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Post What Georgia needs

Wednesday May 9, 2007

Ching follows up on his depth chart post by asking what Georgia needs "most of all" this year. I agree with his conclusion, though a dominant defensive lineman isn’t far behind. After seeing guys like Reggie Bush, Darren McFadden, and even Percy Harvin – players who bend and redefine traditional positional roles – everyone wants one of those. Call him the playmaker. Georgia just hasn’t had many. The best receivers recently have been third-round picks at best, and the tailbacks since Robert Edwards (well, Garrison Hearst really) have been only steady or had brief moments of brilliance. They’re not awful or even average; they’ve often been really good but just not at that next level.

Ching starts his list with Henderson and Bailey. Anyone who saw a punt return last year realizes Henderson’s explosive potential. Yet he had just seven receptions and a carry last year on offense. Has he improved that much to get 5-10 touches within the offense per game? Sean Bailey’s another guy with a great pedigree and a few highlight plays in his past. But in his last complete season, he went from the second game until the SEC Championship game without a touchdown reception. That’s not a trait of a game-changing playmaker. You can go down the list of receivers from Bryant to Goodman and the response is the same…"yeah, he could be a playmaker, but…." It’s tough for a receiver. Even the best won’t get many touches during a game, but the best can consistently turn those few touches into significant plays. Having a guy like Stafford distributing the ball won’t hurt.

Does a tailback have a better chance? People have a false perception that Richt won’t let a tailback have that opportunity. Once Verron Haynes proved himself, he got the ball exclusively. Richt had no problem featuring Musa Smith. So I don’t buy that it’s an offensive philosophy keeping the tailbacks down. Will Lumpkin or Brown become that guy in their senior seasons? We know that both are capable of being quality backs. The inexperience of the line has me concerned that a back can be a consistent weapon this year. Is Moreno the answer? Yes, I watched the same G-Day you did. Let’s see it in the fall. Caleb King drew comparisons to Reggie Bush, so who knows…he might be the answer eventually.

There’s another component to this question, and it’s coaching. The staff has to be creative and innovative enough to make the most of such a playmaker when he shows up. No one would confuse Tyson Browning with Ronnie Brown, but was a screen pass the only way to get the ball to Browning? If Henderson is the real deal, how will they use him? AJ Bryant would like to listen in on that conversation too. If Moreno or Lumpkin or Brown is capable of a special season, can we identify that before November? Does such a drought of impact skill players at Georgia indicate a problem on the sideline or in the playbook? Will things change much with Bobo? It’s not as if Georgia has been completely talentless on offense.

So I agree with Ching when he identifies the playmaker as a need for this team, but I’m not as optimistic as he is that the answer lies among the upperclassmen he names. I say that because the kind of player he’s talking about often makes himself obvious early on. I’m not without hope that someone like Bailey or Lumpkin can have a great season as an impact player. I do have my eye to the future when looking for a really special playmaker whether it’s Moreno, King, or a receiver down the road like A.J. Green.

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