Georgia is just three weeks into its offseason, but it already HAS been a wild run. With players leaving early for the NFL and new coaches arriving from the pros, there are plenty of questions facing the 2010 Bulldogs. Here are five that might well define how far Georgia can go in the coming season.
1. Can Georgia close strong on the recruiting trail?
The Bulldogs had a top-five class committed early, but a few of their defensive commitments wavered after coaching changes were announced in December — with B.J. Butler decommitting to head to Louisville instead — and Georgia still needs to put some finishing touches on the class by filling a few more needs. New defensive coordinator Todd Grantham will be working overtime to close strong before signing day.
2. Does Georgia have the personnel for a 3-4 defense?
Grantham’s hiring brings not only a new coaching staff to Athens, but a new scheme, too. Georgia has run the 4-3 since Mark Richt arrived, and Grantham plans to shake that up. With the Bulldogs losing their top three defensive tackles and their best linebacker from last year, it remains to be seen how Grantham will get the remaining pieces to fit into this new puzzle he has brought to Georgia.
3. Who’s playing quarterback?
Joe Cox is gone, and what’s left is an overwhelming number of question marks at the most important position on the field. Will Logan Gray — the only QB with playing experience — make the switch to wide receiver as has been hinted at by coaches? Can Aaron Murray be as productive in college as he was in high school? Can Zach Mettenberger’s fundamentals be ironed out enough to highlight his cannon arm? Will new recruit Hutson Mason make a run at playing time right off the bat? There’s talent at quarterback for Georgia, but there’s still plenty to be figured out.
4. Can the Bulldogs turn two divergent halves of 2009 into a complete performance in 2010?
In the early going last season, Georgia’s offense lived and died with star wide receiver A.J. Green, but injuries cost him nearly all of the final month of the season. In the second half, the once stagnant running game finally found life and helped Georgia bulldoze its way past Georgia Tech in the regular-season finale. Now the question is, can the Bulldogs match a healthy and productive Green with that thunderous running game at the same time? If so, this could be a very dangerous offense.
5. Will the numerous changes at Georgia mean a better Bulldogs team or just a different one?
Gone are stalwarts like Cox, Jeff Owens, Geno Atkins, Prince Miller, Reshad Jones and Rennie Curran. Gone is three-quarters of the defensive coaching staff. Gone is the old way of doing things at Georgia. A number of fans are probably happy about many of those departures, but the real test of how far the Bulldogs can progress is less about what’s missing and more about what Richt has brought in to fill the gaps. Younger players will need to step up, the new coaches must hit the ground running and Richt needs to ensure the new attitude in Athens is more than just talk and focus on actions.