Everyone in Dawgosphere has posted their comments on the post-Spring Georgia depth chart. I’m not sure I can add a whole lot more to what others have written, but I want to add my $0.02 worth.
The Field General
The Dawgs entered spring practice with 3 QB’s ready to take over for Joe Cox, a DGD who played brilliantly at times (Arkansas) and terribly (Kentucky) at others as a 5th-year senior. Aaron Murray was going to start game 1 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette regardless of the results of spring practice and has assumed the role of Field General with the suspension and subsequent dismissal of Zach Mettenberger. While Murray appeared pedestrian at this year’s G-Day game, many people forget that he appeared to be the most talented QB at G-Day 2009. We also forget that there are many parallels between David Greene and Aaron Murray. Jim Donnan considered playing Greene as a freshman but knew that wasn’t best for his long-term development. I’m sure Mark Richt considered playing Murray as Cox struggled but couldn’t due to injury. Hopefully, Murray comes in and displays the same maturity under center in Columbia that Greene showed in his first SEC road game in Knoxville. If so, 2010 could be a fun ride with the offensive talent that appears to be around young Mr. Murray.
We have to hope that Logan Gray decides to stay or that Murray remains upright for all 13 or 14 games this year. If neither of these happen, we will be playing a walk-on or a true freshman in Hutson Mason under center. If that happens, it could be a long year in 2010.
The Ball Carriers
As everyone knows, the Dawgs have talent stockpiled at tailback, and I believe the reemergence of Tailback U is upon us. Co-number 1’s Washaun Ealey and Caleb King form as talented a pair at tailback as Alabama’s dynamic duo of Ingram and Richardson. Ealey showed in the last part of the year what a talent he is. When he entered the LSU game for the first time, I could feel the electricity in Sanford go up a couple of notches. It looked like he wasn’t quite sure where to go, but he was going there in a hurry. By the end of the season, he began to look a lot like our previous #24, Knowshon Moreno. King looks very smooth when he gets the ball and has excellent vision. He seems to glide when he gets into the open field, and we saw his speed at Historic Vince Dooley Stadium at Mark Richt Field when he left Georgia Tech defenders grasping at air on his long touchdown run. I think Bulldog Nation now understands why CMR recruited Caleb King instead of Jonathan Dwyer. Aaron Murray will enjoy handing the ball off to these two for the next 2 or 3 years.
Shaun Chapas and Fred Munzenmaier continue the tradition of solid fullback play. They are good blockers and solid short yardage specialists. Chapas is a threat coming out of the backfield to catch a pass or two. With the advent of the spread offense at the college level, we don’t see many players like these two on the field anymore. Charles White should develop into a solid alternative. Highly recruited out of South Carolina as a linebacker, White should bring a level of athleticism to the position we haven’t seen at fullback in some time at Georgia.
Any discussion of the wide receivers at Georgia starts with All-America candidate and all-SEC performer, A.J. Green. The NFL draft pundits already have A.J. as a surefire top 5 pick if he decides to come out after next year. For Dawg fans, we have to hope the threat of an owner lock-out will keep A.J. in Athens for his senior season. He will be the target of double coverage all over the field like Calvin Johnson was at Georgia Tech. A.J. has all the tools but has yet to stay healthy for an entire season. If he does, watch out because every single-season receiving record at UGA will be at risk, and we may see A.J. in NYC at the Heisman ceremony in December.
The big question is who will be A.J.’s running mate and step up to take pressure off the All-American. Tavarres King enters the fall as the #1 on the other side. He’s a burner who seems to get behind defenses designed to roll coverage to Green’s side of the field but needs to be more consistent catching balls thrown his way. Kris Durham, one of Matthew Stafford’s favorite big targets, returns from a shoulder injury and had a good spring to remind everyone of his talent. He will likely play Mike Moore’s role in the slot as the guy who goes into the middle of the field to make tough catches and keep the chains moving. Rantavious Wooten made an impact especially late in his freshman year and appears to be a special talent coming out of south Florida. Marlon Brown struggled as a true freshman but has all of the physical tools to be as dominating of a wide receiver as A.J. Israel Troupe showed late in the year that he can be a difference maker on the outside as he did in the Auburn game last year. Freshmen will likely get a chance to provide depth immediately. Wide receiver is a definite need for the 2011 recruiting class, and UGA is off to good start finding quality depth for next year.
The Tight Ends
The Dawgs are stocked four-deep at tight end entering the 2010 season and are showing that the tight end can still be a weapon in today’s college game. Like fullback, the tight end has become less integral in the college game with the advent of spread offenses, but a good tight end can still be a difference maker. Orson Charles showed last year that he was worth the hype when he was named consensus 1st-team Freshman All-America. He also has a special place in Dawg fans’ hearts for breaking Florida’s 2006 national championship trophy on a visit to Gainesville . He has the speed to run past linebackers and the size to out-muscle safeties and could play in the slot in 3-wide or 4-wide formations. With the amount of cover-2 we see due to our speed on the outside, #7 is a defensive coordinator’s nightmare over the deep middle third of the field. Aron White provides the same mismatches when he is on the field. If Charles and White improve their blocking, both will see the field a lot together in 2010. Bruce Figgins returns from suspension and a medical redshirt. He proved to be a devastating run blocker and a threat to catch the ball off play-action before his off-the-field issues and injury. Arthur Lynch has the same set of tools as Figgins. He has a chance to be a 3rd offensive tackle in running sets and a guy who can make plays on the goal line if needed. Needless to say, we will see a lot of two-tight sets this year. A good tight end is a great security blanket for a young, maturing quarterback. Just ask David Greene about Randy McMichael in 2001.
The Road Pavers
If games were played on paper, the offensive line appears to be the team’s strength along with the kicking specialists. The two-deep depth chart is full of linemen with starting experience and NFL potential. At tackle, Clint Boling and Josh Davis form a strong tandem from the end of last season. If Trinton Sturdivant comes back from his second knee surgery, we put 3 players with NFL potential in two of the most important positions on the field. Chris Davis and Cordy Glenn have both been very solid at the guard positions. As a big man who can get outside and lead the sweep and the counter plays, Glenn, in particular, appears to be headed for a big payday at the next level. Ben Jones personifies the nasty “big ugly” in the middle at center. As a true freshman, he went up against Mount Cody and did not play poorly. As a second-team all-SEC performer in 2009 and a Freshman All-America in 2008, he is positioned to have a big season as a junior. Out of this group, 5 or 6 guys could end up playing on Sundays after their time between the hedges is done.
CMR decided to get back heavily involved in the offensive side of the ball in the spring. IMHO, a very smart move by the head man. He understands pro-style offensive football as well as if not better than any head coach in the college game today. Coach Bobo is proving to be a better play-caller than the lunatic fringe of the Georgia fan base gives him credit for. He proved late in the year that he was not going to have balance for balance’s sake as we lined up and ran the ball at Georgia Tech and Texas A&M. Coach Searels is one of the best offensive line coaches in the South and is developing a deep, athletic line. Coaches Ball, Lilly, and McLendon are solid position coaches and good recruiters, and McLendon, in particular, bleeds red and black.
If Georgia gets solid quarterback play from Murray, we should expect this team to put up big numbers in both points and yardage. He doesn’t have to throw for 3,000+ yards and 25+ TD’s to be successful this year. He needs to manage the game, get us out of bad plays at the line, and take care of the ball. We also need to find ways to get the ball into A.J., Orson, Washaun, and Caleb’s hands. If we can do that, expect us to win the game of field position and time of possession and take pressure off our defense. If not, we will struggle as we did many times last year to get first downs, leave our defense on the field too long, and yield points due to short fields.
That’s my take on the offensive depth chart. I would love to read yours in the Comments section below.