The Georgia Bulldogs are coming off an 8-5 season, one in which they went just 4-4 in SEC play. Certainly, it’s not up to the standards that head coach Mark Richt has set for his program, as he’s 90-27 in his nine years coaching the Bulldogs. The bar that he has set makes anything short of a 10-win season a failure. Ten wins is possible, but it won’t be easy for this year’s Georgia team.
I preview the Bulldogs below, showing which players they will put on the field offensively and defensively. I also list more predictions on this team in terms of the SEC.
The Bulldogs return ten starters offensively, but the one starter they need to replace is at quarterback which is also concerning to any team. Freshman Aaron Murray appears to have the inside track to the starting job, but Logan Gray will be pressing him for playing time all year. WR A.J. Green is the star of this offense, who had 53 receptions last year despite playing in just eight games.
All five starting offensive linemen return, so the Bulldogs should have a solid running game and should also be able to keep their QB upright. The tandem of Caleb King and Washaun Ealey in the Georgia backfield is a potent one, and this backs should carry the load while splitting time this season. Sophomore WR’s Tavarres King and Rantavious Wooten will be asked to step up this season and take some pressure off of Green, while TE Orson Charles figures to be a bigger part of the passing game this year as well.
New defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has installed a 3-4 scheme this season with attacking the opposing backfield becoming a priority. Only five starters return on defense, but Georgia is happy with a pair of newcomers at defensive end in Abry Jones and DeMarcus Dobbs. Though they did not start a year ago, this duo combined for 12 sacks and 36 QB hurries. They will help ease the transition up front, while three starting linebackers come back. Justin Houston is the leader of this group and this experienced linebacking corps is the strength of the defense.
Returning starters in CB Brandon Boykin and SS Bacarri Rambo return to lead the secondary. Vance Cuff had a solid spring and could break through at cornerback in his senior season. FS Jakar Hamilton should start here over Nick Williams, but each will see plenty of time on the field. Hamilton is a junior college transfer, while Williams is a converted linebacker.
SEC Prediction: 2nd East Division – I fully expect Georgia to give Florida a run for their money in the East. The X-factor that I haven’t talked about yet could come from the kicking game, where PK Blair Walsh connected on 20 of 22 field goals last year and P Drew Butler was a first-team All American last season while averaging 48.1 yards per punt. The only reason I have the Bulldogs listed behind the Gators is due to having an unproven quarterback under center. Aaron Murray was highly touted out of high school, though, and could certainly prove his doubters wrong this season.