Wednesday, June 8, 2011

2011 Preview: areas of concern

Gonna jumpstart a series of posts that preview the upcoming football season. It's only fair to preface them with a separate post that outlines what I believe to be the chief areas of concern. I don't think any of these will be groundbreaking, and certainly not news to anyone. But still, they need to be addressed.

So first, here's the 3 areas I'm most concerned about:

  1. Toughness
  2. Offensive line depth
  3. Wide receiver production
Before I explain them, let me clarify my choices. I decided not to just devote "areas of concern" to positional anxiety mainly because I think this season (and really any season for that matter) revolves around the concept of toughness. It's easy now to look back at many games the last couple seasons and say that we lost them because we weren't tougher than the opponent. Central Florida beat us in the trenches for 3+ quarters just as soundly as Tennessee did back in 2009.

Also, when I first began putting this into a post I had OL, Safety and WR as the top areas of concern. After much thought as well as a lot of reading I decided that toughness not only needed to make the list but had to be #1. Reasoning comes below. 

Safety I think is still a top concern, after all we're likely going to need some young players to step up and compete with Jakar Hamilton, Baccari Rambo and Shawn Williams. But I eventually ended up with WR ahead mostly due to the departure of two very productive pass catchers in AJ and Kris.

Well, before I ramble too much here are my explanations:

  • Toughness. By the time the Peach dropped in Atlanta to ring in 2011 we had already been cold hard smacked in the face with just how soft we were. Most of us had growing suspicions, but the loss to UCF was salt in the wound. Phil Steele lists the Dawgs as one of his top turnaround teams. Part of his reasoning is that we had 4 close losses in 2010. The Arkansas, Colorado, Florida and UCF games could've swung our way had we been able to play a full 60+ minutes. This year's schedule is much easier, but there are certainly games on it where we'll need to prove our manhood.
  • Offensive Line. This one is simple and the depth issue alone proves it's worthy of being #1 on its own. I like our starting five. But you can't get through an entire SEC slate with five offensive linemen. If we get through to November and still don't miss Trinton Sturdivant it will be a miracle and Will Friend will be in the running for the Broyles Award.
  • Wide Receiver. AJ Green and Kris Durham were super productive, even with that damn four game suspension. Filling up their stats will be next to impossible. In fact the only thing that keeps this area of concern from rising is our TEs Orson Charles and Aron White. Their presence should help Tavarres King and whoever else steps up with him. But we have to have some production here to keep defenses honest and easier for Murray to read at the line of scrimmage from September through Novemeber.
That's enough for now. What do you think I've missed? Would your order be different at this point? Should I have expanded to 5?


AthensHomerDawg said...

I agree with the three and in that order. I don't know if these are worthy of concern or would make it into your top 5.
1. Since you mentioned Arkansas as a close loss, I see Bobo's inability to play call us into a first down in the later part of the 4th as symptomatic. That and the DL and DB's inability to stop the Hogs march to the end zone was something we witnessed too often (Gaytors?). So, Bobo's play calling (will he use those TE's?), and how good will that DL and DB be after a rather pedestrian performance in 2010 and after the infusion of talent and experience starting 2011?

Dawgmjs said...

maybe it is the same thing as toughness, maybe not, but what I want to see is "want to". It is my personal theory that a combination of talent and "want to" make the best possible combination for any endeavor. David Pollack had "want to". you could see it oozing from him on every play. Knowshon had want to, Champ, Greg Blue, Stroud, Greg Bright, Terry Hoage, Trey Battle, Veron Haynes all had "want to" and it spread to the rest of the team. I did not see consistent "want to" from our team last year or the previous year and I think this as much as anything was what was missing. I hope i see "want to" this year.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, I agree with your comments. Toughness across the board has been our primary issue since '08. We get punched in the mouth, and we fall apart (the UF game last year being the one exception). I'm not as concerned about the wide receiver position as long as we don't try to box Murray in. Bobo, let the guy make plays, please. The offensive line scares me because these guys weren't world-beaters last year. Other than '07, Searles was frankly a disaster as an offensive line coach (he cruised the last 3 years on the job he did in '07). I thought we regressed on both lines of scrimmage last year.

Mackie said...

I haven't been following it too closely but I hear we're a tad bit weak in our secondary as well. I saw enough streaks of brilliance in Tavarres King last year to think he'll do alright in AJ's absence.

Anonymous said...

In 08 we actually got punched in the mouth by Bama and continued to fight and claw our way back into that game despite spotting UA 31 points. I hate that people remember that game as a blowout, because the crowd in Athens remained rockin' and the boys kept fighting despite the terrible start.

As far as last year, I am not sure toughness had more to do with losing several close games in the fourth than not having a nose guard the coaches believed in over 290 lbs.

OL is what terrifies me, but honestly I am cautiously optimistic. Never have I seen a unit produce less with more talent than what Searles did in his time in Athens. We may not improve, or we may, but I am happy that change has come to the OL coaching job.

GaPeach said...

Wow you are so right - keep up the fantastic work!

Thom said...

I'm loving these looks as some area that might be problems. I fully agree with all of the above. Have to hope that King and Crowell can carry the load. Will scream if see Carlton Thomas diving into the middle of the line again. Geesh enough of that. Have to give any freshmen who can catch the ball a chance to play. Offensive line is the biggest need for recruiting (every year).

Dawgfan17 said...

Bernie, for as important as number 3 might be I think stopping the list at two would do. With those two things alone this year can be very different from last year.