ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia isn't ranked right now after coming within one play of reaching last season's BCS championship game, but the Bulldogs have been anything but disappointing in the eyes of one NFL team's scouting director.
The scouting director, who requested anonymity, believes the 5-3 Bulldogs have overachieved.
"They don't have the draft-eligible players this year," the scout said, "and when you actually look at it, it's a credit to what their coaching staff has done. Their coaching staff lost nine guys on defense who are in the NFL, and they lost a couple of players on offense and then had all these injuries on offense, yet they've still gone out and won ball games. They haven't won them all, but they're winning games.
"I think the coaching staff has done a fantastic job there, and I see Georgia and LSU as having two of the best coaching jobs in the country considering all the players they lost in the draft."
LSU produced a program-record nine draft picks in April, including a record six in the first three rounds. Eight of the drafted Tigers were underclassmen.
The Bulldogs had eight players drafted, tying a program record set in 2002, and had four players picked in the first three rounds. Georgia had 11 defensive players who made multiple career starts depart after last season, which has resulted in the Bulldogs having 13 first-time defensive starters this year, including seven true freshmen.
Georgia may not have a player picked within the first three rounds next May, according to the scout, unless it's quarterback Aaron Murray.
"That's part of coaching," Bulldogs defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. "You play the hand you're dealt, and we knew this was coming. I think the most fun part for me has been watching the growth and development of the guys, taking for example the way we played at the end against Tennessee and comparing that to the way we finished the game against Florida.
"It's been a challenge, but it's been fun. [Outside linebacker] Leonard Floyd is a guy who has come on and made some plays, and [defensive end] Chris Mayes is a guy who has three years left. We're a really young team, and the guys do work to get better."
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said he and other offensive assistants have spent more time this season kicking ideas around and figuring out which players can do what things and what they can do best.
The Bulldogs are expected to improve to 6-3 this weekend against visiting Appalachian State, which may or may not result in a return to the top 25. Such a return would be cemented next week if Georgia could travel to Auburn and top the Tigers for a seventh time in eight years.
While this season has contained its share of adjustments, it does not replace 2010 as the most challenging in Mark Richt's 13 seasons.
"The year we went 6-7 was a big challenge, obviously," Richt said, "and the offseason and the beginning of the next year when we started out 0-2. That was tough, but I think we did a good job of handling it. I think we kept the faith and believed and did the right things.
"We came through it pretty good."
Odds and ends
Freshman safety Tray Matthews went through Wednesday's two-hour practice without any limitations, according to Richt, but senior tight end Arthur Lynch missed another workout and is not likely to play against the Mountaineers. ... Richt said senior guard Dallas Lee hyperextended his elbow Tuesday but is still probable for Saturday and that sophomore tailback Todd Gurley is practicing to the best of his ability but is still "hobbling around a little bit."
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...