2012 Georgia Preview – Offense
Georgia QB Aaron Murray
Georgia QB Aaron Murray
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 10, 2012


CollegeFootballNews.com 2012 Preview - Georgia Bulldog Offense


Georgia Bulldogs

Preview 2012 - Offense

- 2012 Georgia Preview | 2012 Georgia Offense
- 2012 Georgia Defense | 2012 Georgia Depth Chart

What You Need To Know: There are just enough pieces in place for the Bulldog offense to come up with a solid year, but it’s going to require some tinkering to make everything work. Having a strong veteran quarterback in Aaron Murray is an excellent start, and while he throws way too many picks he’ll make up for a lot of problems elsewhere. Now he has to be kept upright behind a rebuilding line that might need a little while before it makes the all the pieces of the puzzle fit. The receiving corps should be excellent with a nice group of speedsters led by the return of leading receiver Tavarres King. The loss of former star running back prospect Isaiah Crowell might have been a big problem if there wasn’t so much hope for top recruit Keith Marshall and with several different options to work in a rotation.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Aaron Murray
238-403, 3,149 yds, 35 TD, 14 INT
Rushing: Brandon Harton
53 carries, 247 yds, 2 TD
Receiving: Tavarres King
47 catches, 705 yds, 8 TD

Star of the offense: Junior QB Aaron Murray
Player who has to step up and be a star: Sophomore C David Andrews
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman WR Justin Scott-Wesley
Best pro prospect: Murray
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Murray, 2) OG/C Chris Burnette, 3) OT Kenarious Gates
Strength of the offense: Murray, Receivers
Weakness of the offense: Line Consistency, Sure-Thing Running Back

Quarterbacks

Junior Aaron Murray won the starting job as a freshman and showed he deserved the gig with 3,049 yards and 24 scores, and last year he was even better – especially considering A.J. Green was rocking with the Cincinnati Bengals – completing 59% of his throws for 3,149 yards and a Georgia record 35 touchdowns with 14 picks. He struggled with interceptions late in the season giving away six in the final four games, and he threw three in the win over Mississippi State, but he often made up for his mistakes by keeping the offense moving. The unquestioned leader of the offense, the 2009 superstar recruit out of Tampa has emerged as one of the SEC’s top quarterbacks on the way to becoming a great pro prospect. He’s not all that big at just 6-1 and 211 pounds, but while he doesn’t look like the prototype he has a huge arm and is just mobile enough to get by with 111 net yards and two scores. No one will work harder and no one will do more to prepare, but now he has to be more accurate and has to cut down on the big mistakes.

6-3, 196-pound junior Hutson Mason has gotten in a little bit of work here and there over the last two seasons completing 18-of-30 passes for 254 yards and two scores last season. A bomber, he was the 2009 Georgia Gatorade Player of the Year finishing his high school career with 8,265 yards and 85 scores, including a Georgia high school record for the most passing yards and touchdown throws in a season chucking for 4,560 yards and 54 scores including 522 yards in a single game.

Considering Mason is likely going to sit out this season to save his eligibility, the spotlight will be on 6-2, 198-pound redshirt freshman Christian LeMay, a superstar recruit with all the talent and all the skills to take over the starting job and add more pop to the position if Murray goes down. The 2009 North Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year brings decent size, excellent mobility, and poise beyond his years with a nice passing touch. It’s all there to eventually be the leader of the franchise.

Watch Out For … whether or not Mason plays. Stuck behind Murray, Mason saw his career starting to slip away and was all but certain to take off for another program to get a shot to show what he could do. He’s sticking around, but the idea will be to redshirt him with the thought that he’ll be the starter as a senior in 2014 or even next year if Murray leaves early.
Strength: Talent. Murray, even with his lack of height, has the potential to be a first round draft pick with a terrific arm and the ability to push the ball all over the field. LeMay was an Elite 11 camper and Mason is good enough to start for at least 100 other teams. Throwing the ball won’t be a problem.
Weakness: Murray’s picks. Not only were there too many, but he threw some absolute gut-wrenching game-killers with a few bad throws taken to the house. He might have to carry the offense at times, but he also needs to be more careful.
Outlook: The talent across the board is undeniable for now and the next few seasons. Murray will likely challenge Arkansas senior Tyler Wilson for All-SEC honors, and Mason and LeMay will eventually be all-stars when they get their chances. Overall it’s a great situation and it should be one of Georgia’s biggest strengths.
Unit Rating: 9

Running Backs

So much for that. When superstar prospect Isaiah Crowell was dismissed from the team after being arrested on felony weapons charges. The team’s leading rusher enrolled at Alabama State, so now it will be up to a rotation to pick up the slack led by sophomore Ken Malcome, a 6-0, 226-pound banger who started twice but ran for just 174 yards in six games late in the year. He almost left the team after getting just one carry in the first nine games, but he gradually saw his workload increase and now he appears to be ready to be the main man coming off a strong spring.

5-11, 202-pound freshman Keith Marshall isn’t in Crowell’s class, but he was still a nice recruit this season with good toughness and lightning speed winning the North Carolina 100-meter championship. The 2012 North Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year will get every shot at handling the workload early on, and while he won’t carry the ball 20 times a game, he should be effective when he gets his chances.

Junior Brandon Harton isn’t exactly an SEC household name, but the former receiver ended up finishing third on the team with 247 yards and a score in five games. Only 5-6 and 174 pounds, the former walk-on can be used as a third-down playmaker as well as a shifty speed back in the rotation.

For the moment, 5-11, 216-pound redshirt freshman Merritt Hall is the starting fullback, mainly because he’s just good enough to block and tough enough to be a solid power runner. He’s not huge for the position, but he’s a willing hitter. He might be just keeping the seat warm for Richard Samuel, who started out his career at running back, moved to linebacker, came back as a tailback rushing for 240 yards and a score last season before suffering a bad ankle injury, and now he’s a fullback. At 6-2 and 243-pounds, the senior is a big, bruising runner who has done just enough throughout the course of his career to fill any role in the backfield.

Watch Out For … Marshall. Malcome is fine, and he turned out to be the leader on the depth chart coming out of spring ball, but Marshall is a better talent. Eventually it will be Marshall’s running game as the main option to potentially pick up where Crowell left off.
Strength: Running backs. Lose one superstar prospect, wait five minutes and another will come along. The Dawgs always seem to be able to plug-and-chug backs into the system when needed, and there will be plenty of opportunities.
Weakness: Consistency. It might not be fair to judge any ground game that had to go against LSU or Michigan State last season, but in the final two games the Dawgs ran for 78 yards and 51 yards, respectively. The backs didn’t do much of anything against the better run defenses and failed to score in the final four games of the season.
Outlook: Yeah, Georgia has a slew of decent backs and lots of options, and yeah, Crowell was a pain in the butt at times, but he’ll still be missed. He was the one the ground game was supposed to work around for the next few seasons, and now the Dawgs will have to make due with a steady rotation that’s mixed together. It would be nice if one back could step up and take the job by the horns, but that’s probably not going to happen.
Unit Rating: 7

Receivers

The Bulldogs had to replace A.J. Green, and while no one expected senior Tavarres King to be the same type of playmaker, he did a nice job of helping to pick up the slack with a team-leading 47 catches for 705 yards and eight scores averaging 15 yards per grab highlighted by a brilliant six-catch, 205-yard, one touchdown day in the bowl loss to Michigan State. At 6-1 and 192 pounds he has decent size and has been extremely steady with the skills to be a nice No. 1 target to work around. He set the Georgia state high school record with 1,632 yards and 17 touchdowns on 99 grabs in 2007, and he’s proving to be as good as advertised.

While there’s a chance second-leading receiver Malcolm Mitchell could end up back on offense after making 45 catches for 655 yards and four touchdowns, he’s needed more on defense and will likely spend his entire season as a defensive back. That means it’ll be up to senior Marlon Brown to finally play up to his tremendous prep hype after struggling to make a big impact throughout his career and having problems last season with a bad ankle finishing with 15 catches for 234 yards and three touchdowns. The 6-5, 222-pounder has tremendous size and looks the part, and he showed he could come up big with four catches for 121 yards and two scores in the win over Vandy, but he has to put it all together and finish out his career with a flourish.

Backing up Brown at split end will be sophomore Michael Bennett, one of the team’s high-rising prospects last year finishing fourth on the team with 32 catches for 320 yards and five scores. Steady as part of the rotation, he has the 6-3, 208-pound size and the deep speed to be a matchup nightmare in three-wide sets.

Working behind King at Flanker will be promising 5-11, 218-pound redshirt freshman Justin Scott-Wesley, a lightning fast speedster who won the 2010 Georgia state championship in the 100 meter dash and won the 200 in both 2009 and 2010. With good size and elite wheels, it’s all there to make a big impact, while also in the mix will be 5-10, 185-pound junior Rantavious Wooten who returns after suffering a concussion in a car crash missing most of last season. He’s not all that big, but he’s a smart route runner with tremendous quickness and the potential to hit the home run every time he touches the ball after catching two passes for 39 yards and a score in just two games.

Somehow, 6-3, 202-pound sophomore Chris Conley will be on the field after making 16 catches for 288 yards and two scores in his first year, averaging 18 yards per catch. A good recruit, he has all the tools and talent to be great at flanker with good quickness for his size and the honor roll smarts to know what he’s doing.

The tight end situation might be seen as a problem after losing Orson Charles and his 45 catches for 574 yards and five scores, but 6-6, 254-pound redshirt freshman Jay Rome has the potential to be even better. With prototype size, the athleticism to play on the Bulldog basketball team, and the prep résumé to be one of the team’s top recruits last season and considered one of the nation’s top tight end prospects. He’ll start out playing behind 6-5, 272-pound junior Arthur Lynch, a very big, very strong option who’s a blaster of a blocker to go along with Rome’s receiving ability.

Watch Out For … Scott-Wesley. There are several good options for both spots, but it’s Scott-Wesley who could break out and become the new star with his phenomenal deep speed. He’ll be given several chances to grow into a starring role.
Strength: The prototype. Georgia is loaded with a slew of receivers out of central casting with several six-plus, 200-pound speedsters who fit the mold. Even the smaller guys like Scott-Wesley and Wooten have decent size, and make up for their lack of bulk with blinding speed.
Weakness: Tight end. Rome has all the potential and ability to become special and he looks like he’s about to be the next great Georgia tight end. However, Charles was probably the best NFL tight end in college football last season and big Aron White was a nice blocker and decent around the goal line with four of his nine catches going for scores.
Outlook: The receiving corps was just fine even after losing a superstar in A.J. Green. King was solid and now there’s enough depth and enough options to make up for the loss of Mitchell to the secondary. Aaron Murray will make everyone around him better and will spread out his passes and throws to keep everyone involved in what should be a dangerous group.
Unit Rating: 7.5

Offensive Line

The line struggled a bit in pass protection, and now it needs junior Kenarious Gates to step up and be fantastic. The 6-5, 328-pound veteran started out his career at guard and now will hold down the left tackle job where he needs to use his bulk and his strength to be good in pass protection in place of Cordy Glenn. Originally a tackle when he came to Georgia, he should be able to handle himself with a little bit of time.

Originally, the idea was for sophomore Kolton Houston to step in at tackle. He's a 6-5, 291-pound with tremendous upside after missing all of last year with issues with the NCAA, and now he's gone after being declared ineligible. Fortunately, that might simply speed up the timetable for top recruit John Theus to take over a starting job. At 6-6 and 292 pounds he has the size to step in and start right away, and he has undeniable talent as a potential anchor at either tackle spot. However, Theus will likely take a backup role early on with 6-7, 320-pound sophomore Watts Dantzler filling in at right tackle. Smart, big, and talented with a great frame and terrific upside, he'll be a key part of the puzzle after originally going into the year as a key backup.

Looking to anchor the middle for the next three years is sophomore David Andrews, a 6-2, 280-pound athlete who has to come up big. While he has the size to work at guard, he was brought to Georgia as a top center prospect with good physical tools and enough pass blocking skills to get by. If he can’t get the job done, then one of the guards could move over with 6-2, 313-pound junior Chris Burnette likely to take over. The veteran right guard started 12 times last season but missed a little time with a knee problem. Very smart and very talented, he’s a great leader for the line with the pop to blast away for the running game and the versatility to shine in the middle if needed.

6-4, 300-pound junior Dallas Lee spent last year as a part-time starter and versatile blocker before getting knocked out with a broken leg. While he’ll likely on the left side, he could move over to the right side if Burnette ends up starting in the middle. If he moves, 6-5, 290-pound JUCO transfer Mark Beard will likely step in after earning NJCAA All-America honors at Coffeyville CC. Originally a Troy Trojan, he has decent size and can move around where needed.

Watch Out For … Andrews. The line depends on if the sophomore can get the job done in the middle. If he can’t then Burnette will move from right guard to the center and then the scrambling will be on. Dantzler could move around if Theus is ready, or Beard could step into a starting role right away.
Strength: Potential. The line might not have done enough to get the job done last year and it might need some retooling, but offensive line coach Will Friend will have time to mold this group into something potentially special. There aren’t any seniors on the three-deep depth chart and there’s plenty of versatility to play around with.
Weakness: Blocking. The line underwent a new strength and conditioning program, and while the results were decent for the ground game, the pass protection wasn’t good enough. The line has too much talent and too much depth to not be better and more consistent.
Outlook: A major disappointment over the last few years thanks to injuries and inconsistencies, now the line needs to undergo a little bit of a facelift with three new starters and a few question marks about where the pieces of the puzzle are going to fit. Don’t get comfortable with the depth chart; it’s probably going to change in a big way before Buffalo comes to town.
Unit Rating: 7

- 2012 Georgia Preview | 2012 Georgia Offense
- 2012 Georgia Defense | 2012 Georgia Depth Chart