"Next year" is seemingly always the year for Georgia—a program that has been ranked No. 1 in the country, played in two SEC Championship Games and been within five yards of a national title berth since its last conference championship in 2005.
Next year won't be the year.
Even in a down SEC East, it is going to take a lot for the 2015 Georgia Bulldogs to break through that glass ceiling, win the division and contend for a spot in the second annual College Football Playoff.
The roster turnover is just going to be too much for head coach Mark Richt's crew to overcome.
No, it's not the expected loss of running back Todd Gurley. True freshman running back Nick Chubb proved that he's more than capable of picking up the slack by in Gurley's stead in 2014, gaining 1,281 yards and 12 touchdowns. He'll have insurance behind him in the form of Sony Michel and Keith Marshall.
They might have to be the offense, though.
Unlike last offseason, when rising redshirt senior Hutson Mason slid into the top spot of the quarterback depth chart after Aaron Murray moved on, there are no experienced quarterbacks that have total trust of the coaching staff on the roster.
Rising sophomore Brice Ramsey, junior Faton Bauta and freshman Jacob Park are all talented, and Ramsey and Bauta both earned mop-up snaps in 2014. That's a far cry from Mason, who served as Murray's primary backup and learned the system for nearly four years before making his first start late last year.
Ramsey will likely be the favorite. The former 4-star prospect, per 247 Sports, from Kingsland, Georgia, came to Georgia in the class of 2013 and has had some time to learn the offense after running a variation of the "Wing-T" at Camden County High School.
|Georgia's 2015 QBs Career Stats|
Is it enough time to get comfortable, though?
Sure, draft-eligible junior Malcolm Mitchell will be back, according to Tanya Sichynsky of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but Chris Conley and Michael Bennett—Georgia's top two receivers from 2014—will both be gone. Ramsey, or whoever wins the quarterback job, better develop the chemistry that Murray and Mason had built for years with that receiving corps, because Georgia is at its best when there's a consistent connection to move the chains.
On top of that, linebackers Amarlo Herrera and Ramik Wilson will exhaust their eligibility after the bowl game, as will cornerback Damian Swann—who came on strong with 62 tackles and three picks after a rather lackluster 2013 season. Richt announced that linebackers Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins will be back, per Sichynsky, although Jenkins' return might not be entirely set in stone, according to Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald.
There's a ton of roster turnover in Athens, and that's not good for a team that couldn't find a way to stay consistent even with veterans all over the field.
Is there anything to suggest that 2015 will be different?
If anything, the East will be better than it has been over the last two seasons. Florida turned over a new leaf and is rebuilding the program with offensive-minded head coach Jim McElwain. Tennessee's rebuilding effort is entering Year 3 and includes a small village of talented skill players on offense and a defensive line that includes Derek Barnett and incoming monsters Khalil McKenzie and Shy Tuttle.
Georgia has a great class coming in 2015, but with Alabama in Athens and Auburn on the Plains, the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville and a road trip to Tennessee on the schedule, next year won't be Georgia's year.
Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.