Georgia Football: Re-Imagining the Bulldogs 2013 Season Without Injuries
With the win against Georgia Tech on Saturday, the Georgia Bulldogs finish the regular season at 8-4.
That is not where pundits thought the Bulldogs would finish, but what’s done is done and the Bulldogs now have to focus on their bowl game, which has yet to be determined.
There are plenty of reasons why the Bulldogs did not live up to expectations this season, but the key reason has to be injuries on the offensive side of the ball. So the question is: would the Bulldogs’ season be different if they were relatively healthy?
Let’s re-imagine the Bulldogs’ season without the injuries.
Justin Scott-Wesley, Malcolm Mitchell and Michael Bennett are the three receivers that have either missed the entire season or missed significant time due to injuries.
Mitchell was lost for the year after the Clemson game and was expected to be the team’s leading receiver. Scott-Wesley tore his ACL in the Tennessee game and was on pace to have a breakout season. Bennett injured his leg in the Tennessee game but has only missed two games and has a career high in yards (483) and receptions (39).
If those three were healthy, the Bulldogs would have the best trio of receivers in the SEC. Mitchell would more than likely have close to 1,000 yards, Bennett would have 700 yards and Scott-Wesley would have had 800 yards receiving.
Healthy Running Backs
The running backs also got hit with injuries, as Keith Marshall tore his ACL in the Tennessee game and Todd Gurley injured his ankle in the LSU game.
Gurley is on pace to have over 1,000 yards rushing, and he has 344 receiving yards. Had he not missed the three-and-a-half games, he could have had 1,500 rushing yards and 600 receiving yards, which would be good enough to put him on the All-America team from all the outlets in the country.
As for Marshall, he was on pace to have an 800-yard, six-to-seven touchdown type of season. Those two healthy would have given Georgia the most dangerous tandem in the conference as well as the nation.
The offense for the Bulldogs was strong considering the injuries they suffered this season.
They finished the regular season ranked 16th in the NCAA in total offense with 489 yards per game.
But if the Bulldogs had Gurley, Marshall, Bennett, Mitchell and Scott-Wesley healthy all season long, it’s not out of the realm to say they could have been a top 10 offense, possibly a top 5 squad if a couple of bounces go their way.
This shows how valuable Aaron Murray was to this team. Despite the injuries to the skill players, he kept the offense going and will be missed greatly by the Bulldog nation.
The Bulldogs' four losses this year came against Clemson, Missouri, Vanderbilt and Auburn. Would have it been a different story if the Bulldogs had been healthy on offense?
The Vanderbilt game and the Missouri game could have been different, because the Bulldogs had issues sustaining drives in both games. As for Clemson, the offensive line brought the rest of the offense down and the Bulldogs were still healthy. And Auburn was a game that ended in an improbable way—the Bulldogs could have won regardless of the injuries they had.
It’s safe to say the season would have been very different if the Bulldogs did not get hit with the injury bug.
Gurley would have had a huge season, the receiving corps would be the strongest in the SEC and the offense would have possibly been one of the five best in the country.
If that happened, the Bulldogs would have been in the hunt to win the SEC East for the third consecutive year instead of being on the outside looking in.
But the injuries gave a chance for the coaching staff to evaluate the younger talent, which also gave them a head start on the 2014 season.
If Hutson Mason plays like he did against Georgia Tech, and the Bulldogs stay relatively healthy, next year will be a fun time in Athens.