Georgia Preview 2006
Georgia Preview |
Is it possible for a program to have a problem with consistency
after winning 52 games in five years with four straight seasons with
ten or more wins, two SEC championships and three SEC East titles?
No one's questioning Georgia's status as a superpower under head
coach Mark Richt, but there seems to be something missing even after
all the success.
Fine, so it's nitpicking to search for problems with the SEC's best
program over the last five seasons, but there's a nagging feeling of
wanting more. Since Richt has taken over the reins, LSU has won a
national title, Auburn went unbeaten and could've/should've played
for a national title, and both Florida and Tennessee were in a
position to go to the national title game in 2001 before each
tripped over its own feet late in the year. Georgia, for all the
wins, hasn't been really been in the national championship mix
outside of the marvelous 2002 team that lost its shot with a 20-13
loss to Florida in the Cocktail Party.
The Bulldogs won their two SEC titles with veteran lines and solid
quarterback play, and now they might be another year away from being
back to that elite status.
For now, being more consistent
game-in-and-game-out will be the key. How does a team play so
flawlessly against a national-title caliber power like LSU in the
SEC title game and then come out so flat and unprepared against a
far less talented West Virginia team in the Sugar Bowl? When will
the offense finally bail out the defense in a game and not vice
versa? While the Dawgs aren't just going to take a seat and hand
over their SEC title ring, they might be thinking that this year is
all about playing better from week to week before being able
to finish the drill, as the coaching staff likes to say, in 2007.
Head coach: Mark Richt
6th year: (52-13)
Off. 20, Def. 19, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 22
Best Bulldog Players
1. DE Quentin Moses, Sr.
2. RB Thomas Brown, Jr.
RB Kregg Lumpkin, Jr.
DE Charles Johnson, Jr.
OT Daniel Inman, Sr.
6. WR Mo Massaquoi, Soph.
SS Tra Battle, Sr.
LB Jarvis Jackson, Sr.
9. PK Brandon Coutu, Jr.
10. P Gordon Ely-Kelso, Sr.
at South Carolina
at Ole Miss
2005 Record: 10-3
at Miss State
at Tennessee W 27-14
vs. Florida L 14-10
at Georgia Tech W 14-7
LSU W 34-14
West Virginia L 38-35
While the team is now at a point when it can
just reload, this year will take more work losing some major players on
both sides of the ball, particularly on the offensive line and in the
secondary, but as 2003 proved, when the team had to do a major
rebuilding job after its SEC title year, Richt can plug in the right
pieces and still get into the SEC championship game.
There's talent to burn on offense, but it isn't fully developed. The
team's best quarterback is a true freshman, Matthew Stafford, and the
receiving corps needs at least a few warm up games before it becomes
dangerous. The offensive line has no depth whatsoever and has to replace
several key starters, while the running game, considering all the talent
in the backfield, has to be better than 43rd in the nation. The defense has even more issues with a thin linebacking
corps that can't stay healthy, a slightly undersized line, at least for
Georgia, that likely won't be better against the run, and a secondary
that needs to develop the corners and has to replace three starters.
For all the problems and all the concerns, there's still no reason
whatsoever for Georgia to shoot for anything less than a ten-win season.
The schedule works out almost perfectly with the toughest games late in
the year allowing the young team time to develop, and the shelves are
fully stocked with next-level athletes.
Now if they can put it all together on a weekly basis and keep doing all
the little things right, like special teams and not giving the ball
away, they just might find themselves playing an SEC game in December
It's certainly not a
walk in the park, but it's as good as can be reasonably asked for
considering the conference Georgia plays in. The SEC opener at South
Carolina could become a beartrap if things aren't quite meshing with all
the new starters. However, get by that game and all the big games are
either in Athens (Colorado and Tennessee) or on a neutral site (the
Florida battle), before the conference finale at Auburn. It's too tough
a slate for an inexperienced team to get through unscathed, but 10-2 is
very, very possible.
Junior RBs Thomas Brown, Danny Ware and Kregg Lumpkin. The trio of
fantastic backs all average around five yards a crack and all can
produce. As good as they are, they only combined for 1,658 yards and
seven touchdowns despite playing behind a tremendous offensive line and
with a veteran quarterback like D.J. Shockley to take the heat off. This
year, these three have to carry the load.
Quentin Moses. One of the SEC's best pass rushers could've turned pro
early, but he's back for what should be an All-America caliber season if
all goes well. He has 19.5 sacks and 32.5 tackles for loss over the last
three years, and he should be even better if Charles Johnson turns into
the playmaker he's expected to become on the other side.
to a successful season:
Junior CB Thomas Flowers. The quarterback situation will turn out
fine, the tackles are talented enough to hold their own and the
linebacking corps will be solid if/when everyone is healthy. But the
defense, and the team, will break down if the secondary isn't
up-to-snuff. It's asking too much for it to finish seventh in the nation
again, but Flowers and fellow junior Paul Oliver must have big years.
will be a success if ... Georgia wins ten games. It doesn't have quite enough firepower
to win the SEC title, or even the SEC East if Florida plays as well as
expected and if Tennessee rebounds, but it'll get back to a bowl game
and it should have a good chance at finishing with double-digit wins.
September 9 at South Carolina. The Florida and Tennessee games are
always huge, but the second game of the year, and the SEC opener, in
Columbia will be the tone-setter. Lose to Spurrier and the boys and the
Dawgs will be playing catch-up all year long. Win it, and an 8-0 start is
doable before the Cocktail Party.
- Penalties: Opponents 104 for 756 yards - Georgia 77 for 697 yards
per penalty: Georgia 9.1 - Opponents 7.3
- Third down conversions: Opponents 70 of 188 (37.2%) - Georgia 60 of
Last Time Georgia…
…played in a bowl game…2005 (Sugar Bowl vs. West Virginia)
…missed a bowl game…1996
…pitched a shutout…2003 (Clemson)
…was shutout…1995 (Alabama)
…scored 50 points…2004 (Kentucky)
…won a conference title…2005 (SEC)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…2003 (David Greene)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2002 (Musa Smith)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2002 (Terrence Edwards)
…had a first-round draft choice…2005 (DB Thomas Davis and DE David