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Monday, May 11, 2009

Plenty of Questions on Georgia's Offense

With Tony Wilson gone and Bruce Figgins out for six games to start the 2009 season, things could get pretty ugly for Georgia's passing game.

How ugly?

Take away A.J. Green and Michael Moore and Georgia's offense this coming season has a career total of 27 receptions... combined!

That's not just the receiving corps either. That's everyone on the offense -- tailbacks, fullbacks, tight ends and receivers. Twenty-seven catches. And you know who the the proud owner of the plurality of those catches is? That would be fullback Shaun Chapas, who has 12 receptions in his career, not counting the time he fell down in the end zone on a wide-open TD pass from Matthew Stafford last season.

Beyond that, Moore had just five career catches coming into last season, and neither he nor Green has proven they can be viable threats without Mohamed Massaquoi, Knowshon Moreno and Stafford to help keep defenses honest. That's certainly not to say they can't be -- but it also is a bit troubling that Green will be Georgia's only offensive weapon likely to put much fear into a defense to start the season.

Even with true freshmen Marlon Brown and Rontavious Wooten coming in, Georgia will still have just six scholarship receivers on its roster in 2009 -- and while both Brown and Wooten could be impact players, neither is a sure thing. Wooten is a Carlton Thomas clone in terms of his physical presence and he still has to show he can get off the line of scrimmage against physical SEC corners. Brown looks the part of A.J. Green version 2.0, but his success in high school came against drastically inferior competition.

Figgins' loss hurts beyond just the passing game, too. There's a real chance that Orson Charles and/or Aron White can make an impact as receivers this season, but neither are prototypical blockers. Mark Richt has even noted that Charles is likely to be flexed out wide regularly and White will be primarily used in passing situations. So who does that leave to handle blocking duties? Freshman Arthur Lynch -- and that's about it.

And maybe all of this wouldn't be too troublesome if Stafford and Moreno were still spending time in Georgia's backfield, but they aren't. The tailback situation remains up for grabs -- and none of the likely contributors have shown they can handle blocking duties consistently either. Meanwhile Joe Cox is the proud owner of just one career start.

Georgia averaged 426 yards of total offense last season. The Bulldogs will be hard pressed to come anywhere near that number this year. Yes, a healthy and experienced offensive line will be a nice change of pace -- but we're also assuming that it will be healthy and experienced. Five starters -- Josh Davis, Chris Davis, Trinton Sturdivant, Ben Jones and Vince Vance -- have undergone some type of surgery in the past nine months, and until they get back into game conditions, it's hard to say for certain how they'll respond. And right now, an awful lot is riding on the assumption that Georgia's offensive line will not only be good in 2009, but great.


Bernie said...

From your perspective, any chance Bryce Ros could contribute significantly? Or at least push those ahead of him?

I know we don't have a lot to go on with him - redshirt FR, one catch (?)at G-day. But Mr. Figgins has put us in quite the bind.

Castleberry said...

I think this hurts our run game more than anything. Wilson is a fierce blocker and I agree that Figgins is the best tight end in the run game. Think K. Tripp will be playing two ways??

Ubiquitous GA Alum said...

All valid points, but did Larry Munson write this? ... ;-)

jferg said...

More has been done with less!

This year will prove or debunk the old adage of "the game is won or lost in the trenches".

We return, in my opinion, the strongest COMBINED Offensive and Defensive Lines we've had in a while. Sure, we've had D-lines in the past...but they were never matched with a dominant O-line in the same year. This could be our best O-line ever (minus the TE position). This could be, one of, the best D-Lines ever.

Look at it this way DH: Even a high schooler can run through a HUGE-A$$ hole if the O-line dominates. And pounding 4-6 yards every play wears down the Defense, opening up our passing game. A dominanat O-line changes the game!
In addition to the physical and moral pounding of the opposing Defense...a dominant D-line can further crush the spirits of the opposition. Would anyone here care if we won 13-0? 14-3? even 10-6? Heck a slow pounding game if what we need to create--and dominate. And it's definitely possible with the bodies and ability we've got comeing back. Trust me, the Geno/Jeff/Kade front WILL play with a stand-up DE and will dominate.

So, I submit again, if the game is truly won or lost in the trenches...I like our chances (even with "mediocre" playmakers as Herbstreit puts it")

David Hale said...

Bernie -- Honestly I'd be very surprised if Ros played any significant role. He just didn't take much of a step forward last year, and I have to believe that Lynch is already as good (if not better) than Ros.

Castle -- I wouldn't hold my breath on Tripp making another move, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least if he at least offered.

JFerg -- I think you're right (and I have a post later this week in which Jeff Owens heartily agrees with you) but what I really wanted to make clear here is that the margin for error is very small. Does Georgia have enough talent to win this year? Absolutely. But if they go through a run of injuries like they did a year ago? Look out.

DAve said...

Don't be surprised if Chapas or Munzenmaier are called into service as an h-back/blocking tight end. UGA ran a couple plays last year with Chapas and Munzenmaier in the backfield with Southerland lined up as a tight end. Of course these were goal-line situations so we'll see.

Anonymous said...

Not to nitpick but why would you "take away" Green and Moore. I would imagine they will be a fairly significant part of the passing game.

David Hale said...

Well my point wasn't to suggest Georgia had nothing on offense, but that the depth was very, very thin.

Ben in Georgia said...

Way to look at the glass half full! Geez man, you make it sound like we'll be lucky to win 3 games. Figgins has 3 career receptions. Whoopee. Wilson had 1 last year before he was hurt and 14 the previous year, when he burst onto the scene just in time to drop that TD against South Carolina that would've sent us to the national title game. My understanding is Wilson wouldn't have played this year anyways since he's still hurt. I'm sure a couple of those highly sought after WR and TE we landed in February can manage to combine for 20 or so receptions. This is a non issue to me.

Justin Houston, on the other hand, that's a different story. It'll sure be fun to face Oklahoma State with no pass rush.

I agree with your observations concerning the offensive line. I've been thinking that the whole offseason. Everyone's running around singing the praises of our O-line, seemingly forgetting virtually every one of them is coming off a significant injury. Sure they have the potential to be really good. They also have the potential to be really bad...again.

David Hale said...

Hey, I get your point, Ben, but it's not my job to look at the glass as half full. It's my job to look at it objectively. And objectively speaking, there is almost no real experience at the skill positions this year, and that has to be a concern. Think about how many injuries happened last year. If half that many happen this year, there will be real concerns.

I'm in no way saying Georgia doesn't have talent -- I'm just saying there is a lot left to prove. That's far from a 3-win destiny -- just saying we don't know much about these guys for sure yet.

Yodi said...

Losing Tony Wilson and Bruce Figgins causing things to get ugly for the passing game??? BOY STOP!!! I don't see it. Maybe Figgins is a solid blocker, but when has Wilson ever been much of a factor even when healthy?? Things will be fine without those players. Of course the depth will be affected but that's about it.