Georgia Bulldogs


Junior receiver A.J. Green, a first-team All-SEC receiver, remains a big target and a home run threat (1,772 yards, 109 catches, 14 TDs).

The Associated Press
Published: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 7:02 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 7:02 p.m.
Across the southeast, spring has sprung, bringing SEC football with it. Gatorsports.com provides you with in-depth previews of all 12 teams.

GEORGIA
2009 record: 9-5 overall, 4-4 in SEC
Practice starts: March 4, off for spring break, restarted March 16
Spring game: April 10, 2 p.m.
Recruiting: Bitter rivals on the field, the Bulldogs are just as bitter of rivals of SEC East king Florida off the field in recruiting. Georgia didn't challenge the Gators for a top class (Rivals No. 15, Scout No. 22), but it is still plenty talented with 19 commitments. The Bulldogs nabbed one five-star in LB/S Alec Ogletree and nine four-star commitments, six on defense — OL Bruce Benedict, DE Jalen Fields, DB Jakar Hamilton, OG Kolton Houston, RB Ken Malcome, DE Dexter Morant, DT Garrison Smith, DE T.J. Stripling and DT Mike Thornton.
Early enrollees: S Jakar Hamilton, OG Kolton Houston
Offseason changes: The Dawgs really only lost starting quarterback Joe Cox on offense, who had a rather lackluster 2009 season. The biggest changes come on defense, where seven starters are gone, including tackles Geno Atkins and Jeff Owens (and backup Kade Weston). All-SEC linebacker Rennie Curran and safety Reshad Jones both declared for the NFL as well. Head coach Mark Richt is hoping a change in coaches will spark a change in performance from his defense, which has struggled the last few years. Former Dallas Cowboys defensive line coach Todd Grantham steps in as defensive coordinator, replacing Willie Martinez. Former Connecticut assistant Scott Lakatos (secondary) and Vanderbilt assistant Warren Belin (linebackers) also join the staff. With Grantham, Georgia will change from a 4-3 (linemen-linebackers) alignment to 3-4. That's one of the reasons junior Richard Samuel (6-foot-2, 232 pounds) has moved from tailback to linebacker.

Top priorities for spring
Quarterback: With Cox gone, the quarterback position is wide open, with three primary candidates in redshirt freshman Zach Mettenberger (6-5, 229), junior Logan Gray (6-2, 195) and redshirt freshman Aaron Murray (6-1, 209). Early on, it appears Murray, the former standout at Tampa Plant High School, has the inside track, considering Mettenberger's situation. During the weekend after the first spring practice, the 18-year-old was arrested in Remerton, Ga., and charged with underage consumption/possession of alcohol, disorderly conduct, obstruction and two counts of possessing fake identification. According to the police report, Mettenberger was transported to Lowndes County Jail, and was released on bond. He has a court date schedule for April 27. According to the school's athletic association policy, a conviction would result in a mandatory suspension of at least one game. Of the three QB candidates, only Gray has any college experience, playing just spot duty in 2009, completing 5-of-12 passes for 31 yards and two interceptions.
Defensive line: With the shift to a 3-4 alignment, some of the defensive ends will move to outside linebacker. Among those is Justin Houston (6-3, 260), a second-team All-SEC selection, who had 7.5 sacks last year and is expected to move to an outside linebacker spot. DeAngelo Tyson (6-2, 295) and Abry Jones (6-3, 290) are both expected to see time at tackle.
Secondary: Georgia lost three starters in the secondary, including both safeties. Sophomore cornerback Branden Smith, who played some on offense last year, is expected to have an impact this spring. Baccari Rambo and Jakar Hamilton, a junior college transfer who enrolled early to participate in spring practice, are the leading candidates at safety.

Spring strengths
Offensive line: Two years ago, Georgia had the skill players (Matt Stafford, Knowshon Moreno) but didn't have a good offensive line. Too young, too inexperienced. That's not the case this coming season. Everyone is back on the line, led by senior All-SEC tackle Clint Boling. The Bulldogs allowed the least sacks last season (12) and this should be one of the real strengths of the 2010 team.
Wide receiver: Believe it or not, A.J. Green (6-4, 205) will only be a junior this season. Although it seems he has been at Georgia forever, the first-team All-SEC receiver remains a big target and a home run threat (1,772 yards, 109 catches, 14 TDs). Sophomore tight end Orson Charles (23 catches, 3 TDs in 2009) is expected to have an even bigger role this season.
Running back: With an experienced line in front of them, Georgia figures to run more this year with Washaun Ealey (717 yards as freshman) and junior Caleb King (594 yards, 7 TDs). Richt is hoping an effective running game will take some of the pressure off the quarterback.

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