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Post Hoops update: a successful weekend

Monday January 28, 2013

It’s been a while since we’ve been able to say it, but it was a winning weekend for both of Georgia’s basketball teams. Both squads got back into the win column after a disappointing home loss, and both have a good opportunity to build on those victories with some winnable mid-week games.

The men pulled off a surprising road win on Saturday at Texas A&M. In their first visit to College Station, the Dawgs got on top and stayed there, opening up a lead that grew to 17 points in the second half. The Georgia offense became stagnant and the hosts made their push, but Georgia, to their credit, made just enough plays and held A&M scoreless in the final minute. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, as usual, was the story – he was incredibly efficient on offense with 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting including a 50% night from behind the arc. He was also Georgia’s leading rebounder by a wide margin with nine boards. The team made their free throws, limited their turnovers, and won the rebounding battle. That’s what it takes to win on the road.

As tough of a season as it’s been, it’s been – relatively speaking – a good stretch for the team. They’ve won two of three and were up on Florida at halftime of Wednesday’s game before the wheels came off. The math is fairly simple – Georgia is going to score somewhere in the high 50s or the low 60s – no more. They won’t stay close in a shootout. If they can hold the opponent in that range, we’ll have a game. The team isn’t going to become an offensive dynamo, but there are still opportunities for other players. Georgia still needs KCP to have a good game to have any chance, but when you get things like Brantley’s mini-hot streak in the second half or valuable minutes from Tim Dixon or six blocks scattered throughout the box score, it will occasionally be enough to come away with a win even on nights where no other player sniffs double-figures in scoring.

Though no SEC opponent is a sure win for a team in Georgia’s position, they’re in as favorable of a stretch as the schedule has. After six conference games, the Dawgs are just one game out of the league cellar, but they’re also tied for 7th place with an astounding seven teams at 2-4. A couple of wins over the next few weeks could move Georgia to the top of that logjam, and they’ll be facing several teams stuck right there in a similar position.

The women had a week to stew over their embarrassing home loss to Texas A&M. Though just their third loss and first home loss of the season, the Lady Dogs looked completely outclassed and punchless against a good-but-not-great Aggie squad. The bye week gave the team a chance to rest and dwell on the loss, but the lackluster effort stayed with the team until they were shut out of their practice gym mid-week. It’s insane that a team that hadn’t actually won anything could ever get complacent, but that’s what we heard after the A&M loss and also what we heard after the season’s first loss at Illinois.

It turns out that this tumultuous week was just what the team needed – at least in the short team. Florida caught a ticked-off Georgia team on the wrong day. The Lady Dogs roared out to a quick double-digit lead, and Florida never mounted a serious challenge. They led by 19 at halftime and eventually pushed the lead over 30 before Florida got it back under 20 in garbage time. Though Georgia didn’t really shoot lights-out, they had a balanced attack and were able to get points both in transition and from the halfcourt offense. Neither team shot well from outside, but Florida shot just 34% from the floor and was an abysmal 5-of-14 from the line.

Andy Landers continues to experiment with his deep roster. Small forward Krista Donald started and responded well with 11 points despite low minutes as the team manages her damaged knee. Anne Marie Armstrong came off the bench and played with more energy than she’s shown so far in SEC play, finishing with 7 points and a big 9 rebounds. Freshman Tiaria Griffin continues to embrace the starting role and finished with 12 points. Though the offense got sloppy at the end of both halves, the effort was so much better than in the A&M game or even in earlier wins against Arkansas and South Carolina.

The Lady Dogs host Alabama on Thursday in a rematch of a high-scoring but comfortable Georgia win in Tuscaloosa earlier this month. Another strong effort should see them push their winning streak to two games, but extending it to three games will be tough, and they can’t pat themselves on the back too hard for the Florida win. After Alabama, Georgia visits #5 Kentucky next Sunday in a game with SEC title hopes at stake. At 5-2 in the league now, Georgia is just outside the top four, and they’ll need to keep winning in order to keep pace with the SEC leaders.

Post NCAA untangles recruiting rules: the rise of Daryl Jones?

Monday January 28, 2013

The title of “recruiting coordinator” is coveted by certain assistants. It’s a way to earn extra visibility on a staff, and it usually comes with a nice salary bump. Many assistants of varying coaching ability have carved out relatively stable careers for themselves as recruiting coordinators, and the best enjoy a status on a staff comparable to offensive or defensive coordinators.

This specialty position developed because the NCAA required that many essential recruiting functions be performed by a coach, and the NCAA is very clear about who may or may not be considered a coach. For all of the support staff a school can hire, no football program may have more than 7 assistant coaches. But new NCAA rules meant to untangle and streamline the current rulebook will allow programs to move these recruiting functions away from coaches and onto staffers. Specifically,

(Proposal) 11-2, which will eliminate the rules defining recruiting coordination functions that must be performed only by a head or assistant coach.

There are a whole lot of rules changes involved in this batch (all of which will take effect on August 1st), but they more or less add up to the decoupling of the coaching staff and the recruiting process. Your recruiting coordinator needn’t be a coach now, and schools are free to build up departments dedicated to interacting with prospects in any medium from printed material to social media. Certainly these changes allow for big advantages for those schools with the resources to staff these departments. Hopefully Georgia will be among those taking full advantage of the new rules.

These rules changes also give an insight to Georgia all but shrugging off the title of recruiting coordinator following Rodney Garner’s departure. Sure, there are several worthwhile candidates on staff, and a couple have even held the recruiting coordinator position before. But under the new rules there’s just no need to bother an assistant coach with the administrative details of the coordinator role. Those tasks can now fall to someone who can focus on recruiting rather than split time between coordinating visits and trying to come up with a defensive line rotation for next week’s game. The coaches of course will remain the primary recruiters and evaluators of talent, but this non-coaching position is about to get a big boost in both visibility and importance.

For Georgia, that person might already be in the program. Daryl Jones was hired in May of last year as the team’s Director of On-Campus Recruiting. In that role, he’s already involved in recruiting strategy, coordinating visits, and acting as a liason between the program and high schools. Jones spent 17 years involved in Georgia high school football, rising from an assistant coach to athletic director. He also has experience managing and coaching in Under Armour camps and the Under Armour All-America game.

After the new rules take effect in August, it will be interesting to see what role Jones has in the allocation of recruiting duties that had previously been limited to coaches. In hindsight, it’s good fortune (or good planning if this rules change was already under consideration) that Georgia chose someone with Jones’s administrative background rather than one of the inexperienced recruiting analysts who were reportedly under consideration for the position.

Post About that weak schedule…

Wednesday January 16, 2013

Before we put one of our favorite preseason topics in cold storage, let’s take one more look back at Georgia’s 2012 schedule. Sagarin’s final ratings are out, and they include strength of schedule for all FBS and FCS teams. (h/t to @OtterDTX for finding the link.) I know there are disagreements with Sagarin’s methods and results, but we’ll stick with them for this post.

Georgia had Sagarin’s 27th-toughest schedule. Among Sagarin’s top 10 teams, every other team but Oregon had a tougher schedule. The separation isn’t that great though. Only five of the top 10 teams had a top 20 schedule, and three others were there in the 20s with the Dawgs. Here are some teams of note:

  • Alabama: #1 rating, #19 schedule
  • Texas A&M: #3 rating, #6 schedule
  • Georgia: #4 rating, #27 schedule
  • South Carolina: #6 rating, #23 schedule
  • FSU: #11 rating, #66 schedule
  • Ohio State: #13 rating, #60 schedule
  • Nebraska: #22 rating, #20 schedule
  • Ole Miss: #24 rating, #8 schedule
  • Vanderbilt: #25 rating, #42 schedule

For what it’s worth, Georgia Southern wasn’t the lowest-rated team on Georgia’s schedule. It wasn’t even in the bottom third of opponents. Sagarin has Georgia Southern rated at #72. Far below them lie Auburn (#81), Kentucky (#93), Buffalo (#131), and Florida Atlantic (#137).

Some other observations:

  • The Dawgs ended up playing three other top 10 teams (and went 1-2). No top 10 team played more than four other top 10 opponents, and Kansas State didn’t face a (final) top 10 team until their bowl.
  • Georgia faced six top 30 teams, and they had a 4-2 record in those games. Those lopsided Ole Miss and Vandy wins look a lot more impressive in hindsight.
  • What does having the nation’s toughest schedule get you? Say hello to Missouri, whose move to the SEC meant that they were the only team in the nation to face five eventual top 10 teams. The #2 schedule? Auburn’s next coach will hope for a little easier slate.
  • If you wonder why SEC teams schedule as they do, the conference ended up with 12 of the nation’s 30 toughest schedules. Only Vanderbilt and Mississippi State didn’t have a top 30 schedule.
  • Taking that last point further, the SEC had six of the nation’s top 10 schedules and three of the top 5.
  • It’s worth noting that only two of those six SEC teams with top 10 schedules qualified for a bowl.
  • The average BCS team had a strength of schedule rating just over 40. Even when you exclude Northern Illinois’ abysmal #121 schedule, the average BCS team’s strength of schedule was #31.

Post Lady Dogs rediscover the paint in a successful week

Monday January 14, 2013

The Lady Dogs’ first two road trips after the Christmas break didn’t go well. They lost their first game of the year in a sluggish effort at Illinois, and then they saw a close game deteriorate in the second half at Tennessee. After starting 12-0, the team had lost two of three games.

The team had some opportunities to recover over the past week, and they cashed in with a pair of wins in games that featured very different styles. Thursday’s game at Alabama, an 95-83 win, was a shootout. About the only way either team could stop the other was by stealing the ball; the teams combined for 19 steals. But Georgia shot 56%, Alabama shot 64% from outside, and both teams put up some of their highest point totals of the season. It was close at halftime, but Georgia pulled away to lead by as many as 19. Five Georgia players scored in double-figures.

Sunday’s home game against South Carolina was the complete opposite. The Lady Dogs won a 42-40 grinder against South Carolina, one of the best defensive teams in the nation. The South Carolina defense and its on-ball pressure was an especially strong test for Georgia’s guards, and the visitors came away with 13 steals. But it also meant a stiff test for Georgia’s own defense. With things going slowly on offense, a Georgia defense that gave up 83 points to Alabama couldn’t afford another high number.

South Carolina did a few things to help Georgia out. The Gamecocks were a woeful 0-for-11 from outside and only shot 8-for-16 from the foul line. Free throws aside, South Carolina’s open looks from outside were the byproduct of an effective Georgia zone defense. South Carolina’s strength is in driving to the basket. Georgia’s zone helped to limit this penetration, and the visitors shot only 34%. South Carolina did have one advantage, and that was toughness inside. The Gamecocks pulled down 12 offensive boards and out-rebounded Georgia 37-28. This rebounding edge helped South Carolina overcome their poor shooting: 10 of South Carolina’s 40 points were second-chance baskets.

This was a close defensive battle typical of what we’ve come to expect against Dawn Staley’s South Carolina teams. Neither team led by more than 6, and both teams made key plays on both ends of the court when it seemed that one side might look to make a run. Georgia’s guards usually aren’t shy about shooting, but the South Carolina defense kept the Georgia backcourt to no more than 8 attempts from any one player. The Lady Dogs did get some good looks, but they too struggled from outside, hitting only one of nine attempts from behind the arc.

Two players accounted for nearly half the points in the game. South Carolina forward Aleighsa Welch was tough to stop with 19 points on efficient 8-for-10 shooting. Georgia had an answer on their frontcourt. Jasmine Hassell also poured in 19 points, and she scored Georgia’s final three points to help seal the win. Hassell’s solid game came on the heels of a 21 point, 7 rebound effort at Alabama. Those two game earned her SEC Player of the Week honors, and she did it all with a broken nose suffered during the Alabama game.

Hassell’s importance to the team has been clear over the past month. She was key in the Alabama and South Carolina games, but there have been times when that production hasn’t been there – or when teammates have struggled to get the ball inside. In the loss at Tennessee, Hassell only scored 4 points, but she only attempted 4 shots. Even in a solid win over Missouri to open SEC play, Hassell got 3 points on 4 attempts. I understand that sometimes defenses make it a point to keep the ball from Georgia’s only true post player, but more consistent output from that spot has to be a key for the team going forward. Good things happen when she gets the ball inside.

Now the focus turns to Anne Marie Armstrong. Georgia’s other senior forward has been recovering from a foot injury since before the season. The injury has had a glaring impact on Armstrong’s scoring. She was held out of the Alabama game to help her recovery, but her four games since Christmas haven’t been successful. She’s shooting just 3-for-28 during that stretch, and there were three games in which she didn’t make a shot. You need her in the game because as an intelligent and experienced senior, she finds other ways to contribute. Her defense is solid, she contributed two steals against South Carolina, and she led the team with 4 assists. You just hope that the ankle can come back to a point where Armstrong is again an inside-outside scoring threat.

Georgia has an interesting week coming up with another away/home pair of games. The long-ish trip to Arkansas, especially on a weekday, is never pleasant. It doesn’t help that Arkansas is a decent team this year. Georgia returns home on Sunday to welcome Texas A&M to the SEC. While most of the state will be glued to the Falcons, this will be the second straight Sunday Top 20 game at Stegeman Coliseum. A&M’s football program is the toast of College Station now, but this basketball team has been one of the strongest Aggie programs over the past couple of years. They reached the national title game two years ago and returned to the Sweet 16 a year ago. They’re back in the top 20 this year. Though they’ve lost five games, all five losses have been to top 10 teams, and only the loss to UConn wasn’t close. A&M coach Gary Blair, through his former position at Arkansas, is no stranger to Athens. Georgia’s upperclassmen were there for a humiliating loss when these teams last met in the 2011 Sweet 16, and hopefully that bitter taste will be on their minds.

Post Hoops update: if it were an NFL team, it would be time to play for the #1 pick

Monday January 14, 2013

Back when sports blogging awards were a thing, there was one called the “Job Award.” It went to the poor soul who kept plugging through his or her team’s awful season. It’s easy and fun to write about a winning season like the one we just enjoyed with Georgia football. Things were less fun in 2010, but, still – we’re not talking about a 2012 Auburn season. You have to salute (pity? wonder about?) those fans who not only show up for and watch every game but also try to make sense of it all for the rest of us.

That all applies to anyone writing about Georgia basketball these days. It’s just not enjoyable. And as bad as it is to watch and then revisit, it’s that much worse to play and coach through. It’s tough on a team that’s not all that good to come to practice and prepare for the next game with the right outlook and attention to detail that will create the foundation on which a poor team will become a better team.

Georgia’s loss at Florida in the SEC opener wasn’t unexepected, but the hosts weren’t even challenged. Saturday’s loss to Mississippi State was a missed opportunity to defend the home court against one of the league’s poorest teams. It was a measuring stick against a conference peer, and the Dawgs came up short. The offense that had a fairly productive first half by Georgia standards fell apart once Caldwell-Pope went quiet after a defensive adjustment. Georgia had some chances midway through the second half to take control of the game, but they couldn’t separate. MSU, and Jalen Steele in particular, made the Dawgs pay with their own run in the final minutes to open up the game, and Georgia wasn’t able to recover.

At 0-2 in the league, Georgia faces a tough four-game stretch where a home game against a decent LSU team might be Georgia’s best (only?) shot for their first conference win over those four games. We know by now that this team is just going to struggle to put points on the board, and so they’ll struggle to win when they can’t bring the kind of defense it takes to hold games under 60 points. With the direction of the season fairly evident now, we’ll look to the development of some promising freshmen and see if they can offer fans hope for a better future.

Post Dynasty by happenstance

Monday January 14, 2013

Alabama was dominant in the national title game a week ago. Not many around the SEC were surprised. Not only did we know Bama; the SEC has also built its current dynasty through a habit of beating the nation’s #1 team. In five of the seven years during the current streak, the SEC team that ended up winning the national title came into the game as the #2 team. That doesn’t mean all five of those teams were underdogs in the championship game, but in those five seasons the polls and computers agreed that there was a more obvious participant in the title game. In four of the seven seasons, the road to the title for the eventual champion only became clear after some improbable late-season upsets.

  • 2006: Not only did Florida get caught up in Michigan/Ohio State rematch talk, but they also needed a 5-loss UCLA team to upset mighty USC in the final week of the season.
  • 2007: The litany of upsets and poll manipulation that put a two-loss LSU team into the championship could fill its own post, but the Pitt upset of West Virginia is enough to illustrate the kind of year 2007 was.
  • 2011: LSU was going to be in the game regardless, but their opponent didn’t even win their conference. But after Oklahoma State faltered at Ames and Boise State had a placekicking meltdown for the ages, the SEC streak lived on thanks to an unlikely rematch of a game played just two months earlier.
  • 2012: Alabama’s spot for a title defense was all but booked after October, but the loss to A&M opened the door for a slew of other teams. The champs again needed intervention in order to earn the opportunity to repeat. That intervention came on a night where two top-5 title contenders fell within hours. Then Notre Dame controlled the top spot, and the SEC championship became a de facto national semifinal. It was also fortunate that Ohio State was ineligible, or we would have watched two midwestern teams fight over the SEC’s crown

I”m not trying to take anything away from Alabama and their repeat. They’ve been the best team over the body of two seasons. As the SEC has been so dominant in the title game, their spot in the game has been as fragile as an Iowa tailback. Things will change somewhat with the introduction of a playoff, but even then there will be debate. Few teams were better at the end of the season than Texas A&M, but I can’t imagine even an 8-team playoff having room for the Aggies. It’s been a little amusing then to read and listen to all of the analysis over the past week of what it will take to end the SEC’s run. There doesn’t have to be any great power rising up from the west or midwest. All it could take is a double-digit home favorite somewhere taking care of business.

Post Trouble been doggin’ my soul

Monday January 7, 2013

One reason for optimism about the 2013 Georgia offense is that for the first time since 2010, the team looks likely to return its leading rusher. It will be the first time since 2008 and only the second time under Mark Richt that Georgia returns a 1,000-yard rusher.

The relative calm surrounding the running back position is a stark contrast to the saga of Georgia’s leading rusher from 2011. Isaiah Crowell transferred to Alabama State after his dismissal from the Georgia program. Crowell had a fair season with 842 yards and 15 touchdowns, and he was named the SWAC newcomer of the year. But as with Crowell’s 850-yard debut in Athens, his first year at Alabama State can’t avoid drama.

ASU self-reported violations regarding Crowell before the season even started. The violations didn’t affect Crowell’s eligibility, but they ended up as a central issue in the firing of the school’s athletic director.

Former ASU AD Stacy Danley claims, and the school denies, that “(Danley) was pushed out at the school after he insisted that head football coach Reggie Barlow be fired for repeatedly lying” during the Crowell investigation. The whole story is a strange volley of allegations between Danley and the administration involving Danley’s role during Crowell’s reinstatement, a Burger King, the daughter of the school’s executive vice president, and the local Thai place.

Georgia has a lot on its plate between now and the 2013 season, but I’m at least glad that the cloud that seems to follow a running back wearing #1 has moved west. Considering what it seems to have cost ASU to land him, Georgia should consider itself lucky for a certain June traffic stop.

Post Georgia 45 – Nebraska 31: A happy ending

Sunday January 6, 2013

A pair of second-half fumbles became game-turning plays for two SEC schools in their New Year’s Day bowls. One fumble will be shown for years, especially on Draft Day 2014 when the college football world celebrates its freedom from Jadaveon Clowney’s reign of terror. You probably won’t see the other fumble again. There might even be doubt whether it was a fumble as replays proved inconclusive. But Alec Ogletree’s forced fumble and recovery as Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah dove to move the chains on a 3rd-and-1 in a tie game was every bit as significant in that game’s outcome as Clowney’s world-stopping play was in his.

Abdullah’s fumble didn’t lead to an outburst of points for Georgia. The Dawgs went three-and-out after the fumble, and they didn’t score again until the fourth quarter. The impact on the Nebraska offense (and the Georgia defense) though was significant. The Huskers looked unstoppable on their first drive of the second half. They marched for a score in thirteen plays on a run-heavy drive, and Georgia’s defense couldn’t even line up correctly. Their second drive started the same way: they moved the ball 47 yards from their own 14 and faced an easy 3rd-and-1 before Georgia was forced to take their second timeout of the half just to get the right people on the field and ready for the snap. The Dawgs were bewildered, and Todd Grantham’s defense looked as ineffective as it did at South Carolina (or Kentucky, for that matter).

Abdullah managed to convert the first down, but Ogletree popped the ball out as Abdullah lunged forward. Nebraska’s next drive was only their third three-and-out of the game as Christian Robinson managed to contain Taylor Martinez on a third-down scramble. The Dawgs forced another three-and-out on Nebraska’s subsequent possession after Georgia had reclaimed the lead. Suddenly the Georgia offense had a chance to build on their lead, and they capitalized with Chris Conley’s 87-yard untouched catch and sprint. Georgia’s two-score lead and the dwindling clock put increased pressure on Martinez to make plays, and he obliged by heaving a long pass that was intercepted by Damian Swann. The Dawgs didn’t score again, but they ran 4:39 off the clock in ten plays to all but end the game.

Prior to the fumble the Cornhuskers had piled up 123 yards in less than ten minutes of the third quarter. Abdullah fumbled with 5:30 to go in the quarter. Nebraska’s four possessions over the remainder of the game yielded just 59 yards and no points. Martinez was 3-for-8 passing on those drives for 19 yards and 1 INT.

What happened? To begin with, Georgia was more effective limiting the big play. The Huskers had no run longer than 11 yards and completed no pass longer than 8 yards after the fumble. Ogletree and the rest of the interior defense became more active. Penalties also put the Huskers in a hole – their three drives following the fumble each had a false start with a punt or a turnover soon to follow. As many good things as there are to say about the Georgia offense, the transformation of a defense that looked lost and disorganized for much of the game was amazing. The biggest difference in this game and the horrible loss at South Carolina was that the offense was able to keep up until the defense figured it out. Without Aaron Murray shaking off his start and coming through in a big way, we’d be having some very different discussions about the other side of the ball.

  • How clutch was Murray? Though he hovered at or below 50% for much of the game, there was this (courtesy of Bill Connelly): on third downs, Murray was 11-for-14 for 246 yards and two touchdowns.
  • In 2002, Georgia went to Auburn with key receivers Terrence Edwards and Damien Gary out injured. When Malcolm Mitchell was lost to a concussion early in the game, that 2002 Auburn game was about as close as I could come to Georgia’s passing game facing such dire depth conditions in such a big game. Three of Georgia’s top four receivers were out, and Murray still put up prodigious numbers against a good pass defense.
  • Of course in that 2002 game almost all of the load was taken up by one player, Michael Johnson. Murray and Bobo managed to come up with a diverse passing attack using whatever happened to be laying around. Tavarres King, as the lone veteran left standing, certainly did his part to go out on top, and he probably should have even had another score. Then there’s Conley. If you want to see SEC speed, watch his acceleration after the catch. Wooten nearly had a touchdown and made an important block to clear the way for Lynch to score. Scott-Wesley worked through a rough start to come up with big catches. McGowan got open for the two-point conversion.
  • There’s a reason why Georgia was after an impact JUCO receiver like Cordarelle Patterson in last year’s signing class. He’d help any team, but Georgia’s depth at receiver wasn’t seen as a strength – especially with Mitchell claimed by the defense. This group was able to not only survive the loss of two, and eventually three, of its most experienced and talented members. It was able to thrive and become a big part of one of the nation’s top offenses.
  • Georgia’s passing game has been more inclusive since the Florida game, and two of the five passing touchdowns didn’t go to receivers. Lynch has set himself up for a big senior season. Marshall’s improvisation on his touchdown catch was outstanding. His original route was a simple release to the flat. When Murray started to scramble, Marshall was covered by a slower linebacker. Marshall took off to the endzone, and Murray threw his trademark back-shoulder dart which Marshall caught and turned into a score as smoothly as any receiver.
  • Have we become numb to 100-yard performances from a tailback? True, a lot of us expected both Gurley and Marshall to go for about 300 yards each after watching the Big Ten championship. Georgia found it difficult to establish a running game against a defense giving up around 195 yards per game. But as in the SEC Championship, the running game made it impossible to focus on Murray. Georgia’s 162 yards rushing were also a far sight better than the 51 yards gained on the ground in last year’s bowl game.
  • Not exactly a state secret here, but Georgia really likes the underneath route rolling to the right on two-point conversions. Usually it’s a man in motion from the far side that curls underneath, and drifted as Murray rolled out.
  • The role of Geathers stepping in for Jenkins got a lot of attention, but I was also pleased with the performance of the ends. Garrison Smith has developed a good feistiness to go along with his ability, and he’ll be a star next year. Ray Drew has quietly had a very solid finish to the season. I’d like to have seen more of Thornton. He did well while in the game, and I hope that the next defensive line coach trusts his guys enough to rotate them more.
  • You take the personal fouls and the biting on play action because Shawn Williams is still in Taylor Martinez’s head.
  • The losses on defense are severe, but a core of guys like Smith, Drew, Jordan Jenkins, Herrera, and Swann are a great group around which to build. Though depth and immediate contributions from newcomers will be important, I think the biggest key for the 2013 defense will be the ability of young players already in the system like Dawson, Thornton, and Harvey-Clemons to step into regular roles.
  • You have to consider the kicking job up for grabs during the offseason, don’t you?

Post Aaron Murray will return

Sunday January 6, 2013

Georgia’s offense learned that the nation’s second-rated passer will return for his senior season:

With Murray returning, Georgia loses only receivers Tavarres King and Marlon Brown from the nation’s top offense in terms of yards-per-play. King and Brown leave big shoes to fill, but the return of Michael Bennett, the arrival of some key newcomers, and a year of development for everyone else will have expectations sky-high for the Georgia offense as the defense rebuilds.

Defensive tackle Kwame Geathers is the only draft-eligible Bulldog who hasn’t announced his intentions yet.