2007 Georgia Preview

Posted Jul 3, 2007

Georgia struggled through an inconsistent 2006, and has several concerns going into 2007, but with the emergence of Matthew Stafford as one of the SEC's start quarterbacks, a league title is possible.

Georgia Bulldogs

Preview 2007

By Pete Fiutak

- 2007 Georgia Offense Preview | 2007 Georgia Defense Preview
2007 Georgia Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Georgia Preview 

Someone forgot to tell Georgia that you’re not supposed to go 9-4 in a rebuilding year.    

After winning the SEC title in 2005, the Bulldogs had to replace too many key starters to be a true player in the 2006 conference race, and it showed early with an offense that went nowhere and a D that lost its mojo in midseason. Even so, in the end, the team came much closer to having a special year than to falling into the abyss (like Tennessee in 2005).  Now it should be poised and ready to be one of the favorites, even if the rest of the world is falling all over itself to hand the crown to Florida or LSU, and even though the defense needs a ton of things to fall into place early on.

Head coach: Mark Richt
7th year: 61-17
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 19, Def. 22, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 25
Ten Best Bulldog Players
1. QB Matthew Stafford, Soph.
2. RB Thomas Brown, Sr.*
3. RB Kregg Lumpkin, Sr.
4. PK Brandon Coutu, Sr.
5. OT Trinton Sturdivant, Fr.
6. SS Kelin Johnson, Sr.
7. FS Reshad Jones, RFr.
8. WR Sean Bailey, Sr.
9. DE Roderick Battle, Soph.
10. DT Jeff Owens, Jr.
*if healthy

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 8-4

Sept. 1

Oklahoma State

Sept. 8

South Carolina

Sept. 15

Western Carolina

Sept. 22

at Alabama

Sept. 29

Ole Miss

Oct. 6

at Tennessee

Oct. 13

at Vanderbilt

Oct. 27

vs. Florida

Nov. 3


Nov. 10


Nov. 17


Nov. 24

at Georgia Tech

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2006 Record:
Preview 2006 predicted wins

9/2 W Kentucky W 48-12
9/9 at S. Carolina W 18-0
9/16 UAB W 34-0
9/23 Colorado W 14-13
9/30 at Ole Miss W 14-9
10/7 Tennessee L 51-33
10/14 Vanderbilt L 24-22
10/21 Miss State W 27-24
10/28 vs. Florida L 21-14
11/4 at Kentucky L 24-20
11/11 at Auburn W 37-15
11/25 Georgia Tech W 15-12
12/30 Chick-fil-A Bowl
Virginia Tech W 31-24

Inexperienced teams with true freshman quarterbacks tend to lose close games, but as shaky as things were in way-too-tight wins over bad Colorado, Ole Miss and Mississippi State teams, the young Dawgs started to figure things out and began to gain confidence by the end of the year. Now Georgia is poised and ready to be back to its double-digit win self, as long as it gets a little bit of luck along the way.

Even with the success, will the program ever get the national love and respect other SEC teams are getting? Despite all the wins and titles under Head Coach Mark Richt, Georgia is still an SEC afterthought, getting lost behind all the other great conference storylines. Part of the reason is that Tennessee, Florida and LSU have won national titles in the last ten years, while Georgia hasn’t gotten over the hump (and hasn’t really been all that close after the midway point in any year under Richt).

No, this might not be the team that can “finish the drill,” as Richt likes to say, and win the national title, but it’s good enough to come up with a few surprises and win the SEC for the second time in three years. Eventually, it’ll be Georgia’s turn to become a national champion again. Eventually.

What to watch for on offense: The emergence of the offensive line. Under Richt, Georgia’s championship teams have had dominant, veteran offensive lines. This year’s group should be fine, but it might take a while after losing four starters. Stafford had the luxury of good pass protection last season, but he might not have it for the first half of this season. 

What to watch for on defense: How will the line come through? Quentin Moses might have been disappointing and Charles Johnson wasn’t quite the All-American he was expected to be, but it’s still not a plus to lose two NFL starters at end, along with productive tackle Ray Gant. There’s speed on the edges, but not a whole bunch of size, so while getting into the backfield might not be a problem, expect the linebackers to have to do more against the run.

The team will be far better if … the receivers start to play better. With the possible exception of tight end Martrez Milner, who’s off to the NFL, none of the Georgia receivers kept defensive coordinators awake at night. Of course, it didn’t help to have Stafford throwing to them. As Stafford improves, the receivers, especially Mikey Henderson, Mo Massaquoi and A.J. Bryant, have to become more reliable. The return of Sean Bailey from a knee injury will help.

The Schedule: The Dawgs will be tested right off the bat with a nasty home opener against an explosive Oklahoma State team, followed by the SEC opener against South Carolina. The road schedule is tough, going to Alabama, Tennessee, Vanderbilt (you don’t have to tell Georgia fans how good the Commodores can be) and Georgia Tech, along with the Cocktail-not-a-Cocktail Party with Florida. It would’ve been nice to get more tough teams at home, as Auburn is the toughest of the bunch.

Best Offensive Player: Sophomore QB Matthew Stafford. The heralded quarterback who got thrown into the fire and was allowed to play through his mistakes over the second half of the year now has to become a steady star. Out of all the SEC’s new star quarterbacks (like Mitch Mustain at Arkansas and Tim Tebow at Florida), no one got the chance to develop like Stafford, and while he still might be a year away from being the NFL-caliber player many predicted he’d become, and while he might not have the top-shelf receivers to throw to that Tebow has, he should be a player the program can build around. As he goes, so will go the Georgia season.

Best Defensive Player: Senior SS Kelin Johnson. Able to play either safety spot, Johnson, who was one of the team’s leading tacklers last year at free safety, will start out in Tra Battle’s old Rover position. While Johnson’s not necessarily the most talented player on the defense, he should be a much-needed steady performer on a defense without many returning starters.

Key player to a successful season: Besides Stafford, someone at offensive tackle. Spring ball was a nightmare for Georgia tackles, with three getting hurt. Senior Chester Adams and freshman Trinton Sturdivant ended up getting most of the work, but they’re not close to being locks to start on opening day. If Stafford isn’t getting time to work, the promising year could be over before it has a chance to get rolling.

The season will be a success if ... Georgia wins ten games. That might be a tall order for a team still needing to find a passing game and with some hole-patching to be done on defense, but if the Dawgs can hold serve at home (far easier said than done) and split two of four against Alabama, Tennessee, Florida and Georgia Tech on the road, it might be possible (though it could take a bowl win to get to double-digits).

Key game: Oct. 27 vs. Florida. Beyond the obvious need to win the rivalry game, Georgia might have a shot at the SEC East crown if it can come up with the upset. Last year’s team played the eventual national champions tough, but after losing eight of the last nine, a win is a must to slow down the rivalry’s one-sided nature.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- Sacks: Georgia 33 for 215 yards; Opponents 17 for 121 yards
- Georgia third quarter scoring: 47; Georgia fourth quarter scoring: 119
- Average yards per carry: Georgia 3.9; Opponents 3.2


Related Stories
2007 Georgia Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 2, 2007
2007 Georgia Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 2, 2007
2007 Georgia Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 2, 2007

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