Tuesday, August 28, 2007

SEC Preview, Part 8: Can ‘Talladega Matt’ lead UGA to promised land?

Overview: Since the hiring of Mark Richt, UGA has been at the top of the eastern division. The secret to Richt's success has been a winning offense capable of getting the job done. Plus, a very good defense and solid recruiting have placed Georgia in the league of elite teams in the SEC. In fact, according to rivals.com, over the past three years UGA has an average national ranking of seven in recruiting. There is no doubt this team is loaded with talent.

Offense: For the most part, UGA must replace the entire offensive line. Despite great recruiting classes, the Dawgs are very thin along the line. As a result, they will rely on true freshman and junior college transfers to get the job done. It may take a few weeks to get things together, but eventually this should be a solid group of guys. However, an injury or two could seriously cripple any hopes of a good season.

QB Matthew Stafford is back for his second season in the SEC. He struggled last season after being thrown into the fire. This year Stafford must prove he is not just a paper blue chip player. He must go out and perform week in and week out in the best conference in college football. Stafford has the talent, but he still must find his game.
While he will be more experienced, he will have to deal with a new offensive line as they go through growing pains. He will not have the luxury of the experienced veteran line to protect him from opposing defenses that he had a year ago. To make matters worse, the offensive line coach left for UAB, so not only will the team be replacing the entire offensive line, but also will have to replace one of the top offensive line coaches in the country which will be no small feat.

To add to the transitions taking place on offense, Mark Richt has decided to hand over the reigns of offensive coordinator to Mike Bobo. While Bobo did handle play calling duties in a few games last year, he is an unproven play caller going into the season. It is always unsettling to have a new coordinator, but even worse to have one that has never called plays at any level other than high school. In the end, Bobo must replace one of the top offensive coordinators (Richt) in the SEC which will be no small task. My worst fears were confirmed when the AJC ran a story titled "Even Richt unsure about Bobo's offense."

Defense: The defense has been the strength of the team the past few years. However, this season the Dawgs will have to basically replace the entire defense. There is a ton of talent, but they will be tested early against OK State and USC. The defense should come together and again be one of the better units in the SEC. If not, defensive coordinator Willie may be looking for a new job come the end of the year.

Lamar’s Keys to a championship:
(1) Does this team have a solid defense? YES. While we really don’t know for sure, by the time UGA gets in the thick of the schedule they will be just as good as anyone on the defensive side of the ball

(2) Can this team run the ball? SPLIT DECISION. Running the ball will be the key to beating South Carolina which would put them in the SEC east race. However, with so many questions on offense, this remains a question mark.

(3) Does this team have a prove QB? NO. While Stafford has a huge upside he has not proven that he can play QB week in and week out in the SEC.

Conclusion: Despite severe losses on both side of the ball and some coaching changes on offense, the Dawgs should again be near the top of the east. With the amount of talent on this team they are capable of winning the division and the league any season. This is a testament to the job Mark Richt has done for the program. However, I do not believe UGA will make it to Atlanta this year because of the turmoil the offense is bound to face. The defense will be good, but with the coaching changes, an unproven offensive line, and an unproven QB this will not be the year of the Dawg. On the other hand, if the offense comes together early against South Carolina and Alabama, UGA fans can go ahead and start looking for SEC championship tickets and RV Parking spaces at the Georgia Dome.

Lamar’s Pick: UGA will finish 9-3 with a 5-3 mark in the SEC. They will finish third in the SEC East. Wins will come against Alabama, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Vandy, and Kentucky. UGA will be see losses against USC, FL, and AU.

UGA is my early pick to win the SEC in 2008.


Josh Levine said...

Great article! Very well done.

Anonymous said...

Great job!!!!!

Ace said...

Your right, we will stink up the SEC this year.

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