Last Season: 10-2, 6-2, beat Michigan State in Capitol One Bowl
Coaches Poll: 13
Things were different this time last year for the Georgia Bulldogs. They were the number one team in the nation, according to the polls. They had all the talent in the world, according to prognosticators. But people in the know didn’t think that Georgia was the team everyone thought it was in mid-July.
On a personal note, I remember a college football writer telling me in mid-August that the only reason Georgia was number one in the country was because the polls are voted on way before they were released. No way was Georgia the best team in the nation and no way would they be in contention for a national championship.
He was right. Maybe it was the injuries that were suffered along the way in preparation for week one. Or maybe it was the weight of unrealistic expectations on a bunch of 18 and 19 year old that kept them down. After all, it’s not an uncommon tale. Few teams in history go wire to wire to a national championship. Georgia was no different.
But things have changed this season. And if you believe that unusually high expectations hurt Georgia, maybe for the better. However, I don’t think that anyone can argue what has hurt the Bulldogs.
Two big losses.
The offense will look a lot different without quarterback Matthew Stafford handing off to running back Knowshon Moreno. Those two dominated Georgia last season. If nothing else, it will be more of a collective effort this year on offense.
Joe Cox is Stafford’s successor under center. Behind a great offensive line, Cox may not be the big play threat that Stafford was, but he will be able to manage a football game. If extremely limited action last season, Cox completed 73% of his passes.
It also doesn’t hurt Cox to have A.J Green to throw to. Green is regarded as one of the best, if not the best, receivers in the entire SEC. Last season, Green caught fifty six passes for 963 yards and eight touchdowns. He’ll need to have another star season for this offense to excel.
Green and Cox’s performance in the passing game take on even more importance because of the uncertainty at the running back position. In his collegiate career, Knowshon Moreno racked up over 2,700 yards and 30 touchdowns. This no doubt helped Stafford, Green, and the rest of the passing game. Now, with Knowshon gone to the pros, the Bulldog running back position is in a bit of flux.
Caleb King is the returning stat leader, but it is unsure whether he’ll be able to handle a feature back load. King racked up only 247 yards on 61 carries last season. That’s a measly four yards a carry clip. If King struggles early, look for Richard Samuel or Carlton Thomas to be further integrated into the running game.
If the run game struggles, no one is to blame but the backs themselves. The Georgia offensive line is excellent. The group returns all their starters and should be fine in that department.
Defensively, watch out for young corner Brandon Boykin. He will fill the hole left by Asher Allen in the secondary and should do it quite nicely. His 40 inch vertical leap will make him stick like glue to even the tallest of receivers.
Overall, the Bulldogs will be fine this season. I think that the efficiency of Joe Cox and the explosiveness of A.J Green will provide for a passing game that is above average for a team that just lost a star quarterback. The running game does concern you if you’re a Georgia fan, but even the most mediocre of backs can be efficient behind a strong offensive line. Georgia has that.
But that’s not saying that they will compete for anything significant.
I usually don’t like to predict win and loss record before the days leading up to week one, but I see nine or ten wins on this schedule. Three tough road games and a home contest against LSU will make it extremely difficult to win more than ten games.
3 Games To Watch
September 5th- @ Oklahoma State- One of the best games of the opening weekend. Oklahoma State has a really talented offense and a lot to prove. This is a really tough road game for Georgia and very well could send them home 0-1 to face Steve Spurrier in week 2.
October 3rd- LSU- An early must- win at home for Georgia. They’ll need this one to even think about staying in the SEC east race. Two losses before Florida is extremely possible.
October 31st- @ Florida- Granted, this one may not matter a whole lot if the Bulldogs already have two Ls on the season scorecard, but don’t count out the revenge factor. Last year, the Gators took care of Georgia 49-10. Players who were in Athens for that game still have nightmares about it. No doubt, they want revenge. Regardless of implications.