>What are the major strengths of the team?
Georgia returns 10 starters on offense and returns the best punter (Drew Butler) in America and one of the top 3 kickers (Blair Walsh) from last year. The kicking game is without question our biggest strength. Our other biggest strength is our offensive skills positions other than Quarterback (which will be a question mark for us this year). We return the best Wide Receiver in College Football in A.J. Green. We have two really good running backs in Washuan Ealey and Caleb King. We go 4 deep at Tight End and I think we might have the best TE corps in all of College Football but I haven’t looked around enough to declare us #1 (Orson Charles, Aron White, Bruce Figgins and Arthur Lynch). Our FBs, Shaun Chapas and Fred Munzenmaier, would start on the majority of teams that employ a FB.
What are the major weaknesses of the team?
Until proven otherwise it’s going to be the Defensive Line and the fact that we are implementing a new defensive system. We had 3 players (Jeff Owens, Geno Atkins, Kade Weston) drafted into the NFL from our DT position. I feel least confident about our line but we do have some guys that can play. I also feel that implementing the 3-4 can be tough in the first year. This could be a weakness for us or it could turn out to be a weakness for our opponents since they don’t have a lot of film on us running it. Until I see that the guys have fully grasped the new defense I will list it as a weakness in year one.
Looking at the schedule who will be the first major test?
The answer to this question is almost always South Carolina. And this year it is South Carolina. We go to Columbia the second week of the season. South Carolina always plays us tough no matter how good or bad they are. Most pre-season rankings have us #2 in the division and then #3. It will probably be a dog fight.
What team on the schedule do you fear the most?
It is Herban Meyer and the Florida Gators. Until we solve their riddle it will always be them (unless Bama makes it’s way onto the schedule). This could be the year to catch them though.
Who is the best player on your team that nobody outside of the state talks about?
I think guys like Justin Houston, Brandon Boykin, Caleb King and Orson Charles are starting to get some pub so I’m going to go with Shaun Chapas who is our reliable fullback. In our offense having a good FB is crucial. He needs to block for the TB, he needs to protect the QB, he needs to get yards in short yardage situations and he needs to catch balls out of the backfield. But you know what, I don’t think anybody in the state talks about Chapas either. I would like to see Bobo get the ball to him more in the flat. The answer to this question could also easily be Kris Durham. He’s coming back off of an injury and will be lining up opposite of AJ Green. Odds are he will get a lot of footballs thrown his way and have the ability to impact the game.
Who is the best offensive player on the team?
That would be A.J. Green. Duh. Every game we play this year A.J. Green will be the best player on the field when he’s on the field. He has the ability to impact the game any time he touches the ball. He’s a stud. The only potential problem for Georgia is that he plays receiver so he’s not touching the ball unless the QB gets him the ball.
Who is the best defensive player on the team?
Justin Houston. Last year he led the SEC in tackles per loss per game (he missed a few games at the beginning of the year) and was second in sacks per game. In the new 3-4 scheme he will be moving from DE to OLB. He is going to be a menace for opposing QBs this year.
What player has the biggest ability to impact the game by himself?
This would be A.J. Green again. Against Vanderbilt last year he caught what was basically a screen pass, made a move that froze the corner and then darted 65 yards for a TD. He blocked a FG to beat Arizona State last year. Yes, blocked a FG! He went up over a LSU corner last year to haul in a catch that won us that game. Oh, wait we lost that game because of incompetent referees. As a freshman he caught 56 balls and basically admitted that he didn’t know what he was doing on the field a lot of the times because it was all so new to him. Barring injury A.J. is at best a Heisman Candidate and at worst the best player on the team.
What player(s) needs to step up this year in order for the team to reach it’s full capability?
On the offensive side of the football this is Aaron Murray. The offense returns 10 starters so QB is the only position that we don’t return a starter. Aaron just needs to be consistent and get the ball to our playmakers (A.J., Orson, Washaun, Caleb, Rantavious, Durham, etc). He’s been preparing for this moment since he walked on campus. He prepped last year like he was the starting QB. He will go through his ups and downs but if he can be consistent and help us more than he hurts us then this team has the ability to have a very good season.
On the defensive side of the football this is more of a position question rather than one specific player. We need somebody to step up at Safety (Baccari Rambo, Jakar Hamilton and/or Alec Ogletree). We need somebody to step up at MLB (Marcus Dowtin, Mike Gilliard and/or Christian Robinson) and we need another corner to step up to help Brandon Boykin (Branden Smith or Vance Cuff). There are a lot of unknowns on the defensive side of the football with a lot of guys exiting the program (Curran, Jones, Atkins, Owens, Weston) and a new scheme being ran.
Who is the top offensive newcomer that can make an impact this year (freshman, redshirt freshman or JUCO)?
This would be Aaron Murray again. I would venture to say that barring injury he will be the only newcomer that will make an impact this year on offense. OL Kolton Houston is really the only other name that comes up as a thought but it would be tough for him to break into the line-up this year.
Who is the top defensive newcomer that can make an impact this year (freshman, redshirt freshman or JUCO)?
I’m looking at “The Hitman” for the answer to this question. JUCO Safety Jakar Hamilton has the ability to come in and start right away since Rashad Jones took an early exit to the NFL and the Miami Dolphis. The other guys I think could have an impact are true freshmen T.J. Stripling (OLB), Alec Ogletree (S), Garrison Smith (DT) and Mike Thornton (DT). Since most guys are adjusting to new positions it would not be out of the realm of possibility for any of these guys to immediately contribute on the defensive side of the football.
What are you overall thoughts on your coaching staff?
I’m very happy right now with the coaching staff. Richt made the difficult personal decision (and easy business decision) of letting go Willie Martinez last year and has brought in 3 coaches that I am thrilled to have (Todd Grantham, Warren Belin and Scott Lakatos). The OC Mike Bobo gets a lot of heat but if he can just get the team to stop turning over the football and getting called for stupid penalties on the offensive side of the football I think he can be a good OC. Occasionally his play calling is a bit predictable but with the weapons he has at his disposal this year I am thinking we will see a lot of different people touch the football.
Gut feeling on the teams final record at the end of the regular season?
I can look at the schedule and think 10-1 and I can look at the schedule and think 7-5. I’m going to say 8-3. I count Florida as a loss. And then you’ve got a group of South Carolina, Arkansas, Auburn, Tennessee, and Georgia Tech. I personally think we are better than all of those teams but any given week anybody can beat you in the SEC and two or three or four of those games could go south as could Kentucky or Mississippi State.