Georgia Football: 5 Things Standing in the Bulldogs' Way of a National Title
Five yards was the distance the Georgia Bulldogs needed to gain in order to play in the national title game last year.
Because of how the Bulldogs finished the 2012 season, they are one of the favorites to win the national championship for the first time in 33 years.
But there will be obstacles along the way, and the Bulldogs will have to find a way to overcome them just like any other season.
At the same time, they need luck on their side because even championship teams are lucky when they need to be.
Here are five things that could stand in the way of a national championship.
No. 5: Clemson Tigers
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The schedule for the Bulldogs the last two years has been “easy,” according to general sentiment from critics.
They can’t say it about this season because the Bulldogs start off 2013 against Clemson.
Finishing 11-2 last season, the Tigers are a favorite to win the ACC this season and would love nothing more than to take down the Bulldogs in their home opener.
Under the leadership of quarterback Tajh Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins, the Tigers offense will be one of the best in the country. That should give the game more juice because the Bulldogs offense has a chance to also be the best in the NCAA.
This will be a very tough opening game against a strong ACC opponent, but if the Bulldogs get off to a fast start on offense, they should be able to weather the storm in Death Valley.
No. 4: South Carolina Gamecocks
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If facing Clemson is tough to start the season, try taking on the South Carolina Gamecocks a week later.
That’s right. The Bulldogs will face South Carolina right after facing Clemson, and this is a team that has given the Bulldogs fits the last three years.
Quarterback Connor Shawn proved that he can pace the offense last season, and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is on another level when it comes to elite college football linemen.
The only regular-season loss the Bulldogs had was against the Gamecocks last year at South Carolina. Mark Richt’s guys would love to get revenge, but South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier knows how to get under the Bulldogs’ skin.
No. 3: LSU Tigers
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But wait, there’s another early-season opponent that could prevent the Bulldogs from winning a national title.
LSU comes to Athens for game four of the regular season, and the Tigers are looking to bounce back from what could be called a disappointing 2012 season.
The Tigers' MO is to control the game with the run and be disruptive on defense.
The last time these two teams faced off was in the 2011 SEC title game, where the Tigers won with ease.
The Bulldogs are a better team than in 2011, but they can’t afford to have any slip-ups in the game against the Tigers because it will come back to bite them at the end of the year.
No. 2: Stability on the Offensive Line
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The Bulldogs have to worry about the opponents coming up, but they also have to iron out some things with their team first before they can worry about their schedule.
The offense for the Bulldogs will have no issues scoring, if the offensive line is stable.
John Theus and Chris Brunette had offseason surgeries, but both are expected be ready to go when the season kicks off.
If it’s true, all five starting offensive linemen from last season should be back in the starting lineup at the start of the 2013 year.
But because of the loss of Theus and Brunette (Theus actually returned the final week of spring practice), offensive line coach Will Friend got a chance to look at some of the younger offensive linemen.
Xavier Ward and Greg Pyke made an impression this spring along with veteran reserves Austin Long and Watts Dantzler.
That’s not a bad thing because young players developing are what spring football is all about. But if the Bulldogs don’t have the same offensive line from last season or have to shift the line all season long like they did this spring, it could be a very long year.
No. 1: Youth on Defense
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While the offense should look good enough to win the Bulldogs 10 games or more this season, there are a lot of questions on defense because of the youth and inexperience.
The Bulldogs have to replace 12 starters from last season, including Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree and Bacarri Rambo. So there will be some growing pains with this unit no matter how good they looked during the G-Day game.
There are some talented players coming to the fold like safety Tray Matthews, cornerback Sheldon Dawson and linebacker James DeLoach to help experienced players such as cornerback Damian Swann, defensive lineman Garrison Smith and outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins.
It’s a group that has the ability to make a ton of plays. However, they will have to grow up quickly in order to be the defense they want to be as well as reach a BCS National Championship Game in January.