Georgia Football: Realistic Expectations for the Bulldogs' 2014 Season

Brian Jones@Brian_L_JonesContributor IMay 14, 2014

CLEMSON, SC - AUGUST 31:  Head coach Mark Richt of the Georgia Bulldogs looks on prior to the game against the Clemson Tigers at Memorial Stadium on August 31, 2013 in Clemson, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Believe it or not, we are a little more than three months away from the 2014 college football season kicking off.

The new recruits are ending their high school careers and they will soon arrive on college campus to join the veterans for preseason practice.

Until then, we can only speculate what will happen this upcoming season, and for the Georgia Bulldogs many things can and will happen. But whether it’s good or bad depends on how the players work on and off the field before the season begins.

With the players the Bulldogs have coming back on offense and defense, they have a shot of winning the SEC and a chance to play in the SEC Championship. Whether they do it or not will depend on Hutson Mason.

The Georgia Bulldogs lead the way in our Spring SEC East predictions.

— Southern Pigskin (@SouthernPigskin) April 15, 2014

The rising senior quarterback did a lot of good things last year and looked even better during the spring game. If he is healthy, and the offensive line can keep him upright, Mason will throw for 3,000-plus yards and 25 touchdowns.

But the key for him to be successful as well as the entire offense is the play of the line. They will miss three starters from last season, but the reserves have a ton of experience. John Theus, David Andrews and Kolton Houston will be the anchors for the group. However, they will need production from Mark Beard, Brandon Kublanow and Greg Pyke.

If there is one player that can make the offensive line better than they are, it’s one of the best running backs in the country, Todd Gurley.

JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 1: Todd Gurley #3 of the Georgia Bulldogs runs downfield on a 30-yard pass play to set up a field goal in the second half against the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the Gator Bowl at Everbank Field on January 1, 2014
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

After an injury-riddled 2010 season, Gurley is healthy and ready to run over and past SEC defenders. And if he can remain healthy, there is no reason he can’t rush for 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns.

The offense will be expected to score a lot of points this upcoming season. But that won’t matter if the defense can’t stop opponents.

One of the reasons the Bulldogs struggled on defense is the secondary gave up a lot of big plays. But with new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt at the helm the secondary is expected to be better.

But will they actually improve or will it be the same old song?

The spring game did not do the fans any favors as each secondary gave up over 250 passing yards. However, it was only spring and the players were still learning the system. With preseason practice right around the corner, the secondary should make strides, but players like Damian Swann and Tray Matthews will have to be leaders and show they have made strides from last year.

AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 16: Sammie Coates #18 of the Auburn Tigers is tackled by Tray Matthews #28 of the Georgia Bulldogs at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Auburn Alabama. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

When it comes down to it, the defense does not have to be elite or even good for that matter. They just need to be better than what they showed last year, which should happen when the season is all said and done.

As far as a final record, the Bulldogs have the talent to win 10 games, possibly 11. And the schedule plays into their favor with home games against Clemson, Tennessee, Auburn and Georgia Tech. However, there are away dates with Missouri and South Carolina, which will be swing games for the Bulldogs.

The realistic goal for the Bulldogs is a nine-win season with a top-ranked offense and an average defense. Sounds like a typical Mark Richt season. But with that said, it’s also not out of the question to think they can win 10-11 games and win the SEC East.

The only thing that’s a guarantee is the Bulldogs will make things interesting, just like they do every year.