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2008 Georgia Preview - Offense
Georgia RB Knowshon Moreno
Georgia RB Knowshon Moreno
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Apr 23, 2008


CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Georgia Bulldog Offense

Georgia Bulldogs

Preview 200
8 - Offense

- 2008 CFN Georgia Preview | 2008 Georgia Offense
- 2008 Georgia Defense | 2008 Georgia Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Georgia Preview | 2006 CFN Georgia Preview

What you need to know:
The offense was opportunistic and it put points on the board, but it didn't move the ball nearly as well as you'd think considering the team put up 40 or more points six times. It was a balanced attack, but it's no coincidence the season changed and the Dawgs got good, really good, once the young offensive line fully jelled and RB Knowshon Moreno turned into a superstar. There's as much talent and potential on the three-deep depth chart as any team in America, but for all the promise and all the high school accolades, there are still question marks. Will the receivers start producing on a regular basis, or will they just look the part without really being the devastating group they should be? Will QB Matthew Stafford fulfill his destiny and become a top pro prospect? Will all the redshirt freshmen from a terrific 2007 class be ready for primetime right away? There are simply too many good players to be 74th in the nation in total offense again, and with a line like the Bulldogs have, and with the talent in the backfield, it won't be.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Matthew Stafford
194-348, 2,523 yds, 19 TD, 10 INT
Rushing: Knowshon Moreno
248 carries, 1,334 yds, 14 TD
Receiving: Mo Massaquoi
32 catches, 491 yds, 4 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore RB Knowshon Moreno
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore OT Josh Davis
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman RB Caleb King
Best pro prospect: Moreno
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Moreno, 2) QB Matthew Stafford, 3)
TE Tripp Chandler, Sr.
Strength of the offense: Offensive line, top-shelf backup prospects at almost every position, Knowshon Moreno
Weakness of the offense:
Proven depth, wide receiver

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter
:
It's time for junior Matthew Stafford to become the star he's been expected to grow into since he first arrived on campus. At 6-3 and 237 pounds with a next-level arm and tremendous poise, he has all the skills to become a top-shelf passer who can make everyone around him better, and while he's been fine, throwing for 2,523 yards and 19 touchdowns with ten interceptions, he hasn't always been as consistent as the team has needed him to be. One game he completes 18 of 24 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns against Oklahoma State, and next he completes 19 of 44 passes in a loss to South Carolina. He became more efficient as the season went on, but he threw at least one interception in five of the final six games, and even through he threw for 200 yards or more in five of the final seven games, he was along for the ride with the running game the main focus of everyone's defensive gameplan ... sort of. Give Stafford credit for keeping the chains moving and for taking advantage of the opportunities presented, but if Georgia is going to get to the national championship, he has to be even better.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-1, 206-pound Joe Cox has gotten a little bit of work here and there getting the most action in the blowout over Western Carolina, and now the junior is a nice, experienced backup to count on if anything happens to the franchise, Matthew Stafford. His big moment came two years ago completing ten of 13 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the last-second win over Colorado, and while he's not threat whatsoever to win the stating job, he's a winner who could step in and keep the offense going without much of a problem.

With the top two spots set, and with the possibility of Stafford leaving early for the NFL next year, redshirt freshman Logan Gray and sophomore Jonathan deLaureal have the next year to audition for the near future, but more likely than not, neither one will be in the mix until 2010. deLaureal is a good-sized athlete who's been a key scout teamer, while Gray was a top recruit with a live arm and a slew of talent who has a case of the Matthew Staffords. Gray will likely be the third man in the mix and will have to be patient.

Watch Out For ... Stafford to have a big decision to make at the end of the year. There hasn't even been a whiff of discussion about Stafford leaving early for the NFL, but in what currently projects to be one of the worst quarterback draft classes in a long time, especially if Tim Tebow chooses to stick at Florida, Stafford's stock could be through the roof on need alone.
Strength
:
The backups. If having a pro-caliber starting quarterback wasn't nice enough, having a fantastic insurance policy like Cox is a wonderful luxury. Gray and deLaureal are strong reserves to develop.
Weakness
:
Efficiency. Partially blame a mediocre receiving corps, but for all the yards and for all the improvements, the passing efficiency wasn't there. Stafford was good, but he hasn't been The Man yet.
Outlook:
Stafford might turn out to be the best NFL quarterback Georgia has turned out in decades, and now he's about to turn his game up a notch. At least that's the hope. He has all the tools, a great line to work behind, a terrific running game to take the pressure off, and an improved receiving corps. In other words, it's all there for him to rock. Cox is a nice No. 2, and with other strong prospects waiting in the wings, this is a good situation.
Rating: 9

Running Backs

Projected Starters: Considering the jaw-dropping array of running back talent to roll through Athens, it should say something when a player is being compared to the best of the best of them. Sophomore Knowshon Moreno originally was seen as a nice option for down the road after showing a good flash and nice power in 2007 spring ball, and then he turned into the main man with 1,334 yards and 14 touchdowns averaging 5.4 yards per carry. It's a stretch to say he carried the Bulldogs over the second half of the season, but yeah, he sort of carried the Bulldogs over the second half of the season, or at least he provided an attitude and an identity, running for 100 yards or more in five straight games before getting stopped by Georgia Tech. At 207 pounds, he can run between the tackles, but he's at his most dangerous when he gets a little room to move highlighted by an 80-yard touchdown dash against Troy. He's also a nice receiver with 20 catches for 253 yards, fourth on the team, but he wasn't used as much as a pass catcher once he became more involved in the running game.

Back as one of the nation's best fullbacks, 6-0, 240-pound senior Brannan Southerland is a devastating blocker and an unstoppable short-yardage runner. He only ran 17 times for 24 yards, but he rumbled for five touchdowns and caught 11 passes for 59 yards and a score. While it would be an emergency for him to get the ball on a regular basis, he has proven in the past he can come up big in a pinch.


Projected Top Reserves: While there's no questioning Knowshon Moreno as the No. 1 back, there will be a role for redshirt freshman Caleb King, the superstar recruit of two years ago who was considered among the top backs in the nation, even more so than Moreno, with a great burst and a nose for the goal line before breaking his leg his senior year of high school. After redshirting last year, he's ready to roll with the coaching staff trying to figure out how to get him and Moreno in the backfield at the same time. He could've played late last year, but the coaches chose not to burn the redshirt and went with Moreno. Now the Bulldogs have a fully healthy, fresh No. 2 option, at the very least.

Moreno and King will get the bulk of the carries, but there's a logjam of elite talent behind them. Sophomore Kalvin Daniels has seen a little bit of time getting eight carries for 44 yards, good for third on the team, but he'll have to battle with true freshmen Richard Samuel and Dontavius Jackson, to top recruits who plan to get into the rotation early on. The 6-2, 215-pound Samuel provides a bit of a load rushing for 1,429 yards and 24 touchdowns as a high school senior, while Jackson, a 5-10, 190-pound scatback who's coming off a broken wrist.

Backing up Southerland will once again be a combination of sophomores Fred Munzenmaier and Shaun Chapas. The 233-pound Munzenmaier is a veteran blocker who saw time on special teams and ran once for a six-yard score against Ole Miss, while Chapas has bulked up to 236 pounds after getting a little bit of playing time running 11 times for 41 yards and catching three passes for 22 yards. Each one could start at any time without much of a problem.

Watch Out For ... Moreno to see his workload decrease, and that's for the positive. The offense rode the hot hand as last year rolled on, and it showed as Moreno wore down a bit late. As talented as he is, there's no reason for another 248-carry season with a slew of talented backs to also see time.
Strength
:
Potential. No team outside of USC has a stable of young star talent than Georgia. Moreno is an obvious star, and King, Samuel, Jackson and Daniels are good enough to start for just about anyone else in America.
Weakness
:
Proven backups. Oh sure, there's talent, but there's still a question mark about how much work King can handle, and with Jackson coming off a broken wrist.
Outlook:
There's a slew of great young running back talent to get fired up about, three good fullbacks to use in a variety of situations, and a future top draft pick in Moreno. As always, Georgia has more than enough options to fill in the gaps if something goes wrong, and there's no reason the ground game should be anything other than unstoppable no matter who's toting the rock. The only thing missing is a sure-thing No. 2 back with a proven track record, but remember, it's not like Moreno was a proven commodity going into last year.
Rating: 9


Receivers

Projected Starters: 6-2, 198-pound senior Mohamed Massaquoi has had a few big moments, but not enough of them, finishing second on the team with 32 catches for 491 yards and four touchdowns, with 84 of the yards coming on a big play against Florida. He's not a true number one target who can blow up against a top corner, but he's growing into an occasionally clutch home run hitter with tremendous speed at the flanker. His hands aren't great, and he's not consistent, but he's the team's most experienced returning target.

Junior split end Kris Durham will get the starting job for at least a game or so, but he'll have to battle hard to hold on to the gig. At 6-5 and 200 pounds, he has excellent size and good potential, but he only caught 11 passes for 169 yards last season with his biggest game coming in the Sugar Bowl blowout over Hawaii with three grabs for 48 yards. At the very least, he'll be a strong target in three-wide sets with the frame to make several big plays if he's not the main focus of the defense.

Tight end was a bit of a concern, albeit a slight one, going into last season, and then Tripp Chandler turned out to be more than just decent with 21 catches for 283 yards and two touchdowns. The 6-6, 263-pound senior is good for the running game, but his worth is as a receiver with good enough hands to grow into even more of a dependable third down target. At his size and with his route running ability, he's a matchup nightmare.

Projected Top Reserves: Is it time for 6-2, 188-pound junior Michael Moore to finally live up to his billing? A big-time, can't-miss prospect when he came to Athens a few years ago, he's missed so far with just five career catches and three for 28 yards and a touchdown last season. With all the talent to be a dangerous deep threat, especially with Matthew Stafford winging it around, Moore could go from being a major disappointment to a breakout star if the light goes on.

6-3, 215-pound senior Kenneth Harris made four catches for 52 yards last year after making 14 catches for 251 yards, averaging 17.9 yards per catch, as a sophomore, and now he appears to be on the verge of big things after being a workout warrior this off-season and generating a buzz among the coaching staff. In tremendous shape, he'll push Kris Durham hard for more time at split end.

For a receiving corps long on potential and short on production, it should say something that the one Dawg target with the biggest upside might be true freshman A.J. Green, a 6-4, 190-pound NFL-looking receiver with tremendous hands and playmaking ability. If nothing else, his signing has pushed the rest of the receivers to work even harder. Also a possibility to see time early on is the other top receiving recruit, Tavarres King, who set a Georgia state record with 1,632 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns on 99 grabs. Already on campus, the 6-1, 172-pounder is buried on the early depth chart, but that won't last for long.

Backing up Chandler at tight end will be a combination of sophomore Bruce Figgins and redshirt freshman Aron White, two decent receiving prospects who can each see time in two-tight end sets. Figgins only caught three passes last year, but his first one went for a touchdown against Oklahoma State. White, at 228 pounds, could stand to bulk up a bit to be used more for the running game, but he has the potential to be a field-stretching receiver in the slot.

Watch Out For ... The freshmen. The veteran receiving corps is decent and has potential, but there might not be a true be-all-end-all No. 1 target. It just hasn't happened yet for Massaquoi, Durham or Harris, and while they'll all get plenty of chances, Green and King might become the top two options by the end of the year.

Strength
:
Potential. This is the million-dollar receiving corps that boasts brilliant high school résumés across the board. There's plenty of speed, lots of talent, and size, size, size, with most of the top options going 6-2 and taller. The group looks like Tarzan ...
Weakness
:
... but so far, has played like Jane. Sean Bailey's return last year finally gave Matthew Stafford a real, live go-to receiver, and now someone has to step into the vacated role. Yes, there's a ton of great talent and plenty of options to get excited about, but Dawg fans have been hearing that for years.
Outlook:
If everyone plays up to their potential and their possibilities, especially veteran Mo Massaquoi, this will be a devastating corps, but at the moment, it's the big X factor between Georgia being really good and being a national champion. Having a quarterback like Stafford makes everyone look better, and there will certainly be plenty of chances for big plays and plenty of opportunities to shine. Now it's time for the Georgia receiving corps to be a strength, and not just a collection of guys.
Rating: 7

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: The big question mark will be at tackle with Trinton Sturdivant lost for the year. Josh Davis is a good young 6-6, 293-pound sophomore with good athleticism. He's a promising prospect who saw a little bit of time in seven games last year. While he saw a little time at guard, he's a tackle who'll have to shine in place of Sturdivant.

Next to Studivant is 6-8, 320-pound junior Vince Vance, who slimmed down a little bit yet still adds some pure bulk to the left side. He was a strong prospect coming from the Georgia Military College, and he didn't disappoint, despite having early problems with a knee injury, seeing time in the rotation for ten games behind Chris Davis, who'll move to center.

The one hole needing filling is Fernando Velasco in the middle, and Davis, who was the main man at left guard, will get the first shot at replacing him. A backup center at times during his Freshman All-America season, it's not like Davis is starting from scratch, but the 6-4, 292-pounder has a bigger leadership hole to fill than anything else. Velasco was a team captain and one of the team's steadiest players. While Davis is around 20 pounds lighter than Velasco, he's a better athlete.

The right side is set at guard where 6-5, 290-pound Clint Boling is coming off a solid first season. The sophomore first saw time at tackle before moving to a more natural guard position, and he lived up to his prep billing becoming a strong run blocker early on. While Boling has All-SEC written all over him, there's a bit of a question mark at right tackle, where Kiante Tripp, a former defensive end, has to step in for Chester Adams after seeing time in seven games as a reserve. He was an offensive tackle in high school, so it's not like he's starting from scratch, but right tackle might be the one main job opening up front going into the season.

Projected Top Reserves: Last year's line went from a potential issue to solid almost overnight because of the emergence of then true freshman Trinton Studivant at left tackle. Considered one of the nation's best guard prospects, he proved he could handle himself from day one on the outside and started in 12 games. He's a very smart, very athletic blocker who proved he could do a little bit of everything well, and now the sky's the limit on how good he can become. While he bulked up a bit, he's still a tight 6-5, 293 pounds with even more room to grow if the NFL scouts are looking for him to beef up a little. As is, he's just fine against the run while he's been a terrific pass protector. Now he'll have to wait until next year to shine after being lost for the year with a torn up knee.

One of the interesting prospects coming in is 6-3, 300-pound Ben Jones, a center who brings a bit more bulk than Chris Davis and whose emergence could mean a little reshuffling up front. The true freshman got to school for spring ball and has the potential to be an immediate replacement for Fernando Velasco. In a perfect world, Jones comes through at center and David is allowed to move to guard.

The backup jobs across the board are wide-open to several young players looking to quickly get their feet wet. On the plus side, most of them are huge, like 6-5, 328-pound redshirt freshman Tanner Strickland, a nice recruit two years ago who'll start out behind Vince Vance at left guard, but could end up playing on either side. 6-5, 328-pound Justin Anderson is almost 40 pounds heavier than Clint Boling at right guard, but is a strong enough athlete to grow into a strong all-around blocker.

Watch Out For ... a little more shifting around as the season starts up. It's not like the starting five needs a whole bunch of tinkering, but there might be some movement among the backups just to get a better rotation than there was last year. Even with all the returning experience, this is still a young line that'll be together for a few years. The faster the pieces can be put in place, the faster it'll grow.
Strength
:
Cohesion. Losing the leader up front, center Fernando Velasco will hurt a little bit, and the loss of Sturdivant will hurt a lot, but it's not like Chris Davis can't be a good quarterback for the front line and it's not like there aren't good prospects waiting to shine. There would be worse things than Davis moving to guard and someone like Ben Jones stepping in, but no matter what happens, this group proved it could come together last year, and now it could be one of the nation's best lines.
Weakness
:
Backup experience. There isn't any ... for the second year in a row. The Bulldogs got away with a lack of proven depth last year, but teams rarely get that same break two years in a row. It's not like the reserves can't play, they're almost all top-shelf recruits, but few have any game experience.
Outlook:
What was a huge, glaring concern and a possible Achilles heel going into last year turned into, arguably, the team's biggest strength. Sometimes learning on the fly, the green line that was supposed to need a ton of time but ended up allowing a mere 15 sacks in 365 pass attempts while paving the way for a killer running game that dominated over the second half of the year. Sturdivant is special and will be sorely missed after tearing up his knee, but Chris Davis and Clint Boling are going to be all-stars, and there's more than enough good talent waiting in the wings just looking for a chance to play. While everyone will expect big things out of this group, merely being as good as last year would suffice.
Rating: 8.5