Good news, Georgia fans! After seven games of the 2011 season, the Bulldogs are better. Currently 5-2, they are only one game away from the win total for all of 2010, and there are five games remaining.
A quick review of SEC team statistics clearly supports the sense of improvement that Georgia fans were already feeling. In every major defensive measure of defensive prowess except scoring defense, where they are ranked sixth in the SEC and 26th nationally, the Dawgs rank in the top four in the conference. That's refreshing compared to the Dawg defenses of the last few years.
On offense, the Bulldogs rank in the top five in the conference in every significant statistic except rushing offense where they rank seventh.
As Georgia enters into its bye week, with two weeks to rest their bodies and minds and to recover from minor injuries, this signs of progress from last season, the Bulldogs' first losing season since 1996, to a little past the midpoint of this one has be encouraging, and results that demonstrate that their hard work and the program's renewal of its commitment to excellence are paying dividends quickly.
However, if the program's goal is to return to relevance in the conference and, beyond that, to actually bounce back from that dismal season to have a chance to win the SEC East division title, then further examination of the stats reveal some clear areas where the Bulldogs need to use the current two week period before they play again not only to prepare for meeting and beating Florida in Jacksonville, but also to tweak some areas of under-performance that can help them accomplish those goals.
Two clear areas of needed improvement stand out: special teams and offensive efficiency and consistency.
Let's take a look at seven areas where some midseason growth could yield returns in the closing weeks of the current campaign.