Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Jackets and Dawgs Preview

The last of the season previews ends with Georgia and Georgia Tech. Both of these schools have been to bowl games each of the last 9 years; something schools like USC, Ohio St, and Oklahoma can't say. Both teams want to take the next step but those steps are different; for Georgia one would have to think with 2 SEC Titles already that Mark Richt is hoping Georgia can compete for the national title in the near future. Meantime in Atlanta, Chan Gailey wants the Yellow Jackets to be competing for the conference title in the ACC every year. The records of these teams will not matter though when they meet on Saturday after Thanksgiving in Athens.

Georgia Tech (7-5, 5-3)
Offensive Starters Returning: 8
Defensive Starters Returning: 6
Last 5 Years Win Totals: 8-7-7-7-7

The key questions on Tech's offense will be whether or not Reggie Ball has matured into a consistent playmaker at QB. In his first three seasons as starter, Ball has thrown 30 TD in 20 wins, but just 7 TD in 16 losses - as Ball goes, Tech goes. The loss of PJ Daniels will be softened by that of Tashard Choice (513 yards, 6TD). All-American Calvin Johnson is also back and is eager to show his expanded role in the Yellow Jackets new spread offense. Johnson caught just 54 balls last season, but has showed his abilities for acrobatic plays time and time again. The offensive line returns four starters and a converted DT (Mansfield Wrotto) who will start at RT. Overall, this offense has the ability to put up some serious points-but as Ball goes, Tech goes.
Rushing Offense: 153.7 ypg
Passing Offense: 195.2 ypg
Total Offense: 349.0 ypg
Scoring Offense: 18.5 ppg

Defensively, the biggest returnee may be that of coordinator Jon Tenuta. While Tenuta cannot get on the field, he can instruct his 6 returning starters to blitz, and blitz, and blitz some more. Anchoring the line will be senior Joe Anoai. The linebacking corp returns two starters and a key backup from last season. OLB KaMichael Hall and MLB Phillip Wheeler will give QB's nightmares with their side to side speed. The secondary is the question mark of this defense only returning one starter. Tech fans better hope the front seven can pressure the QB because the experience is not in the secondary to let a QB have time in the pocket.
Rushing Defense: 103.9 ypg
Passing Defense: 213.6 ypg
Total Defense: 317.5 ypg
Scoring Defense: 20.1 ppg

Special teams was a sore foot for the Yellow Jackets last year. Travis Bell hopes to put a sophomore slump behind him and Durant Brooks is the likely punter replacing Ben Arndt.
Net Punting: 36.0 ypp
Punt Returns: 5.7 ypr
Kick Returns: 20.2. ypr
Sep2Notre DameL
Sep30@Virginia TechL
Nov4@NC StateW
Nov11@North CarolinaW
Prediction: 8-4, 5-3

Georgia (10-3, 6-2)
Offensive Starters Returning: 7
Defensive Starters Returning: 6
Last 5 Years Win Totals: 8-13-11-10-10

Georgia has now arrived as one of the elite programs in the nation with four consecutive 10 win seasons under Mark Richt. However, those wins will come a little tougher this year because the Bulldogs do not have a proven QB to start the season. After a heated spring and fall practice, Richt has decided to start with senior Joe Tereshinski who played last season for the injured DJ Schockley in the Florida (L) and Kentucky(W) games. A name to keep an eye on though is true freshman Matt Stafford; don't be surprised to see him starting by the end of the year. The Dawgs have a trio of tailbacks that would be the envy of any coach in the SEC - Thomas Brown (736 yards, 4 TD) is the headliner of the group. Mo Massaquoi (13.3 ypc) returns for his sophmore season and will be the first look for whomever the QB is. The o-line will have some new faces and will be especially tested early in the season with the suspenstion to returning starter Daniel Inman.
Rushing Offense: 162. 1 ypg
Passing Offense: 229.0 ypg
Total Offense: 391.1. ypg
Scoring Offense: 29.5 ppg

The departure of Brian VanGorder left many to think the Georgia 'D' would take a step back last season, but under Willie Martinez the Bulldogs ranked 18th in the nation in overall defense. Without question, the main man is DE Quentin Moses who will push for All-American honors. Last season, 73% of Moses tackles were behind the line of scrimmage. The linebacking unit is one similar to M.A.S.H with most every key player having suffered a major injury in their career. Tony Taylor (56 tackles) will lead a group hoping to remain healthy for a full season. The secondary returns just one starter from a year ago in Tra Battle at FS. Cornerbacks Paul Oliver and Thomas Flowers (after suspension) are likely to join Battle.
Rushing Defense: 143.8 ypg
Passing Defense: 169.6 ypg
Total Defense: 313.5 ypg
Scoring Defense: 16.4 ppg

Both kickers are back and will be weapons for UGA in the battle for field position. Flowers will returns punts, but the kick return position will be by committee early on.
Net punting: 38.7 ypp
Punt Returns: 13.8 ypr
Kick Returns: 19.5 ypr
Sep2 W.Kentucky W
Sep9 @South Carolina L
Sep16 UAB W
Sep23 Colorado W
Sep30 @Ole Miss W
Oct7 Tennessee W
Oct14 Vanderbilt W
Oct21 Miss St W
Oct28 Florida(Jax) L
Nov4 @Kentucky W
Nov11 @Auburn W
Nov25 Georgia Tech L
Prediction: 9-3, 6-2

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