2010 Georgia Bulldogs Football: Five Players That Must Perform
For a team like the Georgia Bulldogs that is almost always stacked with talent, a season can often come down to the play of just a handful of its players.
As far as the Bulldogs are concerned, players like wide receiver A.J. Green, punter Drew Butler, or defensive end Justin Houston are expected to do well. Without them, the season would be lost.
There are a number of additional players that may not always be lumped in with the Greens or the Houstons, but that are, nonetheless, critical to the team's success.
Here are five players that must perform well for Georgia to be successful in its 2010 campaign.
Caleb King may not end up being the starter for the Bulldogs, but he will be expected to perform as on half of a dangerous running back combination.
The other half, Washaun Ealey, was the most effective back a season ago and could end up being the horse of the backfield.
That being said, King came into his own as the season came to a close a year ago and will be expected not just to come in and spell Ealey this year but also make plays on a regular basis.
King averaged just over five yards per carry and scored seven touchdowns on the ground in his sophomore campaign, but must do more than that for Georgia to be successful in 2010.
The Bulldogs return 10 starters on offense but will be lead by a green quarterback in Aaron Murray. It will be important for the duo of King and Ealey to make a lot of plays on the ground to keep the pressure off of Murray.
Which leads us to the next player who needs to perform in 2010...
Aaron Murray could not be stepping into a better situation as he begins his stint as the Georgia quarterback.
He has 10 offensive starters returning around him and will throw to the best wide receiver in the nation. He will play behind one of the best offensive lines in the country and will have limitless weapons at his disposal.
Running backs Ealey and King, tight ends Aron White and the athletic Orson Charles.
Each of these should play a major role in helping Murray in his transition.
But Murray still has to make the plays.
And by make the plays, I don't mean throw 30 touchdown passes. I especially don't expect him to be improvising and connecting on deep plays down the field on a regular basis.
Making the plays, for Murray, means driving the bus. Let King and Ealey do most of the work, and complete the throws that he needs to make. Make a big play here and there when called upon, but for the most part just don't screw up.
The Georgia offense has the potential to be very successful in 2010. It all hinges on whether Murray can adjust or not.
The most important thing for Murray to remember is that he just has to limit his mistakes and the Bulldogs should see success on offense.
Although the Bulldogs have arguably the best wide receiver in the country in A.J. Green, the rest of the position is largely a question mark.
Wide receiver is possibly the thinnest of the offensive positions for the Bulldogs, so it will be important for those directly behind Green on the depth chart to perform.
That begins with Tavarres King.
In the past, King has shows his ability at the position. He put up 109 yards receiving against the Kentucky Wildcats and went downfield for a 50-yard score against Arkansas.
It is clear that he has the ability, but the full performance has not yet been achieved.
He will be helped along by senior wide receiver Kris Durham, assuming Durham can stay healthy, but in the end it will be King who must step up and take pressure off of Green at the position.
If King can become a legitimate No. 2 at the position and draw some coverage away from Green, Murray will have a much easier time of finding open receivers. This will be huge in determining the Bulldogs success on offense.
Branden Smith is quite possibly the most athletic player the Bulldogs have on their entire team.
While he is primarily a corner back, Smith has also been featured in offensive packages like the one that allowed him to run 61 yards for a touchdown against South Carolina in 2009.
While it is nice to have an athletic weapon of that caliber on offense, his most important role will come in the Georgia secondary—a unit that has struggled mightily over the past two seasons.
The Bulldogs will depend on Smith to be a shut-down corner opposite Brandon Boykin. How Smith performs in this role will go a long way to determining Georgia's success on defense as well as the value of Smith as a whole.
If those two corners, Boykin and Smith, can perform at a high level, it will make the transition into Grantham's 3-4 defense that much smoother. It could mean that Georgia will see immediate results and even have a shot at playing for an SEC title.
Yeah, it's that important...
Trinton Sturdivant is the lone person on this list we know can perform at a maximum level. We've seen it before.
The main question surrounding Sturdivant is whether he can stay healthy.
The Georgia offensive line will be successful with or without Sturdivant anchoring the left side. But it won't be as successful as it could be.
If healthy—and I mean 100 percent healthy—Sturdivant could be one of the best players at his position in the conference or even the country.
With a player like that protecting the quarterback's blind side, the potential of the offensive line—and, by extension, the quarterback—goes through the roof.
With a healthy Sturdivant, there will be much less movement along the line as far as changing positions. It won't be like the last couple of seasons.
The Bulldogs have great potential to be a successful team in 2010 and each of these players will play a significant role. If they can perform at the level that is expected of them, then there is the chance the Bulldogs could be a dark horse for the SEC championship—or more.