After taking Georgia from a middle-of-the-pack SEC school to the top of college football's pantheon, Mark Richt is slowly seeing everything he built seemingly crumble around him.
After losing just 22 games from 2001 to 2008, Georgia has lost 12 games the past two seasons. These losses have come from costly turnovers, bouts of an inability to tackle and just being out-coached.
Following the first losing season during his tenure in Athens, Richt is going to be letting everything loose this season in an effort to keep his job safe.
While most fans and analysts will be waiting for the incoming class of players to make the impact everyone is expecting, I am going to take a look at five guys that some consider disappointments, with the reasons why ranging from a lack of production to getting injured or too high of expectations. These guys are going to be very important in 2011 if Georgia is to turn things around.
After showing electric talent as a freshman, Smith battled injuries in his sophomore year.
Smith is an all-around talent that has played in every facet of the game, even having scored two touchdowns as a running back despite being listed as a corner. His speed and change-of-direction ability is something that can be utilized in many different ways.
In his first two years in Athens, Smith has racked up 26 tackles, two interceptions, two rushing touchdowns and a career return average of 13.6 yards (both punt and kickoff returns).
If Smith can stay healthy, he has the talent to be a top corner in the conference. Smith's playmaking ability is something that is going to be needed as a punt returner and in the off chance of him playing offense. Playing more defense also gives the possibility of a turnover turning into a touchdown.
Smith is battling to be a starting cornerback opposite Brandon Boykin.
Brown has rather unfairly been considered a bust since signing with Georgia in 2009 as one of the best wide receiver recruits in the nation.
Stuck behind guys like A.J. Green, Kris Durham and Tavarres King, Brown has picked up just 13 catches for 148 yards and a touchdown in his first two years in Athens.
Now that Green and Durham are no longer in front of him, Brown will be given a golden chance to make good on the promises that he came to Athens with.
Brown possesses good size (6'5", 219 pounds), speed and hands. If he can continue to work on consistent route-running and become more comfortable with Aaron Murray, there is a great chance that he will become a top wideout in the conference.
At 6'2", 290 pounds, not many people would call Tyson undersized in any sense of the word. Unfortunately, that's exactly what he was as a nose guard last year in Georgia's 3-4 defense.
Things are looking up for Tyson this year, though, as he can now be used all over the line with the pickup of junior college recruit Johnathan Jenkins, who will likely play the nose guard position this year.
if Tyson can make a statement and stick at one of the defensive end spots, then Georgia's linebackers should be able to move around the field freely.
Tyson racked up 36 tackles, four of those for a loss, 1.5 sacks and seven quarterback hurries. The biggest problem was just being moved around by double-teams on run plays. Georgia fans are hoping Jenkins, at 6'4", 350 pounds, will able to take on the double-teams and possibly another lineman, which will allow Tyson to make more plays while rushing the quarterback.
Rambo was outstanding as a freshman and set the bar high for his first season as a starter in 2010, but because of the high expectations he seems to have let some fans down.
Rambo had his moments where he looked like the star people predicted, but he also had times of missing tackles or making some bad reads on passes.
Rambo still has a safety spot seemingly locked up, and I expect his overall game to improve. Rambo's total 2010 numbers weren't bad, as he ended up with 82 tackles, five for a loss, three interceptions and three forced fumbles.
I can see an All-SEC selection ahead for Rambo in 2011 if he improves like I think he will. Rambo has the athleticism and swagger about him to make that move to the top of the SEC safety list.
I might even go as far as to say that he may be the most important defensive player on the team for 2011.
Not many running backs come into Georgia and lead the team in rushing as true freshmen and sophomores. It's even less likely that a guy does that and is still considered a disappointment, but some fans have pegged that on Ealey.
Ealey has had two very good years despite splitting carries throughout them, rushing for 1,528 yards on 282 attempts (5.4 yards per carry) with 14 touchdowns.
Ealey has had some extremely high moments in his career and then some moments on the opposite end of the spectrum.
The highs for Ealey include a 183-yard performance against Georgia Tech as a freshman and a 157-yard performance with a school-record five rushing touchdowns against Kentucky last year.
The lows include two tough fumbles against South Carolina (had it stripped from him) and Mississippi State (took blows on both sides of the helmet lunging for the end zone) that many have claimed lost the Bulldogs those two games.
When you look at the total on the field package, Ealey has averaged 13.4 carries, 72.8 yards and 0.67 touchdowns per game. His 811-yard, 11-touchdown sophomore year may be surpassed, as he is expected to split carries with incoming freshman Isaiah Crowell.
Richt had this to say about Ealey thus far in spring camp: "He gave great effort, probably as good as anyone."
Richt and Ealey are now on good terms after some problems earlier this year, and I can still see bright things in Ealey's future.