Not too many people were surprised that the Georgia Bulldogs were picked as the favorites to win the SEC East–because to the experts, they are the most talented team in the division, and possibly in the conference.
But they are not the favorite to win the national championship, and the reason for that could be they always had at least one disappointing loss each season under head coach Mark Richt. So in order for the Bulldogs to be locks to get to the national championship and win it, they will need to have an undefeated season.
They have been close a few times (one loss in 2002, two losses in 2007 and 2012), so doing it is not impossible. And here’s how.
Stop the Run
The Bulldogs lost three games last year, and all three losses were possible because the Bulldogs could not stop the run. In the South Carolina game, Brandon Wilds and Mike Davis rushed for a combined 159 yards. In the Florida game, Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor rushed for a combined 289 yards and four touchdowns. And in the Georgia Tech contest, the Yellow Jackets rushed for 399 yards and three touchdowns.
Georgia was in the middle of the pack in the SEC when it came to run defense last season as they allowed 166 yards per game. They were a much improved defense from what they were 2013, and should only be better in 2015 because they have with seven returning starters.
The Bulldogs have to be more aggressive at the point of attack, and it starts with the defensive line. With the additions of freshmen Trent Thompson and Jonathan Ledbetter, the defensive line should improve because they add size and strength the Bulldogs didn’t have before. If that happens, the defense will be one of the best in the country.
Hutson Mason was a good quarterback for the Bulldogs last season as he completed 67 percent of his passes and led the Bulldogs to 10 wins. His only downfall was that he did not throw the ball downfield enough.
So whoever wins the quarterback position will have the task of taking care of the football, but also being able to take shots downfield when the opportunity presents itself.
The Bulldogs will benefit of having a healthy Malcolm Mitchell who is the team’s best deep threat. And Isaiah McKenzie and Justin Scott-Wesley are two guys that can also fly downfield.
With the longest pass play for the Bulldogs last season being 50 yards from Todd Gurley to Jeb Blazevich, the Bulldogs need more explosive plays in the air. Because the run game is so strong for the Bulldogs, they don’t need to throw the ball a ton each game, but making plays down the field will keep the safeties in check, and that will lead to the Bulldogs being more balanced on offense.
Preparation is Key
This goes back to the Georgia-Florida game from last year where the unranked Gators defeated No. 11 Georgia by 18 points.
There is no real explanation as to why the Bulldogs lost the game other than Florida whipped them on offense, defense and special teams. But there is also the possibility they weren’t prepared according to a report by the Red and Black, the school’s newspaper. Several players on defense said they were not prepared what Florida brought to the table.
That could be on the players or some may blame it on the coaching staff. Regardless, the Bulldogs have to prepare for every game as if it was there last. Because the starting quarterback is unknown at this point, it’s hard to say if the Bulldogs will be the favorite in every game they play this year. But they are just as talented or more talented than every team on their schedule.
Then again, if they are not prepared when they go out and battle each and every Saturday, the fans will once again have to settle for a New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day bowl game