2010 Georgia Preview - Offense
Georgia OT Clint Boling
CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Georgia Bulldog Offense
Preview 2010 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: As it turned out, yes, the early departure of QB Matthew Stafford and RB Knowshon Moreno to the NFL did matter. The offense was inconsistent before finding a groove late in the year, and even then every game was different as the passing game didn't always take advantage of all the weapons and the running game didn't explode like it should've. 2010's concerns and issues are the same as 2009's, but there's a bit more experience to work with. The line, banged up as it might be, is still going to terrific, and it could be the best in the nation if everyone is healthy. A.J. Green leads a dangerous receiving corps, and there's plenty of talent and speed in the backfield, but can QB Aaron Murray come through? All the pieces are in place to be far, far better than last year as long as the quarterback play is better and as long as the turnovers (28 given away last season) are kept to a minimum.
Star of the offense: Junior WR A.J. Green
Passing: Logan Gray
5-12, 31 yds, 2 INT
Rushing: Washaun Ealey
125 carries, 717 yds, 3 TD
Receiving: A.J. Green
53 catches, 808 yds, 6 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Redshirt freshman QB Aaron Murray
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore TE Orson Charles
Best pro prospect: Green
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Green, 2) OT Clint Boling, 3) C Ben Jones
Strength of the offense: Offensive Line, Skill Speed
Weakness of the offense: Quarterback, Line Health
Projected Starter: Welcome to the party, Aaron Murray. In a war of attrition, the 6-1, 206-pound redshirt freshman ended up getting the job, but he had a tenuous hold at best this offseason before rising to the top. He's not that big, but last year's star recruit out of Tampa has a cannon for a right arm and has decent mobility and toughness. He broke his leg in high school, but he rebounded to lead his team to a Florida state title. He has looked just good enough to be given a shot to grow into the job, but the spotlight and the pressure will be on to take the passing game to a level it wasn't at last year under Joe Cox.
Projected Top Reserves: Junior Logan Gray is still on the team and hasn't taken off yet, but he needs some convincing after losing out the starting job to Murray, a redshirt freshman who's likely to be the main man for the next four years if all goes well for him. Gray is a 6-2, 192-pound thrower who hasn't been able to work his way in the mix on a regular basis, and didn't exactly rock when he got his chance completing 5-of-12 passes for 31 yards with two interceptions. If he wants to play, he likely has to go somewhere else.
With all the uncertainty at quarterback, true freshman Hutson Mason might be in the mix sooner than later. The 6-3, 190-pound bomber was the 2009 Georgia Gatorade Player of the Year and threw for 8,265 yards and 85 touchdown passes, including a Georgia high school record for the most passing yards and touchdown throws in a season chucking for 4,560 yards and 54 scores including 522 yards in a single game.
Watch Out For … Mason to be a fan favorite without even playing. With so much experience returning on offense, will there be much patience if Murray isn't fantastic in early on? Mason will almost certainly redshirt, and he wasn't a Matthew Stafford-like recruit who's so good that he has to play right away, but he's a Georgia high school legend who has the passing skills to make the air attack go.
Strength: Upside. Murray and Mason have great skills and should be fantastic with time to mature and after struggling through a few lumps. The payoff will be excellent if everyone can be patient.
Weakness: Options. With Zach Mettenberger getting booted off the team after looking like the best quarterback at times this offseason, and with a disgruntled Gray, the Bulldog quarterback situation is Murray, and … Murray. Mason isn't the answer for right now.
Outlook: Joe Cox wasn't awful last year, but he suffered from being the quarterback to step in after Matt Stafford. Not much will be expected from Murray right away, but he can't turn the ball over (Cox threw 15 picks) and has to be efficient with so much talent around him. Gray is a serviceable option, while Mason is an interesting prospect for down the road.
Unit Rating: 6.5
Projected Starters: Sophomore Washaun Ealey wasn't Herschel Walker as a true freshman, but that's how big a recruit he was for the program (at least according to some overzealous evaluators). The 5-11, 205-pounder got rolling as the season went on to finish with a team-leading 717 yards and three touchdowns after not playing in the first four games. He ripped up Georgia Tech for 183 yards and ran for 70 yards or more in each of his final seven games and is poised and ready to do far more behind a veteran line. A flash of lightning, he ran for a Georgia state high school record 133 career touchdowns with 49 in his senior year. Now he's about to be the next great Bulldog running back.
Georgia always gets great production out of its fullbacks, and last year wasn't any different as Shaun Chapas became a strong new starter in his first year in the role. The 6-2, 245-pound senior ran a little bit with 45 yards and a score and caught nine passes for 50 yards and a touchdown, but he's at his best blowing open holes. He's quick enough and athletic enough to get the ball more, but he's a blocker.
Projected Top Reserves: Is junior Caleb King ever going to be right? There were some rumblings a few years ago that he was the team's most talented back, even with Knowshon Moreno running wild, but he has yet to put it all together. He looks the part with 5-11, 210-pound size and a great blend of speed and quickness, but he has been underwhelming considering he was a superstar recruit. He finished second on the team with 594 yards and seven scores, but 166 of his yards came against Georgia Tech. Now he'll combine with Ealey to carry the workload, but there might be times when he becomes the hot back and blows up.
With Richard Samuel moving to linebacker, sophomore Carlton Thomas will get a chance to find a role as the third man in the mix. The 5-7, 180-pounder has tremendous quickness and can be used in a variety of ways rushing for 92 yards and catching six passes for 38 yards. He's not necessarily going to be a workhorse, but he has enough toughness for his size to be used inside or out.
6-2, 240-pound Fred Munzenmaier isn't going to run the ball, he got ten carries for 36 yards and two touchdowns and caught three passes for 21 yards, but he's purely a sledgehammer of a blocker. Used on special teams along with the running game, he's a good, tough player who does whatever is needed.
Watch Out For … Ealey to go from good to phenomenal. He started to scratch the surface over the second half of last year, and now he's about to become sensational with more responsibility and a year of experience. Anything less than 1,000 yards should be a disappointment.
Strength: Talent. The Bulldogs have no problems bringing in special high school prospects that everyone wanted. Ealey and King were on everyone's wish lists, and there's most talent waiting in the wings. The running backs are so good that Samuel, the team's third leading rusher, could move to linebacker without a second thought.
Weakness: A consistent passing game. Any team with A.J. Green is a threat through the air, but until the quarterbacks start to produce, the focus will be on stopping the ground game. Ealey and King don't need a ton of room to move, but life is better in the SEC when the linebackers aren't screaming into the backfield.
Outlook: It's not like the ground game carried the offense when it had to last season, finishing with a paltry (for Georgia) 161 yards per game, but it wasn't bad. This year, Ealey and King need to combine for more than 1,500 yards and need to be more dangerous. They're tremendously talented, and now they have to produce at a higher level.
Unit Rating: 8.5
Projected Starters: If Alabama's Julio Jones isn't the top NFL receiver prospect in college football, it's A.J. Green, who has been the more consistent of the two stars but without as much fanfare. Despite being the target of every secondary after a breakout 56-catch season, he still made 53 grabs for 808 yards and six touchdowns despite missing three games. At 6-4 and 207 pounds with around 4.5 speed (although he has been reportedly clocked faster), he has the right blend of talents to go along with the smarts and the makeup to revolve a pro passing attack around. If someone can get him the ball on a regular basis, he'll carry the offense at times and he has the talent and ability to force safeties to rotate over to him on every play.
Sophomore Tavarres King set the Georgia state high school record with 1,632 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns on 99 grabs in 2007, and he was a nice complementary target last year finishing fourth on the team with 18 catches for 377 yards and a touchdown averaging 20.9 yards per catch. He's not huge at 6-1 and 180 pounds, but he has decent size and he can get down the field in a hurry. He has better football speed than timed speed, and he can hit the home run at any time at split end.
6-3, 230-pound sophomore Orson Charles took over the starting tight end job late last year and finished third on the team with 23 catches for 274 yards and three touchdowns. While he's just growing into the job as a key receiver, he has all the tools to be a special target with excellent deep speed averaging 16.3 yards per catch. A top recruit, he's a good blocker, but his worth is more as a big receiver with soft hands and great route running ability.
Projected Top Reserves: 6-5, 209-pound senior Kris Durham was supposed to be a part of the receiving rotation after making 32 catches and getting seven starts in his first three seasons, but he suffered a bad shoulder injury and missed the entire season. He's never going to be anyone's No. 1 target, but he's a decent, smart target with nice enough hands to be a solid backup behind Tavarres King at split end.
Can junior Israel Troupe break out and become the player he was expected to be as a superstar recruit? The 6-1, 215-pounder saw time in ten games last year and only made four catches for 90 yards and a score, but he has the talent and the tools to be a major factor on the outside and in three-wide sets.
Along with having a terrific name, sophomore Rantavious Wooten has enough game to become a bigger factor at flanker as A.J. Green's understudy. At 5-10 and 170 pounds he's not all that big, but he's a smart route runner with tremendous quickness and the potential to hit the home run every time he touches the ball. He averaged 19.7 yards per catch last season making ten grabs for 197 yards and two scores, and now he'll get the ball both as a runner and a receiver to use his athleticism as much as possible.
While Orson Charles is the team's most dangerous receiving tight end, Aron White has a bit more experience starting 12 games last season catching 13 passes for 198 yards and four touchdowns. At 6-4 and 236 pounds he's built like a big receiver, but he's a big play target who'll thrive once again in two tight end sets. He's just physical enough to be a plus for the ground game.
Watch Out For … King to become more of factor. Green will be Green and he'll be a star as long as he stays on the field, and now King is about to show he can play, too. He made things happen when the ball came his way.
Strength: Green. Take him off the receiving corps and the Bulldogs are still loaded with talent, especially at tight end. Green is a top-five caliber draft pick with a knack for coming up with the big grab at the right time. He's a special player who takes the pressure off everyone else.
Weakness: The quarterbacks. But that will change. Aaron Murray has talent and the upside to become fantastic, but he's not Matthew Stafford and he's going to need a little time to show that he can be deadly SEC passer. He'll end up being great, but he's likely to be inconsistent for a while. The receivers have to make him look better and make big plays out of little catches.
Outlook: The receivers exploded last year when Joe Cox was throwing well, and they'll have their moments when the passing game is clicking. There will be several home runs, Green will be special, and the tight ends will be fantastic, but they'll only be as strong as the quarterback play. If Aaron Murray is fantastic, the receivers will be there to make the passing game explode.
Unit Rating: 8
Projected Starters: With Trinton Sturdivant suffering knee injuries over the last two seasons, senior Clint Boling has become a major factor starting at left tackle over the second half of last season after seeing time as both a right tackle and a right guard. At 6-5 and 304 pounds, he has the size to play anywhere on the line, and he has the experience having gone through the SEC wars. Strong in pass protection and a bulldozer of a run blocker, he's way overdue to earn more all-star recognition at left tackle. However, he could move around if Sturdivant takes back his old job when healthy.
6-3, 300-pound junior Ben Jones has grown into the starting center job earning Second Team All-SEC honors last season and getting better and better as the year went on. A top center recruit, he's built for the middle of the line and will be an excellent quarterback for another two years with toughness, smarts, and All-America potential. He'll likely be the SEC's best center now that Florida's Maurkice Pouncey is gone to the NFL.
Junior Cordy Glenn can play either guard spot but is best suited to the left side. The 6-5, 328-pounder has a massive frame to get around or through, and he has just enough athleticism to move to tackle from time to time if needed. With tremendous strength to go along with his size, he's going to be a bulldozer to run behind on key plays, but he's not at his best when he has to get on the move.
Senior Josh Davis missed the first half of the season overcoming a shoulder problem, but when he got back on the field the line started to hum. The 6-6, 300-pound right tackle is smart, tough, and is a whale of a pass protector when he's healthy. His banged up shoulders will always be a problem, but he moves well and has the versatility to play just about anywhere he's needed.
6-4, 295-pound senior Chris Davis gets overshadowed a bit by the rest of the veteran stars up front, but he's a rock-solid left guard who missed a little bit of time with a hip problem but ended up starting 11 games. He started out the year at left guard before moving over to the right side, and he has even seen some practice time at center. Extremely reliable and good no matter where he plays, he moves well for an interior lineman.
Projected Top Reserves: Can Trinton Sturdivant finally get a little bit of good luck? After missing the 2008 season after suffering a bad knee injury just before the season, he rehabbed and was ready to roll getting back on the field to start last year. And then he tore up his left knee against Oklahoma State and missed the entire year. On the plus side, the injury happened early enough so the 6-5, 306-pound left tackle is healthy again and ready to go. He's very smart and had NFL starting talent before his injuries, and now, at the very least, he'll be a key part of the rotation.
Junior Tanner Strickland missed all of last year with a shoulder problem but he'll be back at 100% by the start of this year. A nice recruit from a few years ago, he has been a key backup and a special teamer, and at 6-5 and 328 pounds he has good enough size to push defenders around from either guard spot. He'll start out on the left side.
Former defensive tackle A.J. Harmon got a little playing time and will try to be a regular in the tackle rotation this year. A left tackle with good athleticism and big-time toughness and size, the 6-5, 310-pounder is smart with limitless upside. However, he might have a hard time getting into the mix with so many options for the coaching staff to play around with.
Watch Out For … a little while needed to find the right combination. With so many talented veterans and so many key players returning from injury, it'll take most of the fall practices to create a sure-thing starting five. That's not necessarily a negative.
Strength: Talent. If Sturdivant is 100% and he's a backup, the line is going to be amazing. Even with some shuffling and some early problems, the line was a brick wall in pass protection allowing just 12 sacks on the year. There are two sure-thing all-stars in Boling and Jones, and Chris Davis and Glenn aren't far off.
Weakness: Consistency. It would be nice, but not a must, to have a rock-solid pecking order to go by, but all the injuries from Sturdivant's knee to Strickland's shoulder to Chris Davis's hip (to name a few) have made it hard to come up with a reliable front five that the coaching staff can be sure will be there for a full season.
Outlook: Offensive line coach Stacy Searels has an embarrassment of riches to work with. If this isn't the nation's best offensive line, it'll be in the top three if, and it's a huge, glaring if, everyone stays healthy. Fortunately, the adversity of the past few years has led to enough versatility among several key players to allow the coaching staff to move the pieces around when needed without much of a drop-off. It would be nice, though, to see what this group could do when everyone is right. Even so, this is a special group that will make life easier for the new starting quarterback.
Unit Rating: 9.5
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