Thursday, December 9, 2010

Grading the Dawgs

As I've said before, I got really burned out on sports in general the last few months, with the one lone bright spot being the play of the Falcons. This general sports malaise even affected my obsession with the Dawgs...more than anything else, I'm just ready for this season to be over.

I'm sure that by the time next summer rolls around I will be back to my normal, rabid self.

In the meantime, and while I am working on my MASSIVE mid-season television report, let's dole out some grades, shall we?

Quarterback: A-
Comments: Aaron Murray surpassed ALL expectations this season, both in terms of statistics and intangibles like toughness and leadership. The only thing that keeps this grade from an A or even an A+ is the Florida game, the only time all year where Aaron really looked like a freshman. We've got a great one, Dawg fans.

Running Backs: C+
Comments: I was really surprised to find out that both Ealy and King averaged over 5 yards a carry...I only seem to have memories of them running directly into a wall of defenders over and over again, looking desparately for a hole that wasn't there (we'll get to that in a minute). Either way, the running game wasn't nearly as effective as we all thought it would be going into the season, and while the running backs don't share all the blame for that, there was still a noticable lack of big plays out of the running game. And the fumbles, my God, the fumbles...

As for the fullbacks, I don't think we got the same level of effectiveness out of them as we have become accustomed to. They were adequate, but I can't give them much more than that.

Wide Receiver: B-
Comments: A.J. Green is the best receiver in college football, but we only had him for eight games. Kris Durham had a fantastic season, and probably earned a spot on an NFL team somewhere. Tavarres King showed some flashes that he may be living up to his potential. Other than those three? Everybody else was virtually invisible. Only Marlon Brown had double digit catches, and he only had one touchdown. Rantavious Wootentheballcarrier only had seven catches for a measly 41 yards.

And, the most disturbing part? Durham is definitely gone next season, and A.J. almost certainly is. Ugh.

Tight End: B-
Comments: This grade would be lower, except that I don't fully blame the players for their lack of production. This staff has to find a way to get these guys involved...we heard all kinds of talk before the season started about how much we were going to incorporate all three of the Charles/White/Figgins trio into the game plan. The result? 36 total catches between the three of them, for only four touchdowns. Those numbers should have been double that.

Offensive line: D
Comments: By far the most disappointing position group on the team, as well as the most frustrating. There were individual plays, sometimes even whole drives, where we were imposing our will on the defense and the line looked like we all thought they would look with 6 starters returning and one of the most respected assistant coaches in the country overseeing them. But by and large, we struggled to open holes for the running game, and Aaron Murray had to make far too many plays while running for his life.

This lack of production is inexplicable, and it makes me sad, so I'm going to move on...

Defensive Line: C
Comments: Adequate. Seriously, that's the best I can come up with for what this group was. Considering you had Tyson playing out of position all year, I guess that's the best you could have hoped for out of this group. We were gashed several times this year by the running game, but I think that is partially due to not having the right players for the scheme yet...we'll see, I guess.

Linebackers: B+
Comments: Probably the most effective position group on the defense. Justin Houston was an absolute monster all year, but we never got the production out of the other OLB that I was hoping for. Akeem Dent had an all-SEC caliber season. Overall, this was a HUGE step up from last season...big kudos to Coaches Belin and Grantham.

Cornerback/Safety: C-
Comments: I'm grouping these two together, because I'm probably going to say the same things about both of them. Our secondary is who we thought they I and a lot of others thought may be the case, we made a lot more plays but we also gave up a bunch of plays due to folks being out of position.

If you want to see a Dawgs fan have an aneurysm, just walk up to them and shout "WHEEL ROUTE"!

This is another position, especially at corner, where we have to wait and see what happens when we get the right personnel in there...Lakatos and Grantham appear to prefer larger cornerbacks rather than the really fast midgets that Willie liked to use.

Kicker/Punter: A-
Comments: Blair continues to be as close to automatic as you can get, and although Drew didn't have the monster season he had last year he was still very effective.

Kick Return/Coverage: B
Comments: Not as many big plays out of the return game this season, but wow...what a difference on kick coverage. Just like the linebacker position, I think this area benefitted greatly from the change in coaching philosophy.

If you add all of those components together and take an average, you end up with around a C+. The fact that we still ended up with a horrible 6-6 record is a testament to how frustrating this season was. I don't feel like we were really bad at anything, but we weren't really good at anything either, and we showed a remarkable knack for making our penalties and turnovers a bad way. The mistakes always seemed to come at the most inopportune times. I guess that's what happens when you're just not a very good team.

Ugh. I'm ready for this season to be over.

As always...GO DAWGS.

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