Southern Football Report Preseason Poll: #11 Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia Dawg LogoA good indication of how well your program is doing is how the fan base reacts after a 10-win season. In Athens, it was like clockwork for a long time but here lately expectations have been sky high while the win total has fallen a little bit. In 2014, the Dawgs went 10-3 and to many in the fan base that was a disappointment after a controversial loss at division rival South Carolina, a tail whooping by the Gators in Jacksonville and an overtime loss at home to in-state rival Georgia Tech. If you asked any Georgia fan what three teams they’d rather not lose to ever, it would probably be those three. I think it’s safe to say that there is a bad taste in the mouth of Bulldog coaches, players and fans heading into the 2015 season.

Georgia Senior Defensive End Jordan Jenkins and company
Georgia Senior Defensive End Jordan Jenkins and company

When I was trying to figure out the perfect word to describe the Georgia Bulldogs in 2015, the only one that kept coming to mind was ‘loaded’. The Dawgs enter the season with every position loaded to the gills with star players and experience. Georgia returns four of five offensive lineman who cleared the way for over 3,300 yards on the ground in 2014 and the lone new starter is senior center Hunter Long. Out wide is a stable of receivers led by play maker Malcolm Mitchell who was in recovery much of his junior season and is primed for a breakout year as a senior. Opposite Mitchell will be another South Georgia native in speedster Justin Scott-Wesley (Mitchell is from Valdosta & Wesley is from Camilla) who also missed a good portion of 2014. But all eyes will be in the backfield for two reasons: one wears number 27 and the other is still a mystery. Sophomore running back Nick Chubb was forced into action early in 2014 after Todd Gurley was suspended. Anyone could see how bright his future was in spot duty against Clemson and Vanderbilt but his breakout performance was in week 6 when he laid 143 yards and a touchdown on eventual SEC East champ Missouri. Chubb finished out the season with 1,547 yards and 14 touchdowns after only playing sparingly in the first five games. He won’t have to shoulder the whole load either as two solid backups are behind him in senior Keith Marshall and sophomore Sony Michel. The big machine all hinges on the quarterback position. The competition rages on with sophomore Brice Ramsey, junior Faton Bauta and junior Virginia transfer Greyson Lambert who all have obvious strengths and weakness but whoever will win the job is still shrouded in uncertainty.

Georgia’s defense improved vastly in 2014 from 2013 and will most likely continue to improve in 2015. It all starts up front with senior defensive end Jordan Jenkins who is the teams’ returning leader in tackles with 70 and he will be flanked by senior nose guard Chris Mayes who commands his own zip code and tides at 317 pounds. True freshman and South Georgia native Trenton Thompson has been penciled in as one of the starters on the defensive line but I’ve got a feeling he won’t miss a beat in the silver britches. Georgia boasts one of the top line backing groups in the country with returning starters Lorenzo Carter, a sophomore, on one side and freak athlete Leonard Floyd, a junior, on the other. Floyd led the team in sacks in 2014 and also had an outrageous number of quarterback hurries at 17. There will be two new starters on the inside but both have been in the program for a while in senior Jake Ganus and junior Tim Kimbrough and they’ll have some big shoes to fill after Herrera and Wilson’s departure. The secondary is the group that made the most improvement in 2014 after looking lost in much of the seasons prior. Led by junior safety Quincy Mauger, the Dawg secondary returns sophomore Dominik Sanders and Aaron Sanders who combined for four interceptions last season and look to improve that number in 2015.

Georgia Bulldogs Head Coach Mark Richt
Georgia Bulldogs Head Coach Mark Richt

Georgia’s schedule isn’t shockingly difficult but the Dawgs better have their chinstraps buckled in October and November. The season begins with a home game against UL-Monroe who are coming off of an as of recently down season of 4-8 before hitting the road for their first conference game in Week 2 against the Vanderbilt Commodores. The final two weeks of the month are both home games against the divisional thorn-in-their-side South Carolina Gamecocks and FCS opponent Southern who finished the season 9-4 in 2014. October begins with a bang when the reigning SEC Champion Alabama Crimson Tide visit ‘The Classic City’ for the first time since 2008. We won’t talk about that game. There is no rest for the Dawgs as they will hit the road the following week and head to Knoxville to take on the surging Tennessee Volunteers. Georgia closes out the month of October with a home game against the reigning back-to-back division champion Missouri Tigers in Athens before their annual bye week before the big game in Jacksonville. Georgia had won three games in a row against the boys from Gainesville before last year’s derailment. November begins back in Athens with the Kentucky Wildcats who are poised for a better season in 2015 followed by a road game in Jordan-Hare Stadium against the Auburn Tigers who many have picked to win the SEC West. The regular season ends with two in-state opponents: Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech. Both run similar offenses and combined for a 20-6 record in 2014. Georgia Southern is coming off of their first season in the FBS where they shocked everyone with a Sun Belt best 8-0 record while Georgia Tech is fresh off of their overtime victory in Athens.

The Georgia Bulldogs are as talented and deep as any team in the country on both sides of the ball and no one in America is voluntarily signing up to play the Dawgs. Head Coach Mark Richt will be leading one of his most talented squads in recent memory this season but as always it hinges on the play at quarterback. Whoever wins the job won’t have to do everything but will be required to stretch the field and give the talented group of tail backs some room to make things happen. If Georgia can go 4-0 in October, watch out because momentum alone may carry them to the College Football Playoff.

Sanford Stadium - Capacity: 92,746
Sanford Stadium – Capacity: 92,746

2015 Georgia Bulldogs Schedule

Sept 5th             UL-Monroe
Sept 12th           at Vanderbilt
Sept 19th          South Carolina
Sept 26th          Southern
Oct 3rd              Alabama
Oct 10th            at Tennessee
Oct 17th            Missouri
Oct 24th           BYE WEEK
Oct 31st             v. Florida (Jacksonville)
Nov 7th             Kentucky
Nov 14th           at Auburn
Nov 21st           Georgia Southern
Nov 28th          at Georgia Tech

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