Georgia Bulldogs Football 2008 Midseason Report
Let's be honest, nobody expected Georgia to win all of its games this season. Even with its No. 1 ranking, many were not hesitant to throw the red flag.
Georgia won its first two contests, 45-21 and 56-17, only to drop to the No. 2 slot. A 14-7 "bloodbath" in Columbia really had some people worrying, as Georgia dropped again to No. 3. Even a decisive victory in the desert against Arizona State couldn't get Georgia back to the throne. But, out of all of the teams on the SEC slate, I don't think anyone saw Georgia slipping this early in the year.
The 41-30 loss to Alabama definitely hurt. Despite a solid second half from the Dawgs, in which they outscored the Tide, 30-10, there isn't a soul in the world that wont be reminded of this game in the future and think of the first-half score, 31-0. For any SEC team, falling behind by a 31-0 score is unacceptable.
Georgia did not look like the No. 3 team in the country last weekend; the Bulldogs didn't even look like a top 25 team. But, the Dawgs played extremely well in the first four games, and an SEC East title hasn't become a faint possibility yet.
Before any Georgia player, or fan panics, remember the Dawgs started the season with a 16-12 loss to South Carolina and a 35-14 loss to Tennessee last year. Remember when they fell behind to the Vols, 35-0? Georgia rebounded to play some of the best football we have seen from it in years, and finished the season ranked second.
The difference being, when they fell behind by 35, they apparently lacked "heart." Georgia showed the heart against Alabama, despite the loss. You could see it in the players' faces.
As Prince Miller fielded a punt, and began darting down the sideline, you saw it. Every player on the UGA sideline was jumping up and down and waving their towels like I have never seen before! This team has the will to win, and should have a fantastic second half of the year.
The schedule is tough, but Georgia knows it controls its own destiny. If Georgia can finish the season with an 11-1 record and win the SEC title game, you will see it in Miami come January. Here's a quick diagnosis of each aspect of the team:
Matthew Stafford has been everything we expected him to be. He has completed 59.7 percent of his passes for 1,193 yards. An even more impressive stat is seven touchdowns to one interception. This team definitely likes to throw the ball more than last year, and Stafford has been as solid as can be.
Knowshon Moreno is actually on track to fall short of his rushing total from last year. His production, however, is nowhere near down. Moreno is averaging 6.3 yards a carry, and has found the pay dirt 10 times! A more spread-out and pass-happy offense, coupled with having Caleb King and Richard Samuel on his heels, has definitely dropped the load off No. 24.
A much-improved and impressive area! A.J. Green has emerged into one of the top receivers in the country. Yeah, we all saw his costly fumble in the infamous "Blackout," but Green has wowed everyone in the country. He's notched 22 grabs for 388 yards and three touchdowns.
Mohamed Massaquoi has been a consistent target as always, with 18 grabs and 228 yards, along with two scores. And how about Michael Moore, who has emerged as a bigtime slot receiver? He has really impressed in making players over the middle.
The biggest note on receiving, though, is the lack of playing time for guys like Kenneth Harris, Walter Hill, and Tavares King—all three due to injuries.
We havnt seen much from the tight ends, either, and that area has taken some injuries to the belt, as well. Offensive lineman-turned-tight end Kiante Tripp will be wearing No. 83 vs. Tennessee on the Oct. 11.
It's a shame to see the chemistry really took a step back here from a year ago, but the silver lining here is the Dawgs were developing a new lineup up front last year, too. We can only hope they get the same results, and improvements, that they got in 2007, and hopefully that turns into a more balanced offense.
They definitely miss Trinton Sturdivant. This line is big and talented, though, and we can expect them to be great in the next few years.
Man, do the Dawgs miss Marcus Howard! Injuries to Jeff Owens and Roderick Battle have definitely hampered the pass rush, as well.
Geno Atkins, as preseason All-SEC candidate, has definitely struggled to push the front without Owens next to him. We only heard great things about Jarius Wynn, a senior, this offseason. However, Wynn has struggled at the end.
The bottom line is this defensive line is struggling, and it is making it difficult for the secondary. Georgia can get pressure with the great linebackers, but a solid pass rush from the front four would be great!
Awesome area here. Rennie Curran is emerging as one of the best linebackers in the country, and seems to make every tackle. Especially in the 'Bama game. He plays with a ton of heart and intensity.
Dannell Ellerbe, a preseason All-SEC pick, has been quiet. Ellerbe was injured early in the contest vs. Alabama, and could miss time. Akeem Dent and Darryl Gamble have been solid, as well. Overall, a strong area for the Dawgs.
A lot of struggles in the secondary from Georgia this year. Asher Allen has shown he's a sure tackler, and I'm guessing a solid cover corner, considering not many balls have been thrown his way.
Bryan Evans, the other corner, has gotten beat countless times on the other side. Reshad Jones has been solid at safety, and C.J. Bryd has been relatively quiet. However, the lack of pass rush has forced Georgia's secondary to play very conservatively.
I honestly blame this secondary play on the pass rush. It's hard to cover a guy for five seconds or more!
I dont think freshman Blair Walsh is a question for Georgia anymore. Hes a talent. Georgia is getting a lot of yards on punt returns, as well.
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