I AM MORE OPTIMISTIC THAN HISTORY DICTATES
I am excited about many aspects of the Dawgs offense heading into the 2010 campaign but first let me address my biggest concern - QB. In Richt's tenure in Athens, we have had two seasons in which a freshman QB saw the majority of snaps. In 2006, true freshman Matthew Stafford became the starter several games into the season on the way to posting a record of 9-4 and finished the year with a flurry of wins over Auburn, Tech and Va. Tech and was ranked #23 in the final AP poll. In 2001, red-shirt freshman David Greene started from day one and led the team to and 8-4 record, an AP #22 ranking, and Greene was the consensus SEC Freshman of the Year. I suppose if we use these two seasons as a guide, we should expect to finish the season ranked about where we are now in the AP at #23 and would be looking at four losses. I am more optimistic than that.
I do not expect Aaron Murray to have as many career victories as Greene nor do I expect him to be the first pick overall in an NFL draft. However, barring injury, I am expecting him to win more games as a freshman starter than Greene or Stafford did. The top reasons for my optimism are - in no particular order: favorable schedule, veteran/talented offensive line, AJ Green, stable of NFL tight ends, improved and aggressive defense, brilliant kick returners, best duo of kickers in UGA history (arguably- apologies to Rex), no Tebow, two-headed tailback combo of King-Ealey, 3rd year starter at FB with Chapas, and an improved and aggressive defense (worth mentioning twice.)
Murray will have a solid core of offensive talent around him to ease the burden placed on him to carry the offense. The most important thing he will need to do is limit mistakes and learn learn learn every week. If our rushing attack gets off to a fast start he should find him self in favorable down and distance scenarios throughout the first several games and that should give him time to learn, adjust to the speed of the game and gain confidence. Without a doubt he will make freshman mistakes, but the timing of those mistakes will make all the difference. We could use some old lady luck in this regard.
Having AJ Green as a primary target will help any QB but we will really need the other receivers to create sufficient threat so that AJ can't be doubled on every snap. Having Kris Durham back will help and good seasons from Tavares King and Rantavious Wooten are critical. Marlon Brown, are you ready for some football? The tight ends are the deepest and most talented group probably ever assembled in NCAA history. Aron White and Orson Charles are consistent threats to go long and Figgins/Lynch make a formidable blocking and sure-handed combination. Lastly, Chapas coming out of the backfield on the FB screen or wheel route represents the best receiving threat at that position since Haynes. Hopefully Murray won't be put in too many positions where the game will come down to his arm, but if it does, he will have plenty of talent on the field to help him out.
One additional note on Aaron Murray that isn't insignificant is that he has enough athletic ability to elude the rush better than Cox could last year so he could, at times, make things happen with his feet. While that is not something we want him to do too often, the ability to move out of the pocket and tuck and run if necessary will save a few drives this season. Again, the timing of those saves will make all the difference.
Final note: Murray must stay healthy! I don't even want to consider the alternative right now. Dadgummit Zach Mettenberger!