ATHENS -- Nearly halfway through a media session Wednesday, Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo realized he was looking at an old depth chart. A very old one.
“They got Dontavious Jackson on this one,” he said, alluding to a player who left the team in the summer of 2010.
The problem is, even if it had been the most recent updated depth chart, it still basically would have been obsolete.
More offseason attrition, including at two key spots, has continued to muddy the offensive picture for Georgia, which begins practice next week. During a half-hour of questions, Bobo -- also the quarterbacks coach -- wasn’t asked about quarterback Aaron Murray until the final question. That’s partly a credit to Murray, the preseason first-team All-SEC pick, but also a testament to the many questions the Bulldogs have:
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Who will replace the production at receiver after the losses of A.J. Green and Kris Durham?
Is the tailback position worse off because of the departures of Caleb King and Washaun Ealey, or better off with the addition of Isaiah Crowell and return to the position of Richard Samuel?
Can the decimated offensive line do the job with the current five projected starters and almost no depth?
“It kind of unnerves you a little bit. They always seem to happen when you’re on vacation. But that’s how it goes,” Bobo said. “Truth be told, I’m still excited about what we have coming back.”
And he is excited about what the team is adding via its freshman class. The first player on that list has been Crowell, but now receiver Malcolm Mitchell is getting the most attention.
Mitchell was singled out by three veteran Georgia players who were made available to the mediaon Wednesday: defensive co-captain Christian Robinson Christian Robinson, receiver Tavarres King and tight end Orson Charles.
Robinson went so far as to say that in at least one way, Mitchell was already superior to Green, the fourth overall pick in last April’s NFL draft.
“I’ve never seen anybody that could stop on a dime like (Mitchell) can,” Robinson said. “I mean, I love A.J., but A.J. never stopped like he can. He gets separation. A.J.’s got that speed and quickness, but I’ve never seen someone with the feet that (Mitchell) has and just the separation he can achieve with his routes.”
Mitchell’s emergence would be big for a Georgia offense that needs playmakers. As Bobo pointed out Wednesday, the team has now lost its top two producers in rushing and receiving from 2010.
Crowell, the hyped tailback recruit from Carver-Columbus, has been labeled by fans and media as the main impact player. But from Bobo’s comments it seems Richard Samuel, who was shifted back to tailback after a year at linebacker, will be a major factor.
Bobo has watched every carry that Samuel had in 2008 and 2009, and it reminded the assistant coach how fast and physical a runner Samuel can be. So why didn’t he stay at tailback? Besides the presence of Caleb King and Ealey, Bobo now thinks Samuel may have unfairly paled a bit in comparison to Knowshon Moreno.
“(Samuel) ran hard and physical,” Bobo said. “There were some times that guys turned down hitting him because of how big he was and how hard he was running.”
That doesn’t mean Crowell is out of the mix to start against Boise State. The word from teammates was that Crowell generally looks like a physical specimen.
“He’s gonna be a guy that you just hand him the ball and watch him work,” Tavarres King said.
But Bobo has to wait until practice starts to get a gauge on how Crowell reacts with pads on. In the meantime, when he runs into Crowell around campus the coach has tried to mentally pick up the tailback.
“You’re always trying to grab him and (say), ‘Hey son you realize the opportunity, you’ve got a big opportunity here,’ ” Bobo said. “And just talking to him about just being dependable, being the guy not only your coaches can count on, your teammates can count on. That’s really my message to all these freshmen. ... Because at the end of the day we’re not gonna depend on a guy that’s undependable, because that can get us beat.”
The theme of dependability and locker room chemistry has been a big one this offseason. Charles alluded to “dead weight” that has been weeded out from last year’s 6-7 team. Robinson said that of the players who have left, only King -- who was ruled academically ineligible -- really wanted to remain at Georgia.
Otherwise, the players and Bobo kept up the refrain that things have changed around the program. The idea is that a sense of accountability has been restored after a few years of off-field incidents and on-field losing.
“It seems more like 10 years ago than year 11, of this is how it’s gonna be,” Bobo said. “If you wanna be part of this team this is what you’ve gotta do, and this is what you’ve gotta adhere to.”