The Georgia Bulldogs were as hot as any team at the end of last season. They were so hot that there was debate on whether they should have played for the national championship, or even in the Rose Bowl.
Mark Richt has a talented group of players who are looking for respect.
If defense wins championships, then Georgia is well on its way. They return nine starters from a team that stopped many of the top offenses in the nation.
The defense is led by senior linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. Ellerbe led the team with 93 tackles and was a key cog in that unit.
He will be flanked by two new starters in sophomores Rennie Curran and Akeem Dent. These young Dawgs have been put into the line of fire and have withstood the abuse.
The defensive backfield is led by Asher Allen. The junior was second on the team with 64 tackles. Allen is a talented corner who can come up and support against the run and cover the field against pass-happy teams.
He will be joined by junior Prince Miller at corner. Miller broke up seven passes last year and looks to start grabbing the ball instead of batting it down.
C.J. Byrd is one of the few seniors in the backfield and looks to keep up the great play of DBs at Georgia. Sophomore Reshad Jones is lurking at the free safety spot. Jones appears to be the best athlete in the secondary and looks to transfer that to the field.
The defensive line looks to disrupt every offense they line up against this year. The one guy that stands out is tackle Geno Atkins. He appears to be the leader of the linemen. Jeff Owens will be the other tackle.
Roderick Battle will be at one end and made 23 stops as a first-year startet last year. The other end looks to be Jeremy Lomax. Lomax saw significant time last year as a backup.
The offense is in good hands as junior quarterback Matthew Stafford is back under center. Stafford threw for 2,523 yards and 19 touchdowns. He has two years of SEC experience and looks to step out of Tim Tebow’s shadow.
The biggest challenge for any opposing team is not stopping, but slowing down Knowshon Moreno. He rushed for 1,334 yards and 14 touchdowns. The strong back from New Jersey had waited behind the other backs in Georgia for too long and finally took over.
Moreno now has people talking him up as the new version of Herschel Walker. Paving the way for Moreno will be the most underrated player in the SEC. Senior Brennan Southerland will miss the first two games with an injury, but looks to finish a great career for the Dawgs.
The offensive line will have to replace two starters as left tackle Trinton Sturdivant, center Chris Davis, and right guard Clint Boling return to finish what they started. Vince Vance and Kiante Tripp look to fill the voids left by graduating players.
The receiving corps took a big hit as Sean Bailey finished his eligibility. Senior Mohamed Massaquoi wants to pad his stats even more to finish his career in Athens. The most dangerous threat, however, will be tight end Tripp Chandler. Chandler appears to be the next great tight end from Athens.
Like the other SEC teams, the Bulldogs will only go as far as their schedule will allow them to. They travel to South Carolina, Arizona State, LSU, and Auburn. The Dawgs will get Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia Tech between the hedges.
On November 1, the Dawgs will face Florida in Jacksonville for what could determine the SEC East champion and eventually a bid to play for the BCS title.