This is the first in a two part blog about next season's progress. Today is offense. I'll do defense sometime in the near future.
Welcome back UGA. I haven't blogged about you in so long I feel like as I type this, I'm holding a sign at the airport, waiting for you to jump in the car. Right now, I haven't seen college football in the better part of two full weeks, the NFL is all over the TV and ESPN.com, and all I can think is that I get to see D.J. Shockley (by far, the best feel-good story since I became a Dawg fan) play one more game.
So today I thought I would write a post about the future of Bulldog Football at UGA. I got to thinking about this after I met a couple of dumbasses at a Christmas party last night who ran a two-man company that made the connections for high school students to college coaches. What exactly that meant, I don't know. All I know is that they couldn't hold a candle to me when we got to discussing recruiting classes, the guys that have the talent and where they're going....and I was drunk.
So, sham masters aside, I have kicked around '06 in my head pretty regularly since our second SEC Championship in five years under the Mark Richt era. I figured since I had a little bit of time, an inclination to write, and nothing better to write about, I'd discuss the future guys we have and the ones coming in. Mainly, I'll be discussing what we need help with and where we need it.
Before I start, the AJC posted an article about Mark Richt and Damon Evans meeting soon to discuss Richt's contract. Again, for the millionth time, Richt is not going anywhere. Don't send me a message or call me asking if I've heard anything about it. The man loves UGA; he isn't leaving.
So, here's where we're at...Offensive Line
: I think we're going to hurt here. We've spent the last two recruiting seasons picking up OL commitments but the problem lies in the experience they have. As far as I can tell, we're *thankfully* not going to have the same line problems that we had in 2003, but we still will have a lot of inexperience. I think Neil Callaway needs to get more discipline in the guys he has on the field, because on paper we arguably had the best OL this year, but kept making mental mistakes all season long. We all know Max Jean is gone, so are Dennis Roland, Russ Tanner, and Ryan Schnetzner. Dan Inman is a variable because he has racked up ridiculous amounts of awards throughout the season, but no one is speaking about him jumping early into the draft. We have quality guys like Zeb McKinzey who was a gigantic recruit but hasn't played up to his potential at all. My guess is all the Jrs. on the OL stay and we come back with some good guys with decent experience. We have recruited a nice class of OL as well and with some good coaching, they'll be ready in the next year or two to make a difference. I think B-.Running Backs:
Everyone's coming back. The only variable here is that I would expect to see more of two back sets or even the wishbone next year. I know Richt has adamantly said he is not going to use it, but I think with such a killer FB in Brannan Southerland and our three talented backs, the wishbone could give defenses fits next year. I don't want to overcomplicate the system, but still. All in all, we'll be fine and we'll run a basic put-it-down-your-throat rushing attack that will not be as effective as this year (which really wasn't that effective at all), due to a less experienced OL. I do expect to see Kregg pick up next year where he'll leave off this year and challenge for a starting spot. I believe he's the most talented of all the backs as far as vision, power, and speed. I think A-
. Tight Ends:
Pope is gone. I know this because UGA picked up a GIGANTIC TE commitment last week when Richt ran out to California and grabbed NaDerris Ward
, who will challenge for time in two TE set. He has already qualified academically, which means he won't be like Pope and waste a year trying to get into school. We'll still have Martrez Milner who showed a lot of promise and heart to be effective when we all knew people were going to double team Pope because "D.J. needed Pope in order to get his confidence up and no one else could catch the ball." Damn pundits. Anyway, we'll be fine at TE. I'll miss Pope and his strength, but we'll be ok. I think B+.Wide Receiver:
Mo Friggin' Mass. Our newest star will lead a ton of new recruits and some seasoned veterans onto the field next year. Combine Mo Mass with Sean Bailey and Martrez Milner, you've got a lethal combination for a passing attack. What should be even better is the added installment of RBs that can catch like Lumpkin and Ware, AND guys like A.J. Bryant (can we please give A.J. something other than a damn screen...THROW the ball to him) who I believe are just waiting for a chance to prove themselves. All in all, I think we'll be decent here. I'll give us a B
Well isn't this just the talk of the town. The AJC is pumping Matt Stafford like he is the Lebron of high school quarterbacks. The real problem here is the fine stable of QBs we already have. I mean Joe Cox is the truth. Trust me, this kid's prior experience makes him very very very crucial to our team's system (he's a bit slower than D.J., but is still quite mobile) and he played his HS ball at Independence which means he and Mo Mass have that thing called "chemistry." Couple that with Joe T. III's experience in the system, and you have two quarterbacks that deserve nods over a freshman who hasn't proved anything in college. Don't get me wrong, a ton of talented QBs is not a problem...until one of them leaves. We got lucky with D.J. staying but in this age of "me first," not everyone is going to stay. For the purposes of this discussion, we won't mention Blake Barnes, who I think will never start a snap of football at UGA. For some unknown reason, Richt is not high on him. My ideal situation is that Stafford redshirts like Cox has this past year, Cox starts, Joe T. III backs him up, and Barnes calls in plays with the headset. Who knows what will happen in '07, but right now, let's just take this one season at a time. With lack of starting experience throughout the whole stable, I'm guessing a B
Well there's your offensive breakdown. Rosters and recruiting analysis have been provided by Dawgbone.net
Until next time kids.