Georgia flew a little bit under the radar last season. The Bulldogs were a good team that played in a big New Year’s Day bowl game. They ended up beating Michigan State in a convincing manner and finished with a 10-3 record. It was still a pretty disappointing ten win season. For one, they had the #1 overall drafts pick in Matthew Stafford at quarterback. They were thinking national title, but a loss to Alabama in late September ended that. They were then blown out by Florida, costing them any chance at the SEC title, before losing a rivalry game to a probably inferior Georgia Tech team. Georgia is left feeling like it is a little brother to LSU and Florida in the SEC. The Gators will be a consistent roadblock to Georgia’s success in their own division, and even when the Bulldogs have broken onto the big stage in the BCS they haven’t done well.
Could 2009 be more of the same? You don’t get better by having to replace the number one overall draft pick. On offense, Joe Cox has some big shoes to fill by moving into the starting quarterback position. Cox is a senior that has waited for his opportunity to finally come. True freshman Aaron Murray is right behind him as well. Murray is a heralded recruit that is eager to get on the field. Much like Ohio State with Terrelle Prior last season, he could step in and replace an underperforming senior very soon.
Cox’s job won’t be any easier with the loss of first round draft pick Knowshon Moreno at running back. Moreno was drafted by the Denver Broncos, who know a little something about running backs. They always have good ones, so it is a testament to Moreno’s talent that he was picked up by Denver. Caleb King will look to replace him, but it will be very difficult to replace 1,400 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns. You just don’t do that automatically.
Defensively, Georgia will be hard pressed to keep up with some of the better offenses in the SEC. Georgia does not have much of a pass rush from its front four. With so many mobile quarterbacks in the SEC it is essential that the defensive line is able to get to the quarterback with consistency. Rennie Curran and Daryl Gamble are linebackers that can create pressure on the blitz, but Roderick Battle and Justin Houston have to create pressure on their own from the defensive end positions. That will allow Curran and Gamble to dominate the middle of the field and prevent any large games.
Reshad Jones at the safety position may be the best player on the defense. He can play everywhere. He is a sure tackler with over 70 stops last year. He led the team in interceptions with five. He also can get into the backfield a little with 2.5 tackles for loss. He is everything that you want out of a strong safety, making the Georgia defense as a whole very formidable.
Colby Chapman is a sports writer for www.sportsfantreasures.com.
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