Going into the 2010 season, there weren't too many things national pundits were high on for the Dawgs. A litany of off-the-field fiascos, a redshirt freshman quarterback, and Todd Grantham's new defensive scheme left many wondering what might go well for the Red and Black this year. There was one thing no one wondered about, however-our stud wide out, AJ Green.
That is, no one wondered about him until mysterious rumblings of a soirée in Miami, wherein multiple high profile college footballers fraternized with pro agents, emerged. A subsequent witch-hunt turned up nothing more than a trifling infraction now notorious for the excessive punishment it incurred. And here we are now: our stud, our one sure thing has been yanked from us by a draconian overlord.
But all is not lost, my fellow Dawgs. This might, as it so often does, rally the troops. College football teams love any reason to assume an "Us Against the World" mentality, to circle the wagons, so to speak. If off-season flack has failed to do so, this latest setback certainly will. It must, if we are to have anything resembling a successful season. And yet still, there is a highly volatile aspect being overlooked in this conundrum.
Aaron Murray will be forced to walk before he can crawl. It's sink or swim, and the kid is being thrown into the pool without "floaties". Without AJ Green, options 2-5 for the young quarterback become essential. Green is the type of player who can salvage a broken play or pull off a dazzling catch in double coverage; he is the type of player so many inexperienced quarterbacks have come to use as a crutch.
In the early stages of his SEC career, it might have been commonplace for Murray to stare down Green for five seconds before heaving a predictable ball to the All-American. Green is one of a few transcendent wide receivers in the past decade--Calvin Johnson at Tech and Larry Fitzgerald at Pitt come to mind--who can snag anything within arm's reach. But with that type of playmaker confined to the sidelines, Murray must come to rely on his checkdowns, his second and third options. With Washaun Ealey and Caleb King now the focal point of the offense (if they already weren't), they will become the fixation of every defense heretofore faced. As such, Murray's play-action must be refined to the point of unfairness, like David Greene's. But most importantly, he must avoid the bane of all young quarterbacks: staring down your receivers. With a ball-vacuum like Green, such lapses can be salvaged.
The gang of Tavarres King, Kris Durham, and Logan Gray are talented, to be sure, but something in me doesn't believe they have the variables to make a first-year quarterback's life any easier. AJ Green did, but he'll be watching the next three contests (two against ranked SEC foes) from the sidelines. If it turns out Aaron Murray can swim without his "floaties", it will be a wonderful talisman for the next few years of the Georgia Bulldogs football program.