfield and will be leaned on heavily to keep the Dawgs in games this season.
All SEC and future NFL star WR A.J. Green will also be on the field for the 2010 Red and Black. Add other weapons WR Tavarres King, WR Marlon Brown, and TE Orson Charles and the Dawgs appeared stacked with scoring potential. The biggest question regarding throws down the field circles back to who will get them the ball?
Again, trying to be objective, I believe the one question that has to be asked by all UGA fans is: How did this QB situation happen?
On paper the 2010 Bulldogs should be the favored team in the SEC East with Florida losing so much talent to the NFL, but that is hardly the case. In fact, most college football fans see UF and Alabama as running away from the rest of the SEC. UGA used to be a team mentioned in that same breath, but no longer seems to be whispered among the conference elite.
Coach Richt has some serious coaching to do in the remaining four months of offseason. His seat is still warm from 2008 and 2009, and should this season have disastrous results from the lack of foresight regarding the QB position, it might be set ablaze.
UGA’s 2010 season will be interesting to watch from an outsider’s perspective. They have an opportunity to rise above distraction and adversity and take the open seat at the top of the SEC East, but they’ll have to walk a thin tightrope to do it.
One small misstep or accident and the UGA fans might find themselves watching bowl games without a team to root for.