The States of College Football: Georgia
Posted By:Brett Haynes "The Top Fan" Tags:
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Today we will head towards the mainland by one state to Georgia, home of the Georgia Bulldogs and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. UGA and GT should both compete for conference hardware in 2009, but both teams also have question marks to answer during the off-season.
Georgia Bulldogs - The Bulldogs went 10-3 a year ago, 6-2 in the SEC. In 2009, which is Coach Mark Richt's ninth season in Athens, they will be without record-breaking quarterback Matthew Stafford, who led the 'Dawgs to a record of 30-9 over three years. Senior Joe Cox and sophomore Logan Gray will be competing for the quarterback job, with Cox having the early nod. But regardless of how good the situation becomes, there are always going to be growing pains when a new quarterback is introduced to SEC defensive play on a regular basis.
Georgia has the players and coaching to challenge in the SEC just as they do every year, but a new QB always equals a loss or two, especially in a conference where they will face six or eight of the nation's top units. Running Back is another position where Georgia will have to have a man step up fast, as All-SEC running back Knowshown Moreno has departed for the NFL along with Stafford. Sophomore Caleb King has all of the talent in the world, and is solid at 5'11" and 212 pounds. He will share carries with Carlton Thomas and Kalvin Daniels.
The 'Dawgs have recruited in the rivals top 10 for as long as I can remember, so the talent across the board will be there for UGA to make a run at an SEC East Title. The biggest problem for them, though, is that perhaps America's premier program also calls the SEC East home - Florida. The arch-rival Gators will have to be overtaken for Georgia to win the SEC, but stranger things have happened. Just two seasons ago, in 2007, UGA defeated the then defending national champ Gators.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets - In 2008, GT sported a new head coach in Paul Johnson, who left Navy to come to Atlanta. In Johnson's first season, the Jackets posted a 9-4 record and earned a trip to the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. The fun ended there though, as they were pummeled 38-3 by LSU. Still, despite the ugly showing in the home-town bowl loss, the signs are encouraging for Tech football under Johnson's leadership.
The key to Georgia Tech's recent success on offense is the mis-direction, methodical, hard to figure out running game. Leading this attack for GT in 2009 will be juniors Josh Nesbitt at quarterback and Jonathon Dwyer at running back . Dwyer has 21 touchdowns over two seasons so far, and will be featured as one of the premier backs in the ACC in 2009. Nesbitt, who played off and on throughout 2008, accounted for seven touchdowns and 808 yards as a sophomore.
The Jackets haven't recruited quite as strongly as their in-state rival Bulldogs, but they have some pretty good talent none-the-less. The offensive line isn't the biggest of all-time, averaging just under 300 pounds and 6'4", but they are smart guys who obviously picked up on Johnson's running scheme quickly a year ago. Four of five starters this year will be seniors. The Tech defense plays with an attitude (GT gave up just 20.3 points per game in 2008) , and a ball-control offense gives them time for plenty of rest.
The ACC was the butt of many-a-jokes as 2008 got underway. But after a solid regular season in which the conference was well above .500 against out-of conference foes, and a 5-5 bowl record, the league isn't a national joke anymore. With that said however, the ACC still isn't back to being a major national factor, and therefore GT has a real legitimate chance to make a run at the Coastal Division Title in 2009. Virginia Tech and North Carolina will have something to say about that, but do not be surprised to see the Jackets in the thick of the race throughout the season.
Georgia Southern Eagles - The Eagles are one of the top NCAA Championship subdivision programs year in and year out. The Eagles have won six national titles, played for it all twice more, and have brought home eight Southern Conference Titles. The school's last national title came in 2000 when they completed a back-to-back run with a win over Montana. GSU, located in Statesboro, went 6-5 a year ago, with an incredible four games going into overtime. The eagles were 3-1 in those OT games on the way to finishing 4-4 in the conference.
Expect the Eagles to again be a major factor at this level of play in 2009. They are playing a road game at UNC in October after a trip to UGA this past fall. The rumor is too, and I have heard it as true and not true, is that the Eagles will soon be playing at the Bowl Subdivision Level...Stay tuned.
So there we have it, a quick look at the state of Georgia. Next we will head into the Heart of Dixie and see what is going down with our teams, Alabama and Auburn!
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