Monday, May 17, 2010
Spring superlatives: Georgia
By ESPN.com staff
Sizing up where the Bulldogs were the strongest and where they were the weakest coming out of spring practice:
Strongest position: Offensive line
Key returnees: Senior tackle Clint Boling, junior center Ben Jones, senior guard Chris Davis, junior guard Cordy Glenn, senior tackle Josh Davis, junior tackle Trinton Sturdivant, junior guard Tanner Strickland
Key departures: Tackle Vince Vance
The skinny: Lots and lots of depth. Experienced depth, too. And if a couple of injured players come through, this could be the dominant, dictate-the-flow-of-the-game offensive line Georgia fans have been waiting on for some time. Boling is an All-SEC player who’s played both tackle and guard during his career. Sturdivant has missed the last two seasons with knee injuries. He started at left tackle as a true freshman, and the Georgia coaches felt like he was their best offensive lineman at the time. Granted, there are no guarantees when you’re trying to come back from a two-year absence, but the Bulldogs are optimistic about where Sturdivant is in his recovery. The same goes for Strickland, who also probably would have been a starter last season had it not been for shoulder surgery. Georgia offensive line coach Stacy Searels will look at a couple of different combinations when everybody’s back out there for fall practice. Most of the guys returning have played different positions, so Searels will have some options with eight lettermen returning.
Weakest position: Quarterback
Key returnees: Redshirt freshman Aaron Murray, junior Logan Gray (5-of-12, 31 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions)
Key departures: Joe Cox, Zach Mettenberger
The skinny: Georgia coach Mark Richt isn’t fretting. He suggests if Georgia fans are worried about the quarterback position to go back and watch Murray’s high school tape. In reality, that’s a big part of the concern. Murray has never taken a snap in a college football game, and first-year starters in the SEC almost always seem to suffer through some degree of struggles. There are exceptions. Georgia’s own David Greene passed for 2,789 yards with 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions as a redshirt freshman in 2001. The Bulldogs would take those kind of numbers from Murray next season in a second. And if they get them, they should be a strong player in the Eastern Division race. Murray is plenty talented with the arm strength, versatility and smarts to have a big year. He just has to keep from making the critical mistakes. The bigger issue is what happens if Murray goes down with an injury or gets into one of those ruts where it’s simply not clicking for the offense. Gray has decided to stick around, but will be spending a lot of his time at receiver. And with Mettenberger getting the boot, the only other option would be incoming freshman Hutson Mason. As Richt has said several times now, however it shakes out, the Bulldogs are going to be extremely inexperienced at quarterback. It always helps, though, to have the other 10 starters on offense returning.