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Talking points: what's up with the Georgia Bulldogs edition

  • Huh. Funny how I found this in the Georgia 'sphere, but Georgia Sports Blog says that there's a rumor that coach Fulmer yanked the reigns out of Dave Clawson's hands and called the plays for the Vols at about the 12:00 minute mark of the 4th quarter of the Northern Illinois game, that point where we ran eight consecutive rushing plays for 45 yards before getting sacked and missing a field goal. Paul Westerdawg thinks this is bad news for Georgia: "A greater, Fulmer-driven emphasis on pounding the rock could be troublesome for the Dawgs without a healthy Ellerbe to clog the middle."
  • That would be Dannell Ellerbe, the Dawgs' preseason All-SEC linebacker who suffered a knee injury against Alabama. He's 50-50 for Saturday's game, and he's only one of five injured linebackers (there are only nine LBs on the roster) for Georgia.
  • Linebacker's not the only position at which the Bulldogs are less than healthy. The practical equivalent of an entire recruiting class will miss significant playing time this season, mostly due to injuries. It is looking like senior fullback Brannan Southerland will return this week after a six-month rehab of a broken foot, so there's that for them.
  • The Dawgs also appear to still be struggling along the offensive line. The starting lineup will mostly remain the same as it has for the past two games with the exception of left guard, which is "up for grabs." Most telling is coach Richt's quote suggesting that not too long ago they were having "four out of five [offensive lineman] blowing it" apparently at the same time. Troubling, though, is his outlook that "any game now, we might really put a strong performance together."
  • Georgia is the most-frequently penalized team in the nation, averaging 10.6 penalties for 87.4 yards per game this season. Only Florida State has been penalized more yards per game (90.0). The race is on! Can our offense gain more yards than they're given this week?
  • All of that plus the Alabama loss two weeks ago has somewhat tempered Georgia fans' expectations for the season. Doug from Hey Jenny Slater:
    Again, with Georgia's weaknesses on both lines having been demonstrated to be rather more serious than we thought, it's a lot harder for me to see the Dawgs as a serious national-title contender now than I did in the preseason. A BCS bowl isn't out of the question, but there might be one or even two more losses waiting down the road for the Dawgs if the offensive-line situation doesn't improve. With that in mind, I think a bid to the Capital One or even the Cotton Bowl would be a decent reward at the end of the season, but anything lower than that would be kind of a bummer.
    The MSM is in fact projecting a Cotton Bowl invite for Georgia at this time. The expectations have fallen quite a bit from the preseason No. 1 ranking.

  • None of that, of course, is to suggest that Georgia's at all concerned about Tennessee this weekend. Dawg Sports appears, and rightly so, to be more concerned about Vanderbilt coming to Athens than this Saturday's visit from the Vols. But you wouldn't know that from listening to Mark Richt, who has nothing but good things to say about Tennessee. Richt says that the Vols "very easily could be 4-1 and could be a top 15, top 10-team right now." He says that if Lennon Creer is Tennessee's third-teamer, then that necessarily means that "they got two great backs I can promise you because Creer has tremendous talent." (Um, not necessarily, coach.) He says that the Tennessee defense has done an exceptional job of handling "sudden change situations, where the defense had to jump back on the field immediately," giving up only 19 points in those situations.
  • Yeah, okay. Uh-huh. But . . . keep in mind that championship teams are often among the most-penalized teams of that season. Keep in mind that although Georgia's been fiddling with their punt returners all season, Prince Miller ran one back 92 yards against Alabama two weeks ago. Even with all of the revolving-door stuff, the Bulldogs lead the SEC and are third nationally with a 21.7-yard average. Oh, and don't forget this: Georgia has a walk-on who has blocked punts against Arizona State and Alabama this season. That sure doesn't sound good, does it?