2014 Georgia Bulldogs Team Preview
Head Coach: Mark Richt
2013-14 Record: 8-5, 5-3 Southeastern Conference
2013-14 Bowl Result: 24-19 loss to Nebraska in Gator Bowl
Odds to Win National Championship: +3687
Offense: 6, Defense: 8
The Bulldogs knew they would be breaking in a new starting quarterback this year as Aaron Murray’s eligibility would be exhausted at the end of the 2013 campaign, but Hutson Mason got the transition under way earlier then expected due to Murray going down with a knee injury toward the tail end of last season.
Georgia is well-stocked at the running back position, with All-American and Heisman Trophy candidate Todd Gurley running for 989 yards despite missing three-plus games a season ago, while Keith Marshall has more than 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns in his career since arriving in Athens.
Plenty of playmakers return on the perimeter, with many of them enduring season-ending injuries a year ago, with all eyes focused on senior wide receiver Chris Conley, who caught 45 passes for 651 yards.
Justin Scott-Wesley is a player that college football handicappers need to keep an eye on, as he had 16 catches for 311 yards before a season-ending knee injury.
Mason will be playing behind an offensive line that’ll need to replace three-fifths of its starting lineup from a year ago—a group that paved the way for more than 6,000 yards and 50-plus touchdowns.
The Bulldogs welcome back eight returning starters from a group that allowed 29 points per game in 2013—the second-highest figure in school history.
Richt has brought in new coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, who spent three years as Alabama’s defensive backs coach before ultimately taking over the entire unit at Florida State en route to a national title.
Expect a much better performance all around for this group, especially in terms of the secondary with Pruitt’s experience, with senior cornerback Damian Swann building off a year that saw him start all 13 games and break up eight passes.
Starting off against Clemson and hitting the road against South Carolina is perhaps the most daunting first two games that any team will play nationally, which is important to consider when making your college football predictions this season.
The Bulldogs have a bye week in-between those games, and will enjoy a bit of a breather against Troy in Week 4 before jumping back into Southeastern Conference play at home against Tennessee on Sept. 27.
It’s important to point out that the second half of the team’s schedule is manageable—getting the opportunity to host both Florida and Auburn in November.
Murray was a player full of intangibles and made key plays down the stretch to win a lot of games during his career, which is something to keep an eye on in regards to Mason’s play in the fourth quarter.
The SEC is a bit of a grab bag this year without a lot of signal-callers returning, which could allow the Bulldogs to make some noise if they win their first two games.
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