Coach: Mark Richt (136-48 entering 15th season, 136-48 overall)
2014 results: 10-3 (6-2 in SEC, second in East Division)
Look back: Coach Mark Richt’s team posted double-digit wins for the third time in four seasons. Along the way, Georgia routed Missouri (34-0) and Auburn (34-7) — the reigning champions in the SEC East and West, respectively. But a mystifying 38-20 beatdown at the hands of struggling Florida and a 30-24 overtime loss to Georgia Tech undermined the Bulldogs’ season.
After four seasons with SEC record-setter Aaron Murray under center, Richt asked fifth-year senior Hutson Mason to be a game manager and relied on the running game. When All-America tailback Todd Gurley was sidelined by an NCAA suspension and subsequent knee injury, freshman Nick Chubb emerged as a star, rushing for 1,547 yards. After leaving FSU, first-year defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt oversaw a unit with a plus-16 turnover margin, the Bulldogs’ best since 1982.
Offensive starters returning: 6
Offensive starters lost: 5
Defensive starters returning: 6
Defensive starters lost: 5
Key losses: RB Todd Gurley, WR Chris Conley, QB Hutson Mason, WR Michael Bennett, C David Andrews, DE Ray Drew, LB Ramik Wilson, LB Amarilo Herrera, CB Damian Swann
Top returnees: RB Nick Chubb, WR Malcolm Mitchell, RB Sony Michel, RB Keith Marshall, OT John Theus, G Greg Pyke, LB Jordan Jenkins, LB Leonard Floyd, K Marshall Morgan
Strengths: Georgia is as talented and deep as any team in the SEC. The Bulldogs feature the league’s best group of running backs and linebackers, as well as one of the top offensive lines.
Chubb is a Heisman candidate after he averaged 165.4 rushing yards during the final eight games last season. Explosive sophomore back-up Sony Michel is too talented not to merit carries, while senior Keith Marshall is good enough to start at other schools.
Pruitt’s 3-4 scheme is anchored by a trio of outside linebackers few if any teams can match.
Weaknesses: Richt will have a new starting quarterback for the second straight season following a four-year run with Murray. Virginia transfer Greyson Lambert arrived on campus in July and will battle Brice Ramsey for the job.
The Bulldogs will have to replace center David Andrews, a three-year starter, and find some help for senior receiver Malcolm Mitchell. Georgia looks to replace their two leading tacklers, inside linebackers Amarlo Herrera (115 stops) and Ramik Wilson (110), and rebuild a defensive front without any returning starters. First-year defensive tackle Trent Thompson, the nation’s No. 1 recruit per 247Sports, will have the chance to play immediately.
Outlook: The Bulldogs among the teams to beat in the SEC East behind one of the nation’s top running games and Pruitt’s defense. But Richt has to find a quarterback and integrate a new offensive system after Brian Schottenheimer replaced longtime coordinator Mike Bobo.
Sept. 5 UL-Monroe
Sept. 12 at Vanderbilt
Sept. 19 South Carolina
Sept. 26 Southern
Oct. 3 Alabama
Oct. 10 at Tennessee
Oct. 17 Missouri
Oct. 31 vs. Florida in Jacksonville
Nov. 7 Kentucky
Nov. 14 at Auburn
Nov. 21 Georgia Southern
Nov. 28 at Georgia Tech
College Football / College Basketball Handicapper. 2011 won 74%, 2012 won 72% 2015 SPECIAL. CALL, 877.WIN.ATS9 EMAIL,V@VincentRizzoSports.com