September 2, 2010

Breaking down the Bulldog offense

Aaron Murray has yet to play his first collegiate game but already the redshirt freshman from Tampa has been picked over and dissected like a Thanksgiving Day turkey.

Is his arm strong enough, will his "nerves" get the best of him, and is he too short? On, and on, and on, it's gone.

Head coach Mark Richt and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo has told anyone who will listen that because of his youth that Murray will make mistakes, but at the end of the day, feel he is the quarterback that gives the Bulldogs their best opportunity to win.

Sure, it's not like Georgia has much of a choice with true freshman Hutson Mason now listed as the No. 2 QB. So, whatever success the Bulldogs achieve offensively, Murray will be the quarterback who helps to make it happen.

Granted, it might not be the most ideal situation considering Murray has yet to take a collegiate snap, but it certainly could be worse.

If the Bulldogs did not have their entire starting offensive line returning, a wide receiver the caliber of A.J. Green, four outstanding tight ends and two running backs like Caleb King and Washaun Ealey, then yeah, there might be a problem.

But it's this talent and experience that Richt is banking on helping Murray overcome the inevitable obstacles he encounters as the Bulldogs' starting QB.

Below, UGASports breaks down the Bulldog offense, takes a look at Murray's impending season and what players fans can look for from the offensive perspective this fall.

Quarterback

There's a reason Murray was offered scholarships from over 50 big-time programs. The guy is good.

No, he's not going to be perfect and as Richt has stated, will likely make his share of mistakes. But Richt also expects him to improve as the season wears on.

Teammates have no doubt that he will. Murray earned their respect by the way he led the summer drills and his willingness to put in extra hours when they were not required.

You often hear "manage the offense" when talking about Murray, and while that may be a cliché, it's also very true. Just as long as Murray can limit the turnovers, he'll keep Georgia's offense moving and by the end of the year he has the potential of posting numbers similar to what David Greene did as redshirt freshman in 2001.

Mason appears to be the solid No. 2 quarterback based on Bobo's statement Wednesday, but how much he'll play will obviously depend on several key factors, preferably not because of any injury to Murray.

Concern: Obviously, health. While Murray will likely make a mistake or two as he becomes more comfortable running the Bulldog O, any injury would likely mean Georgia turning over the controls to a true freshman in Mason, unless Richt and Bobo decide to give former QB and current wide receiver Logan Gray another shot. That said, this is a scenario the Bulldogs would rather not have to face.

Backfield

Ealey is suspended for the first game but is expected back for next week's contest at South Carolina, leaving King to get the bulk of the carries against Louisiana-Lafayette.

King's career high for carries is 18, a number he should pass Saturday afternoon. With Ealey out, Carlton Thomas moves up to No. 2 with backup fullback Fred Munzenmaier liable to get a carry or two from the tailback spot.

Right now it appears that freshman Ken Malcome is headed for a redshirt, but that could change, much like it did with Ealey midway through last season.

Shaun Chapas will get the bulk of time at fullback, with Munzenmaier filling in when he's not helping out at tailback.Concern: Of course, injuries will always be a worry, but the biggest worry some have is whether the two will continue to be satisfied sharing the carries. No, there hasn't been anything to indicate otherwise, but both backs are ultra competitive, and in a perfect world each would like to be "the man."

Offensive Line:

Despite missing some key components during the preseason for one reason or another, Georgia will open the season with its entire starting line from last season intact.

By now, the names are familiar - Clint Boling (left tackle), Cordy Glenn (left guard), Ben Jones (center), Chris Davis (right guard) and Josh Davis (right tackle).

Of the five, Jones missed just over a week while he recovered from arthroscopic knee surgery but is back at nearly 100 percent as is Glenn, who missed three weeks while recovering from mono.

Although he will start, don't be surprised if A.J. Harmon spells Glenn due to the heat and the fact he's still recovering from the illness.

Tanner Strickland is another name who could fill in at both guards, including on the right side should Davis have to take a few snaps for Jones at center.

All eyes will be on Trinton Sturdivant.

Sturdivant, as most know, tore his ACL for the second time in last year's opener at Oklahoma State but position coach Stacy Searels wants to see the junior get back in the fray.

Redshirt freshman Dallas Lee could also see some limited reps.

Concern: No, we won't mention injuries although will always be a concern. Instead, we'll go with continuity, which is something the veteran line will need to have to help protect a young quarterback like Murray under center.

Tight ends

On paper, this shapes up to be one of the deepest groups of tight end in the SEC, led by Orson Charles, who figures to take a huge leap forward this fall, plus the underrated Aron White, no slouch himself when it comes to catching the football.

The Bulldogs also welcome back Bruce Figgins who redshirted last year, plus sophomore Arthur Lynch, who gives Georgia another big body for blocking purposes, but is also underrated as a receiver.

Concern: The only concern regarding the tight ends is that somehow Murray doesn't use them enough. This is a talented group. Charles should be a nightmare for any linebacker to cover, while White can stretch a defense as well.

Wide receivers

Barring any NCAA-related news, Green figures to be Murray's best friend. Although Green doesn't talk much about it publically, besides leading Georgia to an SEC title, the junior wideout has some personal goal as well, including surpassing the 1,000-yard mark in receiving for the first time in his career.

The Bulldogs will also receive a big boost from senior Kris Durham who returns after missing all last year with a torn labrum. Gray will get a close look after impressing in Georgia's three scrimmages. An ankle sprain slowed the Missouri native toward the latter stages of preseason practices, but he is back now, although it's unclear how much he will play Saturday.

Marlon Brown has supposedly made big strides and is listed by coach Tony Ball as a starter when the Bulldogs are in their three-receiver set.

Others to watch include junior Israel Troupe and sophomore Rantavious Wooten who claims to be 85 percent after missing much of preseason with an MCL sprain.

Freshman Michael Bennett also bears watching, although once Tavarres King returns from his one-game suspension, his chances for playing time this year could decrease.

Concern: Somebody's going to have to step up and be the compliment to Green, who figures to see his share of double-teams. Who will it be? The guess here is King, who enjoyed an outstanding summer and has drawn raves for his work this preseason.

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