Each fall (actually its really summer out there) Georgia gathers for its annual fall camp. I’ve covered more than ten of these over the years… here is my look at the top five stories coming into Georgia’s 2012 fall camp.
5. How long will Alec Ogletree and Bacarri Rambo be suspended to start the season?
Dawg Post was first to report the suspensions in the spring, but just how long will Ogletree and Rambo be out for? Those two suspensions coupled with Branden Smith (one game; marijuana) and Sanders Commings (two games; domestic violence) mean the Bulldogs will certainly be without four of their top players for the Buffalo game.
They won’t need them then.
The game at Missouri, on the other hand, would be a good time to have all of the top players on the defensive roster available. Richt has previously announced start-of-the-year suspensions the day before fall camp has started. But at Media Days in July Richt said he was not sure when he would announce any suspensions.
4. How good is Malcolm Mitchell?
Apparently he’s the best cornerback at Georgia… if you believe the secondary coach that is. Scott Lakatos told the Athens Banner-Herald in July that Mitchell was “probably our best corner. He’s good. He’s a good player.”
That’s a heck of a statement from Lakatos.
If Mitchell is even as good as Georgia’s other cornerbacks the Bulldogs are going to be a challenge to score on. Mitchell, who checks in at 6-1, 184, is super fast and just plain killer. If he’s as good as it seems he is (and all indications are that he is that good) then Georgia needs to make certain his hamstrings are in gear for the start of the season because Mitchell is going to play a lot of offense and defense.
3. How many 2012 signees will play this fall?
I will get straight to it.
I predict these players will play this fall:
I predict these players will redshirt this fall:
2. What’s the deal on the offensive line?
Good question. That’s really a slew of questions in one.
David Andrews seems to be the starter at center. Kenarious Gates, Georgia’s top offensive lineman, will likely line up at left tackle. The other three spots seem more up in the air – not that they are without options. Chris Burnette, who started much of 2011, will likely start at one guard spot, while Dallas Lee (a former starter), Watts Dantzler (who could also play tackle) and Mark Beard will probably fight for the opposite guard spot.
Then there’s John Theus and Kolton Houston. Neither has ever played a college football snap before, but both could start this fall. Houston still seems in NCAA limbo (a never-ending limbo that is) while Theus is almost certainly Georgia’s long-term solution at left tackle. If Houston is eligible in the fall (and that’s impossible to know) then he will almost certainly start. Houston started at right tackle this spring for the Bulldogs. In that case Theus could form a three-man rotation at tackle with Houston and Gates. Or the Bulldogs could put Theus beside Gates at left guard with Houston at right tackle and Burnette at right guard.
Truthfully, it’s hard to know every scenario for the line because none of the spots are really locked down – besides Gates starting – and the Bulldogs are pretty deep. Georgia may be inexperienced on the line, but it is deep. Consider that Xzavier Ward is starting to look like a legit SEC tackle, and he’s an afterthought.
This fall will be about the offensive line figuring out who is the best overall combination of five players on the field at one time… once that happens the Bulldogs will be able to rotate in order to keep fresh at the game goes on. Expect no less than seven linemen to get significant playing rotation this fall: Gates, Andrews, Burnette, Lee, Theus, Dantzler, Beard and Houston (?). Don’t be stunned to see Ward come along. If Austin Long can stay healthy and contribute it will simply be icing on top of the cake.
1. Who will replace Isaiah Crowell?
Say what you want – Crowell was the Bulldogs’ best tailback coming into the fall, and replacing the Columbus native will be a significant challenge. Sure, Crowell wasn’t durable… but none of the current running backs have proven they have what it takes (in terms of durability or just being a college running back) either.
A review: Ken Malcome has only played six college games in his career. Richard Samuel missed the end of the 2011 season after being injured on the last play of Georgia’s 24-20 win over Florida last year. He has yet to fufill his five-star potential coming out of high school. Former walk-on Brandon Harton had two fumbles when the team needed him most against Kentucky – he seems least likely to make an impact in 2012. Newcomers Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall have never played a down in college football yet, so their impact is uncertain.
Still, Richt has been clear that running back is the one spot in college football where a true freshman can make an impact. Last year proves Richt is right. Nonetheless, the Bulldogs will have to replace last year’s SEC Freshman of the Year, and figuring who that person(s) will be is the top question heading into fall camp.