2010 Record: (6-7, 3-5 in SEC)
Head Coach: Mark Richt (96-34 All-Time, 53-27 in SEC games)
Last Bowl Game: 2010 Liberty Bowl (lost to UCF 10-6)
9/3: Boise State
9/10: South Carolina (2010 result: lost 17-6)
9/17: Coastal Carolina
9/24: at Ole Miss
10/1: Mississippi State (2010 result: lost 24-12)
10/8: at Tennessee (2010 result: won 41-14)
10/15: at Vanderbilt (2010 result: won 43-0)
10/29: Florida (2010 result: lost 34-31 OT)
11/5: New Mexico State
11/12: Auburn (2010 result: lost 49-31)
11/19: Kentucky (2010 result: won 44-31)
11/26: at Georgia Tech (2010 result: won 42-34)
2010 Offensive Statistics:
Scoring: 32.1 ppg (4th in SEC, 30th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 142.62 yds/game (10th in SEC, 73rd in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 242.4 yds/game (5th in SEC, 40th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 385.0 yds/game (8th in SEC, 56th in Nation)
2010 Defensive Statistics:
Scoring: 22.1 ppg (5th in SEC, 36th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 148.23 yds/game (7th in SEC, 56th in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 180.3 yds/game (5th in SEC, 16th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 328.5 yds/game (4th in SEC, 23rd in Nation)
2010 Misc Stats:
Turnover Margin: +0.77 per game (2nd in SEC, 19th in Nation)
Penalties: 41.9 yds/game (3rd in SEC, 22nd in Nation)
Top Returning Statistical Leaders:
Passing: QB Aaron Murray, Soph (209 of 342 for 3049 yds, 24 TD, 8 INT)
Rushing: RB Carlton Thomas, Jr (64 for 272 yds, 2 TD)
Receiving: WR Tavarres King, Jr (27 rec for 504 yds, 18.6 ypc, 3 TD)
Tackles: S Bacarri Rambo, Jr (82)
Sacks: LB Christian Robinson (2)
Interceptions: CB Sanders Commings, Jr; S Bacarri Rambo, Jr; CB Brandon Boykin, Sr (3)
Athlon Sports: Capital One Bowl (vs Nebraska)
Phil Steele: Capital One Bowl (vs Ohio State)
Mark Richt comes into his 11th season having won over 70% of his games as the Head Coach at the University of Georgia. From a win percentage stand-point you have to go back to the 1920s to find a UGA Head Coach who had a better record than Richt. Yet Mark Richt finds himself firmly planted on the hot seat coming into this season. Richt posted double-digit wins in six of his first eight seasons but the wheels have come off the last two years. It started in 2009 when Georgia went 8-5 and settled for a birth in the Independence Bowl. It came to a head last year when the Dawgs limped to 6-6 and then lost their pride in a 10-6 defeat at the hands of George O'Leary and UCF in Memphis.
Going into last year the biggest concerns Georgia had was their QB position and the new defensive scheme under Todd Grantham. QB turned out to be a strength as Aaron Murray played better than anyone could have hoped as a red-shirt freshman. He was consistent, he was gutsy and he didn't turn the ball over. Sure he had his freshman moments like the first half against Florida but overall he was a big bright spot for Georgia despite the unexpected loss of star WR AJ Green for the first four games.
The real story of Georgia's season was losing the battles in the trenches and untimely miscues. Georgia started out 1-4 last year and in every game you can point to a big mental error that contributed to, or directly caused, the loss. In the South Carolina game Georgia trailed 14-6 and Washaun Ealey fumbled the ball inside of the five yard line, against Miss State they lost two first half fumbles including another game-breaker inside the five from Washaun Ealey, against Arkansas Ealey whiffed on a block and gave up a sack to Jake Bequette on a 3rd and five play from the 50 (with a minute left in the game) that led to Ryan Mallett getting the ball back and the infamous "Childs Please" game-winning wheel route and last but not least with Georgia driving for the win and well within Blair Walsh's field goal range the OL missed a block and Caleb King got blown up as he received a hand-off and fumbled the game away to the Buffaloes. That was four straight games worth of Prilosec and Heart-Break for the Dawgs. Those weren't the only reasons they lost those games but it was moments like those that Georgia "lost" last year. In addition to key miscues the other area where Georgia got beat the most last year was along the lines of scrimmage. On the defensive side of the football the under-sized Georgia D-Line had trouble getting off the field on the 3rd down. In fact, Georgia finished dead last in opponent 3rd down conversions in the SEC at 41% allowed. This was most prevalent in their losses as South Carolina (converted 64%), Miss St (converted 53%), Colorado (converted 46%) and Auburn (converted 71%).
So what has Georgia done to fix these areas? Along the lines of scrimmage Stacy Searles and his zone blocking scheme have moved on to Texas and Georgia is going with Will Friend and his drive blocking scheme. The Dawgs have revamped their Strength and Conditioning Program (as well as adding Nutritionists) under Joe T and the guys are back to "throwing the weight around" instead of training to be Olympic athletes. Despite Richt being on the "hot seat" he was able to go out and land six of the top 150 players on the ESPNU 150. Georgia has also brought in a 350 lb JUCO nose guard in Johnathon Jenkins to plug the middle and will flip DeAngelo Tyson out to the end position where he is a better fit. The top recruit from the 2010 class Alec Ogletree moves up from safety and will play a key role in run defense in this years 3-4. The offense will be looking for guys like Orson Charles and Tavarres King to lead the way and youngsters like Isaiah Crowell, Malcolm Mitchell, Rantavious Wooten, and Marlon Brown to contribute in key ways this year. Will everything fall into place this year for the Dawgs or will they continue to struggle like they did last year?
Here at CFBZ I cover the Dawgs and we've talked a lot about them this off-season. Our most clicked UGA links this off-season have been the Georgia Bulldogs Roundtable we did with some of our favorite Bulldog bloggers, a quick preview we did of Boise State/UGA back in April, February's first look at Georgia, and an early look we took at the Jarvis Jones situation. We even went on our first podcast with Michael Felder of In The Bleachers to talk about the Dawgs. The fanbase is chomping at the bit to get back to winning and after a very tough first two games this season the schedule is very favorable with the toughest games being at home versus Miss State and at the Cocktail Party against Muschomp and the Gators. I could go on and on about Georgia but at CFBZ we like to give our readers multiple voices so they can see things from different perspectives. With that in mind we reached out to one of our favorite sites on the internet, The Leather Helmet Blog, to get their take on the 2011 version of the Georgia Bulldogs.
The biggest shake up this off-season for Georgia has been in the Strength & Conditioning Program. Catch us up to date on what is going on with the S&C program and your overall impressions so far.
I was a harsh and frequent critic of the old S&C regime. Long time UGA staffer Joe Tereshinski has taken over the reigns of the strength and conditioning program to generally favorable reviews. JoeT, as he is known, is a strict disciplinarian and old-school face-screamer - exactly what the Bulldogs needed IMHO.
Two incidents this off-season are indicators of both the need for JoeT's no-nonsense approach and the effect of its implementation.
First, the departure of Washaun Ealey. Although not officially confirmed, the conventional wisdom is Ealey's departure resulted from him crossing the line with JoeT (testing his power) and JoeT won. Ealey is history and players took note. Next came the "disagreement" between Brent Benedict and Tereshinski. IMHO this incident was extremely important. Benedict is a graduate of the elite (tuition $19,500/year) Bolles School in Jacksonville. He and his private trainer disagreed with JoeT about training methods. Benedict is coming back from a knee injured in high school. Benedict transferred and Tereshinski showed the team that everyone - rural public school kid or ritzy private school kid - will get with the program or get out.
If the Dawgs are able to compete and win in the fourth quarter this season, the new S&C program will have been a roaring success. If not, I'm sure the new head coach will bring in a modern S&C staff.
Georgia has a lot of new starters this year on the defensive side of the football. Who do you think will make the biggest impact for the Dawgs this year?
John Jenkins - nose tackle (nose in UGA terminology).
Jenkins, a JUCO transfer, had an impact just by committing. Kwame Geathers, a back-up nose last year decided that he would have to step-up his game in order to compete with Jenkins for playing time. Last spring Geathers got in the best shape of his career and was unblockable.
Big John is the fastest lineman on the team and will weigh 340 - 350 to start the season (Geathers tips the scale at 335). Those two gentlemen will give Coach Todd Grantham's defense the kind of block-eating, lane-clogging presence that was missing in the middle of the 3-4 last year. Jenkins will occupy blockers that were getting to Georgia's linebackers in 2010. Additionally, the attention that he draws in passing situations will open lanes for blitzing linebackers and DB's.
Georgia lost it's top two leading rushers from last year and has very little depth at the RB position. How do you think this will affect Georgia's offensive gameplan this year?
I'm not sure that the loss of those two players effects the game-plan much. Richt has made it pretty clear that Isaiah Crowell would be the feature back in 2011. Dawg fans have been in a message board meltdown since King flunked-out but he had a 4 year history of unreliable performance.
Crowell and redshirt freshman Ken "Boo" Malcome will present a formidable tandem for opposing teams to deal with. Look for Mark Richt to expand the playbook in Aaron Murray's second year. More and varied formations with appearances from some of the uber-talented freshmen are sure to excite the fans.
Richard Samuel has been moved back to running back to beef up the rotation (235 lbs.). Samuel was moved to linebacker and redshirted last year after two years of unspectacular performance at running back. I'm not sure how much the team will benefit from moving Samuel back to tailback but he will provide depth and power between the tackles. He will be a formidable blocker, as well.
Who is the most important offensive player for Georgia this year not named Aaron Murray?
I going to cop-out (60's jargon warning) on this one and choose the offensive line as a unit. In fact, offensive line performance is going to determine Mark Richt's future, in my opinion. The defense will be solid and much improved from last year. It's the offensive line is dangerously thin, has a new coach (Will Friend) and only a couple of returning starters. One might surmise that the line will be a liability for Richt but I think the combination of better conditioning and a different approach to blocking will bring this position group from outhouse to DawgHouse - that's a good thing.
Looking at the schedule, what are the most important games this year?
Easy - games 1 and 2 are the most important. I have said all pre-season when asked this question that Boise is the most important game for UGA. Obviously, South Carolina means more from a conference perspective but Boise is more important for the team's morale. Boise is the higher ranked and is the darling of the national media just as Hawaii was leading up to the Sugar Bowl a few years ago. Most of the country will be rooting for the Broncos to come into Atlanta and thrash the Dawgs.
Georgia can lose to Boise and recover to beat South Carolina the next week . However, to do so the Dawgs must be in the Boise game up to the final whistle. If Richt's team is down and just going through the motions in the fourth quarter, I can't see them rebounding for the Gamecocks - and CMR will be in big trouble.
What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?
I do not try to make predictions on any basis other than as an unapologetic homer. The Dawgs will lose two by the second week of January.
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