College football never ends, and during the next few weeks teams will be getting ready for the 2013 season in spring camp. Today, we take a look at the Georgia Bulldogs and what they'll be working on this spring.
Spring practice begins: Saturday, March 2
Spring game: Saturday, April 6
2012 record: 12-2
Returning starters: 13 (10 offense, 3 defense)
Given Notre Dame's feeble effort against Alabama in the BCS Championship Game, there's no doubt most of the returning Bulldogs will feel that when they came up short by just 6 yards against the Crimson Tide in the Georgia Dome, they also came up just six yards short of winning Mark Richt's first national title. A loaded offense could (or should?) give the Bulldogs another shot at the Tide (or Tigers, or Aggies) in Atlanta, but the loss of eight defensive starters will mean Todd Grantham has his work cut out for him.
The Least You Should Know About Georgia This Spring
-- The "Help Wanted: Playmakers" sign will be hung in the front seven's window. It's not possible to simply replace a force of nature like Jarvis Jones, but thanks to the draft departures of the likes of Alec Ogletree and Kwame Geathers, the Bulldogs' issues go much further than simply asking sophomore Jordan Jenkins to do his best Jones impression; five of their top six players in tackles-for-loss are gone, accounting for 54 of their total of 91. Jenkins is a nice start, but Grantham will want to see big springs out of former five-star OLB recruit Ray Drew, end Garrison Smith, and especially nose tackles Mike Thornton and JUCO transfer John Atkins. The Bulldogs finished 12th in the SEC in rushing defense, and though there's already a couple of pieces in place at linebacker thanks to Jenkins and ILB Amarlo Herrero, there won't be improvement if Atkins and Thornton aren't up to holding the middle.
-- The class of 2013 is offering more than just a sneak preview. Defenders of Georgia's most recent more solid-than-spectacular recruiting class will point to its whopping 13 early enrollees, the highest number in recent SEC history. If players like Atkins, JUCO wideout Jonathon Rumph, safety Tray Matthews and receiver Tramel Terry learn quickly, the class could make substantially more of an immediate impact than its rankings might have otherwise suggested.
-- The secondary might not be that badly off. All four nominal 2012 starters have graduated, but the suspensions and injuries that plagued the unit last fall mean that their replacements have already started to emerge, starting with potential All-SEC junior corner Damian Swann. Between Corey Moore, Josh Harvey-Clemons, and Connor Norman, safety shouldn't be a major problem, according to no less a source than Grantham himself. Of course, more corners still need to emerge, and Swann and the safeties will have to look the part on the practice field as well as on paper -- but don't be surprise if the Dawgs leave spring feeling better about their secondary than its experience level would suggest.
-- Aaron Murray will be wrapped in bubble wrap. With the senior signal-caller and Heisman candidate, the Bulldogs are a national title contender; without him, even Todd Gurley, Malcolm Mitchell and a line that returns all five starters might not be enough to make the Dawg offense anything more than average. Backup Huston Mason has been in Mike Bobo's system for years and will have the chance to prove again this spring he'd be competent if called on, but nonetheless, few potential injuries anywhere in the country would be as devastating.