The Georgia football team has suffered through the opening portion of its schedule en route to a disappointing 1-3 record.
The Bulldogs started off with a decisive victory over the Ragin' Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette, but then conference play started, and three straight SEC foes proved they were too much for Georgia to handle.
First came the loss to South Carolina, then the heartbreaking defeat at the hands of Ryan Mallett and the Arkansas Razorbacks, and then the disgusting performance against Mississippi State.
But keep your heads held up at least a little bit, Georgia fans. Two things have been missing so far this season. The first is wins; the second is A.J. Green.
Luckily for the Bulldogs, the return of Green will solve the problem of the missing wins.
The Greatness of Green
In his freshman year, way back in 2008, A.J. Green started off with a bang. It only took him four games to earn the SEC Player of the Week Award, when he had eight catches for 159 yards and a touchdown against Arizona State.
He finished the season with 56 catches, 963 yards, eight touchdowns, and a spot on the Associated Press All-SEC First Team.
His sophomore year saw Green continue his success. He caught 47 balls for 751 yards and six touchdowns despite sitting out the last three games of the regular season with an injury.
This season, however, has not gone according to plan for the standout wide receiver.
Green was suspended for the first four games of the year for selling a game-worn jersey, and his presence was missed greatly. Going into the season, he was considered a dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate and was high up on virtually every NFL team's draft board.
The latter hasn't changed, but his Heisman hopes, along with his team's success, faded into oblivion when he was suspended.
The Impact of His Return
Green will finally return this week to take on Colorado in an important non-conference game. While one player can't turn around the fortunes of an entire team, Green will have a gigantic impact on the success of the Bulldogs offense.
First is the obvious. With A.J. Green on the field, freshman quarterback Aaron Murray will finally have a stud wideout to throw the ball to whenever necessary. This is not meant to insult Kris Durham, who has performed admirably in Green's absence, but no receiver on the Georgia squad has the ability to catch footballs like Green does.
Secondly, Green's presence will free up the other wide receivers. Durham, Tavarres King, Orson Charles, and other Georgia receivers are quite talented, but they faced heavier coverage during Green's absence.
Now that he's back, defenses will have to focus on No. 8. In doing so, they'll free up the other receivers a little bit more.
Finally, the ability to have a dynamic passing offense is going to open up the ground attack. Opposing defenses will no longer have the ability to move that extra man into the box to stop the run. Instead, that defender will have to worry about the new addition to the Georgia passing attack.
Make Sure to Temper Expectations
A.J. Green might be an incredible receiver, one of the most talented in the entire country, but he is just one player. He can have an enormous impact on the success of the offense, but he can't fix everything.
The offensive line still needs to improve, both to give Murray more time and to give the running backs bigger holes to run through.
Murray still needs to gain confidence and experience, but he's shown enormous potential so far. Success will come with time.
Most importantly, the defense needs to improve greatly. The 3-4 scheme is still a work in progress, but in the meantime, Georgia players need to learn to stay disciplined in coverage and make fundamental tackles.
Mike Bobo, whose job as offensive coordinator may be on the line if the wishes of students and fans alike are heard, realizes that Green can't solve the entire problem. After the most recent loss, Bobo said, "I think he'll give us a confidence boost offensively, but we've got to fix a lot of things. It's not just A.J. Green missing that's why we're 0-3."
Bobo is right. The fact that Green wasn't on the field isn't the only reason for the 0-3 start. But the addition of No. 8 is definitely going to help the offense put up some points in their upcoming games.