Georgia Football 2012: 5 Bold Predictions for the Bulldogs' 2012 Season
Our Team. Our Time. No Regrets. The SEC has six consecutive BCS championships under their belt and the 2012 Georgia Bulldogs are in a strong position to make it seven.
Starting 0-2 in 2011 and ending with a 10-win season was a great sign for UGA. It confirmed character and perseverance, established confidence and most importantly, taught that team unity and discipline will win games.
Georgia will return nine starters on the defense—one that ranked fifth nationally under Todd Grantham’s relatively new 3-4 defensive scheme. The Bulldogs in both the USA Today Coaches Poll and the ESPN.com Preseason Power Rankings enter the 2012 season ranked No. 6.
Expectations run high for the Dawg Nation this year. Let's take a look at some bold predictions for this upcoming season.
Defense: No Opening Drive Touchdowns This Season
In the 2011 regular season, Georgia finished the season ranked 5th in the nation in overall defense. The Dawgs want to rank higher in the defensive polls to make the opposing offenses fear the date they play Georgia.
No opening drive touchdowns will help that goal become a reality. For this prediction to reign true, the Bulldogs need to rank higher in the team individual categories such as pass defense, rush defense and even special teams. If the Bulldogs want to be the best they need to play like the best.
Rush defense was ranked 11th, allowing an average 101.21 Yards/G. In the nation's pass defense the Bulldogs ranked 10th while allowing an average of 176.0 Yards/G. If the Georgia Bulldogs want to make a strong case for the SEC Championship and the BCS National Championship they need to lower the averages allowed.
This year's defense is one of the best defenses the University of Georgia has had in a number of years. No other team in the SEC East division has the same amount of returning starters, which should give the edge to Georgia when it's time for conference play.
Nine starters from last year's defense are returning and this shouldn't be taken lightly. Junior linebacker and the captain of the defense, Jarvis Jones, has returned. He returned with some other key playmakers on last year's defense including John Jenkins, Alec Ogletree, Bacarri Rambo and Sanders Commings.
With the benefits of all the returning stars on defense, the Georgia Bulldogs should have no problem not allowing a touchdown on any opening drive this year.
As the saying goes; offense wins games, defense wins championships. Georgia is looking to do just that.
Offense: Turning the Numbers Around
The 2011 season was great on the defensive side of the ball, but what about the offense?
In the National Rankings the Georgia Bulldogs didn't rank higher than 45th in the nation. The average passing Yards/G ranked 47th with 244.5 yards on average and then ranked 45th in the nation for average rushing with 164.0 Yards/G.
With Aaron Murray returning for his third year as the starter and with an experienced receiving core, the passing game will be a great one. Malcolm Mitchell, Chris Conley and Tavarres King all return as starters from last season will help rank the Bulldogs higher than 25th in the nation in passing yards per game.
The Bulldogs ended the regular season finishing 45th in the national rankings for rushing. Ken Malcome, Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley are hard-nosed backs, fast and elusive. This should allow for a more effective offense because all of them can rush for 1,000 yards for the season.
Finishing last season ranked no higher than 45th in the nation, the bulldogs did well enough to win the SEC East and a shot for a BCS birth. This season brings real promise for a more high-powered offense which will allow for a better finish and more opportunity for this year's season.
The Undefeated Season
There are no easy games in the SEC. So to say the Georgia Bulldogs have an easy schedule would be like saying the University of Southern California will win the National Title this year; it's just not true.
A promising schedule is a more accurate statement when talking about this year’s matchups. Some of the more difficult games the Bulldogs will have this year will be Missouri, South Carolina, Florida, and Auburn.
Missouri just joined the SEC this year and they are looking to make a statement right away this season; a statement saying "we won’t lay down without a fight", and the Bulldogs are their first test.
After the Missouri game, a few weeks will pass and the Bulldogs should still be undefeated. Then their next challenge will be South Carolina.
This game will be the real challenge for the Bulldogs this season. The South Carolina game comes Week 6 which is the halfway mark of the season, and a win here would be huge for the Dawgs.
With a win the Dawgs could solidify a spot in the SEC championship. One more game for the Dawgs and their dreams of a perfect season stop being a dream and become reality.
Next is the biggest game of the year for the Bulldogs and is one of the biggest tailgating parties in the nation. If you were thinking of the Florida-Georgia game you are correct. This is the last challenge for the Dawgs on their way to the national championship.
The game against Florida is an away game for the Bulldogs in Jacksonville, Florida, so you can bet that every seat in the stadium will be filled with Bulldog fans ready to disrupt the rhythm of the Gators.
Auburn is in the mix but with no promise for a breakout year they don't stand a chance against the Dawgs. So like I said before, the Bulldogs have a promising schedule, not an easy one.
If things go right for the Bulldogs they could finish the regular season undefeated.
Aaron Murray: SEC Player of the Year
Aaron Murray enters his third year as the starting quarterback for Georgia, and over the past two seasons he has thrown over 3,000 passing yards. These are good numbers when you consider Coach Richt's offense is a pro style offense with a run-first mentality.
Murray told ESPN.com in a story published Thursday that his goal was to surpass offensive coordinator Mike Bobo's goal of a 65 percent completion percentage. Murray is aiming for 70.
This is one bold prediction, but am I really that wrong for saying it? Aaron Murray has a great Wide Receiver core with a Running Back battle going on right now, and whoever wins will help the campaign.
Murray also said that his goal is for the offense to score in the 40 to 60 point range on a regular basis instead of winning games because of the defense. Murray made no mention of winning the SEC's Player of The Year award, so we'll do that for him. If Murray's season goes according to plan he'll be given the accolade sometime in December.
The promising schedule the Bulldogs have and the high-powered defense that Aaron Murray has behind him will help him obtain higher stats because the offense will have the ball more often. This will allow Aaron to show the nation the high-profiled quarterback he really is.
Aaron Murray is an above-average quarterback and his stats will continue to get better this year. He is a leader on the field and is the Captain of the team. He has great ball placement, he's patient in the pocket and he can scramble when it is absolutely necessary to.
Murray will have to cut down on the turnovers that hurt his confidence and the team's momentum last season, but it shouldn't be too much of a challenge for Murray, who has a great football IQ.
The SEC player of the year is his for the taking, and with his skills he will receive the award, the first one for Georgia since David Pollack in 2002.
Bringing the Title Back to Athens
And this year’s winner is...
Yes, Georgia winning the National Championship is my biggest prediction yet. With all the talent and hard work at the University of Georgia this shouldn't be a surprise.
Georgia is one of the few teams in the country that has the potential to lose a game and still appear in the national championship.
Georgia could be ranked as high as No. 3 or No. 4 in the national polls prior to their big swing-game against South Carolina on Oct. 6. If the Bulldogs lose, they’ll have two full months to climb back into the top five of the polls and should still have a chance to earn a second straight SEC East crown.
With a win over LSU or Alabama or maybe even Arkansas in the SEC championship, Georgia will be in a position to play for the national title, either against the Pac-12 winner (USC?) or one of a handful of other teams—Oklahoma, Florida State, West Virginia, etc.
Unless, of course, the BCS system screws everything up.
Which is very possible.
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