Depth chart far from concrete as talented players make their case
by Travis Ragsdale
John Jenkins photo by Rob Saye
Make no mistake about it, there are tons of question
marks all over the field for the Georgia Bulldogs 2011
season. There are only a few positions that have solidified
returning players at them and generally speaking,
that does not usually translate to a winning season. The
difference for Georgia is that while there may be question marks,
there are also boat loads of talent. And that’s something that Bulldog
fans can hang their hat on.
By now, everyone and their brother knows that Aaron Murray
will be Georgia’s starting quarterback for the 2011 season. Barring
injury, this is one of the few positions that coaches can have
total confidence in going into the game against Boise State. Murray
has continued to look strong through all of Fall Camp, showing
his strong work ethic day-in and day-out on the practice field.
In case of injury, Murray is backed-up by Hutson Mason who, like
Murray, brings a determined attitude to practice everyday and has
proven to coaches that he can handle the offense if something
were to happen to Aaron Murray. Following those two on the
depth chart is highly touted freshman Christian Lemay. Lemay is
and will be the quarterback of the future.
Mark Richt – “Murray, just the fact he was a quarterback,
was a leader a year ago, but now he’s much more comfortable in
his role. He knows that he’s experienced SEC football for a year.
He knows he’s had enough success for the team to have confidence
in him and he knows that if he keeps preparing the way he
does he’s going to have success.”
It’s been an interesting off-season in the offensive backfield to
say the least. With the departure of Washaun Ealey from the team
and the news that Caleb King was academically ineligible, Georgia
fans began to worry about who was going to tote the rock for
the Georgia offense. Enter Isaiah Crowell; rated by many as the
best prep running back in the country, Georgia got a good one in
Crowell. He has lived up to his reputation and will receive a large
amount of carries for the Dawgs this fall. Sharing those carries
will be Richard Samuel. Yes, this is the same Richard Samuel who
was moved away from the running back position a year ago so
that he could play linebacker. He is now back at the running back
position and looking better than ever.
Richard Samuel – “Just going right back to offense, I came
here the first two years and played offense so I’ve learned the complete
playbook. I’ve learned what to do. So it’s just going back to
the same thing I started with.”
If you ask the tight ends on Georgia’s roster they’ll tell you that
they call UGA “Tight End U.” Considering the depth that UGA
has at this position, that’s a pretty apt name. Orson Charles and
Aron White have cemented themselves as two go-to players at
any point in any game. Add the physical speciman Arthur Lynch
and freshman phenom Jay Rome and the Bulldawgs have one
heck of a rotation at the tight end position. Charles and White
will get the majority of the snaps in 2011 with Orson being the
number one on the depth chart. Lynch will prove to be a great
asset in short yardage situations much like Bruce Figgins was last
year (Figgins is now at fullback). There is a good chance you will
see Jay Rome get some touches as well. He’s an extremely gifted
athlete that will certainly push for playing time as the season rolls
Tight end coach John Lilly- “I think it’s important offensively
to spread the ball around and that you involve everybody.
Whoever is in at a given time at the tight end position I think it’s
important that they get their shots.”
Georgia is obviously losing a lot from last season with the
departure of the two leading receivers from the 2010 squad. A.J.
Green was one of the best receivers to ever play at Georgia and
Kris Durham provided a nice balance on the other side of the offensive
line of scrimmage. That’s going to be tough to replace for
Coach Richt and company but the talent is surely there to do it.
Tavarres King is the top returner of the group and has greatly matured
physically from where he was this time last season. The
other receivers are somewhat of a question mark for the Dawgs.
The logical other choice for starting receiver is Marlon Brown who
has received rave reviews from everyone during Fall Camp. Other
players that will look to get in the mix include Rantavious Wooten,
Michael Bennett and of course, the freshman sensation Malcolm
Mitchell. Mitchell is another player who has gotten a stellar review
this Fall Camp and will see the ball in his hands a lot because of
his ability to make things happen. The receiver position may look
a little unstable now, but there are too many playmakers to not
give Aaron Murray some great targets to throw to in 2011.
Tavarres King- “Marlon is tremendous. He’s come a long
way from that skinny basketball player that was here when we first
got here. He looks awesome, he’s making plays. I feel like he’s the
leader on the other side of the ball opposite of me. So it’s awesome
to have him and I’m excited to see what he’s going to do.”
The bane of every Georgia fans existence for the last four
or five years. It’s tough to say but the offensive line might be in
for another long year in 2011 as well. The starting group which
will likely include Cordy Glenn (LT), Chris Burnette (LG), Ben
Jones ©, Kenarious Gates (RG) and Justin Anderson (RT) is a
good group. It’s what is backing them up that has some of the
coaches worried. Dallas Lee didn’t get to play all spring due to
a respiratory issue, Kolton Houston has yet to live up to his
billing as a top prospect and Austin Long is out currently with
a case of mononucleosis. Those are the top three backups along
the offensive line right now. After that, the Dawgs begin dipping
into freshmen with Watts Dantzler and David Andrews
showing out amongst the Dream Team offensive linemen. These
boys may be big but the depth is thin.
Offensive line coach Will Friend- “I like what I see with
the first group as far as playing together as a group and they’ve
done a good job with executing and they’ve got to keep that up.
We’ve just got to challenge the guys behind them, some of the
The 3-4 scheme that defensive coordinator Todd
Grantham employs calls for two defensive ends and one nose
guard to occupy opponents offensive linemen allowing the linebackers
to roam free and make plays. The 2010 version of the
Georgia defense did not have the personnel along the defensive
line to achieve this objective. Now, with the emergence of nose
guard Kwame Geathers and new addition John Jenkins, the
Dawgs are in a position to have one of the most dominating defensive
lines in the SEC. These two behemoths of men are bookended
by veterans DeAngelo Tyson and Abry Jones. Whether it’s
Jenkins or Geathers who is in the the game, the Georgia defensive
line will have over 900 pounds of pure power to push
around opposing teams offensive lines.
John Jenkins – “I look at Kwame and I like a one-two
punch. I’m working with Kwame, Kwame’s working with me.
I don’t care who is in front of me just as long as we win. That’s
what I care about. I’m trying to be a part of a winning program.”
Just like at wide receiver, Georgia lost a lot of talent at linebacker
this offseason. Justin Houston, Daryll Gamble and
Akeem Dent all are gone to the NFL and Marcus Dowtin was
dismissed from the team. Lucky for the Dawgs, they gained a
couple of potential star players in the linebacker corps as well.
Alec Ogletree moved down from safety this offseason and will
look to be a force opposite Christian Robinson in the middle.
Another addition (and possibly the most important to Georgia’s
season) is outside linebacker Jarvis Jones. Jones, a transfer from
USC, sat out last year as per NCAA rules. Recently, there was
some question whether he would be eligible to play this year
based upon a possible recruiting infraction that occurred when
he was in high school. Thankfully, Jones was cleared of any
wrongdoing just recently and is set to go as one of the starters
at outside linebacker. On the other side will likely be Cornelius
Washington. Washington, who may have the best measurables
on the Georgia roster has yet to come into his own as a football
player yet. Coaches are hoping that he has developed into the
pass rushing force that everyone has been hoping for this past
Linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti – “They’re looking
good. They’re all working. The guys are running around trying
to play the right way. Sometimes they don’t necessarily do the
right things on every play but they’re trying to play the game the
way it should be played.”
Similar to quarterback, the defensive secondary is all but set
in their starters and it appears the Dawgs have four good ones
to put back there. At corner, Brandon Boykin will once again occupy
one spot. And Branden Smith seems to be the likely candidate
to start opposite of Boykin as coaches were very
impressed with Smith this Fall Camp. Coach Richt even went
so far as to call him a “completely different player.” Behind these
two players will be the versatile Sanders Commings, who will
also see time at safety, and freshman Damian Swann who is another
one of the Dream Teamers who will receive a lot of playing
time in 2011. At safety, the free spot will once again be
occupied by Bacarri Rambo who will look to improve upon his
second half in the 2010 season. The strong safety spot will be
occupied by Shawn Williams who has really stuck out as someone
who has worked hard and is playing with a new intensity.
Sanders Commings will back up both of these players along
with Jakar Hamilton and freshman Corey Moore.
Mark Richt – “Branden (Smith) is playing great on defense.
He’s competing. I just see a guy that’s serious about wanting to
have a great season. I really love the way he’s been competing.
He was doing that in the spring too. You could see a difference
in the Spring but in the fall, he’s locked in.”