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1. The tragic success of Mark Richt
Through 13 seasons as Nebraska's head coach (1973-85), Tom Osborne was a bit of a tragic figure. He had inherited from Bob Devaney a program that had gone 33-2-2 in its previous three years, with two national titles and a third top-five finish. He had embarked upon a run of remarkably consistent success; Nebraska won between nine and 10 games and finished between seventh and 12th in the polls in each of Osborne's nine years on the job.
But the natives were restless, and considering where the bar had been set by Devaney, he wasn't getting the job done and wasn't getting the respect he had probably earned. By 1978, he was frustrated enough with fans and pressure that he considered taking the Colorado job.
When Osborne ripped off three straight top-five finishes in 1982-84, two things happened: first, he became more respected and appreciated. Second, he became a sad story.
In 1978, his Huskers had finally topped Barry Switzer and Oklahoma and were in line for a shot at the national title until an end-of-season upset loss at home to Missouri. In 1982, they lost by three points at Penn State (with help from a controversial call), finished 12-1, and watched undefeated Penn State take the title. In 1983, they ... well, you know this one.
Success continued well past Year 13 for Osborne, and after a string of less successful seasons (no finish higher than 14th between 1990 and '92), his Huskers finally broke through, narrowly missing another title shot in 1993, then going 49-2 and winning three championships between 1994 and '97.
Osborne is always the example I give when I hear/read the "he can't win the big one!" talk radio/Internet staple. You can't win the big one, and then you do.
Mark Richt hasn't had the same steady success Osborne both inherited and created, but he's come close. Jim Donnan had averaged eight wins per year in five years in Athens and had gone 8-4 in each of the past two seasons; Richt went 8-4 in 2001, his first season on the job, but has surpassed that total in nine of the 12 years that followed.
By any definition, Richt has been a successful coach -- five top-10 finishes, two conference titles, 126 wins, etc. His lows have been lower than Osborne's (14-12 in 2009-10, for instance), and his success hasn't been quite as steady, but as with pre-1990s Osborne, the what-ifs have been as memorable as the wins.
- In 2002, UGA was upset by Ron Zook's 8-5 Florida squad in Jacksonville, finished 11-1, watched as two undefeated teams faced off in the BCS Championship for only the second time in five years, and finished third.
- In 2007, an early home loss to unranked South Carolina prevented an 11-1 finish and a BCS elimination match against LSU in the SEC Championship.
- And, of course, in 2012 Georgia came up a few yards and seconds short in the SEC Championship against Alabama and missed out on a title shot against Notre Dame.
In 2013, Georgia wasn't a what-if away from the national title or anything, but the season itself was a string of what-ifs. The Dawgs lost No. 1 receiver Malcolm Mitchell in the first quarter of the season and came up short, 38-35, at a Clemson team that finished 11-2. They won two heavyweight fights against No. 6 South Carolina and No. 6 LSU in the weeks that followed, but one by one, skill-position players dropped like flies. Turnovers and a lack of Todd Gurley cost them in a home loss to eventual East champion Missouri, and an egg-laying at Vanderbilt the next week dropped them out of the Top 25. They rebounded but lost the Auburn game via miracle deflection, then lost quarterback Aaron Murray to a knee injury.
A five-point loss to Nebraska with backup Hutson Mason behind center polished off one of the most frustrating seasons in recent memory, an 8-5 campaign with four tight losses (and a fifth loss that was closer than the final 15-point margin) and a half-decade's worth of key injuries.
Keep putting a good team on the field, and eventually the breaks go your way. Eventually the injury bug is kind, and both scheduling karma and other results work in your favor. With an expensive new defensive coordinator, hope springs anew for Georgia in 2014, though with a new quarterback and more questions than answers on the offensive line and in the secondary -- not to mention trips to South Carolina and Missouri on the docket -- there's more than enough reason to believe that Richt's tragic success won't become less tragic just yet.
2013 Schedule & Results
|Record: 8-5 | Adj. Record: 12-1 | Final F/+ Rk: 22|
|Date||Opponent||Opp. F/+ Rk||Score||W-L||Adj. Score||Adj. W-L||5-gm Adj. Avg.|
|31-Aug||at Clemson||16||35-38||L||49.9 - 25.7||W|
|7-Sep||South Carolina||10||41-30||W||41.0 - 31.1||W|
|21-Sep||North Texas||51||45-21||W||54.4 - 11.9||W|
|28-Sep||LSU||17||44-41||W||45.6 - 24.7||W|
|5-Oct||at Tennessee||72||34-31||W||31.0 - 29.2||W||19.9|
|12-Oct||Missouri||14||26-41||L||34.9 - 22.0||W||17.6|
|19-Oct||at Vanderbilt||50||27-31||L||18.3 - 24.9||L||14.3|
|2-Nov||vs. Florida||48||23-20||W||41.0 - 26.5||W||8.7|
|9-Nov||Appalachian State||N/A||45-6||W||35.3 - 14.5||W||8.7|
|16-Nov||at Auburn||4||38-43||L||42.1 - 28.9||W||11.0|
|23-Nov||Kentucky||97||59-17||W||43.0 - 18.0||W||13.4|
|30-Nov||at Georgia Tech||34||41-34||W||34.0 - 28.6||W||15.8|
|1-Jan||vs. Nebraska||39||19-24||L||24.3 - 21.0||W||13.6|
|Points Per Game||36.7||21||29.0||79|
|Adj. Points Per Game||38.1||12||23.6||24|
2. When "a different team every week" isn't a figure of speech
Over the course of 2013, Georgia started three players at split end, two at left guard, two at right tackle, two at tight end, two at flanker, three at running back, and two at quarterback. On defense, five defensive ends got starts, along with two nose tackles, four cornerbacks, and about 17 safeties (okay, five). By my count, the Dawgs started the same offensive lineup in back-to-back weeks just twice in 12 regular season games.
My favorite Lou Holtzism (really, the only candidate for the honor) is that you have a different team every week. But he's talking about mentality and preparation and the harrowing thought of relying on 19-year-olds for your livelihood. He doesn't necessarily mean that you literally have a different team every week. But Georgia pretty much did. And the results reflect that.
- Adj. Points Per Game (first 4 games): Georgia 47.7, Opponent 23.4 (plus-24.3)
- Adj. Points Per Game (next 3 games): Georgia 28.1, Opponent 25.4 (plus-2.7)
- Adj. Points Per Game (next 4 games): Georgia 40.4, Opponent 22.0 (plus-19.6)
- Adj. Points Per Game (last 2 games): Georgia 29.2, Opponent 24.8 (plus-4.4)
Even with the Mitchell injury and the loss to Clemson, Georgia was an elite team over the first four games of the season. But then players began dropping like flies. Georgia was nearly upset by Tennessee, then did lose as the favorite to both Missouri and Vanderbilt.
To the Dawgs' credit, they rallied, but the loss of Murray late in the Kentucky game ended that. Mason played fine against Georgia Tech and didn't get a whole lot of help against Nebraska, but by the time the Gator Bowl rolled around, Georgia was probably ready to end the hellish season regardless.
|FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||46.2%||30||Succ. Rt. +||115.2||18|
|FIELD POSITION||Def. Avg. FP||30.0||74||Def. FP+||102.4||30|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Trip in 40||4.8||24||Redzone S&P+||123.3||9|
|Q1 Rk||11||1st Down Rk||8|
|Q2 Rk||11||2nd Down Rk||14|
|Q3 Rk||21||3rd Down Rk||19|
Note: players in bold below are 2014 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.
|Hutson Mason||6'3, 209||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||67||110||968||5||3||60.9%||8||6.8%||7.8|
|Faton Bauta||6'3, 218||So.||3 stars (5.7)|
|Brice Ramsey||6'3, 216||RSFr.||4 stars (5.8)|
|Jacob Park||6'4, 202||Fr.||4 stars (5.8)|
3. Hello, Hutson
Successful longtime starter hands the baton to precocious, high-upside youngster, who starts for two to four years, then hands the baton, and so on. In a perfect world, you always have a really talented quarterback and a clean succession plan.
It doesn't really work that way for most schools, but Georgia's been luckier than most. Their formula has been pretty reliable: longtime starter hands to one-year stopgap, who hands to next big thing. David Greene started from 2001-04 (and won a whole hell of a lot of games), and after a year of D.J. Shockley, freshman Matthew Stafford took over a little way into 2006. He started for three years, and after a year of Joe Cox, it was Aaron Murray's turn in 2010.
We'll see if Brice Ramsey (a redshirt freshman this year) or Jacob Park (true freshman) becomes the next Murray -- the bar's awfully high -- but if things go according to plan, 2014 will belong to Hutson Mason, who backed up Murray for three years and redshirted in 2012 so he could be the man in 2014. It's rare that a quarterback stays for four years just to get a shot at the starting job in the fifth, but that's the path Mason has carved.
In reserve time and a pair of late-2013 starts, Mason has completed 60 percent of his passes at 14.1 yards per completion. He has a reputation for being mobile, though that hasn't really borne out in the numbers at this point. Regardless, if you have to lose Murray, replacing him with a guy who has been a four-year understudy isn't the worst way to go. If the line holds up, his skill-position supporting cast could help him post some strong numbers.
|Todd Gurley||RB||6'1, 226||Jr.||4 stars (6.0)||165||989||10||6.0||4.9||46.1%|
|Brendan Douglas||RB||5'11, 213||So.||3 stars (5.5)||83||348||3||4.2||3.8||31.3%|
|Keith Marshall||RB||5'11, 215||Jr.||4 stars (6.0)||56||246||1||4.4||3.8||35.7%|
|Hutson Mason||QB||6'3, 209||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||13||45||1||3.5||3.0||30.8%|
|Quayvon Hicks||FB||6'2, 257||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||10||72||1||7.2||9.8||40.0%|
|Faton Bauta||QB||6'3, 218||So.||3 stars (5.7)||4||30||0||7.5||3.3||75.0%|
|A.J. Turman||RB||6'0, 212||RSFr.||4 stars (5.8)|
|Sony Michel||RB||5'11, 208||Fr.||5 stars (6.1)|
|Nick Chubb||RB||5'10, 228||Fr.||4 stars (6.0)|
|Chris Conley||WR-Y||6'3, 205||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||72||45||651||62.5%||16.4%||56.3%||9.0||98||9.1||107.1|
|Michael Bennett||WR-X||6'3, 202||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||58||41||538||70.7%||13.2%||56.9%||9.3||64||9.2||88.5|
|Malcolm Mitchell (2012)||WR-Y||6'1, 195||Jr.||4 stars (6.0)||52||40||572||76.9%||13.7%||63.5%||11.0||N/A||11.0||111.2|
|Todd Gurley||RB||6'1, 226||Jr.||4 stars (6.0)||48||37||441||77.1%||10.9%||57.8%||9.2||30||9.7||72.5|
|Justin Scott-Wesley||WR-X||5'11, 210||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||25||16||311||64.0%||5.7%||60.0%||12.4||117||12.7||51.1|
|Brendan Douglas||RB||5'11, 213||So.||3 stars (5.5)||19||13||172||68.4%||4.3%||64.7%||9.1||19||9.1||28.3|
|Reggie Davis||FL||6'0, 170||So.||4 stars (5.8)||19||11||257||57.9%||4.3%||41.2%||13.5||116||17.7||42.3|
|Jonathon Rumph||WR-X||6'5, 218||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||14||7||121||50.0%||3.2%||70.0%||8.6||24||2.4||19.9|
|Jay Rome||TE||6'6, 248||Jr.||4 stars (5.9)||12||9||99||75.0%||2.7%||25.0%||8.3||-2||9.8||16.3|
|Keith Marshall||RB||5'11, 215||Jr.||4 stars (6.0)||9||8||111||88.9%||2.0%||66.7%||12.3||28||11.2||18.3|
|Quayvon Hicks||FB||6'2, 257||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||8||5||67||62.5%||1.8%||62.5%||8.4||6||8.4||11.0|
|Blake Tibbs||FL||6'2, 180||So.||3 stars (5.7)||3||2||18||66.7%||0.7%||100.0%||6.0||-6||3.1||3.0|
|Jeb Blazevich||TE||6'5, 232||Fr.||4 stars (5.9)|
|Isaiah McKenzie||WR||5'8, 164||Fr.||4 stars (5.8)|
4. Who's healthy?
Todd Gurley missed three games. Keith Marshall missed eight. Chris Conley (noted "Star Wars" fan filmmaker) and Michael Bennett missed two. Jay Rome missed five. Justin Scott-Wesley missed eight. Malcolm Mitchell missed 12.9.
That Georgia lost all of these players at one time or another and then lost Murray with two games remaining was incredible. More incredible: Georgia still ranked eighth in Off. F/+ and fifth in Passing S&P+. I've said this many times by now, but offensive coordinator Mike Bobo is absurdly underrated. (So was Murray, really, but that's another story.)
The upside of injuries is that Georgia returns three running backs (four including CB-turned-RB-turned-CB J.J. Green) and four wideouts who have served as go-to options at one point or another. If Mitchell, Conley, Bennett, and Scott-Wesley can all hit 100 percent health at the same time, then ... well, never mind Hutson Mason, I'm pretty sure I could throw for 3,000 yards with that group.
And then there's Gurley. We know Keith Marshall and Brendan Douglas can serve as competent backups, and in Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, Georgia has two incoming blue-chippers who may all but demand some action. But Gurley will get as many touches as he can handle this year as Georgia mounts a Heisman campaign, and it's hard to blame that logic.
Gurley is a beast. Obviously. He is as efficient as you would want a 226-pound back to be, but his explosiveness sets him apart. He is the patented "run over, around, or through you" back, and while his running style encourages injuries (which will make a Heisman run pretty difficult), a) Georgia is well-covered if he misses a game or two, and b) he can batter opponents as well as he batters himself. He is a unique, fantastic back.
This might be the best collection of skill talent in the country. Lots of teams have backs almost as good as Gurley, and lots of teams have receivers as good as Mitchell or Conley or whoever the given No. 1 target is. Nobody else has this many potential go-to guys, especially with this level of experience. As I always say, injuries hurt in the present tense and help in the future tense. Georgia wasn't hurt as much as it could have been last year, but the future tense could benefit regardless.
|David Andrews||C||6'2, 294||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||27|
|John Theus||LT||6'6, 313||Jr.||5 stars (6.1)||22|
|Kolton Houston||RT||6'5, 287||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||6|
|Mark Beard||LT||6'5, 297||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||2|
|Watts Dantzler||LT||6'7, 320||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0|
|Zach DeBell||LT||6'6, 298||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0|
|Xzavier Ward||RT||6'7, 282||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0|
|Hunter Long||RG||6'4, 302||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0|
|Brandon Kublanow||LG||6'3, 294||So.||4 stars (5.9)||0|
|Greg Pyke||RG||6'6, 321||So.||3 stars (5.7)||0|
|Josh Cardiello||C||6'3, 297||RSFr.||3 stars (5.7)|
|Aulden Bynum||RG||6'5, 276||RSFr.||3 stars (5.7)|
|Isaiah Wynn||OL||6'2, 283||Fr.||4 stars (5.9)|
|Dyshon Sims||OL||6'4, 302||Fr.||4 stars (5.8)|
|Kendall Baker||OL||6'6, 310||Fr.||4 stars (5.8)|
5. Enormous Question Mark No. 1
Okay, so the offensive coordinator is elite, the quarterback should be alright, and the skill players should be great. Georgia's on its way toward huge offensive numbers! Maybe!
In run blocking, the line was shaky last year -- lots of short-yardage success, but lots of stops in the backfield -- and while part of that was due to the exploding running backs (Gurley and Marshall were both sophomores, and when they went down, replacements Douglas and Green were freshmen), the line itself didn't always pass the eyeball test. Losing three three-year starters from that line, then, is problematic.
Four players return with 57 career starts, so it's not like UGA will be starting five freshmen or anything. But for an offense that has a top-10 ceiling, a top-50 line would hold it back.
|FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||40.8%||46||Succ. Rt. +||112.2||24|
|FIELD POSITION||Off. Avg. FP||29.4||86||Off. FP+||100.5||55|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Trip in 40||4.5||89||Redzone S&P+||108.7||29|
|Q1 Rk||29||1st Down Rk||20|
|Q2 Rk||32||2nd Down Rk||9|
|Q3 Rk||28||3rd Down Rk||53|
6. I didn't mind Todd Grantham
Four years ago, when Mark Richt needed to upgrade a defense that had been decent but unspectacular (51st in Def. F/+ in 2008, 39th in 2009), he called on Dallas Cowboys defensive line coach, former Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator, and former Nick Saban underling Todd Grantham.
Grantham performed reasonably well, especially in the years coinciding with linebacker Jarvis Jones' breakout. In 2011 and 2012, UGA ranked 10th and 18th, respectively, good enough to help Georgia to a 22-6 record and a near-conference title in 2012. But when Jones left and the secondary went from well-cooked to rare, the Dawgs struggled. Of course they did. They were still pretty good against the run, and the pass rush was still a strength, but when the secondary suffered a breakdown, it was a pretty significant one.
(And I'm not just talking about Auburn's last offensive play. For the love of God, knock it down.)
Granted, thanks to dismissals and transfers, the secondary is going to be young again. But in all, I thought Grantham was a solid hire. Georgia fans wanting him gone should have known they could do much worse ...
... but then they did much better. Grantham left for Louisville, and Richt replaced him with the man who was the hottest young assistant in the country. In Jeremy Pruitt's one year at Florida State, the Seminoles went from fifth to first in Def. F/+ and won the national title. His Sabanesque approach worked quite well with FSU's collection of future pros, and you could make the case that (with help from a certain Heisman-winning quarterback) Pruitt helped push FSU over the top in its title pursuit.
After just one year, however, Richt was able to pull him away from Tallahassee. On the Internet, you can find any number of reasons why this was allowed to happen, but the bottom line is that it happened. And even though Grantham was decent, Pruitt appears to be an upgrade, perhaps a significant one.
|Rivals||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Ray Drew||DE||6'5, 284||Sr.||5 stars (6.1)||13||33.5||4.5%||8.0||6.0||0||3||0||0|
|Sterling Bailey||DE||6'3, 280||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||13||24.0||3.2%||1.0||1.0||0||3||0||0|
|Chris Mayes||NG||6'4, 317||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||11||22.5||3.0%||1.0||1.0||0||2||0||0|
|Josh Dawson||DE||6'4, 266||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||12||5.5||0.7%||1.0||0.0||0||1||0||0|
|Toby Johnson||DE||6'4, 300||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||10||4.5||0.6%||1.5||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Mike Thornton||NG||6'1, 296||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||11||3.5||0.5%||1.0||1.0||0||0||0||0|
|James DeLoach||DE||6'3, 276||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||5||3.0||0.4%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|John Atkins||DE||6'4, 299||RSFr.||4 stars (5.8)|
|Rivals||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Ramik Wilson||MIKE||6'2, 237||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||13||104.5||14.1%||11.0||4.0||0||3||0||0|
|Amarlo Herrera||WILL||6'2, 231||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||13||83.0||11.2%||5.0||0.5||1||6||1||0|
|Leonard Floyd||SAM||6'4, 230||So.||4 stars (5.8)||13||44.5||6.0%||9.5||6.5||0||1||2||0|
|Jordan Jenkins||JACK||6'3, 252||Jr.||4 stars (6.0)||13||37.5||5.1%||12.0||5.0||0||2||1||2|
|Kosta Vavlas||WILL||6'0, 212||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||13||9.0||1.2%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Reggie Carter||MIKE||6'1, 231||So.||4 stars (5.8)||8||6.0||0.8%||0.5||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Ryne Rankin||MIKE||6'1, 215||So.||3 stars (5.7)||7||4.0||0.5%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Tim Kimbrough||WILL||6'0, 230||So.||4 stars (5.9)||11||4.0||0.5%||1.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Johnny O'Neal||JACK||6'2, 240||So.||4 stars (5.8)||8||3.0||0.4%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Shaun McGee||SAM||6'3, 235||RSFr.||3 stars (5.7)|
|Davin Bellamy||JACK||6'5, 240||RSFr.||3 stars (5.7)|
|Lorenzo Carter||OLB||6'6, 237||Fr.||4 stars (6.0)|
|Keyon Brown||OLB||6'3, 247||Fr.||4 stars (5.9)|
|Detric Bing-Dukes||ILB||6'0, 230||Fr.||4 stars (5.8)|
7. Pruitt will know what to do with this front seven
The secondary has potential issues, to put it kindly. But Jordan Jenkins is a tailor-made jack linebacker (the DE/OLB hybrid), Leonard Floyd will be a wrecking ball at sam, Ray Drew is a great pass rusher for a 3-4 end, and ... are we sure Amarlo Herrera still has eligibility left? Wasn't he part of that 2002 team?
Neither Florida State (Pruitt's last employer) nor Alabama (the one before that) needed to take many risks, preferring instead to make sound, semi-conservative calls and let superior talent win out. Well ... Georgia has a lot of really, really high-end talent here. The Dawgs pretty desperately need to improve in short-yardage situations, but there's enough big-play potential here to create plenty of long-yardage situations.
|Rivals||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Damian Swann||CB||5'11, 180||Sr.||4 stars (5.9)||13||50.0||6.7%||1||0||0||8||0||0|
|Quincy Mauger||FS||6'0, 199||So.||3 stars (5.7)||13||49.5||6.7%||1||0||1||1||1||0|
|Corey Moore||FS||6'2, 206||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||12||31.0||4.2%||3||1||1||1||0||0|
|Sheldon Dawson||CB||5'11, 180||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||12||10.5||1.4%||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|Brendan Langley||CB||6'1, 188||So.||4 stars (5.8)||9||10.0||1.3%||0||0||0||2||0||0|
|Lucas Redd||FS||6'1, 200||Sr.||NR|
|Devin Bowman||CB||6'0, 179||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)|
|Kennar Johnson||CB||6'2, 192||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)|
|J.J. Green||SS||5'9, 185||So.||3 stars (5.7)|
|Tramel Terry||SS||6'0, 197||RSFr.||4 stars (5.8)|
|Reggie Wilkerson||CB||5'11, 181||RSFr.||4 stars (5.8)|
|Aaron Davis||CB||6'1, 189||RSFr.||NR|
|Shattle Fenteng||DB||6'2, 187||Jr.||4 stars (5.9)|
|Malkom Parrish||DB||5'10, 194||Fr.||4 stars (5.9)|
8. Enormous Question Mark No. 2
As with the offense, we finish with a bit of a buzzkill. The growing pains were supposed to create a more seasoned, steady defensive backfield in 2014. Only ... safety Josh-Harvey Clemons and Tray Matthews were dismissed, and corner Shaq Wiggins transferred.
Seniors Damian Swann (a potential breakout) and Corey Moore are still around to provide some leadership, and lord knows there are enough former four-star recruits to suggest the upside is higher than it was last year. But unless Pruitt (former FSU and Bama DBs coach) can coax out more discipline, this will still be a weak spot for the defense.
Luckily, of UGA's 10 major-conference opponents, at least five will be starting new QBs. That can't hurt.
|Collin Barber||6'2, 208||Jr.||29||44.1||0||11||9||69.0%|
|Adam Erickson||5'10, 178||Sr.||13||40.5||2||6||5||84.6%|
|Marshall Morgan||6'3, 200||Jr.||72||60.2||17||0||23.6%|
|Collin Barber||6'2, 208||Jr.||15||60.8||4||0||26.7%|
|Marshall Morgan||6'3, 200||Jr.||47-47||15-16||93.8%||7-8||87.5%|
|Patrick Beless||5'9, 162||Jr.||10-10||2-2||100.0%||0-0||NR|
|Sheldon Dawson||KR||5'11, 180||Jr.||7||21.9||0|
|J.J. Green||KR||5'9, 185||So.||7||24.0||0|
|Reggie Davis||PR||6'0, 170||So.||14||3.3||0|
|Damian Swann||PR||5'11, 180||Sr.||9||3.1||0|
|Special Teams F/+||66|
|Field Goal Efficiency||8|
|Punt Return Efficiency||119|
|Kick Return Efficiency||80|
|Opponents' Field Goal Efficiency||61|
9. Thank goodness for Marshall Morgan
Georgia got very little from its kick coverage and kick returns and almost less than nothing from its punt returners. Luckily Marshall Morgan was around to salvage something from the special teams unit. (Okay, the punting game was solid, too.) After a shaky freshman year, Morgan was nearly automatic as a sophomore. He made his final 17 field goals last fall and needs just two to break Fuad Reveiz's SEC record for consecutive makes.
He doesn't have that great an effect on the field position battle, and in theory, if Todd Gurley is rolling, Morgan won't be asked to kick another 24 field goals in 2014, but he's a keeper. Now if only he could return punts...
2014 Schedule & Projection Factors
|13-Sep||at South Carolina||7|
|Five-Year F/+ Rk||19.1% (17)|
|Two-Year Recruiting Rk||9|
|TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin*||-7 / -2.9|
|Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.)||14 (6, 8)|
10. Great out of the gates
As has become rather customary, Georgia's September slate will dictate both its own season narrative and, in theory, that of the SEC East.
A top-15 caliber team could begin the season 0-2 with a Clemson/at South Carolina opening, and if the Dawgs win either of the two, they could be well positioned for a run at 10-2 or 11-1 overall. Granted, a loss at South Carolina would make the Dawgs more of a longshot to win the SEC East, but then again, South Carolina beats the eventual division champion frequently these days.
Geogria quite easily has the highest ceiling of any SEC East team this year; South Carolina is deep and experienced (and is probably my favorite to win the division), but if every East team performs to its maximum capability, Georgia finishes a couple steps ahead of everybody else.
The skill-position players and front seven are just loaded with exciting, experienced athletes. But the other units are somewhere between question marks and outright detriments, which makes Georgia a pretty high-variance team.
One of these years, the stars will align for Mark Richt, but it's hard to confidently say that year is 2014.