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 Football Preview

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Keeping with the football spirit, here is the breakdown of the best of the best and greatest conference in college football history.  This is our annual SEC prediction which will show the picks for the championship as well as individual awards which will excite even the most cynical of fans.  These picks are as good as money, and you can say that you “heard it here first!”

Eastern Division Champion- Georgia Bulldogs 

With 10 of 11 starters returning on offense, the main question marks are on the defense. With how the defense disappointed last season, there could be a chance that even though there were major losses on the defensive side of the ball, the team could rank higher in total defense than last year’s squad. The main thing everyone will be watching will be quarterback Aaron Murray who needs to raise his big game poise for his team to take the next step.

Western Division Champion- Alabama Crimson Tide

I almost do not even need to write anything about our defending champions. It feels like this team is set up so perfectly to win 4 out of 5 National Championships this season. They are one of the best program dynasties that we have ever seen, and possibly the greatest. If they can get past Texas A&M and LSU, they could run the table yet again.

SEC Dark Horse- South Carolina Gamecocks

This team has the best player in the conference in Jadeveon Clowney, and a solid overall team. The Dual quarterback play has always scared me, but has become the way Steve Spurrier likes to run things. Dylan Thompson and Connor Shaw both have starter potential and the confidence to get it done. Mike Davis is a solid replacement for Marcus Lattimore, and this should fuel them to big places and potentially a BCS bowl game.

Eastern Division Surprise Team- Tennessee Volunteers

This team returns 4 out of 5 offensive lineman and the top two rushers from last season in Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane. Justin Worley is stepping in at QB and they have 8 starters returning on defense, this is enough for new head coach Butch Jones to work with. They will look more like the Tennessee teams of the past.

Western Division Surprise Team- Auburn Tigers

NCAA Football: Auburn-Spring Game

With the Gus Bus coming to town, this team can actually use the talent that new head coach Gus Malzahn actually recruited. He will be able to maximize their early potential, and I think he will build this program back to a championship level. Nick Marshall has transferred in to become a quarterback in this offense, and as a former defensive back at UGA it shows his athleticism.

Conference Champion- Georgia Bulldogs

SEC championship 2013

This probably shocked most of you, but this seems to be too perfect of a storm for Alabama to repeat, and you have to like this offense that returns everyone. The defense will be ready by this time in the season to contain the Tide enough for Murray and the offense to finish the drill.

Individual Awards:

Conference MVP- UGA QB Aaron Murray

If the Bulldogs are to win the championship, then Murray will have to be at this level and thrive. He has all of the tools and weapons to get it done.

Offensive Player of the Year- UGA RB Todd Gurley

Gurley is potentially the best running back in the nation, and his hard-nosed running could coax any deficiencies in the defense this season.

Defensive Player of the Year- South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney

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Possibly the best player in the nation, but Clowney is never satisfied, so he will stay hungrier than ever this season.

Coach of the Year- Tennessee HC Butch Jones

NCAA Football: Tennessee-Spring Game

The job of turning around the Volunteers is no easy one, especially with no SEC experience under his belt. He will take this team back to the rocky top.

Newcomer of the Year- Auburn QB Nick Marshall

This JUCO transfer played quarterback in high school and when he went to UGA they made him a defensive back and now he gets to play his desired position with the Tigers. He could have all the talent that Malzahn needs to make this unit go.

Full Conference Predicted Standings

This is how I see this conference playing out this season, with some usual suspects leading the way. There are 10 total bowl teams in this conference, by my calculation.

SEC Eastern Projected finish                                                 SEC Western Projected finish

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

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

3. Tennessee   8-4 (5-3)                                                                3. Texas A&M 10-2 (6-2)

4. Florida  9-3 (5-3)                                                                        4. Auburn  8-4 (4-4)

5. Vanderbilt 7-5 (3-5)                                                                  5. Mississippi 7-5 (4-4)

6. Kentucky 4-8 (1-7)                                                                    6. Arkansas 5-7 (1-7)

7. Missouri 4-8 (0-8)                                                                      7. Mississippi State 4-8 (1-7)

NCAA Football: Florida-Spring Practicejohnny manziel