Published August 11, 2010 - 3:56pm
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There has been some excellent banter on this website between the Kentucky Wildcats and the Georgia Bulldogs. To bring you up to date, Georgia has held the upper hand in football against the Wildcats. However, Kentucky has won 2 of the last 4 meetings and Kentucky fans are encouraged by the improvement of their football team during that time span. Having been to 4 consecutive bowl games and winning 3 of them, Kentucky fans have a new spirit about their football team under first year coach, Joker Phillips. In 2010, Kentucky has scheduled Georgia as their homecoming football game.
A few weeks ago, one of our writers from the Bluegrass State, Tyler Montell, wrote 10 reasons that UK will beat UGA in this homecoming matchup. The article was less analysis and more trash talking and it inspired a Georgia blogger, ecdawg of Leather Helmet Blog, to come back with his 10 reasons that UGA will have no mercy on UK during that game. This has lit up our comments sections with much trash talking between these two schools.
Today, we are taking a serious look at the Georgia Bulldogs football team from the perspective of a few writers of Kentucky blogs. They provide actual analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of Georgia’s 2010 football season and prepare us for this heated matchup on October 23, 2010. Here is the in-depth analysis of the Georgia Bulldogs from these three Kentucky bloggers:
Ralph Lee of Tailgate Review (read full article)
Well if LSU’s Les Miles is feeling a little bit of heat then Georgia’s Mark Richt may also be on a warm seat and it is not because of the current heat wave in the South at this time. Richt’s problems begin and end with high expectations and a growing need for Georgia to beat and compete with the Florida Gators. A couple of years ago, people around the Georgia program were thinking about a National Championship run behind Matthew Stafford and Knoshown Moreno; however that Bulldog team fell short of that goal and you add in last year’s season and the fans have began to grumble around Athens about whether Richt can get it done. What the Georgia faithful have to realize is that Richt has done a wonderful job with the players he has to work with and the fact they are playing in the toughest conference in all of football right now. The problem has been not having all the pieces in place at one time, one year the offense is great but the defense may be so-so or vice-versa. Also untimely injuries or team dismissals have stymied the Dawgs of the last couple of seasons as well. So let us take a look at what the 2010 Bulldogs will bring to the table in the SEC.
OFFENSE: This offensive unit is extremely talented and brings a lot of game experience to the table this year. However, the one spot where neither of these attributes can be extolled is at the QB position where red-shirt Freshman Aaron Murray will take the reins of the Georgia offense. But Richt will not be expecting Murray to win games on his own, just manage the game and not let mistakes and turnovers are the thing that beats them. Turnovers and miscues were one of the downfalls of last year’s team as they committed 28 of them, 3rd worst in the SEC. The good news for Murray is that the big offensive line in front of him is all veterans and they have personally vowed to try to keep him vertical in the pocket. Clint Boling is the leader of the offensive line (36 career starts) and he understands they have to keep Murray up-right because if he has time, he can get the ball to All-SEC WR, A.J. Green (the NCAA is currently probing reports Green may have accepted money from an agent but nothing has been rendered yet). If the Dawgs would rather travel by ground, then there is sophomore RB Washaun Ealey to carry the load. Ealey has big time potential and is a threat to go the distance if he gets a seam in the defense.
DEFENSE: While the offense has star power, the Georgia defense is very bland and “vanilla” so therefore they will have to play well as a unit. New Defensive Coordinator, Todd Graham has switched from the 4-3 to a 3-4 alignment where they will be more of a blitzing and zone read unit. The Bulldogs best LB, Akeem Dent is coming off surgery (July) so he may not be available for the first week or two of the season. Keep an eye on impact freshman, S Alec Olgetree; he is a big time play-maker that may be called upon to energize the Dawgs defense from Week 1. FS Bacarri Rambo and DE DeMarcus Dobbs are also good players who at times will be asked to turn in superb performances on this side of the ball.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The Bulldogs arguably have the best set of kickers in the SEC when you look at PK Blair Walsh and P Drew Butler (son of former Bulldog PK, Kevin Butler). Walsh was 20-22 last year and Butler was the Ray Guy Award winner from last season as the nation’s best punter. Both guys will be called on to lend support to Murray and the offense. Walsh will be counted on to make FGs when the Bulldog offense can not put it in the end zone. As for Butler, his job will be to turn the field position in the Georgia’s favor with good hang-time and deep punts.
SCHEDULE: Well, Georgia’s schedule is not a piece of cake and yet they have a chance to spring an upset or two. Three of the first five are on the road (South Carolina on 9/11, Miss. St. on 9/25 & and a non-conference game against the Colorado Buffaloes on 10/2) and all promise to be nail-biters if you are a Bulldog fan. But it is the game on Sept. 18th at “home” against the Arkansas Razorbacks that may be the tone-setter for the season. While Georgia could use a victory here, they may not get one; but they cannot afford to get embarrassed at home and in between road games. They must play the Razorbacks tough and at least give themselves a chance to win. October will not get any easier as they will have road games against UK (10/23) and Florida (10/30) and depending on how the month of September goes, they may be underdogs in both of these games. They may be able to help themselves in the month of November with a road game against Auburn on 11/13 and then a home game to end the season on 11/27 against in-state rival, Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs will have to be motivated to try and win these two, they cannot be down and out.
2010 OUTLOOK: If the Bulldog faithful can be patient this team may have a decent year which could be the set-up for a break-out year in 2011. The obvious key is what if anything happens with the NCAA investigation into WR A.J. Green. If nothing happens and Green can take the field as planned then this should be a winning season, although not a great season. If Green has to miss any games or a whole season, then the outlook gets a lot worse. the key word for Murray is to just “manage” and don’t try to play outside of himself. I have a feeling that Richt’s seat will get a lot hotter as the season goes on but if his team can show enough promise then just maybe the rumbling will not be as loud. I would say a 7-5 season may be a fair assessment for this unit but if they can upset either Ga. Tech or Arkansas, then 8-4 is very likely.
Kyle of Wildcat Blue Blog (read full article)
October 23 – Georgia
The Georgia game will be the third straight contest in Commonwealth Stadium for Kentucky. The Wildcats have played Georgia surprisingly well over the past few years and have split the last four meetings with the Bulldogs. Last season’s Wildcat win came between the hedges in Sanford Stadium as Kentucky played through a tough first half and secured the win late in the game. By the time Kentucky gets to this point in the season, the depth chart should be completely set and the Wildcats will have had enough time to really gel along the lines. Kentucky will hope to follow last year’s recipe for success and rely on a strong running game mixed with occasional passes offensively. The Wildcats would also be wise to try and force as many turnovers as possible defensively. The Bulldogs will be coming in to Lexington just a week before heading to Gainesville for the big-ass cosmo party or whatever it’s called. Georgia will be as talented In the trenches as almost anyone in the country and will likely start 3 SRs and 2 JRs along the offensive line. The defense should be fully transitioned to their new 3-4 defensive scheme by this point, but it’s not an easy switch to make and there might still be some hiccups. Redshirt Freshman gunslinger Aaron Murray will have had some time to get comfortable in the offense and could show why many evaluators thought he was neck and neck with USC starter Matt Barkley as the top prep QB in his class. The overall talent level is still slightly skewed in the Bulldogs favor, but the gap is as narrow as it’s ever been.
Kentucky will lose if…..
The Cats smaller defense allows the Bulldog offense to run all over them. Georgia will bring a stable of backs to town led by vastly underrated Caleb King and sophomore Washaun Ealey to run behind a massive offensive line of talented and experienced players. Kentucky’s Linebackers aren’t much bigger than most of the Georgia Running backs and could easily be overpowered if they don’t stay true to their defensive assignments. If star receiver A.J. Green has a big night the game could be over by halftime. He is one of the few wide-outs that has the skills and ability to completely take over the game and will be at least five inches taller than the man covering him in this contest. Aaron Murray is likely a future NFL QB and will have plenty of targets roaming the field to carve up the UK defense if the secondary is caught snoozing. Kentucky allowed TE Orson Charles to shred the defense for 73 yards on dump passes, and Charles will be back again to roam the short field. The Georgia defense will be implementing their new 3-4 look this season and this blitz happy scheme could easily lead to a long night for the Kentucky QB. The Bulldogs will have linebackers flying at the passer from every different direction and their defensive backs will feast on errant and rushed passes as the UK QB is under duress. If Georgia gets an early lead, the Cats will have a hard time catching up. Despite what most of the UK fanbase wants to believe, you could really even say that Georgia lost last years game more than Kentucky won it. It’s tough to get a good team to beat themselves, and Georgia should be a pretty good team.
Why Kentucky will win…..
The Wildcats will enter this game on the end of a three game home stand and let’s be honest here; this is an extremely average Georgia team by their standards. The Bulldogs failed to field a consistent rushing attack last season, and it’s unlikely that talented freshman Ken Malcome has the type of year that allows him to replace four upperclassmen at Running back. While A.J. Green is talented, he has struggled to stay healthy and there’s no guarantee that he’ll even participate in this game. Outside of Green, the other receiving options are good, but unspectacular. Aaron Murray might be a future star, but the key word is future. He’ll be a redshirt freshman and prone to mistakes that young Quarterbacks make. The Kentucky defensive line will have one of the biggest advantages in speed they will have all year against Georgia and could wreak havoc in the backfield as they simply run around the Bulldog offensive line. The Linebackers’ speed will come into play in this game as they will be able to run around and avoid blockers similar to the way Georgia Linebacker Rennie Curran did last year. The UK defensive backfield will be playing against an offense that will have a lot of inexperience at the receiver positions and could make the reads necessary to force turnovers from the young QB. The Georgia defense is still an enigma. The switch to a 3-4 could prove more difficult than anticipated and Kentucky will take advantage of any botched coverages and should notch some big plays. The Cats will have an offensive line capable of opening holes for Derrick Locke and the Georgia linebackers will have a hard time covering the speed merchant out of the backfield on swings and screens. Randall Cobb always seems to step up his game against Georgia and I see no reason for him to take the year off. He should be able to take advantage of the Bulldogs’ undersized defensive backs on his way to a big night. There are so man Georgians on the UK roster that were overlooked by their home-state team, you can be sure that there will be plenty of players with something to prove. If the Wildcats can come into this game with some momentum and establish their game plan effectively, they should be able to knock the Bulldogs off for the second year in a row. If Cobb has the type of game he’s capable of, Georgia could be looking for a new head coach by the end of the season and Cobb could be on the Heisman short list.
Ken Howlett of A Sea of Blue (read full article)
Georgia Bulldogs: October 23 @ Commonwealth Stadium
2009: UK 34 UGA 27
Coming off a season that saw the Bulldogs (8-5, 4-4) give up 30+ points in four games, and 40 or more points twice, head coach Mark Richt will be relying on his Dogs’ defense to improve dramatically. Overall, the Bulldogs gave up an average of 25.9 points per game (10th SEC).
In 2010, Richt is charged with improving on 2009′s lackadaisical defensive effort, but he’ll have to do it without All-SEC performer, linebacker Rennie Curran (130 tackles), and speedy corner back Reshad Jones (73 tackles; seven pass breakups and four interceptions). Richt does return defensive end DeMarcus Dobbs who had 4.5 sacks in ’09.
Georgia added new defensive coordinator Todd Granthem to help shore-up the defense with his 3-4 set.
Offensively, the Dogs must replace quarterback Joe Cox who threw for 2,584 yards and 24 touchdowns. As of now, the Georgia depth chart lists true freshman stud athlete Aaron Murray, the 13th rated quarterback in high school in ’09, as the top Dog QB. Murray is a threat with both his legs and arm, and has impressed the staff with his accuracy and arm strength. Also vying for time as signal-caller is junior Logan Gray. Gray, who is also a dual-threat quarterback, threw for 31 yards last season on 5 of 12 passing, with two troubling interceptions.
Catching passes in 2010 will once again be All-SEC player A.J. Green (10 games; 53 catches; 808 yards and six touchdowns). Richt also has Green returning punts in an effort to replaced graduated punt returner Prince Miller. The receiving corps also brings back sophomore receiver Tavarres King (18 catches; 377 yards and one touchdown), and sophomore tight end Orson Charles (374 yards receiving; three touchdowns), as well as experienced tight end Aron White (198 yards receiving; four touchdowns). The Dogs do lose exceptional receiver Michael Moore (249 receiving yards) who scored five touchdowns last year.
Running the ball in 2010 for the Dogs will be sophomore ball carrier Washaun Ealey. Ealey, who played in nine games in ’09, rushed for 717 yards (5.7 yards per carry) and three touchdowns. Joining Ealey in the Georgia backfield will be junior Caleb King who rushed for 594 yards (5.2 ypc) and seven touchdowns in 10 games last year.
The ‘Cats have experienced some success versus the Dogs in recent years, splitting the last four games. I look for UK to make it two-in-a-row in 2010.
History of the Matchup between Kentucky and Georgia
Note: This may be painful for Kentucky fans to read. Below are the results of all 63 Kentucky and Georgia football games. These statistics were pulled from this excellent website. Georgia has a better winning percentage against the Kentucky Wildcats than Florida.
|Site||First Meeting||Last Meeting||Games||Win %||Wins||Losses||Ties||Average Score|
Individual Game Results of Kentucky (vs Georgia), 1939-2009
What will be the final score in 2010 for UGA @ UK?