2014 Georgia Bulldogs Odds to Win the SEC with Picks & Predictions
by Aaron Smith - 7/31/2014
Mark Richt's Georgia Bulldogs were expecting big things out of the 2013 season. An 8-5 season was definitely a major disappointment. Just about everything that could have gone wrong did, in fact, go wrong. Aaron Murray was having a tremendous senior season, but he ended up getting injured and missed some key games. The Bulldogs also played without Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall much of the season. Malcolm Mitchell was seen as the team's top receiver going into the season, and he was injured in Week 1. All of the team's top skill position players were out at least part of the season, and many of them were out for more than half of the season. To say that Georgia was hit hard by the injury bug is a major understatement.
If that wasn't bad enough, consider the way Georgia lost some of their games. They were absolutely heartbroken by Auburn's last-second Hail Mary tip pass. They outplayed Clemson but lost by a field goal thanks to some key mistakes in critical moments. In their bowl game, they had 22 first downs compared to just 14 for Nebraska, but the Bulldogs were edged 24-19 by the Cornhuskers. It was a season to forget.
Georgia returns six starters on offense and eight starters on defense. The Bulldogs aren't on quite as many radars in the preseason this year, but maybe they should be.
2014 Georgia Offense
One positive from last year's ugly season was the fact that Hutson Mason got some quality time under center. Mason completed 61 percent of his passes during his time last year despite being thrown into the fire without being properly prepared. Mason has had an entire offseason to get ready for the 2014 season knowing that he'll be the starter. I expect Mason to be better than most people expect. As I mentioned earlier, both Gurley and Marshall were injured much of last season. Gurley played through his injuries much of the time, but he still wasn't able to show his full potential. Gurley and Marshall are my top tailback combination in the country when they are healthy, so if they are able to stay healthy Georgia is going to be in great shape in the backfield. These guys are terrific.
Georgia is in good shape at the wide receiver spot as well. Mitchell should be back from his injury in time for the start of the season. In addition, Chris Conley and Michael Bennett return for their senior seasons. This is a veteran group that did a nice job last year even without Mitchell, and now the most explosive member of this unit will provide a major boost. The one cause for concern on this Georgia offense is the offensive line. The Bulldogs return only 54 starts on the line. Senior center David Andrews is a nice anchor for the line, but Georgia needs this unit to gel quickly.
This Georgia Bulldogs offense has a chance to be special if the offensive line can hold its own. The skill position players here are top-notch.
2014 Georgia Defense
Georgia's defense performed well considering their inexperience last year. They were put in a lot of bad positions thanks to turnovers as well. Georgia was 45th in the nation in total defense. The young players matured, and things were looking quite bright for Georgia heading into this season. The picture has gotten a little muddier in the past week or two. Jon Taylor was going to be the starting nose tackle, but after a recent arrest he has been kicked off the team. Davin Bellamy is a backup linebacker who will be serving a two-game suspension at the start of the year due to a DUI charge. Those two games he will miss are Clemson and at South Carolina. Can the Bulldogs stay out of trouble off the field?
Taylor's absence hurts the defensive line, but I still think this group will be improved from a year ago. Ray Drew is one of the best defensive ends in the nation, and he is set up for an excellent season. Depth on the defensive line isn't great, but it's better than last season. The true strength of the Georgia defense is their linebackers. Ramik Wilson will be a Butkus Award finalist at the middle linebacker spot. Jordan Jenkins is amazing on the outside. Georgia's linebackers are fast and strong. This is the best group of linebackers in the SEC.
Nine different players started last year in the secondary for Georgia, and four of them were freshmen. This group will be much-improved in 2014. Damian Swann and Sheldon Dawson are very good cover corners, and they'll lead the way.
2014 Georgia Odds to Win SEC
The Georgia Bulldogs are listed at 6/1 to win the SEC, according to odds from Bovada. Georgia is listed as a 8/5 co-favorite in the SEC East along with South Carolina. The Bulldogs are 18/1 to win the national title. The season win total set for Georgia is 9.5 wins.
2014 Georgia Bulldogs Picks & Predictions
Georgia is flying under the radar more than normal, and that makes me like the value on them. The SEC East is much weaker than the SEC West, and Georgia's schedule isn't bad at all for an SEC schedule. The key game will come at South Carolina in their second game of the season. Georgia's defense should improve, and the offense will be special if they stay healthy. I think the Bulldogs top 9.5 wins and win the SEC East.
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Read more articles by Aaron Smith
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