The University of Georgia looks to overcome the defeat last year in the SEC championship and hurdle the obstacle that is Alabama.
Mark Richt has been overlooked in his career as a great coach due to the fact that he hasn’t won the big game. He got very close last year, in what was, for all intents and purposes, in the SEC title game against Alabama. Aaron Murray made a questionable throw with no timeouts left and that was Georgia’s season ending, or the one they cared about at least. With the biggest threat for them in the west always re-loading. Let’s break down Georgia’s chance at an SEC and National title run.
Arguably, Aaron Murray is one of the best pro-style quarterbacks in the SEC. In his career he has thrown for 10,091 yards, 95 TD’s and 32 INT’s. Murray will need to be the leader and focal point in the Bulldogs offense this year if they want to win the SEC championship.
Murry has behind him, the most talented sophomore duo of running backs in the NCAA. Todd Gurley (1385 yds, 17 TD’s) and Keith Marshall (759, TD’s) shredded through the SEC last year. They were able to dominate games as true freshman, can you think of how sick this backfield would be with Isaiah Crowell? With both Gurley and Marshall healthy, they will attract a lot of attention from defensive coordinators week-week in the SEC grind.
Paving the way for the stud sophomore trio will be David Andrews, Kenarious Gates, Dallas Lee John Theus and Chris Burnette. This offensive line looks to be one of the best and deepest that Richt has seen since taking the Georgia job in 2001. Mark Beard and Austin long are ready and able if any injuries come to the starting o-line.
The biggest question in the Bulldogs offense is the lack of experience at the receiver position. Tavarres King and Marlon Brown are gone. Fortunately, Murray is very good at spreading out his targets so that he can connect with the next guy in the pecking order. Michael Bennett (24 catches, 345 yds, 4 TD’s) is a guy who went down early last year due to an injury. Bennett torched teams from the slot position before injury, look for him to become a solid contributor this year. Malcom Mitchell( 40 catches, 572 yds, 4 TD’s) looks to take over the number one spot while Arthur Lynch(24 catches, 431 yds, 3 Td’s) is going to be the big end-zone target that Murray should rely on this year.
If defensive coordinator Todd Grantham wants to show his coaching ability, this is the year for him to do it. Gone are studs Bacarri Rambo, Jarvis Jones and Alex Ogletree to the NFL. In fact, all 12 players who suited up for Georgia last year were either A) drafted or B) signed to NFL free agent contacts this April. This year’s squad only returns 3 starters but Junior inside linebacker Amario Herrera thinks that this year’s squad will be “just as good and maybe better”.
Jordan Jenkins is going to the Heir to Jarvis Jones’s outside linebacker spot. A 4-star linebacker out of Hamilton, Georgia, Jenkins needs to be an early force for the Bulldogs if they want to open up well against Clemson and SEC foe, South Carolina.
Chris Mayes and Toby Johnson will be big contributors up front. The bulldogs hope to better their 70th ranked run defense of last year.
Cornerback Damian Swann looks to be the leader of the secondary. He ended the season with a fantastic showing against Nebraska, picking off 2 of Taylor Martinez’s passes for 47 return yards. Tray Matthews has impressed Richt’s staff since he came into spring practice and has practically claimed the starting free safety spot. Juniors Shaquille Fluker and Kennar Johnson also look to get significant playing time in the secondary.
Marshall Morgan was the starting kicker last year. He missed 4 XPA attempts which is pretty high when playing in the SEC, every point counts. He only connected on 8/ 14 attempts, hitting 1/4 from 40-49 and 2/4 from 50+, with a long of 52. His job is by no means safe. Patrick Beless and Thomas Pritchard will be ready if Morgan falters early.
Malcolm Mitchell and Todd Gurley were the most prolific kick returners for the bulldogs last year. Don’t expect them to returning the same amount of kicks this year. They are both far too important to the offense to risk injury on kick returns. Rhett McGowan is a senior who has put a lot of time into the team. Expect him to be the lead punt returner with Keith Marshall getting opportunities to get the ball in his hands.
They might drop one early to Clemson, South Carolina or LSU early. But don’t let that fool you. Georgia has a high-powered offense that can win any game any day. They will be a Title contender at the end of the season. They will also get a chance to face Alabama once again in the SEC championship.
11-1 (7-1 SEC)* loss to either LSU or Florida.