I think everyone has come to terms with the fact that Georgia isn't returning a lot of experienced players at the offensive skill positions. But I started wondering where exactly the Bulldogs stacked up against the rest of the SEC, so I decided to do a little research into what each team was bringing back for 2009.
First, let's look at the starting quarterbacks around the SEC, something I already did a few weeks ago, but will post again here. (NOTE: I used the projected 2009 starter in each case, unless there was no clear leader, in which case I used the QB with the highest number of career attempts.)
|Team ||QB || Career Att. ||Career TD |
|Florida|| T. Tebow ||681||67|
| Ole Miss || J. Snead ||376||28|
|Vanderbilt|| M. Adams ||368||14|
|Kentucky|| M. Hartline ||317||9|
| Miss. St. || T. Lee ||260||7|
|Tennessee|| J. Crompton ||245||9|
|Auburn|| K. Burns ||205||4|
|Arkansas|| R. Mallett ||141||7|
| S. Carolina || S. Garcia ||122||6|
|Georgia|| J. Cox ||58||5|
|Alabama|| G. McElroy ||20||2|
Next, let's look at the rushing stats for each team...
|Team||08 Rush Rank ||08 Rush Yds ||Return Rush Yds ||% Return |
| Miss. St. ||105||1207||1192||98.8|
| Ole Miss ||28||2424||2331||96.2|
| Vanderbilt ||73||1737||940||54.1|
| S. Carolina ||112||1223||499||40.8|
And finally, the receivers...
|Team||08 Rec Rank||08 Rec Yds||Return Rec Yds|| % Return|
| Ole Miss||53||2875||2091||72.7|
| Miss. St.||94||2092||1354||64.7|
| S. Carolina||50||2892||1370||47.4|
Obviously these numbers have three distinct flaws when projecting out toward next year. For one, they don't take into account a team's offensive line, which obviously undervalues Georgia while overvaluing, say, Ole Miss. They don't account for defense and special teams either. Of course, those stats would only make Florida look better, so we might be better off not mentioning them. And finally, these numbers assume the players a team lost last year were better than the replacements those teams will have this year. In the case of Knowshon Moreno, that's probably true, but it's certainly not in every case.
So what do we learn from all this?
Well, first, we learn that I am incapable of making two tables in HTML that look alike. But there are plenty of other, more important findings...
-- Yes, Florida is going to be very, very good next year, but these stats tell me that the Gators are going to miss Percy Harvin more than people seem to be talking about. He is really the only major loss Florida has from last year's offense, but he was responsible for a pretty hefty chunk of both the Gators' running and passing attack.
-- My sleeper pick for this season was already Arkansas, but looking at these numbers, it's a safe wager that the Hogs could have a very dangerous offense in 2009. Now, that defense could be another story altogether.
-- Looking at the numbers for LSU -- which already had a decent offense last year -- I might argue that now one player in the SEC has a more critical job than Jordan Jefferson in 2009. If he's as good as he looked in the bowl game, that could be a really good team (maybe nat'l championship level good), but if he's not, there might be a lot of wasted talent.
-- The SEC West overall looks a lot better than the East in terms of returning offensive talent. On the ground, the top five teams in terms of returning rushing yards are all in the West and through the air, six of the top seven are out West. In all, the SEC West returns 82 percent of its receiving yards (compared to 50 percent for the East) and 83 percent of its rushing yards (compared to 54 percent in the East). And when it comes to that bevy of inexperienced QBs, don't you feel a lot better about Ryan Mallett, Jordan Jefferson and Greg McElroy than Mike Hartline, Stephen Garcia and Johnathan Crompton?
-- If you're looking at which of the new head coaches might have the most to work with in Year 1, it might well be Dan Mullen. I wouldn't hold my breath on an Ole Miss-like turnaround, but Mississippi State is probably in better shape (at least offensively) than Auburn or Tennessee.
-- Things don't look great for the Dawgs in terms of returning offensive talent, but at least they had something to work with. Look at South Carolina, on the other hand. The Gamecocks' offense stunk last year, and they return a questionable QB and less than 45 percent of their total offensive production from 2008.
-- Having said that, I'm not sure there's any great rival for second place in the East to Georgia this year unless one of those other teams (Tennessee, Vandy, Kentucky or South Carolina) takes a big (and unexpected) step forward. The question then becomes, can the Dawgs handle their business out of conference and against the West to a degree that the Florida game will actually matter in the standings.
OK, so that's a few of the things that jumped out at me. Anything you guys noticed? Are you concerned by Georgia's standings here?