August 16, 2010

Top 25 Team Previews

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Top 25 Athlon Team Previews: Georgia Bulldogs

2009 Record: 8-5 (4-4 in SEC)
Head Coach: Mark Richt
A.J. Green :: AP
2010 Schedule
Sept. 4 UL Lafayette
Sept. 11 at South Carolina
Sept. 18 Arkansas
Sept. 25 at Mississippi State
Oct. 2 at Colorado
Oct. 9 Tennessee
Oct. 16 Vanderbilt
Oct. 23 at Kentucky
Oct. 30 Florida (Jacksonville, FL)
Nov. 6 Idaho State
Nov. 13 at Auburn
Nov. 27 Georgia Tech
2009 Results
Sept. 5 at Oklahoma State L 10-24
Sept. 12 South Carolina W 41-37
Sept. 19 at Arkansas W 52-41
Sept. 26 Arizona State W 20-17
Oct. 3 LSU L 13-20
Oct. 10 at Tennessee L 19-45
Oct. 17 at Vanderbilt W 34-10
Oct. 31 Florida (Jacksonville) L 17-41
Nov. 7 Tennessee Tech W 38- 0
Nov. 14 Auburn W 31-24
Nov. 21 Kentucky L 27-34
Nov. 28 at Georgia Tech W 30-24
Dec. 28 #Texas A&M (Independence Bowl) W 44-20
2009 Rankings
OFFENSE PER GAME SEC NAT'L
Scoring 28.9 ppg 7 51
Rushing 161.0 ypg 7 47
Passing 201.2 ypg 7 80
Total 362.2 ypg 8 75
DEFENSE PER GAME SEC NAT'L
Scoring 25.9 ppg 10 63
Rushing 126.2 ypg 3 36
Passing 213.2 ypg 9 51
Total 339.4 ypg 7 38
TO MARGIN PER GAME SEC NAT'L
-16 -1.23 12 118
2010 Projected Rosters
OFFENSE
WR Tavarres King (So.) Kris Durham (Sr.)
WR A.J. Green (Jr.) Rantavious Wooten (So.)
LT Clint Boling (Sr.) Trinton Sturdivant (Jr.)
LG Cordy Glenn (Jr.) Tanner Strickland (Jr.)
C Ben Jones (Jr.) Chris Burnette (Fr.)
RG Chris Davis (Sr.) Ben Harden (Jr.)
RT Josh Davis (Sr.) Jonathan Owens (So.)
TE Orson Charles (So.) Aron White (Jr.)
QB Aaron Murray (Fr.) Logan Gray (Jr.)
FB Shaun Chapas (Sr.) Fred Munzenmaier (Sr.)
RB Washaun Ealey (So.) Caleb King (Jr.)
DEFENSE
DE Abry Jones (So.) Brandon Wood (Sr.)
NT DeAngelo Tyson (Jr.) Justin Anderson (Jr.)
DE Demarcus Dobbs (Sr.) Kiante Tripp (Sr.)
OLB Cornelius Washington (So.) Darryl Gamble (Sr.)
ILB Akeem Dent (Sr.) Mike Gilliard (So.)
ILB Christian Robinson (So.) Marcus Dowtin (Jr.)
OLB Justin Houston (Jr.) Reuben Faloughi (Fr.)
CB Brandon Boykin (Jr.) Sanders Commings (So.)
CB Vance Cuff (Sr.) Branden Smith (So.)
SS Nick Williams (Jr.) Jakar Hamilton (Jr.)
FS Bacarri Rambo (So.) Quintin Banks (Sr.)
SPECIAL TEAMS
1 Blair Walsh (Jr.) KR Brandon Boykin (Jr.)
1 Drew Butler (Jr.) PR Branden Smith (So.)
RETURNING LEADERS
Passing: Logan Gray (31 yards, 0 TD)
Rushing: Washaun Ealey (125 car, 717 yds, 3 TDs)
Receiving: A.J. Green (53 rec, 808 yds, 6 TDs)
Tackles: Marcus Dowtin (57, 24 solo)
Sacks: Justin Houston (7.5)
Interceptions: Brandon Boykin (3 for 3 yds)
MORE FROM ATHLON
More from AthlonFor full coverage of College Football before, during and after the season, visit AthlonSports.com/si.
PLAYERS TO WATCH

A.J. Green, WR: Georgia's top playmaker and first-team All-SEC selection last season thinks the best is yet to come.

Justin Houston, OLB: The Bulldogs expect him to be a dominating force in their new 3-4 defense.

Washaun Ealey, RB: He came on strong late last season as a true freshman, finishing with 717 yards rushing despite not playing in the first four games.

Clint Boling, OT: He has started 36 games for Georgia the past three seasons and has proven to be the team's most durable and versatile offensive lineman.

Drew Butler, P: The unanimous first-team All-American is a tremendous field position weapon.

IMPORTANT LOSSES

Rennie Curran, LB: The tackling machine -- 298 tackles in three years -- and Georgia's MVP last season left early for the NFL.

Jeff Owens, DT: He was a force on Georgia's defensive line and a team leader.

Joe Cox, QB: He passed for 2,584 yards and 24 touchdowns last year, although his season was marred by 15 interceptions.

Reshad Jones, S: The team leader in interceptions with four, he entered the NFL early.

Kade Weston, DT: He supplanted fellow senior Geno Atkins as a starter for most of last season.

NUMBERS GAME

10: Georgia's once-ferocious defense has struggled in recent years, allowing 34 points or more 10 times in the past two seasons.

OFFENSE

Georgia returns eight starters on offense, including one of the nation's top receivers (A.J. Green), two tailbacks who finished strong last year (Washaun Ealey and Caleb King) and a stellar line (led by All-SEC left tackle Clint Boling). The quarterback position, though, is a different story: Georgia has only one player who has ever taken a snap in a college game (Logan Gray) and no player who has ever started a college game. Redshirt freshman Aaron Murray, an Elite 11 MVP in high school, seems the likely starter.

Georgia hopes its talented tailbacks and experienced line can take the pressure off an inexperienced quarterback, particularly early in the season. King has gone so far as to predict that both he and Ealey could rush for 1,000-plus yards.

Over the long haul, of course, the quarterback also will have to make plays, and other receivers will have to complement Green. If Georgia gets reasonably reliable play from its quarterback, the offense should improve from an erratic 2009, when the Bulldogs ranked 75th nationally with 362.2 yards per game.

DEFENSE

Georgia coach Mark Richt blew up his defensive staff after last season, firing three of four assistants on that side of the ball. The replacements are Todd Grantham, hired from the Dallas Cowboys as defensive coordinator; Connecticut's Scott Lakatos as secondary coach; and Vanderbilt's Warren Belin as inside linebackers coach.

Grantham has his work cut out for him as he transforms the Bulldogs from their traditional 4-3 defense to a 3-4 alignment. He inherits a unit that struggled colossally the past two seasons and lost much talent from last year's team, including All-SEC linebacker Rennie Curran and three stalwart tackles.

Grantham wants an aggressive, attacking defense that pressures the quarterback from all directions, but how well the inherited players fit his scheme remains to be seen.

The defensive front has only one player with starting experience, end Demarcus Dobbs, and that came in a much different role in the 4-3. At outside linebacker, the Bulldogs believe Justin Houston can be a dominant pass rusher. At inside linebacker, where the depth is pretty good, Akeem Dent and Christian Robinson had strong springs. In the secondary, the only returning starter is cornerback Brandon Boykin.

SPECIALISTS

The Bulldogs boast perhaps the best kicking tandem in college football -- punter Drew Butler, who won the Ray Guy Award last season, and placekicker Blair Walsh, who was among the three finalists for the Lou Groza Award. Boykin is a scintillating kickoff returner; last season he had two 100-yard returns for touchdowns.

FINAL ANALYSIS

Georgia is attempting to rebound from an 8-5 season, its worst under Richt, who has two SEC championships in nine years as the Bulldogs' coach. To rebound from a disappointing 2009, fewer turnovers and fewer penalties will be key.

If the team can remedy those concerns, then Georgia's success will likely boil down to how solidly the defense plays in Grantham's system and how much productive the Dawgs get from their inexperienced QB.

The Bulldogs will learn a lot about themselves in the season's second and third weeks, when they face SEC rivals South Carolina and Arkansas.

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