Wednesday, January 14, 2009

10 Things I Like About the Dawgs in 2009

Mackalicious over at Blogging Pantsless has posted his 10 expectations for 2009. Well, here is my list of reasons to be excited about the Georgia Bulldogs in 2009:

#10 - The Schedule Looks Better on Paper

- I know, the schedule looks almost as tough 2008 beginning with the first game of the season on the road in Stillwater. Some people are very scared of this game, but watching Ole Miss put the Texas Tech offense in its place in the Cotton Bowl makes me feel better about the Dawgs chances against the Cowboys. This season, Georgia played four of its final five games on the road, including a stretch of four road games in four weeks at LSU, Florida (Jacksonville), Kentucky, and Auburn. Next year, our road schedule is much more manageable and we get three of the final four games at home. The 2009 version of the tough mid-season road trip includes bouts at Tennessee and Vanderbilt. Perhaps the most important change to the 2009 schedule is the return of an invaluable bye week prior to the annual road-trip to celebrate the repeal of prohibition when the Dawgs face the Gators in Jacksonville. Having LSU, Carolina, and Auburn at home next season will be a plus as I expect all of these schools to be better in 2009 than they were in 2008. Granted, these programs couldn’t get much worse than they were in 2008…

#9 – Progression of Blair Walsh

- Walsh got off to a great start in 2008 by nailing a 52-yard field goal against Georgia Southern. The freshman also hit other big kicks during the season, including four field goals against Tennessee, but overall the season was a disappointment. Walsh never quite lived up to the excitement that preceded the first Georgia kicker to be offered a scholarship out of high school since Andy Bailey. Walsh’s kickoffs, oft landing out of bounds and spotting our opponents incredible field position, are an area where he must improve next season. I look for more consistency out of Walsh both kicking field goals and kicking off. Hopefully the coaches have realized the directional kicking is not working and will let Blair kick it deep in ’09.

#8 – Full Season of AJ Green

- AJ Green had an amazing freshman season in Athens and he was not even a starter when the season began. There is cause for concern that, with the matriculation of Massaquoi, teams will be able to key in on Green. If they do, hopefully receivers like Michael Moore and Kris Durham, who both had great performances in the Capital One Bowl, step up. Green has proven to be a clutch receiver with game winning TDs against Kentucky and Auburn. Look for more of the same from him during his sophomore year in 2009.

#7 – More Passes to Aron White

- During the Mark Richt era, Georgia has produced an amazing list of tight ends that have moved on to the NFL. In 2008, Georgia seemed to abandon to use of the tight end as a major weapon in the offense. I look for that to change in 2009. Aron White only had three catches in 2008, but 2 were for touchdowns and the other was for a huge gain against LSU. While White’s blocking ability may not be great, he has proven he can catch passes and I think he will be a big target for Joe Cox in 2009.

See the 3:10 mark for White's TD vs. Michigan State

#6 – The Quarterback Position

- Joe Cox will begin the year as the starter and, as I wrote previously, I think he will be a great leader. I also think that we will get to see some of Logan Gray and what he can do on the ground. With Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger in waiting, the QB position should be fun to watch for at least a few years.

#5 – Defensive Pressure

- A glaring deficiency of the defense in ’08 was their failure to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks and record sacks. We saw glimpses of the future this year in freshman Justin Houston. With another year of experience under his belt there are considerable expectations for him to improve next year. The Dawgs were also able to create a lot of pressure during the bowl game and I hope Willie continues that strategy.

#4 – The Return of Jeff Owens and Marcus Washington

- The loss of Jeff Owens was the most significant injury the Bulldogs suffered during the season last year. With Owens out, teams were able to focus on Geno Atkins and the D tackles were unable to put much pressure on the opposing QBs and running backs. The loss of Marcus Washington before the season may have been just as devastating as the loss of Owens. With Washington starting in the middle during the second half of the 2007 run, Georgia’s defense was solid. Washington is a force in the middle who also happens to be a solid tackler, one of the major issues with Georgia’s D last season.

#3 – Rennie Curran

- Washington’s return to the linebacking corps will provide solid support for Rennie in 2009. The Liberian Nightmare had a great season this year and will only get better with a healthy and improved supporting cast around him. This guy is a human wrecking ball and finished second in the SEC in tackles with 109. Curran will be all over the place and with Washington back, he will not have to make every tackle that gets into the linebacking area. Did I mention he is from my home town of Snellville (nod, nod)?

#2 – A Healthy Offensive Line

- This year, we could not keep our line healthy and we were constantly shifting the line up. Despite the well-publicized personnel challenges, the line did a great job giving Stafford time to throw and opening holes for Knowshon. With Trinton Sturdivant back at left tackle, Cordy Glenn and Ben Jones solidified as sophomores, Vince Vance returning, and Clint Boling in his natural position, the big boys up front should be one of team’s strongest assets. Caleb King and Richard Samuel may be pleasantly surprised with the size of the holes that could open up for them to run through, especially given that in each of the backs’ freshman campaigns they were asked to move the ball through gaps that only Knowshon could maneuver through. In addition, Joe Cox will have plenty of time to make his progressions and find open receivers.

#1 – It is not 2008!!!

- 2008 started with so much anticipation and talk of a national championship that a 10 win season was a huge disappointment. 2009 will paint a much different picture as the Dawgs will open the year around #15 in the polls and will not be considered title contenders. This is a similar situation to what happened in 2005, when DJ Shockley led Georgia to an SEC title. 2009 will be a chance to get back to having fun like the Dawgs did in 2007.



Anonymous said...

Rashad Jones and Asher Allen will not be missed by any real Dawg fan! Our freshman will replace them immediately and finally we will not have to worry about them missing tackels and bumping players out of bounds!

Anonymous said...

Beautifully worded blog, and spot on. Thank you for that. As for the comment here that Reshad Jones is leaving; that's not true I am aware of and anyway, he didn't even spell his name correctly. I would like to think as we Bulldawg Nation prepare for 2009-2010 season, that the items in the blog today could be what we talk about.

I am so fed up with all the negative stuff from folks who do not begin to know a thing about which they ramble on about in public making themselves out the fool.

If you want to make a negative comment now that 2008-2009 is finally over, it would be that we will not miss Matthew Stafford's 18 fumbles in his college career of 3 years and 39 games played and we will not miss his 33 Interceptions many Pick Six.

The 1 item don't see a positive hope for improvement at next season to the guy who wrote such a great blog today and thank you for that, is that hopefully we can see huge improvement in Kick-Off Returns.

Jon Fabris is going to have to give up his duties as Special Teams, Special Ed.

Sorry, I guess I too is still miffed about our Lost Seasons of the Matthew Stafford Era of 2006-2007 and now 2008-2009. 2 of his 3 seasons were horrid and the worst 2 of the Coach Richt Era by a long long long long long long shot.

Anonymous said...

well,we had a great offense this past year even with the young O line...Stafford is a very good player but we never even won the East with him...

we have problems but so does every team...players come and players go so you just hope you get enough good ones to make a difference...

Florida keeps raising the bar on us and everybody else so we have two choices...match them or forfeit that game every October...I vote to play their little skinny butts!

later,old dawg

Streit said...

I agree with the second comment that the constant negativity from people within the Dawg Nation is hard to swallow. I am typically an optomist about our team and I often get into arguements (with other Georgia grads) defending the team. 2008 may not have been the dream season we hoped for, but look at the seasons of Tennessee and Auburn for a little perspective.

In writing this post, I was trying to get the attention away from the things that happenned in 08 as well as getting the attention away from our guys leaving early. Were Stafford, Moreno, Allen, and now possibly Jones great players? Hell yes. But, because we had a few guys leave, are we going to hide and give up? Hell no.

ESPN and the rest of the media seem ready to crown Florida champions again. Come October 31, I hope the Dawgs can put them in their place!


Ally said...


Excellent post. I really enjoyed it as usual. I hope you & your bride are recovered from the car accident. And thank you for the comment you just made. We had a lot of folks jump on the Dawg bandwagon over the last several years. Nice to see the posers are deciding to drop off!

Oh, and guys I love the new photo of Uga you're using for your header!! Do you mind if I ask where you found that pic? Great shot of a damn good dawg!

Keep up the great posts!
Go Dawgs!

Streit said...

Hey Ally,

Melissa dna I are doing great. The stitches are out and I almost have my full range of motion back. As for the pciture, I just found it by searching for pics on Google. I saw it and thought it would be a perfect fit.

Sports Dawg said...

I agree with everything you've brought up. I realize we were where Florida is now a year ago as far as preseason goes, so they better beware of the injury bug that zapped us. Every Dawg has his day...