The 2009 edition of the Georgia Bulldogs football team are almost unrecognizable from that group that started last season. The hope to finish better than that squad did in 2008.
While being preranked No. 1 in 2008 proved to be too much to handle for Georgia, a team not used to being in the national limelight, the lack of high expectations in 2009 should assist the Bulldogs.
Georgia's reputation for being one of the nation's best road teams will be put to the test right away with a critical game against a great, highly ranked Oklahoma State. In addition to the OSU Cowboys, the Bulldogs face Arizona State and will play at Georgia Tech.
Their mid-season stretch against LSU, at Tennessee, and at Vanderbilt will be challenging, but there is a week off before the annual battle against Florida. Getting Auburn and Kentucky at home, a cupcake against Tennessee Tech, will make for a relatively easy November before the regular season final contest against the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta.
On offense Joe Cox, taking over the starting quarterback chores, is a talented, replacement who will fit nicely into the position. At running back, Caleb King, Carlton Thomas, and Richard Samuel will be competing for carries, and this group will be more than capable behind a more experienced offensive line.
A.J. Green is an elite wide receiver but will the other wide receivers and tight end also perform well? Will the defense be good enough to allow the offense enough opportunities to outscore the opponent?
On defense, with Jeff Owens back after missing almost all of last season, and with Geno Atkins choosing to return for his senior year, the Georgia Bulldogs are very talented on the inside. Add 320-pound veteran Kade Weston, who is healing after playing banged up last year and emerging star DeAngelo Tyson, and Georgia will be superb on the defensive line.
Junior linebacker Rennie Curren collected 115 total tackles 3 sacks in 2008. The defensive backs look to be a source of team strength this season, returning a number of talented contributors.
Reshard Jones is a talented, reliable safety. Prince Miller is a steady cornerback. Georgia’s defense will need to remain healthy in order to play consistently better in 2009 than they did in 2008.
Special teams may be a concern this season. There are no standout players among the special teams units. The kicker and punter will both be somewhat unproven and the return game figures to be routine at best.
The field goal kicker and special teams play in particular may end up being the difference of Georgia finishing with a 9-3 or 10-2 record, as opposed to 11-1 or 12-0, in the regular season. Good field position should never be underestimated or taken for granted.
The fact that Georgia will not play Alabama or Ole Miss during the regular season is a positive. Like the 2005 team featuring quarterback D.J. Shockley, there is the possibility, if not potential, that this year’s squad will exceed expectations by a wide range.
However, the highly talented Florida Gators with quarterback, Tim Tebow, will secure the SEC East, the SEC Championship, and probably the BCS National Championship, as the Bulldogs continue to perform as a second tier NCAA football team.
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