Southern Football Report Preseason Top 25 – Team #9

#9 – Georgia Bulldogs
Athens, Georgia
Sanford Stadium (92,746)
2013 Record: 8-5 (5-3)

The Georgia Bulldogs have been a model of consistency under Head Coach Mark Richt in the sense that you can count on his teams to win 8 or more games like clockwork. The Bulldogs have won 8 or more games in every season but one under Richt and that trend will continue and some in 2014. Year in and year out, the Dawgs are right in the mix for an SEC East title and this season Georgia has the team to be in it once again. Last season Georgia began the season on the road at Clemson where the injury bug struck early when star wide receiver Malcom Mitchell torn his ACL in the first quarter celebrating a touchdown run by teammate Todd Gurley. The injuries kept on coming throughout the season all the way to senior night when senior quarterback Aaron Murray injured his knee in the second half. That injury was a little of a silver lining as replacement, Hutson Mason was able to get some good game experience in a double overtime thriller against rival Georgia Tech and the bowl game against Nebraska.

Todd Gurley is poised for a Heisman-type season in 2014.
Todd Gurley is poised for a Heisman-type season in 2014.

Entering the 2014 season obviously a lot of eyes will be on the quarterback position and it should be as there will be a new face under center in Athens after four years of Aaron Murray. Senior Hutson Mason has waited his turn and redshirted in 2011 for the chance to start this season. When Mason was inserted in the Kentucky game in 2013, the offense never missed a beat as Mason averaged 236 yards per game and completed 61% of his throws. If you’ve got a new quarterback it’s always good to have a few good skill players around him and Georgia has that in droves. Mason will have a whole stable of wide receivers to throw to and three of them have over 1200 yards receiving in their careers, not including speedster Justin Scott-Wesley. Any combinations of Chris Conley, Malcom Mitchell, Michael Bennett and Justin Scott-Wesley along with tight end Jay Rome, any offensive coordinator’s dream come true and we haven’t even gotten to the group of runningbacks. Led by legitimate Heisman contender Todd Gurley, Georgia boasts one of the most talented backfields in the nation. Gurley was banged up a bit last season and still rushed for 989 yards. Backups Keith Marshall, JJ Green, Brendan Douglass and the two super freshmen Sony Michel and Nick Chubb will all be ready if their number is called and I’m sure that they will as the coaching staff will want to keep Mr. Gurley as fresh as possible. Having good skill players always helps a new quarterback but having a good offensive line is paramount and Georgia will be replacing 3 linemen from a year ago. Senior David Andrews anchors the unit and right tackle Kolston Houston is the other returning starter on the line. This unit will need to be on the same page and gel quickly to protect Mason and pave the way for the thoroughbreds in the backfield.

On defense, the Bulldogs return 10 of their top 13 tacklers from a defense in

Ramik Wilson is ready to lead the Georgia defense in 2014.
Ramik Wilson is ready to lead the Georgia defense in 2014.

2013 that held opposing offenses under 400 yards per game but still gave up almost 30 points per game. New defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has been on the last three national championship teams and inherits a team that needs a new director. Senior linebackers Ramik Wilson and Amarlo Herrera are exactly what Pruitt will need to install his defense. Wilson led the team with 133 tackles and 7 tackles for loss in 2013 and Herrera was right behind him with 112 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss. The linebacker position is definitely the strength of the Georgia defense in 2014 but Pruitt will rely on seniors Ray Drew and Damien Swann to lead the defensive line and secondary. The Georgia defensive was oddly enough pretty good last season but gave up the big play too often which is something Coach Pruitt will correct and expect that 29 points per game average to go down dramatically in 2014.

Georgia’s football season opens with a difficult opener, as always, but this time the Dawgs will open the season between the hedges and not on the road or in the Georgia Dome. Clemson makes the return trip to Athens to open the season followed by a perfectly timed bye week before the Dawgs travel to South Carolina to face the Ole Ball Coach and the Gamecocks. The middle of October brings back to back road games at Missouri and Arkansas which might as well be in Puerto Rico as far as an SEC map is concerned. As always there will be a bye week before the annual meeting with the Gators in Jacksonville followed by a road game at Kentucky. In the middle of the season Georgia will go 42 days without playing a home game. The Dawgs close the season with three straight home games against reigning SEC Champ Auburn, Charleston Southern and bitter rival Georgia Tech. The 2014 schedule works out nicely for Georgia as the Dawgs dodge Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss and Texas A&M from the west and benefit from well-placed bye weeks.

As we head into the 2014 season, it feels a lot like 2005 in Athens as there are question marks on defense, some solid skill players and a rising senior quarterback who waited his turn. Quarterback Hutson Mason will keep the offense chugging along with efficient passing and an incredible rushing attack behind him. The key for the Dawgs in 2014 is whether or not the defense can keep them out of shootouts and if it does, watch out because Georgia will be in the running for their 7th SEC East title under head coach Mark Richt.

Sanford Stadium
Sanford Stadium

Stay logged on to for Team #8 on Wednesday and tune in to the Southern Football Report every Saturday from 10am-Noon starting on August 23rd! Here is a hint for Team #8: This team defeated Albany College 44-2 in their first game all the way back in 1894. 

#8 – ???????????
#9 – Georgia Bulldogs
#10 – Notre Dame Fightin Irish
#11 – USC Trojans
#12 – LSU Tigers
#13 – Michigan State Spartans
#14 – South Carolina Gamecocks
#15 – Ole Miss Rebels
#16 – Wisconsin Badgers
#17 – Stanford Cardinal
#18 – North Carolina Tar Heels
#19 – Florida Gators
#20 – Texas Longhorns
#21 – Iowa Hawkeyes
#22 – Arizona Wildcats
#23 – Boise State Broncos
#24 – Northwestern Wildcats
#25 – Michigan Wolverines

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