Georgia Bulldog News - The Blawg House
I wrote a blog earlier in the week with some really early top-25 projections for 2012, and Georgia, despite the two tough losses at the end, is expected to be a top 10 team headed into 2012.
CNNSI.com's Andy Staples gave us his opinion of his top-25 for 2012 for the Georgia Bulldogs:
#9. Georgia Bulldogs
2011 Record: 10-4
The Bulldogs might have the nation's best defensive player in linebacker Jarvis Jones, and Jones will be surrounded by a host of experienced, talented players -- most notably the excellently named safety Bacarri Rambo. At the moment, it seems both are headed back to Athens instead of to the NFL. Aaron Murray is an elite quarterback, and even if the Bulldogs lose tight end Orson Charles to the NFL, they'll still have receiver Malcolm Mitchell and tailback Isaiah Crowell. Many of my colleagues have Georgia ranked even higher, so why are the Bulldogs here? Because they have to replace most of the offensive line, and because they need to prove they can beat South Carolina after losing the past two in the series. Moving that game to October should give each team a chance to find its identity.
#21 Texas Longhorns
Last year in this spot: Georgia
Actual AP poll finish: 19
Why I need to consider schedule more: The Bulldogs had a tough start -- losing to Boise State and South Carolina -- but the rest of their schedule could not have been easier. Coach Mark Richt and his staff kept the team from going into the tank after the 0-2 start, and the Bulldogs responded by winning 10 in a row.
Again, these high expectations will definitely increase with Georgia's announcement that all but 2 players will return from their top-5 defense from their 2-deep roster. Although Andy thinks that the offensive line will be a problem, I actually think Georgia will have addition by subtraction at the OT positions. We have some key recruits and young guys that will give us true tackles, and David Andrews is a very, very good option at Center to replace Ben Jones.
As for the South Carolina game, it will definitely be a huge game - as always. However, I love the idea of escaping the September heat in Columbia and having a few games under our belt before such a big game.
Wednesday was a bittersweet day for Georgia. On one hand, the Dawgs lost one of their top offensive threats when TE Orson Charles decided to forego his senior season and enter the NFL draft. However, on the other hand, Georgia received news that Bacarri Rambo, Shawn Williams, and Cornelius Washington have all decided to return to Georgia for the 2012 season.
With the commitment of Jordan Jenkins and the news of Georgia's defensive returns, you have to start believing that Coach Todd Grantham is becoming, not only one hell of a coordinator, but an amazing recruiter. Jordan said that Coach Grantham was the difference in his recruitment to Georgia, and, then, this evening, Anthony Dasher of UGASports.com tweeted this:
Combine all those and the quotes from various recruits with Jarvis Jones' earlier in the season, and you can just see that Todd Grantham is really becoming the difference in the Georgia Bulldogs. He is selling the coaching staff, he is selling his defense, and he is selling Georgia - and a lot of very, very good football players are listening.
With a guy who has such an amazing future, you can guess that offers would be coming in from everywhere since Grantham's contract is up after this year. Heck, apparently, even the Falcons tried to make a move at the Georgia defensive coordinator. With all those rumors out there, Grantham decided to issue a statement:
This time of year there are a lot of rumors involving coaching openings. Because of the terrific recruiting class we are assembling and the juniors that have communicated to me their desire to come back to Georgia I felt it important to address some of these current and any future rumors. I’ve had discussions with Coach Richt and (AD) Greg McGarity and we are on track to finalizing details on a contract extension. My family enjoys Athens very much. I love the passion and excitement of our fans. We have the program headed in the right direction and I want to be a part of bringing Georgia a championship. My desire is to be at UGA for a very long time. Go Dawgs!”
Not only is he a Georgia guy, but it looks like we may have found a pretty loyal man to lead our defense. The commits we have and those that are expected to come soon are huge. However, what is bigger is getting the returning guys to come back and play in 2012. Just look at the 2-deep roster on defense. With Boykin and Tyson departing due to graduation and the other guys all coming back, Georgia returns 20 players on their 2-deep roster on defense! Wow!
If Georgia can add quality depth and develop all those guys who will still be here next year, Georgia should definitely have another top-5 defense - and it is all, well, a large part, due to Coach Grantham.
If you were scrolling through your twitter feed and happen to follow a lot of Georgia media personalities as I do, you would have probably seen this exchange between John Kincade (radio personality for Atlanta's ESPN radio affiliate) and Seth Emerson (Georgia beat writer for Macon Telegraph) over Emerson's vote for Oklahoma State as the #1 team in the nation in his final AP ballot.
Here is how the twitter battle went down:
These types of arguments will continue to be a problem as long as we have the system in place as is. The problem is that there is no good answer. If you have a 4-team playoff, there will still be arguments over teams 4, 5, and 6. If you have a 8 team playoff, there will still be arguments over teams 8, 9, and 10. If there is a plus-one, there will always be another team who feels like they should have been in.
I just hope whatever comes from the BCS talks that we really do preserve the importance of losses and the regular season and, also, the importance of having a definite 1 vs 2 championship.
The Georgia Bulldogs finished with 2 book end losses at the beginning and end of the season to finish at 10-4. After a miserable 6-7 season, a that record and a final ranking of #19 is a vast improvement in a season that did not have many expectations.
That will not be the case in 2012.
After a big rebound, a ton of returning players, a pretty good recruiting class to fill big holes, and a favorable schedule, writers around the nation are expecting the Dawgs to be a top-10 team heading into the beginning of 2012.
With much of their team returning and plenty of momentum, an Outback Bowl loss to Michigan State notwithstanding, the Bulldogs are back.
ESPN puts the Dawgs at #6 in their way-too-early 2012 pre-season poll:
6. Georgia Bulldogs:
Georgia struggled to run the ball and close out games this past season, but it rebounded nicely from a 6-7 finish in 2010 to go 10-4 in 2011. Georgia's defense and its schedule are the biggest reasons it will be favored to win the SEC East in 2012. Georgia is expected to bring back 10 starters on defense, with only cornerback Brandon Boykin expected to depart. The Bulldogs also have a lot of firepower coming back on offense, including quarterback Aaron Murray and receiver Malcolm Mitchell. The biggest concerns are whether tailback Isaiah Crowell will be more dependable and durable as a sophomore (or whether an incoming freshman such as speedy Keith Marshall can provide immediate help), as well as replacing three starters on the offensive line. UGA's special teams also continue to be trouble spots and it loses punter Drew Butler and kicker Blair Walsh. Georgia doesn't play SEC West heavyweights Alabama, LSU or Arkansas in the regular season for the second straight year and it plays four of its first five games at home.
Whatever happens between now and September could have impacts on how those rankings change, but, regardless, 2012 looks like a year in which the Dawgs could make a legit run. If the run game can stabilize, the D can continue to improve, the special teams gets shored up, and the OL gets depth - the Dawgs could be dangerous.
Say what you want about Kirby Smart's ability to recruit, but Todd Grantham just showed the rest of the SEC that he can pull 5-star recruits from anyone.
Last night's commitment of Jordan Jenkins, the 5-star DE from Harris County, was a BIG get for the Georgia Bulldogs. You can almost guarantee that, unless something unforeseen happens, Jenkins will see the field in 2012 - he is just too good not to. He can play anywhere from DE to OLB - he is that good. As for why he decided to pick Georgia over his long-time favorite Alabama, Jenkins had this to say:
Jenkins said he said the depth chart at Georgia wasn’t as deep as Alabama and Georgia was a better fit for him and his family. He wanted to play for the Bulldogs on “their upswing.”
“I really like what coach Grantham has done with Jarvis Jones and what he did with Justin Houston last year,” Jenkins said. “He just turned Jarvis around. I’m not saying Jarvis wasn’t good, but he’s done a lot of things with him.”
Jenkins will see a lot of time at the Will OLB position, which will give him the ability to rush the passer and make plays in the backfield - something he did exceptionally well in high school.
One last thing that I thought was interesting from last night's announcement was that Jenkins' mother kept saying that she felt like Jordan would be "safe" at Georgia. To me, I feel like big-time recruits are starting to see a pattern in Saban and Smart's blitzkrieg recruiting style - getting as many recruits as they can, then just cherry picking the best and feeding the rest to the college football bottom feeders.
I've heard everything from "home run hire" by Chizik to "monumental disaster waiting to happen" (referring to VanGorder's ability to recruit) in regards to Auburn's decision to hire Brian VanGorder as their new defensive coordinator.
At Georgia, BVG led a very stout defense and was considered one of the best in the nation when he was here. However, moving from job to job from Jacksonville to Georgia Southern to Atlanta and now back to college ball at Auburn has given BVG the nickname of "U-Haul Coach."
So, is this a big win for Auburn or just another speed bump in BVG's way of becoming a head coach again? Here is what Coach Chizik had to say about his hire:
“I’m very excited to have a coach like Brian VanGorder join our staff at Auburn,” said Auburn coach Gene Chizik. ”From the beginning of this process, I had one person in mind, and that was Brian. He has achieved success at every level, both professionally and collegiately, which is a testament to his ability as a coach. He has been one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL, has won a Broyles Award at the college level, and understands what it takes to succeed in the Southeastern Conference. We’re pleased to welcome Brian and his family to Auburn.”
Now, I don't know about you, but this hire is an odd to me. While BVG was definitely a hit at Georgia, he was never a big time recruiter and I can't imagine going from being a DC in the NFL is a better situation than being a DC in college. In college, there are so many different hats you have to wear as a coach, mentor, teacher, recruiter, etc - in the NFL, football is all there is. You're paid to coach, not to make sure your star DB is going to class. To me, it just doesn't seem like VanGorder is a guy that has enough patience to deal with the college game - but, we'll see.