Gentry Estes covers Georgia for 247Sports. Here he answers a few questions about the Bulldogs heading into Saturday's game.
From closer to the program, what is the feeling around Mark Richt? Does he have to reach a certain number of wins to keep his job?
“I've always thought that Richt's job security was a hotter topic outside the program than inside. It seems the talking heads, many of whom don't know the situation, have to point to someone. So Richt has been the guy after losing two "must-win" games to ranked opponents. In reality, it's probably going to be a tough call. Richt is a good face for the program and remains popular within the fanbase and among the school's administration. That said, I think it has been made pretty clear that his job is on the line this season, and the mood around the program has reflected that urgency. I don't think there is a set number of wins, but the only way to make sure he's back at this point -- except maybe beating Florida and Georgia Tech -- is to reach the SEC title game.”
In your view, what have been the key factors that have led to the slide away from the level of sec success Georgia enjoyed in Richt's first eight years?
“Players like to point to a lack of leadership. And it's easy to say a lack of discipline because of off-the-field trouble. But in my opinion, it has been more about recruiting than anything else, especially on the offensive and defensive lines. As it stands now, the talent level in the first units remains solid, but UGA lacks depth in many areas, unlike some of the current SEC powers.”
Defensively how do you assess the Bulldogs right now?
“Jury is still out, I think. It's tough to put much stock in the first three games, because Kellen Moore and Marcus Lattimore are special players and Coastal Carolina was not up to par offensively. But I do think the defense is improved from last year. It is assignment-sound, much faster and more aggressive, meaning Grantham hasn't been afraid to blitz from all over the place. The loss of signal-caller and leading tackler Christian Robinson to injury, however, was a big one.”
Were the yards and points totaled by South Carolina more about the Gamecocks or the Bulldogs?
“As Richt has said a bunch of times, the defense was basically responsible for 17 of the 45 points. The others came because of a fake punt and offensive turnovers. Georgia had Stephen Garcia confused most of the game. Lattimore certainly got his yards, but I honestly believe that guy is a threat to do that against the very best defenses.”
What's different about Aaron Murray in his second year as the starter? Has he improved? What makes him effective?
“He can run effectively and is a streaky passer who's dangerous when he gets hot. But honestly, Murray hasn't quite reached his freshman form through three games, though poor pass protection has had a lot to do with that. Murray had two critical turnovers against South Carolina. Not that a change is imminent, but the backup Hutson Mason is on Murray's heels a lot more than most people realize right now.”
Tell us about Isaiah Crowell. How good is this guy?
“It's all potential until it happens, but Crowell is definitely a game-changer and a home-run threat who has shown flashes of the ability that made him the nation's top RB recruit in 2011. He's already starting and I'd expect his touches will only increase as the season progresses.”