Earlier this week I was approached by the good folks at Bleacher Report to try and identify the impact players for UGA for the '08 season. Here are the criteria:
1) Must be a nationally spotlighted player.
2) List said player's strengths.
3) List said player's weaknesses.
The only catch was to keep this to 250-500 words. So, in an effort to actually make that happen (see: unlikely), here we go.
Matthew Stafford (QB) -- Arguably the most important player on any given team is the QB. This year Stafford has set some lofty goals as he is aiming for a 65% completion rate on top of the small goal of winning the SECC and the MNC. Strengths include, ironically enough, strength. Also, Stafford's command of the offense grew greatly over the '07 season where he spent more time looking at the defense and changing the play at the line. Weaknesses include occasional brain farts (see: forcing the ball instead of throwing out of bounds) and throwing off his back foot way too much.
Knowshon Moreno (RB) -- The biggest thing to carry the football for UGA since some guy wearing #34, Kno-Mo is absolutely electric when he touches the football. He's a playmaker if there ever was one and his attitude is what you look for identifying someone who has the "it" factor. His strengths are damn near endless it seems, but you could include his balance, vision, speed and pass blocking in the backfield. His weakness (seriously I could only find one) is he hasn't been a 30-40 down back and wasn't really "the guy" until late last year. Also, he hasn't been the focus of opposing defenses that want to rip his head off.
Mohammed Massaquoi (WR) -- It's his time. After a stunning freshman year, he had a case of the drops in his sophomore campaign. Last year he proved he could be a big play receiver and a valuable 3rd down guy who goes across the middle fearlessly. Strengths include his route running and blocking ability. Weaknesses include his "sometimes" unstable hands and his lack of a 5th gear to become a true "holy crap he just ran right past me" receiver.
Trinton Sturdivant (OL) -- Being a stud as a freshman on an offensive line is not an easy thing. Not only do you have to be badass in general, but you have to be a major badass against SEC defenses. Trinton did this in spades and we should expect his ability to be the key in what we hope is a very successful running game. Strengths include his physical presence, excellent hands and impeccable dancing ability. Weaknesses include his youth and inexperience in being the "anchor" of the line.
Rennie Curran (LB) -- This kid swam all the way from Liberia to kick your ass. No, really, he did. An underrated prospect by many recruiting services, Rennie has shown an uncanny ability to be a ballhawk and his feet never stop until he's past the guy he's already tackled. As a sophomore, you can expect this linebacker to make waves and continue to impress on the defensive side of the ball. His strengths include being a ballhawk, having remarkable speed and looking like a black Incredible Hulk. His weakness is his youth and the fact that he's only 5'8". He could also work a little better in pass coverage, but that will come with time.
Geno Atkins, Kade Weston & Jeff Owens -- Seriously, I can't pick out a single guy out of those three and find one that's more important than the other. Strengths include being big as hell, reigning thunder on opposing quarterbacks and stopping running backs for minimal gains. Weaknesses include the Tennessee game last year. No more of that, hopefully.
Asher Allen (CB) -- UGA has typically had many cornerbacks shine and come into their own roughly around their junior year. Well Mr. Allen, welcome to your junior year. He's a very physical back who is excellent in coverage and plays the run very well. Although he's not the quickest guy on the field, or the tallest, he's a very good player and should do well in the INT department this year.
Reshad Jones (S) -- He's got a temper and that's been proven on more than one occasion, but if he can keep it under control he could be the type of safety in the mold of Sean Jones. He's explosive and very physical. He lacks a little in the pass coverage department, but part of that has to do with the fact that he was only a redshirt freshman last year.
So there you have it. My impact players for '08. This list does not include dark horses like Carlton Thomas, John Knox, Tavarres King, A.J. Green or anyone else. These are my ESPN highlight makers (excluding the linemen...unless they score a TD or something) and will be the guys analysts refer to when they're talking about "keys to the game."
Until next time kids.
Labels: College Football, UGA Football