Power Ranking the Georgia Bulldogs' Positional Units for 2014
In order for any college team to be successful, they have to be strong at key positions.
The Georgia Bulldogs are like any team, in terms of having strengths and weaknesses at certain positions. The team is very strong at the skill positions on offense, but when it comes to certain positions on defense, they have room for improvement.
But which position is the strongest for the Bulldogs and which one is the weakest?
Here’s a power ranking of the Bulldog’s positional units for the upcoming season.
No. 9: Defensive Backs
Top Players: Damian Swann, J.J. Green, Aaron Davis
Question Marks: Corey Moore, Reggie Wilkerson, Sheldon Dawson
This position has been through a lot over the last two seasons. Last year, they constantly gave up big play after big play, which ultimately led to key losses. This preseason has not been easier because Mark Richt dismissed Josh Harvey-Clemson and Tray Matthews, and Shaq Wiggins decided to transfer.
There are some talented players still left on the roster, especially Green, who played running back last season. But the lack of experience will play a factor with this unit, especially at the start of the season when the Bulldogs play Clemson and South Carolina.
No. 8: Special Teams
Top Player: Marshall Morgan
Question Marks: Colin Barber, coverage teams
The special teams have been the Achilles' heel for the Bulldogs for a few years, but Morgan has become one of the more reliable kickers in the conference.
The reason the special teams is ranked at No. 8 is the coverage teams have nearly killed the Bulldogs over the years. The miscues have cost the teams in two games last year, and they nearly cost them in games in 2011 and 2012 when they went to the SEC Championship.
New special teams coaches Mike Ekeler and John Lilly want to bring more aggressiveness to the special teams. They need to do something because the miscues have to stop as soon as possible.
No.7: Tight End
Top Player: Jay Rome
Question Marks: Jordan Davis, Jeb Blazevich
Talent is not the issue here, because Rome showed glimpses last season that he can become the next great tight end for the Bulldogs.
The issue here is the experience, because after Rome, there is no other tight end on the depth chart that has any experience.
Davis and Balzevich are the players behind Rome. Davis redshirted last year, and Blazevich just signed with the team in February.
That is why the coaches had to make Quayvon Hicks a hybrid-tight end. He will also play fullback, but if Rome is hurt, Hicks will likely play as an H-back to add another dimension to the offense.
No. 6: Offensive Line
Top Players: David Andrews, John Theus
Question Marks: Kolton Houston
The offensive line has been a mixed bag. At times they look great, but then there are times they have their issues.
Andrews is the leader of the group, and he anchors a line that has a ton of experience. Theus has played in a ton of games and will play left tackle this season, which is his natural position.
Houston officially played his first season as a Bulldog last year, and he needs to be more consistent in order for the offensive line to be efficient.
No. 5: Defensive Line
Top Players: Sterling Bailey, Ray Drew, James DeLoach
Question Marks: Chris Mayes, John Atkins
With Garrison Smith being the only defensive lineman gone from last year’s team, this group has a lot of experience. However, the starting defensive line will look a lot different from what it did last year.
DeLoach has moved from outside linebacker to defensive end and looked sharp during spring practice. Bailey started in eight games last year and put up solid numbers.
The one player to watch is Drew, who did not work with the first team during the spring. Drew tallied six sacks last season but got off to a slow start during spring practices. He was able to pick things up toward the end of spring practice and should be part of the defensive end rotation in the fall.
No. 4: Quarterback
Top Player: Hutson Mason
Question Marks: Faton Bauta, Brice Ramsey
Mason proved that he is ready to take over last year when he had to start the last two games of the season due to the ACL injury to Aaron Murray. He led the Bulldogs to a win against Georgia Tech and nearly did the same against Nebraska in the Gator Bowl.
His two backups are interesting because both are very different. Bauta is more of a scrambler, and Ramsey is the traditional dropback passer who will run only if it’s a last resort. But if one thing is certain, Mason can’t get hurt because if he does, the offense will be in a world of hurt.
No. 3: Wide Receivers
Top Players: Malcolm Mitchell, Michael Bennett, Chris Conley
Question Marks: Jonathan Rumph, Reggie Davis
These collection of receivers could be the best in the conference—that’s if they are healthy, which was not the case in 2013.
Mitchell and Justin-Scott Wesley are coming off ACL injuries, and Bennett has been hit with the injury bug as well. Mitchell is the best of the bunch because he is quick in space. Bennett is good across the middle and has reliable hands. Conley has made some big catches in big games.
Fans can only hope for good health for this group because Mason will need these guys to have a successful 2014 season.
No. 2: Linebackers
Top Players: Ramik Wilson, Amarlo Herrera, Leonard Floyd
Question Mark: Jordan Jenkins
The linebackers could very well be the best in the country. Wilson led the conference in tackles last season and Herrera came in third. Floyd led the team in sacks with 6.5 as a freshman.
Jenkins had a good year in 2013, but the expectations for him were higher. But he did lead the team with 12 tackles for loss and should only get better under defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.
The defense will go as far as the linebackers will take them. If they are able to produce like they did last season, the Bulldogs defense will be successful.
No. 1: Running Backs
Top Players: Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall
Question Mark: A.J. Turman
Gurley and Marshall will be battling back through injuries they suffered last season. But when they are on, no team in the country can stop them. Add the fact that Sony Michel and Nick Chubb will make their way on campus in the fall, and that will make the running game very dangerous.
Turman had a very productive spring, but after suffering nagging injuries last season, he will need to have productive fall in order to stay close to the top of the depth chart.