Georgia has a chance to do some special things on offense this season. With 10 starters returning, including the quarterback, running backs and key receivers, this is a unit that should scare the rest of the SEC to death.
We mentioned back in January how Georgia could have the best offense in the country. That's cool and all, but there is a little more pride when school records fall. Being able to top some of the greats that came before you and set the bar even higher for the future helps make for a successful season.
The Bulldogs should have an incredible season offensively, and here are a few records that could be broken along the way.
Most Rushing Yards in a Season: 3,337
If you thought a combination of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall looked great last season, it wasn't nearly good enough to come close to the Georgia rushing record. The record of 3,337 rushing yards was set in 1971, and the Bulldogs only ran for 2,556 yards last season. Quite a difference to make up if this record is going to fall anytime soon.
It is no secret that Marshall and Gurley have to produce at an even higher level to top this record. The good news is that there was plenty of meat left on the bone last year. Georgia only rushed for 77 yards against Kentucky, 113 yards against Missouri that allowed 26 rushing touchdowns on the year, and only 120 yards against Georgia Southern.
Although Georgia averaged 4.87 yards a carry as a team, there was eight games that were well below that average.
The running game was a solid part of this offense last year, but the two young runners weren't always tearing things up. Marshall seemed to lack confidence at times and wasn't as productive as he could have been. Finishing the season with seven games of double-digit carries, Marshall only had three 100-yard performances. He then finished the season with five straight games of fewer than 10 carries.
Gurley was the workhorse of the offense, pounding out 222 touches for 1,385 yards. But there were five games where he finished with under 100 rushing yards, including a two-game stretch where he failed to reach the 50-yard mark.
The difference from the record and last year's total amounts to 781 rushing yards. It really comes down to how effective Marshall is going to be in his second season, and if he can truly become that sidekick to Gurley, who is arguably the top runner in the SEC this season. If he can fulfill that potential and play with a bit more consistency, Georgia has a true shot to give that record that has stood for more than 30 years a run for its money.
Most Passing Yards in a Season: 3,991
The Georgia record book states that the record is 3,721 passing yards, but that isn't possible considering Aaron Murray passed for 3,893 yards last season. Together, the team passed for 3,991 yards, which surprisingly was only good for fourth in the SEC.
This record is going to fall with Murray having the best season of his career. Somebody who is often criticized for coming up short in big moments, the Georgia signal-caller has sure come up big when it comes to the stat sheet.
In fact, he has improved his numbers each season since taking over the team back in 2010.
Last season was clearly his best year, as he set career highs in completion percentage and passing touchdowns, while also limiting his turnovers. A number that is also steadily improving is his passing yards, as 3,893 was also a career high and the third straight season he has topped the total from the year before.
You can expect those numbers to stay in the same ballpark with 10 offensive starters returning. The big-play receiver, Malcolm Mitchell, is still on the team, as are Michael Bennett and tight end Arthur Lynch. But the main reason Georgia has a real shot at 4,000 passing yards is because of the running backs, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. Teams are biting on play-action more than ever.
We talked about the play-action a little bit in this article, but it even happened against one of the best defenses—Alabama. The tight end was wide open on this touchdown pass in the SEC Championship Game because the safety came up to help out in the running game. Although the Bulldogs weren't running with much success, the Tide had to respect the two-headed monster, which forced the safety to bite just enough.
Georgia ended up scoring one of the easier touchdowns of the season because of the threat of a talented backfield. The play-action pass has become one of the bread-and-butter plays of this Bulldogs offense, and you can see how much success it had last season alone.
Both the running and passing game help each other out, and unfortunately for SEC defenses, Georgia knows how to combine the two.
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