SEC 2010 // Why Are the Dawgs Second in the SEC East?

OVERVIEW

I've said more than once over the past few months that I'm not exactly sold on the Dawgs. I've never really spelled out all my reasons, and some of them are not exactly the most sound statistically. It's not that I think the Dawgs are going to drop into the bottom half of the FBS or anything, but I do think that the selections I'm making here are the ceiling rather than the floor. Why? Here you go:

  • The quarterback situation. I know, I know -- it's not that big a deal to lose Joe Cox. This coming from the same fan base -- joined at the time by the head coach -- that tried to make the case that it wasn't a big deal to lose Matthew Stafford, in part because of the leadership skills of ... um, Joe Cox. Which is their right as fans of the Dawgs, but doesn't exactly quiet the nerves of someone trying to look at the team objectively. Aaron Murray might very well be better than Joe Cox, but we won't know that until the season is played, and the possibility that he's at least equal and perhaps worse has to be considered.
  • The 3-4. This is probably the right decision for the future, and we've noted before here that firing Willie Martinez was almost certainly the only move. But it will take time for the players to adjust; it's more complicated than "put an extra linebacker on the field." You have to wonder if the game or two the Dawgs might win because they fired Martinez will be canceled out by the game or two the Dawgs might lose because of unfamiliarity with the defensive scheme.
  • The echoes of 2009. Let's face it; at times last year, Georgia just didn't look like a very good football team. They obviously were a good team overall; you don't go 8-5 overall in the SEC without being one. But good teams also generally don't do things like lose to Kentucky at home and get completely waxed in Knoxville by a Jonathan Crompton-led offense. Maybe Martinez's departure fixes all of that on its own. I have my doubts.

So, given all that, why in the world do I have Georgia ranked second in the SEC East, ahead of a South Carolina team projected to have its breakout season for the fifth year in a row? (Therein lies part of the answer, but I digress.) The answer is: Mark Richt. But it's the last time I'll probably give that answer without something more to back it up. Richt might not be on the proverbial hot seat at Georgia, but I'm getting a little wary of predicting good seasons in Athens based at least in part on the head coach's ability after three years of overshooting based on that. Georgia fans might not need to see anything more from Richt this year, but as much as I'm not exactly a Dawg fan, I would like to.

Oh, and you're not misreading any of those predictions. Even that one.

SEASON RESULTS

Place: 2nd in the SEC East
Record: 9-3, 5-3 SEC
Could be: 7-5 to 11-1
Best chance to be upset (aside from obvious): Georgia Tech
Bowl: Outback Bowl

GAME-BY-GAME

9.4.10 | LOUSIANA-LAFAYETTE | WIN
9.11.10 | at SOUTH CAROLINA | POSSIBLE LOSS
9.18.10 | ARKANSAS | POSSIBLE LOSS
9.25.10 | at MISSISSIPPI STATE | PROBABLE WIN
10.2.10 | at COLORADO | PROBABLE WIN
10.9.10 | TENNESSEE | POSSIBLE WIN
10.16.10 | VANDERBILT | LIKELY WIN
10.23.10 | at KENTUCKY | PROBABLE WIN
10.30.10 | vs. FLORIDA | POSSIBLE WIN
11.6.10 | IDAHO STATE | WIN
11.13.10 | at AUBURN | POSSIBLE LOSS
11.27.10 | GEORGIA TECH | POSSIBLE WIN

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