For the past two weeks, we've gone team by team looking at the SEC and the rest of Georgia's opponents in our Two-A-Days series. Now, we've reached the final post.
All along I've been asking you for some questions with plans to do a Georgia mailbag… but while I got some good inquiries, I felt the mailbag would fall short of giving a balanced look at where Georgia stands. I'll still get to it… but I think we'll save it for next week.
Then I thought about doing a straight position-by-position analysis of the roster, but it's Friday, it's been a long week, and that didn't seem like much fun.
And then I started reading about the mass confusion on when "Ghostbusters 3" might finally start filming and I got an idea…
Why don't I rip off one of my favorite bits from Bill Simmons' ESPN columns and use some quotes from one of the all-time great movies to help breakdown the current status of Georgia's football team?
OK, maybe not so brilliant, and definitely less than original, my standards aren't that high during the offseason.
So, with that, I give you the "Ghostbusters" breakdown of Georgia's spring…
Ray: "Hey, Dean Yeager! Are you moving us to a better office on campus?"
Dean Yeager: "No, you're being moved off campus. The Board of Regents has decided to terminate your grant. You are to vacate these premises immediately."
Peter: "This is preposterous. I demand an explanation."
Dean Yeager: "This university will no longer continue any funding for any of your group's activities."
Peter: "But the kids love us!"
To Mark Richt. Like it or not, the hot-seat talk is out there, and no matter how preposterous it seems now, it's only going to get louder if Georgia doesn't take a step forward this year. On the bright side, Richt seems to have taken every one of the complaints fans have made in the past few years and addressed them one by one this offseason. No more Willie Martinez, Jon Fabris or John Jancek. No more soft defenses. No more directional kicking. No more playing the seniors over superior younger players. Instead, it's healthy competition, deep kicking, focusing on fundamentals, playing to the team's strengths, aggressive schemes and an accomplished new defensive coaching staff that has changed the personality of the Bulldogs' D already. So, do I believe the hot seat talk? Definitely not… yet. But Georgia did lose five games last year. Richt did fire three assistants and was able to offer his new DC the richest contract for any assistant ever at Georgia -- and a three-year deal to boot. The East is winnable this year but there isn't a single player left on the roster who was a part of the last SEC title team at Georgia. And with the economy being what it is, another ugly season could start hitting the school's pocket book in a bad way. And then that temperature gets turned up. So while Richt deserves kudos for the work done so far, this spring was just the start.
"Ray, when someone asks you if you're a god, you say 'Yes'"
To Aaron Murray. With so much of Georgia's success riding on his arm this season -- including 10 returning starters on offense -- he doesn't need to be a god, but it wouldn't hurt to act like one. His performance during his first 13 months at Georgia has met with nothing but ringing endorsements, but the first time he was asked to really show his stuff in front of the fans -- the first time he was asked if he was a god, so to speak -- he looked average at best. So the next time Murray's asked to step up… he needs to say, "Yes!"
Ray: "I think we'd better split up."
Egon: "Good idea."
Peter: "Yeah... we can do more damage that way."
To Washaun Ealey and Caleb King. It took half-a-season before Georgia's coaches realized these two tailbacks were the key to a revitalized running game. Now they'll enter the season behind a veteran O line as co-No. 1s on the depth chart, and the question is… just how much damage can they do? King was banged up throughout much of the spring and has had some problems with injuries throughout his career. Ealey turned some fans off by taking a swing at teammate Nick Williams in the G-Day game and has gained a bit of a reputation for stirring the pot. So there are some questions… but if they can perform anywhere close to the way they ran against Georgia Tech last season, all the worries about the young QBs might seem inconsequential.
Dana: "You know, you don't act like a scientist."
Peter: "They're usually pretty stiff."
Dana: "You're more like a game show host."
To Orson Charles. Georgia has four tight ends on its roster that could probably start for half the other teams in the SEC, but it's Charles, who certainly isn't as stiff as the typical tight end, who rose to the top of the depth chart. After posting 23 catches for 374 yards and 5 TDs as a true freshman, Charles took his already impressive work ethic to the next level this offseason -- even training with the ROTC -- and looks poised to become one of the biggest tight end threats in the country in 2010. He just doesn't act like a tight end…
Ray: Symmetrical book stacking. Just like the Philadelphia mass turbulence of 1947.
Peter: You're right, no human being would stack books like this.
To A.J. Green. Because no human being can make catches like him. And if he stays healthy for 13 (and maybe 14) games this year… look out. The Philadelphia mass turbulence of 1947 will pale in comparison.
Ray: "You know, it just occurred to me that we really haven't had a successful test of this equipment."
Egon: "I blame myself."
Peter: "So do I."
Ray: "Well, no sense in worrying about it now."
Peter: "Why worry? Each one of us is carrying an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back."
To the offensive line. It seems like every year there are more questions on the O line. In 2007, there was no experience. In 2008, the experience all got hurt. In 2009, things were supposed to be better, but when Trinton Sturdivant went down, things went pear-shaped quickly, and it took more than half the season to get it figured out. But now… now things appear to be figured out, and not a second too soon. With Clint Boling, Chris Davis and Josh Davis all seniors -- and Cordy Glenn potentially NFL-bound if he turns in a season as strong as some of his coaches think he might after a spectacular spring -- this particular incarnation could represent the last of Georgia's chances to have a dominant line for the next few years. With Sturdivant, A.J. Harmon and Tanner Strickland all missing the majority of the spring, there wasn't much of an opportunity to develop the backups.
"OK, who brought the Dawgs?"... seriously, how bad are those special effects?
"Personally, I liked the university. They gave us money and facilities, we didn't have to produce anything! You've never been out of college! You don't know what it's like out there! I've worked in the private sector. They expect results."
To Todd Grantham. Georgia's new DC isn't just some fly-by-night coach who grew up in the college ranks and has never been truly pushed to maintain his job. He's worked with Frank Beamer and Nick Saban and coached for more than a decade in the NFL, where yes, they expect results. While Willie Martinez certainly had his success stories at Georgia, his credentials don't come close to the impressive resume Grantham brings with him, and the Dawgs' new DC is already impressing his players, his fellow coaches and Georgia's fans with him immense understanding of defense.
Winston: "We have the tools, and we have the talent."
Peter: "It's Miller time!"
To Grantham's players. While Georgia's new DC has had the ears of his players so far, the question remains -- does he have the right players. Yes, Georgia has the tools and the talent, but with a new 3-4 defense, what it doesn't have is a single player specifically recruited to play in this scheme. Now, some of the returning roster -- guys like Cornelius Washington and Abry Jones -- fit perfectly already. But for plenty of others, particularly at linebacker, there are some big questions. So while Grantham would be hard-pressed not to make strides defensively this year, it may still be a year or two before it's really Miller time.
Janine: "Do you believe in UFOs, astral projections, mental telepathy, ESP, clairvoyance, spirit photography, telekinetic movement, full trance mediums, the Loch Ness monster and the theory of Atlantis?"
Winston: "Ah, if there's a steady paycheck in it, I'll believe anything you say."
To Scott Lakatos and Warren Belin. While Grantham brought in the NFL mind-set, his two new assistants bring plenty of focus on the fundamentals to go supplement the impressive resume of the Bulldogs' defensive coordinator. And while the fundamentals seemed to be a tough sell throughout the past few years, Belin and Lakatos appear to have done a nice job of convincing their new pupils to believe… and the end result might be some impressive paychecks at the next level.
Egon: "I think this building should be condemned. There's serious metal fatigue in all the load-bearing members, the wiring is substandard, it's completely inadequate for our power needs, and the neighborhood is like a demilitarized zone."
Ray: "Hey, does this pole still work?"
To Georgia's defensive line. After the departures of three senior defensive tackles -- all of whom were drafted in this year's NFL draft -- it might seem like the line should take a big step back and could be quite a mess this year. And that still may be true. But like Ray finding the fireman's pole, there are still a few reasons for excitement. Kwame Geathers looked like a new man this spring, slimmed down and very strong at the nose position. DeAngelo Tyson has two years of apprenticeship under his belt, and Rodney Garner thinks he's ready to take a big step forward. Justin Anderson didn't participate this spring, but he did swap sides of the football and I've heard a handful of rumblings that the coaches think he could be an absolute terror at nose, too. Add to that the fact that Kiante Tripp has finally found a home and gotten a chance to play and the fact that Abry Jones is my personal pick to be one of Georgia's break-out stars this year and maybe that unit that looked to be a shell of last year's D line could actually be a pretty impressive group.
Ray: "What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath of God type stuff."
Ray: "Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!"
Egon: "Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes…"
Winston: "The dead rising from the grave!'
Peter: "Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!"
To Justin Houston. OK, there are some serious concerns at outside linebacker with the lack of depth behind Houston and Cornelius Washington. But assuming he can stay healthy, there's no telling how much damage Houston might cause. In just 10 games last season, Houston finished second in the SEC in sacks -- and that was before he moved from defensive end to OLB and before he was given the green light to make opposing QBs crap their pants in Grantham's new blitz-heavy defense. If Houston can stay on the field this season, there's every reason to believe that for opposing offenses, it'll be human sacrifice, fire and brimstone… mass hysteria.
"We've been going about this all wrong. This Mr. Stay Puft's okay! He's a sailor, he's in New York; we get this guy laid, we won't have any trouble!"
To Richard Samuel. OK, perhaps I'm stretching this analogy a bit, but for as much as fans cringed every time Samuel was handed the ball last year, there seems to be a universal feeling that he's not such a bad guy anymore. See, he was just a sailor in New York… or a linebacker in the SEC, at the very least. He wasn't getting his needs fulfilled on the offensive side of the ball, but things could be very different now. Unfortunately a concussion at the end of spring practice meant fans didn't get their first look at Samuel in his new role on G-Day, and there's a good chance he still could redshirt. But for a player as talented as Samuel, if things go right, he can definitely do some damage.
"She's not my girlfriend. I find her interesting because she's a client and because she sleeps above her covers -- four feet above her covers. She barks, she drools, she claws."
To Brandon Boykin. With the ups that Boykin has, would it surprise anyone if he slept four feet above his covers, too? A stud on special teams last year, Boykin was also probably Georgia's most consistent defensive back, too -- which is saying something considering he was the lone first-year starter of the group. Yes, Boykin got burned a few times, but that was under the old system without much help and without much experience. Now, he's a year older, a year wiser and has a group of coaches anxious to turn him loose and let him use those impressive ball skills to bark, drool and claw a few opposing receivers.
"Gozer the Traveler will come in one of the pre-chosen forms. During the rectification of the Vuldrini, the traveler came as a large and moving Torg. Then, during the third reconciliation of the last of the McKetrick supplicants, they chose a new form for him: that of a giant Slor. Many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you."
To Georgia's secondary -- and maybe a few linebackers. In the last few years, many of Georgia's DBs have knows what it was to be roasted by SEC receivers, I can tell you. It's been ugly, with big plays happening far too frequently and the likes of Bryan Evans and Prince Miller nowhere to be seen as receivers jogged downfield for a score. Grantham and Lakatos hope this year will be different, and it certainly could be. In the secondary, Georgia is ripe with talent. Boykin, Bacarri Rambo, Jakar Hamilton, Nick Williams, Branden Smith and incoming freshman Alec Ogletree all have NFL potential, and players like Vance Cuff and Shawn Williams had impressive enough springs to turn a few heads, too. Add that to Lakatos' new approach with waves goodbye to face guarding and says hello to playing the ball, shrugs off leaving receivers to run free and employs a physical approach at the line of scrimmage… and all of that adds up to what could be a pretty darn good defensive backfield. But there's a difference between spring hype and fall production, and when you add to it the increased coverage responsibilities of the linebackers, there's still work to be done before the rectification of the secondary.
Peter: "Ray, pretend for a moment that I don't know anything about metallurgy, engineering, or physics, and just tell me what the hell is going on."
Ray: "You never studied."
To Darryl Gamble, Akeem Dent, Clint Boling and all of Georgia's seniors. On offense, things should run fairly smoothly, but there are always worries when your QB hasn't ever taken a snap in a college game. On defense, things get much more troubling as the new 3-4 scheme is a mystery to everyone -- even the seniors. Add to that a bunch of new faces in starting jobs, veterans lining up at new positions, and no senior leaders with the types of credentials that Jeff Owens or Rennie Curran had last year and the biggest question of the offseason might be just who will step up to help ensure that, once fall camp opens, everyone has a decent enough understanding of metallurgy, engineering and blitz schemes.
Dana: "There is no Dana, there is only Zuul."
To Georgia's fans. I know it's been a rough couple of years, but boy have some fans been grouchy this offseason. Hey, things are pointed in a good direction, right? New QB, new DC, focus on the fundamentals, no more directional kicking… There will no doubt be a few reasons to be angry once the season starts, but for now, it's probably a good time to stay calm and relaxed rather than turning into demonic dawgs.
"I make it a rule never to get involved with possessed people…. Actually, it's more of a guideline than a rule."
To any players inclined to tip back a few too many this offseason. Since the regular season ended, there have been five arrests and three players dismissed from the team already. After taking a big step forward in the off-field-image department last year, it's been a turbulent couple of months at Georgia as Mark Richt waved goodbye to Zach Mettenberger and Montez Robinson -- two players who might have played key roles this season, both at positions without much depth. Their losses will have an impact at some point, but make no mistake, the real impact is that Richt isn't messing around anymore. Forget the "guideline" stuff. Staying out of trouble is the rule now… and fans need to hope they've seen the last of the off-field problems for a while.
Ray: "Where these stairs go?"
Peter: "They go up."
To the SEC East. The term "wide open" will be heard quite a bit this offseason and well into the fall, and the reason is that Florida, dominant for much of the past half-decade, is expected to take at least a small step back, meaning there's a chance for Georgia or South Carolina to climb the stairs to the top of the division. Of course, those teams have a few question marks of their own, too.
Peter: "Nimble little minx, in't she?"
Egon: "We're gonna go full stream."
Ray: "Aim for the flat top."
To Florida. After all, that Corch Meyers is a nimble little minx, ain't he? Sure, Tim Tebow is gone. And so is Charlie Strong. And so is Aaron Hernandez and Riley Cooper and Brandon Spikes and Joe Haden and Carlos Dunlap… but Florida can't be taken lightly, and there's every reason to believe that the game in Jacksonville will still be the line of demarcation between Georgia reaching its potential in 2010 and another ultimately disappointing season.
Janine: "You're very handy, I can tell. I bet you like to read a lot, too."
Egon: "Print is dead."
To me. Here's to hoping I still have a job this time next year.
That's it for now. Have a great weekend, and I'll have a full mailbag for you early next week.