UK opponent preview: Georgia poised to make national noise

jclay@herald-leader.comAugust 28, 2012 

Florida Georgia Football

Georgia head coach Mark Richt coaches on the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Florida, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011 in Jacksonville, Fla. Georgia beat Florida 24-20. (AP Photo/Stephen Morton)

STEPHEN MORTON — ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Arkansas' schedule

    Sept. 1Jacksonville State

    Sept. 8x-Louisiana-Monroe

    Sept. 15Alabama

    Sept. 22Rutgers

    Sept. 29At Texas A&M

    Oct. 6At Auburn

    Oct. 13Kentucky

    Oct. 27x-MISSISSIPPI

    Nov. 3TULSA

    Nov. 10At South Carolina

    Nov. 17At Mississippi State

    Nov. 23LSU

    x-at Little Rock, Ark.

  • Georgia Bulldogs' schedule

    Sept. 1Buffalo

    Sept. 8 at Missouri

    Sept. 15Florida Atlantic

    Sept. 22Vanderbilt

    Sept. 29Tennessee

    Oct. 6 at South Carolina

    Oct. 20 at Kentucky

    Oct. 27 vs. Florida in Jacksonville

    Nov. 3Mississippi

    Nov. 10 at Auburn

    Nov. 17Georgia Southern

    Nov. 24Georgia Tech

Our series on Kentucky's 2012 football opponents continues with Georgia.

Date: Oct. 20 at Commonwealth Stadium.

Coach: Mark Richt is 106-38 in 12 seasons in Athens, but Bulldogs backers are a bit antsy over the lack of SEC titles, much less national crowns, on Richt's résumé. Plus, his players always seem to get into trouble off the field. (See offense.) Georgia went 10-4 last year and 7-1 in the league to win the East, but the Dogs were then blitzed by LSU in the conference title game.

Offense: Six starters return, but not tailback Isaiah Crowell, the SEC's Offensive Freshmen of the Year, who was booted from the team after being caught with a gun in a restricted area. Richt does have quarterback Aaron Murray returning and plenty of capable weapons at his disposal. Murray threw for 35 touchdowns last season. But the loss of Crowell is sure to hurt.

Defense: This should be Georgia's strength with nine starters returning from last season, including stud linebacker Jarvis Jones. Coordinator Larry Grantham is a hothead but he gets his unit to play hard. Jones recorded 13.5 sacks after transferring from Southern Cal. Defensive back Bacarri Rambo is also a budding star.

Overall: Georgia is getting plenty of pre-season top-10 nods in the rankings and should fight it out with South Carolina for the division title. If Richt can find a tailback for his offense, and Murray can step up in big games, the Dogs could make a national splash.

Series: Georgia has won two straight and four of the last six meetings. The Cats played the Bulldogs better than expected last year, losing just 19-10 in Athens. In fact, Georgia has not beaten UK by more than two touchdowns since a 45-13 drubbing in 2005.

Schedule: The biggest game on Georgia's schedule is Oct. 6 at South Carolina, which could very well determine winner of SEC East. The most interesting game, however, might be Georgia's trip to the other Columbia (Missouri) on Sept. 8 for what will be Mizzou's first SEC game.

John Clay: (859) 231-3226. Twitter: @johnclayiv. Blog: johnclay.bloginky.com

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