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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Impact Players: This Year and Next

OK, I'm moving today, so a little pressed for time. But, here's a topic for discussion... who were your MVPs this season for the Dawgs?

Here's my quick list...

Offensive MVP: A.J. Green. I almost had to pass on the star receiver since he was essentially a non-factor in four of the final five games of the season. But he won the Arizona State game by himself, and if Georgia had lost that one, it's hard to say just how much of a disaster this year might have become.

Runner up: Washaun Ealey. The math is pretty simple: Ealey was on the bench and the Dawgs couldn't run the ball. Ealey starts to play, and the running game improves. Of course, I couldn't simply give this award to Ealey because it belongs to several other players, too. Clint Boling's move to left tackle changed the dynamic of the offensive line for the second straight year; Josh Davis' return from injury made Boling's move possible, and Caleb King not only helped rejuvenate the running game, not only markedly improved his pass blocking, and not only played through a broken jaw for the better part of a month, but served as the key mentor for Ealey throughout the freshman's first season in action.

Defensive MVP: Rennie Curran. The kid gave it all he had yet again, but the bigger problem was the production from the rest of the linebackers this year.

Runner up: Geno Atkins. It was a slow start for the senior defensive tackles, but Atkins was a monster throughout the latter half of the season. Of course, some of that may also have had to do with the improvement made by the defensive ends, Justin Houston and Demarcus Dobbs.

Special Teams MVP: Drew Butler. This is easily the toughest choice on the board as there's a good case to be made for four candidates: Butler, the All-American punter who kept Georgia's offense afloat early by swinging field position; Blair Walsh, who gets my vote as the best kicker in the country; Brandon Boykin, who returned three kickoffs for TDs; Mark Richt, for ensuring Jon Fabris won't be coaching the kickoff team next year. And you can even give special kudos to Bacarri Rambo, DeAngelo Tyson and A.J. Green, each of whom made special teams plays this year that probably decided games.

Runner up: Walsh... with all due respect to the work Boykin did.

Special teams LVP: Marc Curles. As much as I wonder how bad things might have gotten if UGA had lost to Arizona State, it's also fair to wonder how much better they might have been without Curles dooming the Dawgs' final kickoff against LSU with a B.S. excessive celebration penalty.

But... picking the best of this year wasn't too hard. What about the best of next year?

Here's my (very) early guesses at who will take home these honors in 2010:

Offensive MVP: Washaun Ealey/Caleb King. Yes, Green will be great again, but if Georgia is going to win the SEC East next year with a freshman QB, it'll be because the running game played well all year long.

Defensive MVP: Justin Houston. Losing three seniors in the middle just means the beast on the outside needs to be even scarier. I think he will be.

Special teams MVP: Walsh. The Groza Trophy will be his next year... and he'll be booting touchbacks with regularity, too.

A few other break-out candidates: Orson Charles (another big step forward), Aaron Murray, Abry Jones (who will be huge next season, mark my words), Jakar Hamilton and Bacarri Rambo (who finally gets a full-time gig).

So... who are your picks?


Anonymous said...

How about....
1.)Rambo "the Ball Hawker"
2.)Wooten "da ball carrier"
3.) T. King "more muscled speedster"
4.)V. Vance "more focused"
5.)C. King "the leader"

Anonymous said...

Offensive MVP - Aaron Murray
Defensive MVP - Marcus Dowtin
Team MVP - AJ Green
Most Improved - Branden Smith

Anonymous said...

Would love to see B. Smith become a pick machine next year. He has the speed to jump routes.

the anonymous suckup said...

Anon 9:57

Vince Vance is out of eligibility. He won't be back next year.

Anonymous said...

Call me crazy, but... Marlon Brown.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:29 -

You're crazy :o)

Good luck with the move today, DH!

Anonymous said...

Will be interesting to see if Murray can be productive without being an interception machine like Cox was.

Rick said...

Bryan Evans for the Heisman!

MaconDawg said...

I second the Abry Jones prediction. He seemed to improve as the year went on, and he's still developing physically.

rbubp said...

Regarding kickers--

I love Blair Walsh, but I caught just enough of that bowl game with Temple and UCLA to see Kai Forbath do his thing. They pointed out that Forbath had made 35 straight kicks of less than 50 yards, and that he had made several over 50-yarders this year too. Then he nailed the 40+ yard kick twice with ease, as Temple called a TO right before the snap.

Kathleen said...

Russ!! He really stepped up when he was needed.

Ludakit said...

Offensive: Ealey (King is as solid as can be, but Ealey is your "spark")

Defensive: Rambo (Lots of potential candidates but if he improves any at all in the offseason, he could be All-SEC)

Special Teams: Walsh (If we can learn to cover, then all facets will be amazing and our guys will shine, but with a freshman QB, you have to think Walsh's leg will carry us to a few wins)

Most-Improved: B. Smith (Again, tons of potential candidates here, but you can't coach speed and he has that in spades. If he can refine his skills, he and Boykin could be a solid CB combo next year. He will be key in the turnover battle)

And just because I'm feeling lucky....

Early record prediction: 10-2 (9-3 is likely as well, but I'm an optimist)