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9 Georgia

Aug. 20, 2012
Aug. 20, 2012

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Aug. 20, 2012

GOLF PLUS
LEADING OFF
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9 Georgia

Plenty of off-season tumult in Athens, but that won't matter come crunch time

This is an article from the Aug. 20, 2012 issue

The Skinny

AT THE end of last season, in which they went 10--4 and won the SEC East, the Bulldogs had to feel good about their prospects for 2012. Ten starters from a unit that ranked fifth nationally in total defense would be returning, and running back Isaiah Crowell, an SEC all-freshman performer, would provide balance to an offense led by quarterback Aaron Murray. But in the off-season Crowell was dismissed from the team after his arrest on felony weapons charges, and four members of the defense—including All-America safety Bacarri Rambo—either have been or are expected to be suspended for multiple games to start the season. The potential for a great season still exists, but so does the possibility of a down one.

Key Recruit

JOSH HARVEY-CLEMONS Richt went to great lengths—and to church—to nab the Valdosta, Ga., product who could help out the depleted D at linebacker and in the secondary. The 6'5" 207-pounder could also see action as a red zone receiver.

Breakout Player

KEN MALCOME The team's fifth-leading rusher in 2011 could benefit the most from the departures of Crowell and second-leading rusher Carlton Thomas, who transferred. Malcome, a 6-foot, 224-pound redshirt sophomore, is a power runner who was named the most improved offensive player in spring practice.

Final Analysis

THE DEFENSIVE suspensions will hurt. With the longest expected to be four games, there is no guaranteee that the Dawgs will get to their Game 6 SEC East showdown at South Carolina unscathed, the big test being a Week 2 matchup against Missouri under the lights at Faurot Field. The offense, too, will require time to hit its stride. Murray has plenty of able targets, but the key to the group's success—and the season—hinges on finding a replacement for Crowell. Without a running game to keep defenses honest, Georgia's pass-happy O can only take the team so far—though the absence of LSU and Alabama from the schedule helps.

THE VITALS

Coach Mark Richt (12th year)

106--38 (62--30 SEC)

2011 Record 10--4 (7--1, 1st in SEC East)

Final AP Rank 19

Returning Starters Offense 6, Defense 10

2011 STATS

Total Offense (FBS Rank) 408.5 YPG (39)

Rushing Offense 164.0 YPG (49)

Passing Offense 244.5 YPG (48)

Total Defense 277.2 YPG (5)

Rushing Defense 101.2 YPG (11)

Passing Defense 176.0 YPG (10)

TELLING NUMBER 59

Career TD passes for junior Aaron Murray, the most in a two-year period in school history and just 13 shy of the Georgia record, held by David Greene.

TOP PLAYERS

Offense

QB Aaron Murray

Jr. 6'1", 211 pounds

3,149 YDs, 35 TDs

WR Malcolm Mitchell

Soph. 6'1", 184 pounds

45 RECs, 665 yards

WR Tavarres King

Sr. 6'1", 192 pounds

47 RECs, 705 YDs

Defense

LB Jarvis Jones

Jr. 6'3", 241 pounds

70 tackles, 13½ sacks

FS Bacarri Rambo

Sr. 6'0", 218 pounds

55 tackles, 8 ints

NG John Jenkins

Sr. 6'3", 351 pounds

28 tackles

Special Teams

PK Marshall Morgan

Fr. 6'3", 201 pounds

59-yard FG in HS

PHOTOSIMON BRUTY (MURRAY)Murray will have a large load to hoist early in the season, but he'll have help—four of his top five receivers are back.PHOTOKIM KLEMENT/US PRESSWIRE (MALCOME)PHOTOGREG MCWILLIAMS/ICON SMIIn his first season at Georgia, USC transfer Jones was a revelation, starting all 14 games and leading the SEC in sacks. He won't surprise anyone this year: He's anchoring the D on SI's 2012 Preseason All-America team. Turn the page for the rest of the squad.