Is Schottenheimer here to stay?

The Georgia Bulldogs have had a disappointing year thus far in the 2015 season. A season that has included a span of three out of four games of scoring 10 points or less, blowout losses to both Florida and Alabama, inconsistency at quarterback, and losing the best offensive threat in the conference when star tailback Nick Chubb went down for the season with a knee injury. This is also the same season the UGA beat the Steve Spurrier lead South Carolina Gamecocks 52-20 and had playoff aspirations. So where does this leave UGA? They can still finish the regular season with 9 wins and have the possibility of a bowl win to eclipse 10 wins, that classic Georgia season.

The question starts getting asked, can UGA win it all with Mark Richt at the helm? Will they be able to overcome the curse that seems to follow? My answer is yes, but I do not believe that it will be with Brian Schottenheimer as the offensive coordinator. At the conclusion of last season Mike Bobo, former offensive coordinator, was hired away as a head coach to Colorado State University. He led Georgia to record breaking offensive seasons in 2012, 2013, and 2014. He was handed the play-calling duties from head coach Mark Richt in the 2006 Chick-fil-a Bowl against Virginia Tech and never looked back. His development of quarterbacks was felt by the success of Aaron Murray becoming the first UGA QB to pass for 3,000 yards in three straight seasons, and the first SEC QB to do it in four straight. It also shows in how he made Hutson Mason a quality signal caller, you could see his fingerprints all over it. He finally got his running back he could rely on in Todd Gurley in 2012 and his offense could not be stopped after that.

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Schottenheimer, contrastly, has an NFL resume of being pretty average and seems to take a more business approach to coaching these young men. I believe that this has hurt the development of UGA’s quarterbacks as a unit. Understand that I am making this assessment after not even a full season with Schotty at the helm, but if you look at the offseason and how it was handled, you can’t help but wonder what could have been. There was a battle for the open QB spot in the spring and they had nothing definitive about who was leading, then bringing in a transfer QB and adding to the ambiguity of the position. It seems as though there has been no progression to the offense over the course of this season as well as at quarterback. The best that the offense has been since the Chubb injury has been when they have run the “Wild Dawg” formation with wide receiver Terry Godwin taking the snaps and deceiving the defense with the unconventional look. Is there really  no scholarship QB who can run the offense well enough to take the pressure off of the defense?

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I believe that there needs to be a change at the offensive coordinator position. I think a promotion from within would be the best outcome. They could promote current wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon, current running backs coach Thomas Brown, or current tight ends coach John Lilly to offensive coordinator. This would help recruiting since there would be continuity in the same offense and it would give Richt another opportunity to develop his next great assistant from the ground up while also finding a new QB coach to help develop the position and focus solely on that. All of those candidates I mentioned are qualified and have the resume to be considered for a position like this and if you look at last season’s bowl game in particular, John Lilly called the plays since Bobo had already left for Colorado State and the offense was explosive. This season just shows what a great loss Bobo was to the UGA program and offense.

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SEC East Preview 2014

East Division Breakdown

The most sacred time of year has returned, yes it is college football, and more importantly the SEC. I will take a look at the SEC East division and give some superlatives as we did for the Western Division of the SEC.

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1. Georgia Bulldogs 11-1 (7-1)

The Bulldogs are hungry to avenge last season’s debacle of disappointment and injuries. They are led by 5th year senior Hutson Mason and arguably the best back in the country in Todd Gurley. We believe they will lose week 2 to South Carolina in Colombia and run the table from there. Most analysts will say that whoever wins that matchup is going to win the East, but I would point to the last 3 seasons where UGA won last season and did not represent the East in Atlanta, but the previous two seasons they lost to the Gamecocks and were in the Georgia Dome for the early-December showdowns. This team will go as far as Gurley takes them, and we believe that is at least to the Dome.

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2. South Carolina Gamecocks 10-2 (6-2)

We believe that this is one of the most talented teams in the SEC. The games that we have circled for the Gamecocks are the matchup late in the season at Auburn and when Tennessee comes to town as a possible trap game. They have a solid group of leaders and Mike Davis is a bruiser in the backfield so they should have another successful season. They can manage the schedule but they have some flaws on defense and at receiver, but the offensive line and a backfield with the experience that Davis and Thompson possess, they will be in every game with a shot to win.

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3. Missouri Tigers 9-3 (5-3)

The Tigers have a solid team returning and should have success, the main concern this season would be the defensive line. Losing two very productive defensive linemen and having to face several offenses that control the clock, it will be difficult to make it out unscathed. Dorial Green-Beckham was electrifying and he was the key to another SEC east title run, the only problem is that he didn’t have what it takes to stay on the team and has since been kicked off and transferred. The Tigers quarterback Maty Mauk is a game-changer and will compete for a championship before his time in Colombia is over, this just isn’t the year.

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4. Tennessee Volunteers 6-6 (4-4)

This is my surprise team in the east, but they will not quite have enough to run the table. They should be better in year 2 under Butch Jones, as they welcome in some great freshman and return the likes of Marquez North at wide receiver and All-SEC linebacker AJ Johnson in the middle of the defense. I did not account for this in my record prediction, but watch out for Tennessee upsetting Alabama in Knoxville for Lane Kiffin’s return as the OC for Bama, this could be the year.

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5. Florida Gators 6-6 (3-5) 

There are too many people hopping on the Florida bandwagon saying that because Jeff Driskell is back that they will return to form that we saw in 2012, but they fail to realize that the team won those games because of the defense and not Driskell. He has never shown consistency at the most vital position on the field. He will make some plays but ultimately be the reason that they are inconsistent on the offensive side of the ball by stalling drives.

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6. Vanderbilt Commodores 5-7 (1-7)

James Franklin is gone and I hate to say it but I just do not think that they have enough to win many games in the SEC this season, but Derek Mason will grow with the program eventually.

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7. Kentucky Wildcats 4-8 (0-8)

It is tough sledding for Mark Stoops and the Wildcats, they are simply a better team in a league in which they can not move up. The team will be stronger and they can beat Louisville, but they will be winless in the conference.

 

SEC accolades:

MVP: Georgia RB Todd Gurley

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This is the best player in the country as well as the SEC, he always seems to make the difference in his team winning or losing. He is healthy this season and in the best condition since arriving in Athens, thus looking for a huge year. I believe he has the edge to win the Heisman trophy as well.

Offensive Player of the Year: South Carolina RB Mike Davis

Possibly the second best player in all of the nation, he just happens to be second at his position in his own division as well due to the aforementioned Todd Gurley.

Defensive Player of the Year: Florida DE Dante Fowler Jr

This stud will be playing on Sundays soon and what is so impressive about him is his versatility in his ability to stop the run and rush the passer. He has stepped out as his defenses leader, and he brings that traditional Florida intensity that we are accustomed to seeing in Gainsville.

Newcomer of the Year: Tennessee WR Josh Malone

This is my favorite person tho watch this season, I believe that he will be the next Sammy Watkins. He is big and explosive, and he will be second focus for defenses as they watch Marquez North on the opposite side of the field, so he should shine as a compliment receiver.

Coach of the Year: Tennessee HC Butch Jones

NCAA Football: Tennessee-Spring Game

With Tennessee being my surprise team, I believe in Jones and his ability to beat at least two teams that are favored over the Vols this season.

SEC Championship Game: Georgia vs. Alabama

We have a rematch from 2012. This game we believe ends a little differently with the Bulldogs exacting revenge and winning the SEC.

SEC Champion: Georgia

I believe that Georgia has the tools available, especially with Todd Gurley in the backfield, to win the SEC. I think they will then get their shot in the College Football Playoff and defend the SEC’s name for the 2014 season.

 

So there it is, our SC East Preview. Check out the West Preview to see how that side may shake out, and thank you for reading!

Spring Practice-UGA

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Aaron Murray is coming back to UGA.

This season for the Bulldogs was one they haven’t experienced in a while. They were relevant on the national stage all the way to the 5 yard line of the Georgia Dome in the SEC championship against the Alabama Crimson Tide. This spring the Bulldogs will be sporting a new-look defense as they had 9 players from the defense recently in the NFL combine, as they move to the next level. This defense will have leaders returning at every level of the depth chart, but most of the new contributors will be inexperienced although very talented. This brings me to this spring and the all important spring practice which is concluded by the annual G-day spring game. The players helping to usher along this transition will be Senior DE Garrison Smith, Juniors ILB Amarlo Herrera and CB Damian Swann, and Sophomore OLB Jordan Jenkins, all of whom played significant roles on the 2012 defense and look to make a bigger impact in 2013 and the future. These players will be joined by several early enrolees as UGA signed 33 on signing day and 13 of them are in Athens for spring. Perhaps the most important offseason news, Fifth-year Senior QB Aaron Murray decided to forgo the NFL draft and return for his senior season. He brings a level of competency to the quarterback position that UGA has not seen before Murray, there are things that OC Mike Bobo has given him to do that former 1st overall pick Matthew Stafford never got to see, much less execute. This is big for incoming Freshman QB Brice Ramsey to be able to learn from an all-SEC caliber QB and watch him compete and prepare. It is an exciting time in Athens and to be a Georgia Bulldog; this season will be decided within the first month of the regular season as Clemson, South Carolina, and LSU are all on the slate.