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I Wanna SEC You Up: The UGA Offense

I gave a cursory breakdown of the Georgia Bulldogs a while back while proclaiming them the team that scares me most on our schedule. Despite the loss of Paul Oliver in the secondary, I still stand by my assertion that this is a talented team that has all the tools it needs to make it to Atlanta at the end of the season.

The Offense

Category Rank
Scoring Offense 7th
Passing Offense 9th
Total Offense 10th
Pass Efficiency 10th
First Downs 8th
3rd Down Conversions 8th
Red Zone Offense 4th
Early last season, the 'Dawgs struggles on offense were a source of shock and insane rage for many UGA fans used to the offensive prowess of HC Mark Richt. Because of that horrific start (which included a one point victory over a subsequently two win Colorado team in Athens, a thrashing by Tennessee, and losses to Vanderbilt and Kentucky), the 'Dawgs finished in the bottom half of the conference in every category save Red Zone Offense. That, of course, discounts the final three game stretch of the season in which they dismantled Auburn, bested Georgia Tech with 1:45 remaining, and came storming back from a 21-3 halftime deficit against the alway stout defense of Virginia Tech. The biggest reason for the sudden surge in offensive productivity? One Matthew Stafford, a biblical terror that has the ability to rewrite the record book for QBs at Georgia.

QB Matt Stafford
256 135 52.7 1749 7 13
It took some time for young Stafford to develop, and the QB situation was a big part of the problem with UGA's offense early on last year (along with dropped many dropped passes). Joe Tereshinski was the starter until he was injured in week two at South Carolina. When Stafford earned the nod against UAB and Colorado the next two weeks, he had to be bailed out by Joe Cox, who led the winning TD drive to best Colorado. Cox, in turn, had to be bailed out by Stafford against Ole Miss, and Tereshinski's brief return saw some costly INTs seal the UT victory and he finally lost the job to Stafford for good midway through the Vandy loss. From then 'til the Auburn game, Stafford had a miserable 4-12 TD/INT ratio, but he finally put things together against three top defenses, posting a 3-1 ratio in the finaly three games of the season. Stafford's performance in those three games should be indicative of the way he'll play in the coming season, and the skill positions for UGA are so stocked that only LSU could claim a more impressive cupboard of talent on their roster.

The Backfield

FB Brannan Southerland
46 120 2.6 8

14 157 11.2 2 27
Returning at RB for the Dawgs are Kregg Lumpkin, the team's leading rusher with 798 yards on 162 carries (4.9 ypc) and 6 TDs, and Thomas Brown (62 carries, 256 yards, 4.1 ypc, 1 TD) , who tore an ACL against Vandy and was lost for the year. Depth at RB is bolstered by Knowshon Moreno, a redshirt freshman that ran for 68 yds and 2 TDS on 11 carries during the spring game, and Caleb King, a four star recruit rated as the #8 running back in the country by Rivals. Joining them is FB Brannan Southerland, who led all rushers in TDs last season with 8, while also scoring two through the air. Last year's 3.9 ypc average should be much improved with the loaded backfield UGA is sporting.

The Receivers

Dropped passes plagued the 'Dawgs last season, as go to receiver Mohamed Massaquoi suffered a sophomore slump, and the rest of the WRs and TEs underperformed in spectacular fashion. This unit should return to form this year as four of the five top pass catchers return. Leading them is Massaquoi, who caught 30 for 366 yds and 2 TDs last season. He's been moved inside to flanker, while surrounding him are AJ Bryant, a returning starter who caught 14 for 251 yds in 11 games last season, and Sean Bailey, who redshirted last year after a knee injury during '05 bowl practice sidelined him last season. During the '05 season, Bailey was a solid perfomer, catching 2 TDs in the season opener against Boise State, and two more against LSU in the SEC championship game. Also contributing last year were Kenneth Harris, Mikey Henderson, and Kris Durham, while TE Tripp Chandler looks to be more involved in the passing game after catching only two for 37 yards and 1 TD last year.

The Line

It isn't all sunshine and roses for the UGA offense this year, though, as the line returns only two starters both of whom played different positions last year. RT Chester Adams started 11 last year while C Fernando Velasco started 13, both at Guard. Surrounding them are a couple of freshman and several JUCO transfers, which might actually work in the 'Dawgs' favor considering O-Line coach Neil Callaway left after accepting the position of Head Coach for the UAB Blazers, and LSU O-Line coach Stacey Searels steps in with fresh minds to mold instead of veterans forced to adapt to new blocking schemes. Of the newcomers, the left side of the line is occupied by true freshman Trinton Sturdivant at LT, and redshirt freshman Chris Davis at LG. Sturdivant enrolled early, and was named the "Biggest Offensive Surprise of the Spring" for his performance during spring camp. Scott Haverkamp joins Adams on the right side of the line at RG. A JUCO transfer from Butler Community College, Haverkamp was rated as the 58th best JUCO player in the country by Rivals. They might be shakey early on (fingers crossed, Bama fans), but this unit should improve over last year's, or at the very least do no worse.