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2009 Georgia Preview - Offense
Georgia WR A.J. Green
Georgia WR A.J. Green
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 10, 2009


CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Georgia Bulldog Offense

Georgia Bulldogs

Preview 200
9 - Offense

- 2009 CFN Georgia Preview | 2009 Georgia Offense
- 2009 Georgia Defense | 2009 Georgia Depth Chart
- 2008 Georgia Preview | 2007 Georgia Preview | 2006 Georgia Preview

What you need to know:
It's possible for Georgia to lose the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, QB Matthew Stafford, and first-round pick RB Knowshon Moreno and be even better offensively. Why? How? The offensive line. While there are several injury issues from the knee of superstar tackle Trinton Sturdivant to various knee, hip, and shoulder problems at other spots, the line is deep, experienced, loaded, and stunningly young. It might be the best line in the country, even if the starting five might change on a weekly basis like it did throughout the first half of last year. The running backs are extremely deep, very fast, and very good with several excellent options to play around with. Joe Cox won't be Stafford, but he's a long-time veteran who should be serviceable and should keep the chains moving thanks to a line that'll give him ten days to throw. A.J. Green is one of the nation's best receivers, but he needs a No. 2 target to help take the heat off.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Joe Cox
11-15, 151 yds, 2 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Caleb King
61 carries, 247 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: A.J. Green
56 catches, 963 yds, 8 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore WR A.J. Green
Player who has to step up and become a star: Senior QB Joe Cox
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore RB Richard Samuel
Best pro prospect: Green
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Green, 2) OT Trinton Sturdivant, 3)
OT/OG Clint Boling
Strength of the offense: Offensive line, Running Back
Weakness of the offense:
Quarterback, No. 2 Wide Receiver

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter: Senior Joe Cox has been waiting his turn ever since Matthew Stafford arrived on campus. Everyone knew Stafford was eventually going to be an NFL first rounder, and even the No. 1 pick overall, but Cox has still seen enough work here and there to complete 33-of-58 passes for 432 yards and five touchdowns with an interception. It's been a while, but he had a big moment against Colorado in 2005 completing 10-of-13 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns in a last second win over Colorado. He's not big at 6-1 and 198 pounds and he doesn't have the biggest arm (especially compared to Stafford), but he's a winner. He hasn't lost a game as a starter since middle school, going 31-0 in high school, and he'll be a great (cliché warning) game manager. He'll keep the offense moving and he won't make a slew of mistakes.

Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Logan Gray needs to step on and rock in a real hurry or he'll be relegated to the third team, or worse, in a big hurry. Gray was a top recruit with a live arm and the type of mobility the program hasn't had since D.J. Shockley was under center. However, the 6-2-, 192-pounder has been overshadowed this offseason and will have to fight to be the No. 2 option. At the moment, he's not really being considered for the starting job.

True freshman Aaron Murray could end up being the starter sooner than later. While he's only 6-1 and 205 pounds, the star recruit from Tampa has a howitzer for a right arm, and while he doesn't have Matthew Stafford's gone, it's not all that far off. He threw 33 touchdowns and four interceptions and ran for 257 yards and two scores last year before breaking his leg, but he came back to lead his team to the Florida state title. He looked the part this spring at times, and there could be a groundswell of support to make him the main man to lead the program early on.

Along with Murray, Zach Mettenberger is a true freshman who came to school early to get some reps in this spring. The biggest passing option, he's 6-5 and 234 pounds with next-level talent. He wasn't Murray this spring, but he was just good enough to be still in the mix come fall. Considering Joe Cox is almost certainly going to be the starter, Mettenberger will likely redshirt and be more of a challenger for the starting job next year.

Watch Out For ... someone to transfer early on. If Cox really does win the starting job and keeps it all season long there's going to be a logjam of players who could start for most other programs. Gray, Murray and Mettenberger are all elite talents and one, possibly two, aren't going to be all that happy with the future possibilities.
Strength
:
Talent. Is it possible to lose the No. 1 pick in the draft and be better overall at the position? That's a stretch, but the Bulldogs are loaded with fantastic prospects and there will be some good options to choose from. It'll be a better fall camp than you might think.
Weakness
:
The Detroit Lions. The offense will be just fine, Cox will get the job done, but Stafford was a special passer who was just starting to come into his own as a college quarterback. There are over 40 million guaranteed reasons why he made the right decision to leave early, but there's a void in experience, even though Cox has seen time.
Outlook:
Georgia was No. 1 in the SEC in passing and 14th in the nation in passing efficiency with Matthew Stafford at the helm. The attack won't be that explosive again this season, but it'll be solid with veteran backup Joe Cox ready to step in and do the job. But here's the problem; if he struggles even a wee bit, there will be a major controversy with three fantastic young prospects waiting in the wings. The coaching staff had no problems going with Stafford as a true freshman, and it might not have an issue turning to Aaron Murray or Zach Mettenberger if either one is better this summer.
Rating: 7

Running Backs

Projected Starters: There were some rumblings from some last year that Caleb King was the team's most talented running back. While that was wrong, with Knowshon Moreno (who's now a Denver Bronco) the star who cut back and quicked his way to 1,400 yards and 16 touchdowns. Yes, King has the talent, but he'll have to prove he can be the warrior that Moreno was even after a mediocre spring. At 5-11, and 210 pounds, the superstar recruit of three years ago has power to go along with a great burst and a nose for the goal line, at least in high school. Even though he broke his leg, he was still considered one of the nation's top prep backs, even more so than Moreno. Now he's fully healthy and ready to roll after finishing second on the team with 247 yards and a score behind Moreno.

Losing a fullback as good as Brannan Southerland would be devastating if Shaun Chapas wasn't so good as a replacement. Southerland got hurt early last year and Chapas stepped in and ran for 25 yards, but he was more vital as a blocker and a receiver catching nine passes for 120 yards and a score. At 6-2 and 238 pounds, the junior has good size to go along with his nice hands and quickness.

Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Richard Samuel saw limited action but finished third on the team with 133 yards and a score. At 6-2 and 216 pounds he's a tall, tough runner who was a tremendous recruit after rushing for 1,429 yards and 24 scores as a high school senior. Now he has to stay healthy after missing the bowl game with injured ligaments in his wrist, but he's fine. Fast, he averaged 21.1 yards per kickoff return last season.

Fully healthy after having problems with his knee, Dontavius Jackson appears to be ready for a breakout year. Health will be an ongoing issue, he suffered a broken wrist two years ago, but the 5-7, 178-pound redshirt freshman is fine for now. Extremely quick and very tough for his size, he can be used in a variety of ways as a third down specialist and a change-of-pace back.

He's not Herschel Walker, who he's been compared to as far as being a hot recruit for the Bulldog backfield, but true freshman Washaun Ealey is a great get for the Georgia coaching staff. The 5-11, 205-pound flash of lightning ran for 133 career touchdowns, setting the Georgia state record by a huge margin, with 49 scores last year. Get ready for the buzz once he gets to show what he can do.

6-2, 224-pound junior Fred Munzenmaier is a veteran blocker who has spent most of his time on special teams. He ran for a one-yard score against LSU on his only carry of the season, but he can step in for Shaun Chapas at fullback and be more than fine.

Watch Out For ... a whale of a battle for playing time. King is a big-time talent who needs to have the ball in his hands in a full-time role, but Thomas, Jackson, and eventually Ealey, are too good to not get the ball.
Strength
:
Major league talent. It's not a stretch to call this the most talented young backfield in college football. The debate would be over if Knowshon Moreno was back, but the backfield is loaded as is. 
Weakness
:
Proven production. Oh sure, there are tremendous talents to get excited about and players who'd make many programs drool, but no one has done much on the field yet. Moreno really was that good and even with all the good players waiting to shine, the 1,400 yards, 5.6-yard average, 16 touchdowns, and 33 catches for 392 yards and two scores will be missed.
Outlook:
The running game will be relied on more now that Matthew Stafford is gone, and Georgia has more than enough backs to handle the work. If Caleb King isn't getting the job done, then Richard Samuel will step in. If Samuel is having problems, then Carlton Thomas, Dontavius Thomas, or Washaun Ealey will step in. The backfield is loaded and will blow up behind the great Bulldog O line.
Rating: 9


Receivers

Projected Starters: When it came to freshman wide receivers, the talk of the SEC last year was Alabama's Julio Jones. But Georgia's A.J. Green was better with 56 catches for 963 yards and eight scores, averaging 17.2 yards per catch (while Jones, who didn't have Matthew Stafford throwing to him, caught 58 passes for 924 yards and four scores). The 6-4, 207-pound sophomore was consistent and explosive highlighted by an eight-catch, 159-yard, one touchdown day against Arizona State. Big and fast with great hands, he has the full complement of skills and will be used even more in a variety of ways. He ran four times for 61 yards last season and will see the ball on end arounds and on running plays, to go along with his duties as the No. 1 target.

6-1, 207-pound senior Michael Moore was a big-time, can't-miss prospect when he came to Athens a few years ago but made just five career catches and three for 28 yards and a touchdown before last year. While he was fine throughout the season as a No. 3 target, he came up with the biggest game of his career with six catches for 97 yards and a score against Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl. He finished fourth on the team with 29 catches for 451 yards and two scores, averaging 15.6 yards per catch, and he'll be used in a variety of ways with so many problems at split end.  

Taking over for Tripp Chandler at tight end will Aron White, a 6-4, 227-pound field-stretcher who only caught three passes but two went for touchdowns. He's not going to blast away anyone in the running game, but he averaged 29.3 yards per catch and will be a big-play waiting to happen in all three downs. 

Projected Top Reserves: Redshirt freshman Tavarres King set the
Georgia state record with 1,632 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns on 99 grabs, and now he'll push hard for the starting split end job. At 6-1 and 178 pounds, he's thin but he can really, really move. He has better football speed than timed speed and can hit the home run. While he still needs polish, he should be deadly when he gets the ball on the move.

With all the drama with the No. 2 receiver role on the other side of A.J. Green, Israel Troupe, a flanker, might need to be used a big on the outside. The 6-1, 215-pound junior caught four passes for 39 yards but showed he's ready to do more this year with a nice spring and a good spring game. A superstar recruit, he has the talent to go along with the size. Now he has to put it all together and be a major playmaker.

With Kris Durham out with a shoulder injury, junior Tony Wilson needed to be up to the task at split end. The 5-11, 198-pounder might be done thanks to an ankle problem that could be a medical red flag, and a violation of team rules that would be icing on the cake. He was knocked out for the year after five games and making one catch, but he was supposed to be a starter before all the issues.

Used more as a blocking tight end than top receiver, Bruce Figgins is a 6-4, 260-pound veteran who has plenty of starting experience. The junior only caught two passes for 32 yards, but he has the hands to do more. He'll spend most of his time blasting away for the ground game ... eventually. He was suspended for the first six games for a violation of team rules (reported to have violated the team's drug policy).

Watch Out For ... Wilson. With Kris Durham gone for the year, the Dawgs desperately need Wilson to shine on the other side of Green. If he struggles, King will have to show that he's ready for a full-time role.

Strength
:
Green. It's college football, not the NFL. When there's a superstar receiver talent as good as Green, he can't be taken out of a gameplan by a good defensive game plan. He won't get the yards or the catches he had last year without Stafford throwing to him, but he'll be an All-SEC producer.
Weakness: No. 2 receiver. No one appears that concerned about the passing game that has Green and a lot of uncertainty, but with Mohamed Massaquoi gone and Kris Durham and Tony Wilson out, there's little margin for error. It could be uh-oh time.
Outlook:
It's easy to forget after a great 2008 that Georgia's receiving corps had been generally mediocre before A.J. Green arrived. It took Green and the maturation of Matthew Stafford to make the passing game explode, and while it won't go into the tank, it's not likely to be anywhere near as good without Mohamed Massaquoi. Green will be strong again, no matter who's throwing to him, but the key the offense could be the play of one of the unsung talents like Michael Moore or Tavares King to make the passing game shine.
Rating: 6.5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: Junior Clint Boling came up with a special season for a line that desperately needed someone to step up and become a star. The 6-5, 297-pounder started early on right tackle, moved to right guard, and spent the second half of the season at left tackle where he'll start out the season. An All-SEC caliber performer with a good mix of power and athleticism, he's a do-it-all blocker who'll be a rock in pass protection. He'll start on at left tackle until Trinton Sturdivant is ready, and then he'll move to right tackle or, depending on the emergence of Vince Vance, could play right guard.

Sophomore Trinton Sturdivant was about to become one of the nation's elite left tackles when he suffered a bad knee injury just before the 2007 season. He was still recovering this offseason and missed spring ball, but all is well and he's on track to be close to normal come fall. The 6-5, 306-pounder is a tough, athletic all-around blocker who had top five pick written all over him before the injury. He'll have to show that he can still be the same athlete and he'll have to prove he can be the same all-around blocker, but again, he's expected to be fine.

Ben Jones took over the starting center spot in the fourth game of last year and isn't going to let it go for another three years. His emergence as a true freshman allowed Chris Davis to move over to guard, which turned out to be a key piece to the Bulldog puzzle. Very tough with a good motor and big-time upside, the sky's the limit for the 6-3, 294-pounder who got better and better each week.

6-5, 330-pound sophomore Cordy Glenn, started out last season at right guard but moved over to the left side over the last six games of the season. He was moved from guard to tackle this spring and is being given the shot at the spot on the right side to used his impressive strength and size to be a bulldozer of a run blocker. The jury is still out on whether or not he can handle speed rushers on a regular basis, and he still might move back inside, but he's versatile and he's good.

Justin Anderson is a big, tough blocker who became a fixture at right tackle through the middle of last year but is far better suited to a guard spot. The 6-5, 328-pound sophomore is fine as a pass blocker, but he's nothing special and should shine now that he'll mainly have to focus on beating people up on the inside. That's not to say he can't keep the quarterback clean, but he'll be better in a phone booth.


Projected Top Reserves: Bringing the bulk to the inside is 6-5, 328-pound sophomore Tanner Strickland, a nice recruit a few years ago who spent all of last year as a key backup and a special teamer. He had a nice spring and will get a long look at left guard, but he could end up on the right side depending on the reemergence of Chris Davis from surgery.

The left guard job is there for Chris Davis to take back once he returns healthy. He started the first three games at center, moved to left guard for three games, and closed out the year at right guard. Very smart and very reliable,  with 26 career stars, the 6-4, 290-pound junior moves extremely well for an interior lineman and could be on the verge of all-star status if he's back to 100% following hip surgery. He missed all of spring ball, but he's expected to be back and ready to go for the fall.

6-8, 325-pound senior Vince Vance started the first three games at left guard, moved to left tackle for three games, and then got knocked out for the year with a knee injury. His torn ACL still needs time to heal up and he'll have to fight back to get into the mix this fall, but if he's right, he's a starting guard even though he's listed as a right tackle coming out of spring ball. He can also play center if needed.

Josh Davis started here and there at right tackle last year but suffered a shoulder injury in the bowl game and is iffy for the start of the season. The 6-6, 300-pound junior underwent surgery on both shoulders, but when he's right, he's one of the team's better blockers with good athleticism and the versatility to play just about anywhere.

Watch Out For ... the return of Sturdivant. The coaching staff is taking it very, very easy on the star of the ultra-talented line and there isn't going to be any rush to get him back before he's ready and back to normal. He's almost ready and back to normal. He'd have been practicing if the season was about to start, but the extra time off has allowed him to get that much stronger and his knee that much tougher.
Strength
:
Versatility. With a few notable exceptions (like Sturdivant), just about everyone can play everywhere. When an all-star talent like Boling can be moved around where a hole needs to be plugged, and there are others who can do the same, the line is almost injury-proof. That's by design. The coaching staff plays several players at several different positions in practices.
Weakness
:
Injuries. From Sturdivant's knee to Vance's knee to Josh Davis's shoulders to Chris Davis's hip, there are several health question marks going into the season. The line survived and thrived through various maladies last year, but no one wants to go through that again.
Outlook: If everyone is healthy, this might be the nation's best offensive line and it might not even be close. Assuming Trinton Studivant is back to being the 2007 version at left tackle, everything else will fall into place with depth, versatility, and a whole bunch of big-time talent. The line only allowed 17 sacks and paved the way for 148 yards per game, and now it should be even better with eight players returning with starting experience. The rest of the offense will look a whole bunch better because of this group. And here's the scary part; Vince Vance is the only senior on the three-deep.
Rating: 9.5