Former Bulldog play-by-play man Larry Munson, while not busy being a lady slaying movie critic with the voice of God, has been known to spend many of his waking hours worrying about the state of Georgia football. For many years he was joined in this pursuit by Bulldog football coach and Athletic Director Vince Dooley, a man capable of fretting publicly about the superiority of Vanderbilt's onside kick team and remarking that his 1980 squad "couldn't beat the Little Sisters of the Poor" mere weeks before they began a national championship run. In Athens we believe that Murphy was a cockeyed optimist, and we come by our skepticism honestly. We learned from the best. As my manic depressive coauthor has more than once noted during one of his depressive stages, when you expect the worst you'll either get exactly what you were braced for or be pleasantly surprised. Those are words to live by.
So, with that in mind it's probably a good time for us to begin figuring out what we're worried about for 2011. In my case the answer is "everything." I'd be worried about Aaron Murray getting kidnapped by a dray of squirrels if I thought the little bastards could get organized long enough to pull it off. Failing that, I think the main candidates are these:
- The offensive line. Frankly I'm no longer certain who'll be playing on it. We're one or two injuries away from serious depth issues, and there's no constant in college football like injuries on the line. It will happen, it's just a matter of who it is and how bad it gets.
- Replacing A.J. Green. The phenom from Summerville led the Bulldogs in receiving each of the last 3 seasons. There's really no way to replace a steady performer like that. You just have to patch the hole as best you can. Tavarres King seems primed for a breakout, Orson Charles and Aron White are as good a combo of pass catching tight ends as any in the country. Rantavious Wooten could be a huge help if he stays healthy and Marlon Brown is bound to come into his own eventually, right? Right?
- Replacing Justin Houston. Jarvis Jones has the potential to replace the Bulldogs' leading defender from 2010, assuming he's cleared to play. Cornelius Washington has the physical tools to be a star pass rusher. But Houston's 56 tackles and 10 sacks is a lot of production to replace.
- The secondary. The Georgia defensive backfield was an absolute trainwreck in 2009. At times in 2010 it wasn't a lot better. Several players, notably Jakar Hamilton, admitted that at times they didn't know what they were doing out there. I hope the second season in Todd Grantham's defense and under the tutelage of Scott Lakatos will be better. But I'll believe it when I see it.
- Finding a tailback. Maybe Isaiah Crowell is the next freshman running back sensation. Maybe he's a preternatural combination of Herschel Walker, Knowshon Moreno and Chuck Norris. Maybe Caleb King finally avoids injuries and suspensions and lives up to his potential. Maybe Boo Malcome is a human battering ram who's good for 5 yards a carry. Maybe Carlton Thomas is now a credible between-the-tackles threat. None of these is a certainty.
Certainly there are other things you could be worried about. But this should be a pretty good start. Let me know which of these areas most concerns you in these last few days before the start of fall practice, or feel free to propose something I hand't even thought about worrying about in the comments. Until later . . .