Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Welcome to G-Day week

Monday April 2, 2007

Coaches have to love spring games. In the span of two hours, fans will form their expectations for the players and the upcoming season. Freshmen who don’t shine will be busts. Reserves who impress should get more playing time. Just look back a year ago…

  • The entire quarterback question was settled for most fans on Stafford’s first 64-yard pass. Henderson caught just seven passes in 2006, but he did go on to become a valuable return man in Thomas Flowers’ absence.
  • Ramarcus Brown and Asher Allen were stars on defense at G-Day. Each played a big role in 2006, but it was Bryan Evans who missed the spring game that eventually emerged as the answer opposite Paul Oliver.
  • Jason Johnson won the "Ronnie Brown Award" for a great performance by a guy unlikely to see much time during the season. He was the leading rusher for G-Day 2006 with 97 yards on 13 carries. Johnson didn’t see any time at running back during the 2006 season, but he did get in on special teams.
  • Tight end Tripp Chandler was the leading receiver in the game. After two first half drops, he caught four passes for 99 yards. He then caught a total of two passes during the 2006 season.

That’s not to say that the spring game tells us nothing. Going against Paul Oliver, Mohamed Massaquoi had just one reception. Oliver turned out to have a stellar season, but the game also foreshadowed a season of struggles for Georgia’s star receiver. Charles Johnson dominated G-Day, and he played well enough during the season to enter the NFL draft. No one from Georgia’s "three-headed monster" of tailbacks really stood out in the spring game, and that continued into the season. While Joe Cox threw several interceptions, he was also the most successful at driving the offense, and that came in useful in a desperate hour against Colorado.

It also won’t show you everything. While everyone was impressed with the gaudy interception returns last spring, few could see the secondary being beaten as badly as it was against Tennessee or the defense struggling as it did during the middle of the season. Stafford showed glimpses of why he would be the man, but not many figured that the quarterback decision would be stuck in quicksand for a few more months and that there would be so many expensive lessons in costly turnovers.

Based on the buzz, here’s what people will be looking at this year:

  • For most of us, it’ll be a chance to see the new offensive line in action for the first time. Coach Searels will have a lot of eyes on him during this game. Nowhere will newcomers be more scrutinized than the early enrollees and JUCO transfers along the line.
  • There’s also a lot of new faces among the defensive front seven. The Dawgs are replacing three starting defensive linemen and three starting linebackers. With a defensive end legacy of Pollack, Moses, and Johnson, is the next wave ready?
  • Of course everyone wants to see Knowshon Moreno. An incredible amount of hype could be poured on this guy within a week.
  • Will the offense have changed much under the continued direction of Mike Bobo?
  • How will the passing game look with a more mature Stafford, the return of Sean Bailey, and Massaquoi and Bryant as upperclassmen?
  • A big story this spring has been the strong play at the safety position. There are a lot of heavy hitters, and they’ll look a bit different than the undersized Tra Battle. But they’re mostly young, and this is the first chance to perform for many of them.

Me? As always, I just care about getting out without any long-term injuries. The team and the depth chart will change between now and August, and we’ll worry about it all then.

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