The Georgia Myth
Every year at this time, the media renews it’s love affair with the Georgia Bulldogs. They will be universally chosen to compete for the SEC East title, no matter how much talent they’ve lost, how difficult their schedule is or how many unfilled positions of need riddle their team. This year is no different. Sadly, many Gamecock fans will begin their annual wringing of hands over how tough a game this will be, and how our entire season hangs on Carolina winning this game. Let’s take a quick look at Georgia, and see how much we should worry.
No one can deny that Aaron Murray is the real deal at QB. He showed last year that he is capable of playing at this level, and should show the normal growth and improvement you would expect from a player of his caliber. Before you start to wince at the thought of Murray carving up our secondary like a Thanksgiving turkey, consider that Georgia has lost their leading reciever in A.J. Green, leaving Tavarres King as the go-to guy in the recieving corps. Behind him are Marlon Brown and Rantavious Wooten, both of whom are described as inconsistent. King, in three years, has 47 receptions for 947 yards and 4 touchdowns, hardly stats to fear. So who will Murray throw to? Time will tell, and certainly Georgia fans will be looking for SOMEONE to step up and make an impact, but the passing game can only be viewed as a question mark.
Perhaps even more concerning than Georgia’s situation at reciever is their running back situation. Gone are both Caleb King (academic issues) and Washaun Ealy (Disciplinary issues) and all Bulldog hopes fall on the shoulders of redshirt freshman Isaiah Crowell. It’s hard to imagine any division one team losing their top two running backs and expecting IMPROVEMENT in their running game, but such is the mindset of the Georgia fan. Ealey and King combined for 1,241 yards rushing last year, and to take as a matter of faith that a freshman will not only make up that loss of production, but improve upon it is unspeakably silly. This silliness is part of what I will call “The Lattimore Effect”, and I’ll discuss it more later.
Bear in mind, as you consider the formidability of Georgia’s offense, that the offensive line lost three starters, including Trinton Sturdivant, leaving what can best be described as a patchwork unit. Offensively, you can expect the Bulldogs to struggle, despite anything you’ve heard to the contrary. No team in football at any level can lose it’s top reciever, two top running backs and best offensive lineman and NOT feel it. Just saying. UPDATE: OT StarterAJ Harmon (6’5″ 345lbs.) now also appears to be an academic casualty.
Defensively, the Bulldogs will be thinking about one thing and one thing only in this years’ grudge match against the Gamecocks:
Marcus Lattimore has dominated the thoughts of every Georgia fan since he trucked their over-hyped and supposedly newly improved defense for 182 yards last year. Georgia fans have had problems processing the idea that lowly South Carolina had a better running game than they did, much less one led by a true freshman. To cope with these alien thoughts, Georgia’s fanbase has cast Crowell, a talented kid, as the new Marcus Lattimore. Don’t bet on it. For starters, Lattimore was rated the #2 RB nationally (an asessment he soon exceeded) in the same class in which Crowell was rated #6. That Lattimore had the impact he did last year was a suprise to EVERYBODY, the exception that proved the rule that freshman RB’s just aren’t able to dominate at the highest levels of college football. To expect Crowell to do the same thing would be stretching the laws of probability to their breaking point. This is the Lattimore effect. Hey, maybe he CAN play that well, but you shouldn’t bet the farm on it. That Georgia fans are doing just that tells us about their desperation to find a ray of hope for an offense that has a lot of problems.
Anyway, their linebacking corps is being touted as a strength of the defense, despite the loss of Justin Houston (56 tackles, 10 sacks). Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree are the main sources of hope for the unit, and it should be noted that Ogletree is a converted safety. This is hardly an ideal situation for the Bulldogs. A quick glance over their depthchart shows an immense amount of talent on the defensive line, but little depth. Again, not ideal.
This should be enough information to get our conversational ball rolling, but I do want to make one thing absolutely clear before I wrap up: Gamecock fans should not fear Georgia in the coming season, Georgia fans should fear the Gamecocks. Expect tears from Bulldog Nation following our game, as the reality of their situation settles in, and their over-hyped dreams waft away again.