Football season is quickly approaching. People are busy posting away their own lists/rankings of teams and players. But one thing is pretty common among all of the SEC preseason rankings: the 2011 Georgia Bulldogs are one of two favorites in the SEC East.
This, in particular, is intriguing to me in the least. One question that I want to throw out to the college football and SEC world is: Are the 2011 Georgia Bulldogs being over-hyped and overrated?
Last season for the Bulldogs, was a season to forget for avid fans. After going 6-6 in the regular season, then losing in the Liberty Bowl against the University of Central Florida, many Bulldog fans have put head coach Mark Richt on the flaming hot seat. Let me state that I don't think he should be there yet.
This season, the Bulldogs are looking to rebound behind star quarterback Aaron Murray. Murray is being labeled by many fans and "experts" as the top quarterback in the SEC, and rightfully so. Did I also mention that he is only a sophomore?
Let's slow down a bit though. The Bulldogs also lost an extreme amount of firepower that Murray built his great numbers around. The Bulldogs have lost their top two leading receivers; superstar wide receiver AJ Green and Kris Durham are both gone.
On top of that list, star running back Washaun Ealey, is gone. Ealey, who transferred to Jacksonville State, led the Bulldogs in rushing last season. Also, Caleb King, who was on track to take over as UGA's starting running back, was just declared academically ineligible for the 2011 season.
In total, the Bulldogs lose their top two receivers and their top two rushers. Between Ealey and King,1,283 yards and 13 touchdowns are gone from UGA's ground game, as well as 1,507 yards and 12 touchdowns between Green and Durham in the passing game.
The area most affected from the departures looks to be the running game. With Ealey and King gone, the Bulldogs are seemingly relying on heralded freshman Isiah Crowell to take over immediately. Crowell is more than capable of producing as a true freshman, much like Marcus Lattimore accomplished at South Carolina last season.
Tavarres King and Marlon Brown will be looking to produce big numbers at the wideout positions to replace Green and Durham—along with tight end Orson Charles, who will produce as well.
The Bulldogs, in fact, have a bright future seemingly ahead. UGA brought in a great recruiting class led by top running back prospect Isiah Crowell, top wide receiver prospect Malcolm Mitchell (who I think given time will be great) and top tight end prospect Jay Rome. Rome and Mitchell, both coming from Valdosta High School in Valdosta, GA (where I live), will both be elite SEC players along with Crowell, in time.
But, this season the Bulldogs are looking to rely on a true freshman to anchor the ground game, which is arguably the most brutal position to play in the SEC and all of football.
The question still remains though:
With all of these losses from a team that went 6-7 last season, are the Bulldogs being a bit over-hyped and are they, in fact, going to be as good as everyone thinks?