#14 Georgia Football 2014 Preview

Georgia Bulldogs

Overall Rank: #14
#5 SEC

Georgia Team Page#14 Georgia Football 2014 PreviewBuy Georgia Football Tickets

It seems like Aaron Murray was the Georgia Bulldogs' starting quarterback for going on two decades. It also seemed like the team routinely underachieved, if not in comparison to most of the country, then just in comparison to its superior SEC foes. Last season, injuries took their toll on this team, and it was pleasant to reach the eight wins the Bulldogs finished up with. While many players return, Murray will not be one of them. A new era begins in Georgia this season, one that may actually make fans miss the underrated, consistent yet not quite elite play of their departed quarterback.

2013 Record: 8-5, 5-3
2013 Bowl: Gator Bowl vs. Nebraska (L 19-24)
Coach: Mark Richt (126-45 at Georgia, 126-45 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Bobo
Defensive Coordinator: Jeremy Pruitt

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Todd Gurley, RB, 989 yards
Passing: Hutson Mason, QB, 968 yards
Receiving: Chris Conley, WR, 651 yards
Tackles: Ramik Wilson, LB, 133
Sacks: Leonard Floyd, LB, 6.5
Interceptions: Amario Herrera, LB, 1; Quincy Mauger, S, 1; Corey Moore, S. 1

Other Key Returnees: RB J.J. Green, RB Brendan Douglas, RB Keith Marshall, WR Michael Bennett, OL David Andrews, CB Damion Swann, LB Jordan Jenkins, DL Ray Drew, K Marshall Morgan

Key Losses: QB Aaron Murray, WR Arthur Lynch, OL Kenarious Gates, OL Dallas Lee, OL Chris Burnette, DT Garrison Smith, DB Josh Harvey-Clemons, DB Tray Matthews

To start last season, Georgia lost an instant-classic to Clemson and followed that up with top ten wins over South Carolina and LSU before the calendar even hit October. After that, the season took a down turn because one Bulldog skill player after another seemed to hit the injury list. However, just one man returning to full strength makes Georgia a team to be reckoned with, and that is the country's best running back, Todd Gurley. In 2012 as a freshman, Gurley was an absolute horse. He tallied close to 1,400 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns while picking up 6.2 yards per carry in his first season on campus. In just ten games last year, he gathered another 989 yards and ten more rushing touchdowns on 6.0 yards per carry. Whoever ends up replacing Aaron Murray at quarterback to lead what was a top 15 passing offense will have the best backfield mate in the nation in Gurley. And that doesn't even take into account Gurley's backup Keith Marshall, who returns after missing the final eight games of last season. Even with a changing of the guard behind center, Georgia's offensive attack should be potent.

Of course, the best laid plans on offense could fall apart if the offensive line doesn't carry its weight. Georgia will be replacing three veteran o-linemen this season, which is a tall order. If the pass rush begins to bear down on that new QB, Hutson Mason, it may not matter how incredibly skilled his skill players are. The other question mark for this team begins on the defensive side. New defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt will have his work cut out for him. While the pass rush was good last season, the Georgia defense gets weaker the farther away from the line of scrimmage you travel. UGA's pass defense, scoring defense and total defense were all near the bottom of the conference a season ago, as was the turnover margin. No returning Bulldog defender comes in with more than one interception from last season. High scoring games are fun to watch; it remains to be seen if two crucial areas (offensive line and the defensive backfield) will end up putting Georgia on the wrong end of a number of them.

The Bottom Line:
The Southeastern Conference is a behemoth once again this season. While a lot of the heavy hitters reside in the SEC West, Georgia will have no easy journey on its way to an East title. The season starts off in a hurry with back-to-back games against Clemson and South Carolina to start the year. An 0-2 start would be debilitating for a new quarterback, new defensive coordinator and suspect defense. It could set things up for a tailspin of sorts. Of course, the alternative is also possible. All young, inexperienced players need to take off is a bit of confidence and early success. If Mason and company pull out those two games, look out.

Projected Bowl: Outback Bowl

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 169.9 (65th in nation, 11th in conference)
Passing Offense: 314.2 (15, 2)
Total Offense: 484.2 (17, 4)
Scoring Offense: 36.7 (21, 5)
Rushing Defense: 148.2 (41, 6)
Pass Defense: 227.4 (60, 9)
Total Defense: 375.5 (45, 8)
Scoring Defense: 29.0 (78, 10)
Turnover Margin: -0.54 (102, 13)
Sacks: 2.54 (28, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 1.69 (44, 6)

Madness 2015 NFL Draft Rankings:
#17 Todd Gurley
#31 Jordan Jenkins
#65 Ramik Wilson
#101 Ray Drew

Madness 2014 Recruit Rankings:
#9 Sony Michel
#21 Lorenzo Carter
#43 Nick Chubb
#74 Lamont Gaillard
#105 Malkom Parrish
#112 Jeb Blazevich
#129 Keyon Brown
#134 Jacob Park
#137 Isaiah Wynn


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