Scouting Report: the Georgia Bulldogs

Mikey Henderson (AP Photo/Todd Bennett)

The Georgia Bulldogs host Vanderbilt this Saturday morning sporting a 5-1 overall record and 2-1 mark in the Southeastern Conference. After a season opening win over Western Kentucky by a score of 48-12, the Junkyard Dog defense of the 1960's and 1970's returned to Athens. Back-to-back shutouts over South Carolina and UAB were followed by a 14-13 win over Colorado and a 14-9 win over Ole Miss.

The Bulldog offense disappeared while opening day starting quarterback Joe Tereshinski endured a high ankle sprain.

 

Last week, Tereshinski returned, and the Georgia offense took off once again.  Unfortunately, the defense broke down, giving up 51 points to a great Tennessee team.  The red and black should be all red this week, and they should be ready to give Vanderbilt their best effort of the season.

 

Offense

 

 

After beginning the season scoring with ease against I-AA Western Kentucky, Tereshinski's injury forced Coach Mark Richt to go with a couple of youngsters who were clearly not ready to start.  The Bulldog offense stagnated. 

Let's take a look at some of their statistics. 

 

Scoring:  26.8 points per game ranks fifth in the SEC and 47th of 119 in Division I-A

 

Rushing Average: 135.3 yards per game (4.3 avg) ranks 8th in the SEC, 62nd in Division I-A

 

Passing Average: 165.5 yards per game ranks 8th in the SEC, 87th in Division I-A.  The Dogs are completing 51.4% of their passes and averaging 6.7 yards per pass attempt.

 

Passing Efficiency: 109.45 ranks 10th in the SEC and 89th in Division I-A

 

Total Yardage: 300.8 yards per game ranks 10th in the SEC and 91st in Division I-A

 

QB Sacks allowed: 7 sacks in 6 games ranks 4th in the SEC and 20th in Division I-A

 

Turnover Margin: -2 in 6 games ranks 9th in the SEC and 73rd in Division I-A

 

 

Breakdown by Position

 

Wide Receiver

 

Split end Mohamed Massaquoi (6-2, 198 So.) and flanker A.J. Bryant (6-2, 195 Jr.) have not been as productive as they were supposed to be, but that's really been a result of the quarterback position. 

 

Massaquoi is a football magnet.  You won't see him drop balls within arm's reach.  He is the primary receiver on a majority of pass plays, and Vanderbilt must shut him down in order to have any chance to win the game.

 

Bryant is the current leader in receptions with 10.  He's not as consistent as Massaquoi, but he is a serious deep threat.

 

Backups Demiko Goodman (6-2, 189 So.) and Kenneth Harris (6-3, 214 So.) give Georgia excellent depth.  Both underclassmen can turn a six yard reception into a 15 yard gain.

 

Tight End

 

The Bulldogs were expected to have a major drop off at this position after the loss of All-American Leonard Pope.  Martrez Milner (6-4, 240 Sr.) has filled Pope's shoes quite admirably.  He's been tough over the middle and has shown he can bulldoze his way into the secondary.  Currently, Milner ranks second on the team in receptions.

 

Coleman Watson (6-6, 250 Jr.) is more of a blocker than a pass catcher.

 

 

Offensive Line

 

The Bulldog offensive line isn't as strong as last season's stellar group, but they are still quite talented.  As a group, they have yielded just seven quarterback sacks, and they have opened holes for their running backs to average 4.3 yards per rush.

 

Tackle Ken Shackleford (6-5, 315 Sr.) is the workhorse of the interior.  He's been in for the most snaps thus far.  Fellow tackle Daniel Inman (6-7, 319 Sr.) is the big stud of the front wall.  You will see him playing on Sundays next year.  As has been the case with most Vandy opponents, Georgia will rush the ball many times to his quick side.

 

Both guards are new starters this season.  Chester Adams (6-4, 320 Jr.) and Fernando Velasco (6-4, 315 Jr.) are not as competent as the two tackles, but they are not weaknesses either.  Adams teams with Inman to provide Georgia with a tough quick-side blocking tandem.

 

Nick Jones (6-3, 295 Sr.) is a returning starter who played guard last year and won the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week award after Georgia clobbered Kentucky 45-13 in November.  He is agile for his size and provides excellent pass protection.

 

Quarterback

 

There's quite a bit of irony here.  Tereshinski has started and completed two games this season.  Georgia has given up 63 points in those two games.  Tereshinski missed three full and most of a fourth game.  In those four games, Georgia gave up 22 points. 

 

Tereshinski  (6-3, 217 Sr.) is the veteran even though he has a grand total of four career starts, two less than Vanderbilt quarterback Chris Nickson.  When he returned to the starting lineup against Tennessee, Georgia's offense began to resemble what it was supposed to look like.  Against the Vols, He guided Georgia on touchdown drives of 81 and 80 yards.  He is the fourth Athens native to start at quarterback for the Bulldogs (Fran Tarkenton, Andy Johnson, and Jeff Pyburn).

 

Matthew Stafford (6-3, 225 True Fr.) will see action in the first half against Vanderbilt.  He took over for the injured Tereshinski in the South Carolina game, and then he started the UAB and Colorado games, the first true freshman to come out of high school and start a game for UGA since Eric Zeier in 1991.  Stafford has struggled, throwing four interceptions in 80 attempts (5%), while completing just 47.5% of his passes.  He came off the bench against Ole Miss to lead the comeback to victory.

 

Joe Cox (6-1, 200 RS Fr.) came off the bench to lead the Bulldogs in their comeback win over Colorado.  It earned him a start against Ole Miss, but he couldn't move the offense and gave way to Stafford.

 

Look for Georgia to see improvement at this position this week and during the remainder of the season.  There's great upside potential.

 

Fullback

 

Brannan Southerland (6-0, 242 So.) beat out former starter Des Williams (6-1, 245 Jr.).  Southerland leads the Dogs with six touchdowns (on just 23 touches), as he is a bulldog at the goal line with an ability to sniff his way into the end zone.  He scored twice against Tennessee, both after the red and black drove the length of the field.  He's an excellent blocker who provides outstanding lead blocking for the Georgia tailbacks.  Southerland is showing no signs of being bothered by a shoulder injury that kept him out of spring drills.

 

Williams missed all of the 2005 season after earning the starting position.  He's rebounded this year and contributed some, but he's not

 

Tailback

 

Coach Richt likes to use multiple tailbacks in order to keep them fresh.  Kregg Lumpkin, Danny Ware, and Thomas Brown combine to give the Bulldogs three multi-purpose backs.

 

Lumpkin (6-1, 200 Jr.) has taken over as the chief back the last few games.  He topped 100 yards rushing against Ole Miss and ran for 78 yards on 13 carries last week against Tennessee. 

 

Brown (5-8, 185 Jr.) was the leading rusher last year with 736 yards and a five yard average.  He began this season as the starter, but weak performances sent him to the bench.  He recovered with a commendable game against Tennessee, rushing for 57 yards on just eight carries.  He's due for a breakout game.

 

Ware (6-1, 223 Jr.) has not started a game, but he is the best breakaway threat.  So far this season, he is averaging 5.7 yards per carry and scored twice.  Of the three backs, he is the best pass catcher.  When he's in the game, it's like having another receiver in there.

 

 

Defense

 

The Bulldogs were leading the NCAA in scoring defense until the Tennessee game, but after giving up 51 points, they plummeted 16 places.  Georgia has a young, but very talented group of defenders, and they should rebound with a first-rate game Saturday morning.

 

Here is a look at Georgia's defensive statistics for the season:

 

Scoring Defense: 14.2 points per game allowed ranks 4th in the SEC and 17th in Division I-A

 

Vs. The Run: 102.5 yards allowed per game (3.0 avg) ranks 3rd in the SEC and 27th in Division I-A

 

Vs. The Pass: 155.8 yards allowed per game ranks 4th in the SEC and 16th in Division I-A.  The Dogs allow 57.1% of enemy passes to be completed and allow 5.8 yards per pass attempt.

 

Quarterback Sacks: Georgia has recorded sixteen sacks in six games which ranks 3rd in the SEC and 27th overall.

 

Opp. Passing Efficiency: 110.4 ranks 4th in the SEC and 34th in Division I-A

 

Opp. Total Offense: 258.3 yards ranks 2nd in the SEC and 12th in Division I-A

 

Tackles For Loss: Georgia has recorded 44 TFLs this season which ranks 2nd in the SEC and 17th in Division I-A

 

Turnover Margin: -.33 per game ranks 9th in the SEC and 73rd in Division I-A

 

Defensive Line

 

This is one of the deepest front fours in the nation.  Defensive ends Charles Johnson (6-2, 275 Jr.) and Quentin Moses (6-5, 250 Sr.) form the best pair of terminals in the SEC.  Moses should be a first day pick (likely first round) in the 2007 NFL Draft, while Johnson should hear his name called the following season. 

 

Moses has registered 16 tackles to date.  Seven of those stops have been for losses, including a quarterback sack.  He's added an eye-popping 17 QB hurries even though most opponents double team him the entire game.

 

Johnson's stats are a little better, but he doesn't always face double teams.  He's made 21 stops, with nine for losses (3.5 sacks).  He's gotten his hands on four passes while forcing the quarterback to hurry eight times.

 

Marcus Howard (6-2, 220 Jr.), Roderick Battle (6-4, 249 RS Fr.), and Jeremy Lomax (6-4, 220 So.) have seen meaningful minutes in relief of the two starters.  Battle is Georgia's Broderick Stewart.  When he's in the game, Vandy's quarterbacks will be forced to get rid of the ball quickly.

 

Georgia is even deeper at the tackle positions.  Three players have started games at tackle.  Jeff Owens (6-3, 280 So.) and Ray Gant (6-2, 277 Jr.) started against Tennessee, while Kade Weston (6-5, 310 RS Fr.) started the first five games in place of Gant.

 

Owens has made 13 stops so far with 1.5 being for losses.  He has one sack, but he has been credited with 12 QB pressures in six games.  He's also force a fumble.

 

Gant didn't see a lot of action until the Tennessee game, so his stats are not as impressive as Owens or Weston.  Against the Vols, he picked up three tackles.

 

Weston has not recorded a stop behind the line yet, and he only has five QB hurries. 

 

Geno Atkins, Dale Dixon, Marquis Elmore, and Tripp Taylor provide excellent depth. 

 

Linebackers

 

Linebacker Tony Taylor (6-1, 237 Sr.) leads Georgia with 41 tackles.  He has made 3.5 stops for loss, two sacks, and five QB hurries.  He picked off a pass against Colorado, one of just three Bulldog interceptions this year.  He's not Prescott Burgess (Michigan) or Sam Olajubutu (Arkansas), but he's an exceptional player.  He will pursue across the field and still get in on the tackle if Vandy attempts to run away from him.

 

Jarvis Jackson (6-2, 218 Sr.) and Danny Verdun-Wheeler (6-2, 244 Sr.) team with Taylor to make the Georgia linebackers one of the top 10 units in the country.  Jackson has made 30 stops with a sack and four QB hurries.  Verdun Wheeler has 26 tackles and four QB hurries.  This trio will foam at the mouth when they see Vandy's ball carriers; they are all specialists in stripping away the ball.  Vanderbilt absolutely must correct that problem this week, or it could be ugly on Saturday.

 

Georgia can go three deep at linebacker.  Backing up the starting trio are Brandon Miller (6-4, 248 Jr.), who has 12 career starts, Darius Dewberry (6-3, 211 True Fr.), Marcus Washington (6-0, 245 So.), Benjamin Boyd, (6-1, 212 Jr.), Chris Gaunder (6-0, 215 Jr.), and Dannelle Ellerbe (6-1, 228 So.).  This group has combined for 25 tackles.

 

Secondary

 

Until the Tennessee game, the Georgia secondary looked tough to beat.  One has to wonder if they have lost any confidence, or if they are mad as disturbed hornets.  The strength of the secondary is not its ability to pick off passes.  This group provides superior run support and can blitz with the best of them.  Like the linebackers, the group specializes in separating the ball from the ball carrier.

 

Rover Tra Battle (5-11, 176 Sr.) is the elder statesman of the quartet.  He came to Athens as a walk-on and could leave as an NFL draftee.  Battle has 32 tackles, with 4.5 of them for losses.  He's blitzed the enemy QB successfully three times, picking up two sacks and one QB hurry.  In coverage, he's broken up four passes but has no interceptions.

 

Kelin Johnson (6-1, 192 Jr.) starts at the lone safety spot.  He is tied for second on the team with 32 tackles, three for losses.  He's recorded a pair of QB sacks to go with two QB hurries.  He picked off a pass against Western Kentucky, but he hasn't been credited with any broken up passes.  Vandy can complete short passes to Bright and White in the middle with a chance to pick up some yards after the catch.

 

Cornerback Ramarcus Brown (5-11, 173 So.) has 27 tackles so far.  He's broken up two passes and forced a fumble.  Fellow cornerback Paul Oliver (6-0, 205 Jr.) has the other interception.  He did that against Ole Miss and returned it 30 yards.  He forced a fumble against Colorado.  Oliver has 24 tackles with two going for losses, one of which was a QB sack.

 

Backup cornerbacks Asher Allen, Bryan Evans, and Prince Miller have seen enough playing time to record 24 tackles with 2.5 of them for losses.

 

 

Special Teams

 

Georgia has historically been strong in this area, and this year is no different.  The Bulldogs don't just play solidly here; they score points with their special teams.  Last week, the Bulldogs picked up two touchdowns with returns.

 

For the season, Georgia leads the SEC in punt return average at 20.5 with three touchdowns!  Mikey Henderson has returned two of those, and he has a 22.5 yard average.  Brett Upson will have to concentrate on punting away from him and high.  It might behoove Upson to punt the ball towards the sideline, giving up a few yards to prevent a return.

 

Georgia is dangerous on kick returns as well.  Thomas Brown returned one 99 yards for a score last week.  For the season, the Bulldogs are averaging 23.8 yards per return which ranks 3rd in the SEC and 22nd overall.  This stat would be higher if it were not for a couple of squib returns.  Removing them, Georgia really averages better than 27 return yards per regular kickoff.

 

Gordon Ely-Kelso follows a tradition of fine punters, including some who punted in the NFL and some who played other positions (Zeke Bratkowski, Jimmy Orr, Bobby Walden, Spike Jones, Bucky Dilts, Jonathan Kilgo) in Athens.  Ely-Kelso is currently averaging 43.1 yards per punt.  One third of his punts have been inside the opponents' 20 yard line.

 

Place kicker Andy Bailey made the SEC All-Freshman team in 2004 when he nailed 36 of 37 extra points and 14 of 20 field goals.  He is one of the top five kickers in the SEC, but he's only second best on his own team.  Brandon Coatu was the best kicker in the conference and among the top five in the nation, but he's done for the season after suffering a torn hamstring two weeks ago.

 

Summary

 

That orange "T" on the helmets of the team that burned Georgia's defense in the second half last week may have given the Peach State's inhabits the belief that it stood for "Tecumseh," as in General William Tecumseh Sherman.  The Vols marched through Georgia last week like General Sherman.  The Bulldogs aren't as week as the Confederate Army was in the spring of 1864.  They will rebound before they are pushed to the sea.  Look for the Bulldogs to hunker down and play more like the junkyard team from the Vince Dooley/Erk Russell years.

 

The Georgia offense will begin to play consistently well from here to the end of the season.  Tereshinski and Stafford will direct the attack squad to the tune of 375 yards and 25-30 points per game in the second half of the season.

 

 

For Comparison Purposes, here's how Vandy ranks in the offensive and defensive statistical categories.  The first number in parentheses represents SEC rank and the second number represents D1A rank.

 

Scoring Offense: 21.2 ppg (10 & 83)

Rushing Offense: 158.2 yds per game (2 & 43) and 4.9 avg (5.7 w/out sacks)

Passing Offense: 162.8 yds per game (10 & 89)

                              56.4% completions and 6.6 yards per attempt

Passing Efficiency: 122.5 (8 & 68)

QB Sacks Allowed: 9 in 6 games (5 & 45)

Total Offense: 321.0 yds per game (9 & 75)

Turnover Margin: 0 (8 & 60)

Scoring Defense: 16.8 ppg (7 & 32)

Rushing Defense: 148.5 yds per game (8 & 79) and 4.3 yards allowed per rush

Passing Defense: 154.3 yds per game (3 & 12)

                               Allows 51.4% completions and 6.7 yards per attempt

Passing Efficiency Defense: 129.6 (8 & 69)

QB Sacks: 10 in 6 games (10 & 66)

Total Defense: 302.8 (8 & 40)

TFL: 34 in six games

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