Georgia’s recruiting class is signed and sealed.
The coaching openings have been filled. Kirk Olivadotti will coach the inside linebackers. Will Friend will coach the offensive line.
Spring practice opens three weeks from today.
So let’s take a look inside the 2011 schedule.
► Sept. 3: vs. Boise State in Atlanta (12-1)
Here’s a chance for Georgia to make some noise nationally right out of the gates in what will be one of the more attractive matchups on the opening weekend. The game is at neutral site Georgia Dome but should be filled with Bulldogs fans. Broncos coach Chris Petersen rebuffed overtures from Stanford. Broncos quarterback Kellen Moore, the nation’s leader in pass efficiency, will be a top Heisman Trophy contender and running back Doug Martin is back. How will Georgia’s offense fare without A.J. Green against a defense that finished No. 2 in nation in total and scoring defense in 2010.? Georgia beat Boise State 48-13 in 2005, but the Broncos have become a much more high-profile team since then.
► Sept. 10: South Carolina (9-5)
Second big test of season comes in SEC opener. Gamecocks, after first SEC East title, could have weapons to make another run to conference title game with running back Marcus Lattimore and receiver Alshon Jeffery. Quarterback Stephen Garcia could get challenged by Connor Shaw. Gamecocks freshman defensive end Jadeveon Clowney—the nation’s No. 1 recruit—and Bulldogs nose guard transfer John Jenkins get a chance to show who can make a bigger impact.
► Sept. 17: Coastal Carolina (6-6)
Georgia can breathe a little after two demanding opponents to start the season against. The Chanticleers, from Conway, S.C., lost in the first round of the NCAA FCS playoffs. West Virginia notched a 31-0 victory against them in week one this past season.
► Sept. 24: at Ole Miss (4-8)
The Rebels will try to pick up the pieces after a dismal 1-7 SEC record in 2010. “We are ready to get going, roll up our sleeves and go to work,” coach Houston Nutt said. The Rebels’ will have a new quarterback because Jeremiah Masoli’s one season in Oxford is over. David Lee was hired from the Miami Dolphins as offensive coordinator and play-caller
► Oct. 1: Mississippi State (9-4)
These Bulldogs won’t sneak up on Georgia this year after the 24-12 loss Georgia suffered in Starkville. Quareterback Chris Relf returns for coach Dan Mullen’s third season. Chris Wilson was promoted to defensive coordinator after Manny Diaz left for a similar position at Texas. Mississippi State routed Michigan 52-14 in the Gator Bowl behind three touchdown passes and 281 passing yards from Relf.
► Oct. 8: at Tennessee (6-7)
The Vols headed into the offseason on a down note after self-destructing in a 30-27 double overtime loss to North Carolina in the Music City Bowl. Coach Derek Dooley’s first season included four straight regular season wins to become bowl eligible. Promising sophomore Tyler Bray will get a chance to be the starting quarterback for the entire season. Georgia whooped up on the Vols 41-14 in 2010.
► Oct. 15: at Vanderbilt (2-10)
Former Maryland coach-in-waiting James Franklin takes over a program that was left without a coach last summer when Bobby Johnson suddenly resigned. Robbie Caldwell replaced Johnson, but lasted just one season. The Commodores lost their final seven games in 2010, starting with a 43-0 loss at Georgia. The Bulldogs have lost only once in the series since 1995 – at home in 2006.
► Oct. 29: vs Florida in Jacksonville (8-5)
Will Muschamp goes up against his alma mater, hoping to continue the Gators run of dominance—18 wins in last 21 games. Former Notre Dame coach Charlie Weiss will be calling the shots on offense in a new pro-style attack. Senior quarterback John Brantley should benefit from the move away from the spread option, but he could be pushed by freshman Jeff Driskel. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins returns for his senior season.
► Nov. 5: New Mexico State (2-10)
DeWayne Walker is 5-20 in two seasons in Las Cruces. Some of the losses this past season were ugly: 42-10 to UTEP, 42-16 to Kansas, 59-0 to Boise State, 52-6 to Nevada.
► Nov. 12: Auburn (14-0)
The national champions lost Cam Newton and Nick Fairley to the NFL and surprisingly even receiver Darvin Adams, but running back Michael Dyer (1,093 rushing yards) won’t be overshadowed in his sophomore season after he rushed for 143 yards in the BCS title win over Oregon. The Tigers return only seven starters.
► Nov. 19: Kentucky (6-7)
Kentucky lost the versatile Randall Cobb from its offense, but returns its top 11 tacklers from a defense that was 45th in the nation in total defense. Rick Minter, the former Cincinnati coach and South Carolina defensive coordinator, has been hired to run the defense and is installing a 3-4 scheme.
► Nov. 26: at Georgia Tech (6-7)
Georgia will try to make it three in a row against Paul Johnson back in the place where Washaun Ealey and Caleb King ran the state. Now Isaiah Crowell and his `Dream Team’ mates get their first crack in the in-state rivalry. Tevin Washington will compete with early enrollee Synjyn Days for the quarterback job now that Joshua Nesbitt is gone. The Yellow Jackets lost five of their final six games and finished 71st in the nation in scoring average at 26 points per game.
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