THREE THINGS WE KNOW
1. The running backs are ready to go.
It still surprises me a bit that Washaun Ealey failed to make either the media or the coaches' preseason All-SEC teams. In SEC play last year, Ealey finished eighth in yards per game. Only Mark Ingram and Derrick Locke had more and are back this year, and his average per rush was higher than that of Trent Richardson (first team media, second team coaches) despite having fewer garbage time carries. If you want to go farther, Locke didn't have a game as good as Ealey's 20 carry, 183 yard destruction of Georgia Tech. Anyway, Ealey's a great back, and you could certainly do a lot worse than having Caleb King as his wingman. In what is looking like a good year for running backs in the SEC, Georgia has a pair of them that only Alabama wouldn't want to trade for.
2. There's a great set of receiving targets.
Of everyone who caught a pass for Georgia in 2009, only three won't have the chance in 2010: Michael Moore (graduated), Richard Samuel (moved to linebacker), and scout teamer Vernon Spellman (graduated). Plus of UGA's top nine receivers in '09, only Moore and fullback Shaun Chapas were upperclassmen. They're mostly all back, and they all have room to get better. I don't need to say anything more about A.J. Green, the nation's best receiver, and Tavarres King will make a fine No. 2 when he returns from suspension. Mark Richt's best offenses have always had great tight end targets, and Orson Charles is probably the most gifted receiver Richt has had at the position. Rantavious Wooten is dangerous as a speed receiver, and VHT Marlon Brown would figure to play a more prominent role this season. There's a lot to like about the targets available.
3. The offensive line is deep and experienced.
It wasn't that long ago that it seemed that Georgia was constantly plagued with having a young and inexperienced offensive line. Injuries and the cyclical nature of college football caused that to happen, but line coach Stacy Searels did a great job to keep those issues from ever becoming a serious problem. This is the kind of year where a team reaps the rewards of such trials, as Georgia will be starting five upperclassmen. In fact, no team in the country returns as many offensive line starts as the Bulldogs do. Headlining the crew is consensus preseason All-SEC tackle Clint Boling, but the whole unit is quality. Combine the line with the excellent running backs, and Georgia appears set to be one of the top rushing teams in the country.
THREE THINGS WE DON'T KNOW
1. How Todd Grantham and the 3-4 switch will work.
Before we get to the scheme, let's talk about the man. Todd Grantham hasn't coached college football since 1998, having spent the intervening years in the NFL. Only three of them were as a coordinator, having been Romeo Crennel's DC in Cleveland. Maybe it's just Crennel, the management, or Cleveland itself, but that ended in his firing after a overseeing a dismal defense in 2007. His history as a position coach is sterling, so he gets a cautious mulligan for his tenure as the Browns' coordinator. Beyond that, he's bringing in a 3-4 defense that doesn't fit the personnel on hand whatsoever. That's obviously a long-term play by Richt, but this is a league that rewarded long term plays at offensive coordinator for Phil Fulmer and Tommy Tuberville with pink slips after just one year. I'm not saying Richt is anywhere close to being in the trouble that those two were, but it's worth noting how big a risk it is.
2. How the quarterback situation will work out.
A few months back, it looked like UGA was in for a quarterback derby with Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger. Murray was always the front runner, but if he didn't pan out for some reason, there was another four star quarterback ready to take over. It was a good plan, but Mettenberger drank himself off the team (and got banned from Valdosta in the process). It's now Murray or nothing, really, as the older Logan Gray probably would have won the starting role if he really was the better quarterback. The good news is that of all of Mark Richt's opening day starters at Georgia and FSU before that, only the plucky but limited Joe Tereshinski really didn't work out. Still, there's always a risk with a freshman quarterback and doubly so when he doesn't have much of an option as a backup.
3. Whether the special teams will be fixed.
Not a lot of people have focused on Georgia's special teams because of the specialists. Drew Butler and Blair Walsh are about as good a punter/kicker combo as you're going to find in college football, so everything's good right? Eh, sort of. Replacing Jon "Directional Kick" Fabris with Scott Lakatos as special teams warden is a good start, but that's not everything. Georgia was on the south side of mediocre in punt return defense and dead last in the SEC in kick return defense. The Bulldogs were a nice fourth in punt returns of their own, though the graduated Prince Miller did most of that work, but they were just tenth in kickoff returns. Butler and Walsh are great, but there's some fixing that needs to be done elsewhere on special teams.