The Bulldogs win their first two games
After the first two games, Georgia’s schedule smooths out rather nicely. The Bulldogs open against Boise State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game on Sept. 3 at the Georgia Dome and then face South Carolina at Sanford Stadium. If they can take care of business in those two games, it could serve as a catapult for the rest of the season. Georgia avoids Alabama, Arkansas and LSU from the SEC West, and Ole Miss and Tennessee are its toughest road games. So it’s possible the Bulldogs could build tremendous momentum heading into Jacksonville on Halloween weekend.
Of course, the converse of that is if UGA loses both games, the heated criticism of coach Mark Richt will return to the forefront and could negatively impact the rest of the season. Then again, Virginia Tech lost its first two last season before reeling off 11 wins in a row to claim the ACC championship.
Nose-guard play is drastically improved
Georgia’s lack of a dominating inside presence in the middle of its 3-4 defense was the chief culprit to its undoing in 2010. The Bulldogs weren’t awful on defense last year. In fact, they were in the top half of the SEC in total defense (fourth), rushing defense (fifth) and passing defense (fifth). Georgia’s problems came in not being able to get off the field on third downs. It was last in the SEC on third downs, with opponents converting 42 percent of the time.
Enter John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers. This pair of 350-pounders is set to take over at nose guard this season. Jenkins is a junior college All-American who transferred to UGA and is expected to give the Bulldogs the type of interior push Auburn got with Nick Fairley and Alabama with Terrance Cody. Meanwhile, Jenkins’ mere addition as a signee seemed to motivate Geathers, who was named defensive MVP of spring practice and never relinquished first string to Jenkins in preseason camp.
These mammoth defenders tying up blockers will free new linebackers Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree to make plays and open alleys for puttting pressure on quarterbacks. In turn, UGA’s improved secondary shouldn’t have to cover as long. In theory, the Bulldogs should have a better chance of getting off the field quicker.
Aaron Murray can find a go-to wide receiver
Georgia lost its two most productive receivers from last season, including sensational playmaker A.J. Green. But the Bulldogs are not going to stop passing. So quarterback Aaron Murray, one of the more accurate passers in the country, simply has to identify some new targets. Junior flanker Tavarres King is Green’s heir apparent with 47 career catches, and tight end Orson Charles is a matchup nightmare for opponents. But it was junior split end Marlon Brown who created all the buzz in preseason practice. The former five-star prospect from Memphis appears to have come into his own since last season and drew continuous praise in the weeks leading to the season opener.
Freshman Malcolm Mitchell also showed a big-play propensity in the preseason. Along with experienced reserves Israel Troupe and Rantavious Wooten and tight end Aron White, Murray should have more than enough targets.