SEC Preview 14: Gurley to New York, Georgia to Atlanta?
Aaron Murray’s graduation is going to leave a monstrous hole at QB for the Georgia Bulldogs. But all new QB Hutson Mason may have to do is hand the ball off to Heisman contender Todd Gurley, and the Dawgs – armed with a strong linebacking corps, could be in the mix for a trip to Atlanta as SEC East Champion
The biggest highlight of Georgia’s season was the secondary’s screw-up of a pretty easy knock-down/interception to gift Auburn a victory in a titanic battle. Of course, the decision of Lee Corso to pick LSU instead of UGA in Athens ‘led’ the Dawgs to victory in one of the games of the season, and Georgia beat Florida and South Carolina, too. But the losses to Clemson, Missouri and the stunner of a loss at Vandy contributed to an Atlanta-less season. A mid-to-late season injury to Aaron Murray – as well as an injury earlier to RB sensation Keith Marshall – hardly helped the team, either.Losing to Nebraska in the bowl game didn’t exactly end the season on a high note, either. The Dawgs finished 8-5.
Georgia always wants to recruit well in-state, so when they nailed 3 out of 5 of the top players in the Peach State (DE Lorenzo Carter, RB Nick Chubb, CB Malkom Parrish) , Dawgs fans must have been barking. 5-star RB Sony Michel (FL), OG Isaiah Wynn, TE Jeb Blazevich and Pro-Style QB Jacob Park’s arrivals made up for some stinging losses in rest of Georgia saw Clemson, Auburn and South Carolina pick up recruits among the State’s Top 20.
It wouldn’t be an off-season without a Georgia player getting his hands in cuffs, and 2014 was no exception. Where do we start? 4 players (DT Jonathan Taylor, S Tray Matthews, DE James DeLoach and WR Uriah May) get busted for trying to cash in game stipends twice. Matthews transferred to Auburn, May requested a transfer, and DeLoach has stayed. Taylor? Oh, after being given a second chance by Mark Richt, he’s then arrested on Tuesday morning for what breaks down as assault on a woman, which we hope he’s kicked out for. SS Josh Harvey-Clemons apparently ‘violated team rules’ and was dismissed, and CB Shaq Wiggins was busted for driving without a license, and transferred soon after. Sadly, there were no “boating under the influence arrests” in 2013.
TOP QUESTIONS FOR GEORGIA IN 2014
QB – HUTSON MASON: A GOOD ENOUGH REPLACEMENT FOR AARON MURRAY?
Hutson Mason’s name might sound like he belongs in Cherokee County, but apparently he’s good enough to be named starting QB immediately by Richt. Which is strange for us, bearing in mind how little he did to make us enthusiastic in 2014, going 67-110 for 968 yards, 5 TDs and 3 INTs. And by the look of it, he’s a goddawful rusher, too. A lot of UGA fans will be hoping that he’s the second coming of Murray, and not Joe Cox. We remain sceptical.
RB: GLORIOUS GURLEY
We love Todd Gurley, we really do. He’s one of the most fun-to-watch running backs in college football. He’ll beat the crap out of an offensive line himself. Last season he was sidelined during October with an ankle injury, and Georgia fans will be praying that there’s not a repeat of the bad luck that’s plagued their Heisman hopeful. Still, his 100.3-yard average through the games he DID play makes him frightening and fun in the same breath. Also, don’t bet against Keith Marshall coming back, despite having an horrific knee injury against Tennessee last year. Chubb and Michel provide even more depth for the Dawgs, and we’ll be seeing more Brendan Douglas and A.J. Turman, too. This is almost Alabama-like depth, yo.
WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN AT WR/TE?
If he returns OK from his Spring-time leg injury (in addition to last year’s ACL tear), then Malcolm Mitchell will be one heck of a threat. Chris Conley, when he’s not directing Star Wars movies, is a very good WR with a great attitude, but otherwise, things are a looking a little thin. A key returnee is also Michael Bennett, who, combined with Conley, caught for over 1,100 yards and 8 TDs. Dawgs fans will be hoping Bennett as well as Justin Scott-Wesley stays healthy after he tore his knee in October. He could do wonders. Otherwise, the losses of Rantavious Wooten and Artie Lynch, the transfer of Uriah LeMay, and the fact that frosh Gilbert Johnson’s not coming to Athens because of academics, mean that injuries like Mitchell’s could really devastate the team. Brendan Langley has moved from CB to WR to add some depth, too.
DEFENSE: WOULD THE LAST SECONDARY PLAYER TO LEAVE PLEASE TURN OUT THE LIGHT?
The biggest news for the defense this season was DC Todd Grantham’s decision to leave Athens and go work for St Bobby Petrino in Louisville. Mark Richt brought in secondary coach Jeremy Pruitt from Florida State to be the new DC. No complaints from UGA fans there!
Grantham’s ‘loss’ may be good riddance for Dawgs fans, who had to put up with a Georgia team that weren’t great at tackling, embarrassed themselves against Auburn, and finished 79th in the country in total points given up. They were mediocre against both rush (43rd) and pass (59th) and total yards given up (45th), meaning that Grantham’s policy of ‘bend not break’ didn’t work that well.
The good news for Georgia is that they are still great at linebacker, with Ramik Wilson, Armarlo Herrera, Jordan Jenkins and young freak Leonard Floyd, who had 55 tackles as a freshman. And defensive end Ray Drew is going to cause O-Lines problems, too.
Still, the loss of most of their secondary to transfer (Wiggins, Harvey-Clemons and Matthews) and/or dismissal is going to be a worrier.
CB Damian Swann’s decision to return to Athens, on the other hand, was a big plus. We’ve got no clue about what happens with the secondary from here, although expect Corey Moore/Quincy Mauger to get action. But with Pruitt coaching, things may be a little more hopeful back there. Oh, and a Georgia fan told us to remember the name of CB/S JUCO Shattle Fenteng, who spent the last two years at a CC in Kansas to get his grades up, who’s mean to be pretty badass, and Trammel Terry arrives at safety after coming off major knee surgery (stop if you’ve heard this one before!!).
Aug. 30 – Clemson
Sep. 13 – at South Carolina
Sep. 20 – Troy
Sep. 27 – Tennessee
Oct. 4 – Vanderbilt
Oct. 11 – at Missouri
Oct. 18 – at Arkansas
Nov. 1 – vs. Florida @Jacksonville, FL
Nov. 8 – at Kentucky
Nov. 15 – Auburn
Nov. 22 – Charleston Southern
Nov. 29 – Georgia Tech
We’re going to make this clear: If Georgia can get through the first 2 games of the season at home to Clemson (against a very good defensive unit) and on the road at South Carolina (which is a horrible place to play), they may very well run the table…. If they can stay out of jail or the treatment room. Unfortunately, we think they’ll go 1-1, and despite winning every other game on the schedule after that (yes, that includes Auburn at home), they won’t go to Atlanta (it’s South Carolina’s year) and not even make the Play-Off (they’ll finish No.5 and UGA fans will tell us how they were ‘screwed’).
Tagged with: Alabama • Arkansas • arrests • Auburn • Florida • Georgia • Hutson Mason • Jeremy Pruitt • Keith Marshall • Kentucky • LSU • Mark Richt • Mississippi State • Missouri • Ole Miss • Predictions • QB • SEC • SEC East • SEC West • South Carolina • Tennessee • Texas A&M • Todd Gurley • Vanderbilt
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