Georgia Preview 2006
Posted Aug 8, 2006

Georgia Bulldogs Preview 2006

- Georgia Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

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)
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 20, Def. 19, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 22
Ten 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.
8. LB Jarvis Jackson, Sr.
9. PK Brandon Coutu, Jr.
10. P Gordon Ely-Kelso, Sr.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

9/2 Western Kentucky
9/9 at South Carolina
9/16 UAB
9/23 Colorado
9/30 at Ole Miss
10/7 Tennessee
10/14 Vanderbilt
10/21 Miss State
10/28 vs. Florida
11/4 at Kentucky
11/11 at Auburn
11/25 Georgia Tech

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2005 Record: 10-3

Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 Boise State W 48-13
9/10 South Carolina W 17-15
9/17 UL Monroe W 44-7
9/24 at Miss State W 23-10
10/8 at Tennessee W 27-14
10/15 at Vanderbilt W 34-17
10/22 Arkansas W 23-20
10/29 vs. Florida L 14-10
11/12 Auburn L 31-30
11/19 Kentucky W 45-13
11/26 at Georgia Tech W 14-7
12/3 SEC Championship
LSU W 34-14
1/2 Sugar Bowl
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 again.

The Schedule: 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.

Best Offensive Players: 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.

Best Defensive Player: Senior DE 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.

Key player 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.

The season 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.

Key game: 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.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- Penalties: Opponents 104 for 756 yards - Georgia 77 for 697 yards
Average yards per penalty: Georgia 9.1 - Opponents 7.3
- Third down conversions: Opponents 70 of 188 (37.2%) - Georgia 60 of 163 (36.8%)

The 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)
…went undefeated…1980
…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 Pollack)

Related Stories
Georgia Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by  Aug 8, 2006
Georgia Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by  Aug 8, 2006
Georgia Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by  Aug 8, 2006

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