Nine is the magic number for the Georgia Bulldogs' defense.
The reason nine is the magic number for the Bulldogs' D is because that is the number of returning starters the Bulldogs have for 2012.
And with the defense being ranked in the top five nationally last year, it has the chance to be the best defense in the country.
But in order for Georgia to do that, it will have to stop a few teams that have the ability to score a bunch of points if given the opportunity. The tests will start on the second week of the season, and it will conclude on the final regular game of the year.
Here are the top five offenses the Bulldogs' defense must shut down.
The Vols finished the 2011 season averaging only 20 points per game. But Tyler Bray is one of the best quarterbacks in the country and looks to have a bounce-back season after injuring his thumb in the game against the Dawgs last year.
Bray will have two talented wide receivers to throw to in Justin Hunter and Da’Rick Rogers. If Bray gets those two involved early, it will be a long day for the Bulldogs.
The running game for the Vols is the weak spot, averaging 90 yards per game last year.
Yes, the Vanderbilt Commodores are on this list. This is not a typo.
The offense came to life, oddly enough, when Vandy took on the Bulldogs last year. Jordan Rodgers took over at quarterback and despite losing to Georgia, the offense took off, averaging 31 points a game the second half of the season.
With Rodgers along with All-SEC running back Zach Stacy and good group of receivers, the Vandy offense will try to make life tough for the Bulldogs.
That said, Rodgers did throw only nine touchdowns to go along with is 10 interceptions. The Bulldogs are hoping he is still turnover-prone because players like Bacarri Rambo and Sanders Commings will be on top of it all game long.
The Bulldogs' defense will be tested early with a contest against the Missouri Tigers, who are a team that comes with some firepower.
Quarterback James Franklin was effective his first season, throwing for 2,865 yards and rushing for 981. Those numbers should improve, especially in the passing game because of the arrival of No. 1 recruit Dorial Green-Beckham.
If that’s not bad enough, the offensive line returns for starters including Elvis Fisher, who has played in 40 consecutive games before suffering a torn patella tendon last year.
This is another game where the defense has to shut the offense down early so it won’t have the thought about having a chance to win.
The Yellows Jackets may have been a middle of the pack ACC team last year, but offensively they were one of the most dangerous teams in the country.
They will have a tough running attack led by Orwin Smith and offensive lineman Omoregie Uzzi will anchor the experienced unit.
Tevin Washington is not going to throw the ball around because the Yellow Jackets are not a passing team. But he is a leader and will do whatever it takes to make a play.
The Bulldogs did a good job stopping Tech’s triple option last year, but it’s still a very difficult offense to stop if a team is not disciplined and misses assignments.
The game against the Gamecocks will most likely determine the winner of the SEC East. In order for the Bulldogs to win, they will have to stop an offense that is more balanced than most people think.
The No. 1 goal for the Bulldogs is to stop Marcus Lattimore who is coming off a knee injury and led the SEC in rushing with 818 yards before he went down midseason.
But Connor Shaw will be much improved this year after going 8-1 as a starter in 2011. He can give opposing defenses fits with his ability to excel in making throws in Steve Spurrier’s offense.
With Lattimore, Shaw, a big and fast receiving unit and an aggressive offensive line, this will be the toughest offense the Bulldogs will face all year.