Sunday, January 08, 2006

Looking to the 2006 Football Season

Moses is back to lead his people (aka, the defense).

Matthew Stafford is in Athens, getting ready to start classes, and already throwing the pigskin around.

Those are the two big noteworthy items heading into the UGA offseason. They don't seem like much, but there are some big things implied by their abscence too. Leonard Pope is the only starting underclassman leaving early. No coaches are leaving (so far). The staff will be back.

So...who's going to be QB?

I think after five seasons we need to stop worrying about this heading into a season. So far under Mark Richt, not a single UGA starting quarterback has had a terrible or even average season. In fact David Greene and D.J. Shockley have been tearing up the UGA (and NCAA) record books. Since Richt left FSU, their quarterback play has declined (despite highly rated recruits and all-world wideouts). So maybe, just maybe, Coach Richt knows a thing or two about grooming quarterbacks. So file me in the "I don't care if it's JT3, Cox, Barnes, or Stafford" camp. If the starting QB wins Richt's approval, we'll be fine at QB.

'Nother thing to remember as we prepare for another "rebuilding" (sic) year: this isn't the 2003 season, where a senior-laden offensive line was replaced by freshmen, giving up a good 47 sacks. There's talent and depth coming back on the line, plus proven threats at running back. If the Dawgs, with no run game and a porus line could compete for the SEC title in '03, why write them off in '06 when they should have a run game and a decent line?

The real question marks are on the defense. Wilie Martinez didn't make anyone forget about Brian Van Gorder (other than the fans who don't know who the defensive coordinator is know the ones, they spend most of the game commenting on how "cute" a player is, and then you wonder why you got drunk and hooked up with them--and worse, invited them to the game as your date). BUT--Brian Van Gorder didn't exactly blow folks away in 2001 either, and he had more talent. Developing qualtity depth on the front seven will go a long, long way in improving the defense. I want the Sugar bowl to be one of those "we don't see it a lot so we pussyfooted around" performances, like the 2004 season opener against Georgia Southern and not a trend. Get stronger against the run, blitz smart--like the LSU game--and keep folks in that 15 ppg. average or so, and UGA should be fine in '06.

And if you wanted a preseason top 25...tune in later this week. I'm not going to cheapskate you like those EPSN bums with their "#1 Texas (provided Vince Young comes back)" stories that have the "Vince Young declares for draft" stories next to them.

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