Georgia Football: 5 Biggest Early Season Storylines for the Bulldogs
The Georgia Bulldogs enter their first bye week of the year with a 1-1 record. They fell to Clemson in the season opener but bounced back to take down South Carolina in Athens.
And based on what was seen in the two games, there is a lot to look forward to as the season rolls on.
There have been a few players who have surprised their coaches, players and fans with their play. There have been other players who have struggled but are looking to improve. And there are still some issues with the team that have plagued them the past few years.
Here are five biggest early season storylines for the Bulldogs.
The Todd Gurley Show
The first big storyline is the play of Todd Gurley.
The sophomore running back has rushed for 286 yards and three touchdowns through the first two games.
That averages to 143 yards per game, which is the second-best total in the SEC.
With this being his second year in the system, there was no telling how Gurley would do because teams are gunning for him. But because of his speed, power and balance, he is making a huge impact on offense, and if he keeps it up, he will be a Heisman finalist.
Search for the No. 1 Receiver
With Malcolm Mitchell out for the season, the Bulldogs are looking for a No. 1 receiver to take his place.
Chris Conley has been a consistent target for Aaron Murray. So far he has five receptions for 79 yards.
Michael Bennett leads the team with eight catches for 107. He is coming off ACL injury which sidelined him the majority of the year.
Justin Scott-Wesley leads the team in receiving yards (171) and has one touchdown. He is the receiver who is most explosive as he scored on an 85-yard play in the South Carolina game.
No matter who takes the next step, the entire receiving group has a ton of talent, and Murray will make sure they are all involved this season.
Offensive Line Play
Gurley, the receivers and Murray can’t perform at high level consistently if the offensive line does not play up to its potential.
It had trouble with protection in the Clemson game as Murray was sacked twice and hit three times, but it was able to contain the South Carolina defensive line the following week.
Because there is depth at the offensive line, coach Will Friend will mix things up a bit when it comes to personnel. Both tackle positions will get closer looks during the bye week as Kolton Houston, Kenarious Gates, Mark Beard and John Theus have seen plenty of action in the first two games of the year.
Can the Defense Improve?
The defense has played liked a team that needs more seasoning, which is not a surprise.
It has given up 30 points or more in the first two games, and the secondary has had issues making tackles and covering receivers.
But the players have made plays when they needed to because the defensive line is playing aggressive football. Mike Thornton and Sterling Bailey each have a sack, while Garrison Smith has half a sack.
The two inside linebackers, Amarlo Herrera and Ramik Wilson, have also been productive. Herrera has 24 tackles and one sack, while Wilson has 22.
Can the defense be a better unit than what it was last year? It will have to be if the Bulldogs want to remain on top of the SEC East.
No Role Reversals
Speaking of the SEC East, can the Bulldogs keep up the intensity after a win against the Gamecocks?
They have LSU at the end of the month, Florida at the beginning of November and the rest of the teams in the SEC East.
The win against South Carolina gives them a leg up in the SEC East, but the Bulldogs have lost to the Gamecocks the past two years and still won the East.
Now the Gamecocks are hoping that the Bulldogs lose two more SEC games in what would be a role reversal. It will be crucial for the Bulldogs to keep up the intensity execution because every team they face the rest of the year will be gunning for them.