2013 Georgia Bulldogs Preview and Off Day Open Thread (by Trace)

Five more yards.

These words hurt. Five more yards and UGA would have been 2012 SEC champs and earned the right to kick the ever-loving piss out of Notre Dame to win the National Championship. Five more yards and Mark Richt would have cemented his legacy as the greatest coach in Georgia history. Five more yards and Aaron Murray would never have to answer another question about whether or not he can win the big game. Alas, Georgia sports be a cruel mistress (here’s looking at you, wild-card game and NFC Championship).

That was 2012. It’s over I guess it’s time to move on.

Mark Richt enters his 13th season between the hedges as the longest-tenured coach in the SEC (again). Expectations are sky-high as always in Athens as UGA enters the season ranked #5 in the meaningless Coaches Poll. Much of these expectations fall on the shoulders of last year’s success, as well as the return of all-but-one notable contributor from last season’s record-breaking offense. The expected improvement of an already-stacked offense will be needed to overcome the large turnover on the defensive side.

Offense:
When attempting to describe the Dawg offense in 2013, I can’t think of any better word than “loaded.” The Dawgs return 10 of 11 starters and 21 of 22 off the 2-deep depth chart. Leading the pack—and the recipient of the 2013 Stephen Garcia “Wait, He’s Still There?” award—is RS Senior quarterback, Aaron Murray. Since taking over in 2010, Murray has always seemed to put up very impressive numbers against bad teams and very mediocre numbers against good teams. However, a switch seemed to flip for Murray at the start of the second half against Florida, in which he became the best quarterback in the country not named “Johnny Football.” Touchdowns went up, interceptions went down, and he finished the year as the 2nd highest rated passer in the country, behind only A.J. McCarron, who, to be fair, played behind an NFL-caliber offensive line at Bama. The playbook should be wide open for Murray, as he has earned the full trust of Mark Richt and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo.

Along with Murray, Bobo has an embarrassment of riches to play with. Tailback Todd Gurley hopes to build upon a monster freshman season, while fellow sophomore Keith Marshall had a pretty impressive debut in his own right. Gurley and Marshall, or Gurshall, form one of the most exciting 1-2 punches in the country. At receiver, Murray will look to experienced juniors Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Conley. Also returning is RS junior Michael Bennett who grew into Murray’s most reliable target before suffering a torn ACL before the South Carolina game last season. At tight end, Arthur Lynch is a strong blocker who became more of a weapon in the passing game last season, although sometimes suffering from a mild case of the dropsies. Also, look out for RS Sophomore TE Jay Rome. After “retiring” from the UGA basketball team, Rome really stepped up at the end of the season to become a force in the red zone. The entire 2-deep O-line returns, as well, to round out the stout offense.

Defense:
For everything I just said about the offense, you can pretty much say the exact opposite of the defense. This group lost eight of 11 starters, including All-America Jarvis Jones and first-round pick Alec Ogletree. However, if you asked most Georgia fans, the defense last year was pretty disappointing when you consider all of the NFL talent on the roster. They couldn’t stop the run at all, which came back to bite them in the ass when they surrendered 350 yards on the ground in the SEC Championship game. Therefore, a lot of us are excited to see some fresh faces. That said, this group is seriously inexperienced. The schedule provides a steep learning curve with the facing of Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins in the opener. Names to watch for: sophomore OLB Jordan Jenkins, true freshman FS Tray Matthews.

Overall:
UGA begins the season on the road at Clemson, followed by a home meeting with dreaded Steve Spurrier and South Carolina. Conventional wisdom holds that the Dawg offense will need to put up a ton of points while the defense tries to figure out whatever the hell it is they’re doing out there. Other key games include LSU in Athens at the end of September, and the WLOCP (unofficially) against the Gators. Split those four and win the ones you’re supposed to will give you 10-2. Most fans would accept that—especially if one of those wins was to make it three in a row against Florida. Any more than that would be just peachy.

Best case: 12-0
Worst case: 8-4

31 thoughts on “2013 Georgia Bulldogs Preview and Off Day Open Thread (by Trace)”

  1. Well done, Trace.

    You gave me an instant case Football Fever. That first third of the season (Clempsun, Cocks & LSU) is gonna be something else. Cannot wait.

  2. If UGA’s schedule was reversed, they’d win the National Championship.

    As it is, they’d better be ready to score 100 points a game for awhile.

  3. The defense probably has more talent than people are expecting- in fact, Rivals star-for-Rivals star, they outpace the offense- but they’re going to have to come out on fire or the first month is going to be rough. I like Todd Grantham, but don’t love him; he’s obviously better than his predecessor but his defenses have never been fast starters and he didn’t get the best out of last year’s NFL-stocked unit. We’ll probably have the opposite issue of last year’s team. A quicker DL with more depth won’t be a sieve against the run (and not having Jarvis Jones will influence opponents to run less). But the secondary is gonna get *torched* in the opening month.

    Which sucks because this is going to be the best offense in the history of the program. Murray is great, we’re deep at receiver, and who knows how good Gurley will be given that he showed up to Athens fully formed as an SEC RB last year. (It’s ridiculous that he has to play two more years in college; he’s NFL-ready now.)

    I’m guessing we’ll do a 2007 Florida impression. The offense will be outrageous most games, making big plays and eating yards. But the defense will cost us, oh, 3 games. Thing about ’07 Florida is that they had Tebow for two more years. No such luxury with Murray. So it goes in Athens, where Georgia never quite gets the dominoes to fall at the same time.

    @ Clemson: L, 38-31
    SOUTH CAROLINA: L, 28-24
    NORTH TEXAS: W, 50-10
    LSU: W, 30-27
    @ Tennessee: W, 45-20
    MISSOURI: W, 40-27
    @ Vanderbilt: W, 28-27
    Florida (Jacksonville): W, 21-10
    APPY STATE: W, 48-21
    @ Auburn: W, 55-14
    KENTUCKY: W, 45-7
    @ Georgia Tech: W, 38-10

  4. (And yes, I am zero percent sold on Florida. Name one playmaker for them on offense. Nope, he’s not there anymore. Nope, he isn’t either. Nope, that guy’s out for the season.)

  5. This is odd.

    @mlbbowman: #Braves say they will not release a Pastornicky update tonight. Still have to think if it’s more than day-to-day, La Stella gets the call

  6. The Giants and Rafael Soriano did us a huge favor. Two outs and two on with two strikes in the top of the 9th, and Sanchez hits a 3-run jack off our old buddy. Giants win after shutting them down in the bottom half.

  7. Rays just designated Ryan Roberts for assignment. His line of .247/.295/.377 doesn’t inspire confidence, but he’s a body who can stand at 2B and 3B.

  8. Of course, Paul Janish’s line since coming to Atlanta is .179/.260/.223.

    Also, Ryan Roberts OPS of .671 isn’t far from what we’ve been living with from Dan Uggla, .696.

  9. No. BBTF is kaput. Jim’s new cloud hosting service moved the website, but not the database, so the database is not available to the site. He’s working on it (while on vacation, of course.)

    It’s been down two days now.

  10. I figured something serious had happened. Sorry to hear it. Some of those hardcore guys must be ready to jump off a ledge.

  11. By the way, if anyone else wants to write an SEC preview, please email me at the email address in the upper right corner. WCG has already claimed Bama.

    Spike, regarding the conversation from the last thread, I’m a pretty big skeptic of big contracts, so I decided to take a look at all of the biggest contracts I could find. As my dataset, I’m taking the “highest paid players” list from Cot’s, here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/compensation/cots/league-info/highest-paid-players/ It is a list of the highest total dollar value contracts in history, ranging from Alex Rodriguez at #1 with a $275 million, 10 year deal that began in 2008, to Ichiro Suzuki tied for #50 with a $90 million, 5 year deal that began in 2008.

    There are 54 names on this list. I felt that it was only fair to count contracts that were at least half over — I won’t be evaluating Joey Votto’s $225 million extension that covers 2014-2023, or, for that matter, Andrus’s contract, which runs from 2015-2022. That gives me 28 deals to look at.

    One point bears mentioning: Many of these deals were signed long before they were actually supposed to start taking place. The Rangers gave Andrus his extension in April 2013, but it won’t actually start until 2015, and when I calculated whether a deal was half over, I chose to take its actual start and end points, and ignored the date it was signed. There may well be a number of poor deals among the 26 that I’m ignoring — like, obviously, the Ryan Howard deal, which runs from 2012-2016 and is therefore not yet half over — but I wasn’t able to think of a good way to evaluate all such deals. I will deal with them in a following comment.

    Here’s the list. By my count, exactly half of the contracts worked out, and half of them failed.

    Num  datesyearsAlex’s verdict?
    1Alex Rodriguez$275,000,0002008-201710failure
    2Alex Rodriguez$252,000,0002001-201010success
    3Derek Jeter$189,000,0002001-201010success
    4Mark Teixeira$180,000,0002009-20168failure
    5CC Sabathia$161,000,0002009-20157success
    6Manny Ramirez$160,000,0002001-20088success
    7Miguel Cabrera$152,300,0002008-20158success
    8Todd Helton$141,500,0002003-20119failure
    9Johan Santana$137,500,0002008-20136failure
    10Alfonso Soriano$136,000,0002007-20148failure
    11Barry Zito$126,000,0002007-20137failure
    12Vernon Wells$126,000,0002008-20147failure
    13Mike Hampton$121,000,0002001-20088failure
    14Jason Giambi$120,000,0002002-20087failure
    15Cliff Lee$120,000,0002011-20155success
    16Matt Holliday$120,000,0002010-20167success
    17Carlos Beltran$119,000,0002005-20117success
    18Ken Griffey Jr.$116,500,0002000-20089failure
    19Kevin Brown$105,000,0001999-20057failure
    20Albert Pujols$100,000,0002004-20107success
    21Carlos Lee$100,000,0002007-20126failure
    22Carlos Zambrano$91,500,0002008-20125failure
    23Mike Piazza$91,000,0001999-20057success
    24Barry Bonds$90,000,0002002-20065success
    25Chipper Jones$90,000,0002001-20066success
    26Scott Rolen$90,000,0002003-20108success
    27Torii Hunter$90,000,0002008-20125success
    28Ichiro Suzuki$90,000,0002008-20125failure
  12. Here are the remaining 26 contracts, the ones that either are less than half over or haven’t even started yet. I think it’s too soon to close the book on most of them, but a few are already pretty clearly regrettable:

    Num    Alex’s prediction
    1Albert Pujols$240,000,0002012-202110failure
    2Joey Votto$225,000,0002014-202310 
    3Prince Fielder$214,000,0002012-20209failure
    4Joe Mauer$184,000,0002011-20188failure
    5Justin Verlander$180,000,0002013-20197 
    6Felix Hernandez$175,000,0002013-20197 
    7Buster Posey$167,000,0002013-20219 
    8Matt Kemp$160,000,0002012-20198 
    9Troy Tulowitzki$157,750,0002011-202010 
    10Adrian Gonzalez$154,000,0002012-20187 
    11Zack Greinke$147,000,0002013-20186 
    12Cole Hamels$144,000,0002013-20186 
    13Carl Crawford$142,000,0002011-20177 
    14David Wright$138,000,0002013-20208 
    15Matt Cain$127,500,0002012-20176 
    16Jayson Werth$126,000,0002011-20177failure
    17Ryan Howard$125,000,0002012-20165failure
    18Josh Hamilton$125,000,0002013-20175failure
    19CC Sabathia$122,000,0002012-20165 
    20Elvis Andrus$120,000,0002015-20228 
    21Dustin Pedroia$110,000,0002014-20218 
    22Jose Reyes$106,000,0002012-20176 
    23Ryan Braun$105,000,0002016-20205 
    24Ryan Zimmerman$100,000,0002014-20196 
    25Evan Longoria$100,000,0002017-20226 
    26Adam Wainwright$97,500,0002014-20185 
  13. @17 – the key point is it’s been raining today. Atlanta this summer has given zero f*cks as to the temperature, but it has made for damn sure to rain basically every day.

    @18/19 – I believe the 2009 Yankees knew what they were doing. They won a WS on the front end of all those “failure” contracts, and they’re paying the price of dragging them around now. Price worth paying? I’d say so.

    Only team since 2005 to win a World Series without at least one of the players on a contract on those charts: the 2008 Phillies.

  14. Can you give me some insight on how you are quantifying and projecting failure and success? Giambi had a 925/143 OPS/OPS+ 209HRs and 22WAR for example, from 2002 to 2008. We could use some of that kind of failing around here. He was hurt a bit, but turned in first rate performances in 5 of the 7 years, including the last year.

  15. AAR, it would be good to include what age period the contract covers. I am sure it would give us more information on the success rate.

  16. The methodology of success and failure is mostly predicated on squinting. But just to look at Giambi, obviously he was very good for part of the contract and very bad for another part of the contract. But did he actually earn the dollar value of the contract? That would mean that you believe that it is worth paying $120 million to get 22 WAR. That’s a steep price.

    More to the point, Giambi played 7 years in New York, and he produced less than 1 WAR in 2 of them, between 2 and 3 WAR in 2 of them, and more than 4 WAR in 3 of them. Like Kevin Brown, he produced while healthy, but he wasn’t healthy for enough of the contract to justify its value. Except to a team that can literally afford to throw money away. But, of course, even the Yankees have declared that they can no longer do that.

    The trouble with seven-year deals is that you realize that the last two years of the deal are likely to be bad because of declining skills, but it’s also likely that the player will also lose significant time due to injury even while they’re in their prime. What the team should care about is building a winning team efficiently. Spending $120 million to get Jason Giambi’s 22 WAR isn’t a good way to do it.

  17. There is an opportunity cost to be paid for being able to purchase for dollars only the services of someone capable of putting up an exceptional year. The pay is not linear because the value is not linear. $win doesn’t scale. If a Giambi puts you in position to win a WS a few of those seven years (he was pretty kick ass in five of eight postseason series), I think that has real value that you aren’t capturing.

  18. I have similar thoughts to spike’s, and I wonder about insurance and how it factors into the discussion. With guys like Santana and Brown insurance money could take those deals from bad to good really fast.

    I appreciate the chart, but looking at it gave me the opposite impression than I had before. I expected those deals to have been much more disastrous than they’ve turned out, and I expect the more recent deals to turn out pretty well, by and large. The bad deals were mostly evident from the day they were signed (Carlos Lee, V. Wells, Pujols), some of the deals you label failures are at worst debatable (Helton, Giambi),and among the current deals you label as failures are Mauer’s and Werth’s, both of whom are in the middle of excellent seasons. Werth has a lot of ground to make up, but I think it’s especially early to write off Joe Mauer’s deal, and the same is true of Fielder’s.

  19. The 2009 Yankees WS might’ve delighted the paunchy, pasty, vulgar manchildren that constitute the non-fairweather contingent that has years ago peaced out on GloboWalmartJeterCorp., but for the rest of America, that nonsense might’ve well have been baseball Oregon/Auburn. As in no one cares.

    Was it worth it for the Yankees? Not in any form that will make it interesting to the next generation. So I hope that deep-fried, flash-frozen nugget of who cares was worth it, mes amis. Continue living in interesting times.

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