Say this for Stafford and Moreno: it wasn't a tease, tease, tease. They respectfully declined comment, undertook what appears to have been a thorough investigation of the options, then decided to run for it. A few thoughts, in no particular order, mainly on the state of Georgia football in the post Moreford/Staffeno era:
- Don't sleep on Caleb King: In talking with erstwhile Dawgsports correspondent Darius Dawgberry, we both agreed that some Bulldog fans have written off King after a redshirt freshman season that was less disappointing than Mohamed Massaquoi's sophomore campaign. Massaquoi recovered to have, in this guy's opinion, one of the best 3-4 receiving seasons in Bulldog history as a senior, and will go down as a legend of the program. It's tempting to confuse lack of performance for poor performance. They are not, especially for a freshman tailback, the same thing.
- Joe Cox is not Joe Tereshinski, III: But I'm not saying he's D.J. Shockley, either. Shockley had far more significant gameday experience than Cox at the same point in his Bulldog career. Joe Cox however is the same guy who led the comeback against Colorado in 2006. He's been very impressive since he got to Athens, but he's been behind a guy he was just never going to pass. My guess at this point is that we'll see a lot of Joe Cox and a bit of Logan Gray in 2009 unless one of the true freshmen is absolutely astonishing. Cox does however desperately need a nickname (more on that at the bottom).
- Richard Samuel is not moving to linebacker: This may be one of those predictions that I later regret, but I just don't see it. I think he showed too much promise late in the season, especially as a blocker. I also think a two back set with King and Samuel makes all the sense in the world, especially behind an offensive line that will be loaded for bear. Perhaps the main reason Samuel won't move is that we have far more proven linebackers than proven tailbacks. That's no small consideration.
- A.J. Green will break Terrance Edwards' receiving yards record in 2009: Imagine how many yards MoMass would have gone for this season if A.J. Green's nagging groin and hamstring issues had forced him to redshirt. While I am supressing flashbacks to Fred Gibson's sophomore campaign, I don't think A.J.'s season was a fluke. As the primary target in an offense that's still looking for a reliable tight end receiving threat, dependable supporting wide receivers and a clear #1 tailback, Green will be the main target behind an offensive line that should give our quarterback (whoever that guy is) more time to throw than Matt Stafford enjoyed in 2008.
- Mike Moore will help. A lot. Some guys just come into their own later than others. Mike Moore has finally found his niche as this offense's Reggie Brown. The physical receiver who'll go across the middle on the slants. Who'll turn an 8 yard out route into 12 yards. I really like what I've seen from him this season. Mike Moore knows what to do and he's confident he can do it. In the long run, I think his performance is actually more important to our passing game next season than A.J. Green's. Because Green will get his yards. But without a viable second option, our passing game just doesn't hum.
- Matt Stafford is neither a disappointment nor a failure: I thought this might be a separate post all by itself. And I'm sure it will generate some comments. While Stafford will not be remembered as fondly as David Greene, few other red and black quarterbacks have. In the end, the guy did set the school record for touchdown passes in a season. His 27-7 career record as a starter is among the best in University history. And he led the Bulldogs to a #2 national ranking. The fact that he struggled behind a patchwork offensive line, and alongside a defense that sometimes just didn't show up skews the perception a little. As does the fact that he really had nowhere to go but down. I mean, when you spark your own demographic trend, it's all downhill from there.
- Mark Richt may just give up redshirting: This season Coach Richt played every true freshman who wasn't on crutches or stricken with leprosy. He now realizes that, as the old expression goes, they grow up so fast. And after three years they become draft eligible, no matter what. It's interesting to think of what Knowshon could have done as a true freshman in that injury-plagued 2006 backfield, but we'll never know. That's a mistake you won't see Coach Richt make again. The proof was on display this season in the person of A.J. Green. While Israel Troupe and Kennth Harris might have held down the fort, Coach Richt and Coach Eason played the freshman, and it paid dividends. That won't be the last time we see a true freshman get on the field while the getting's good. I'll be back later this week to look at life from Stafford and Moreno's perspectives. Until then, note that the sun rose this morning, and the birds are singing. Life will go on, though with less dancing and keg lifting. And no frosting guns, which is kind of a bummer.