The end of the college football season means fans will have to wait eight months before the new season kicks off. Fortunately, news for the upcoming season is always at their fingertips because various media outlets have already made their early predictions for the 2015 season.
Paul Myerberg of USA Today recently came out with his Top 25 for the upcoming season, and he has the Georgia Bulldogs at No. 14. But Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com has the Bulldogs ranked at No. 8, making them the highest-ranked SEC team in his poll.
The Bulldogs finished ninth in the AP poll, which is the first time they have finished in the Top 10 since 2012, when they finished No. 4. The following year, the Bulldogs struggled with injuries and barely finished in the Top 25.
2015 will be an interesting year for the Bulldogs because they will have 13 starters returning and will play a favorable schedule. And if the Bulldogs are able to stay healthy, they will be the odds-on favorite to win the SEC title.
Winning the SEC is not an easy task, as the Bulldogs have not won the title since 2005. But the team coming back this upcoming season could be the best team head coach Mark Richt has fielded in three years.
It all starts and ends with running back Nick Chubb, who took the college football world by storm with his ability to break tackles play after play. Chubb was second in the conference in rushing, and he was the starter for only half the season.
Georgia Bulldogs & NCAA Football Fans, can you say Nick Chubb for Heisman in 2015? This guy looks like a legitimate NFL RB & he's a Freshman— ADJ Sports (@ADJSports) December 31, 2014
But Chubb is not the only one to watch on offense. His backup, Sony Michel, was able to be a key contributor when he was healthy. Michel has top-notch speed and has the ability to catch passes out of the backfield.
The offensive line was a big reason Chubb and Michel were able to run with success. They will miss David Andrews, but the line will return Greg Pyke, John Theus, Brandon Kublanow and Kolton Houston. The four returning starters made great strides in 2014, and they will have no issues meshing with the new starters.
But the one question on offense is quarterback. Brice Ramsey will likely be the new starter, and he was able to make some plays in the limited time he saw this season. But 2015 will be the first year Ramsey will have to face a full SEC schedule, which is not easy to get through.
The Bulldogs are hoping new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer can utilize his NFL experience to get Ramsey more prepared for what he will face in September.
Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt was in the same boat last season as he tried to get the players up to speed in terms of what he wanted on defense. And while the defense had some growing pains in the early stages of the season, it finished with very solid numbers.
The Bulldogs ranked second in the conference in passing defense, fifth in scoring defense and sixth in total defense. The defense will miss Ray Drew, Mike Thornton, Ramik Wilson, Amarlo Herrera and Damian Swann, but Pruitt will have a talented group of players to work with, including Lorenzo Carter, Jordan Jenkins, Dominick Sanders, Quincy Mauger and Aaron Davis.
Pruitt’s defense is about creating turnovers, and the Bulldogs were able to do that in a big way with a plus-16 turnover margin, which ranked fourth in the country. There is no reason they can’t do the same thing in 2015, especially with the players coming back in the secondary.
As it was mentioned earlier, the Bulldogs have a favorable schedule, which was not the case the last couple of seasons. The Bulldogs have only four true road games, and two of those games take place in the first two months of the season. The Bulldogs do have to face Alabama on October 3, but the game will be played in Athens, and the Crimson Tide will be fielding nine new starters on offense.
The Bulldogs will always have the talent to win the SEC, and as long as Richt is in charge, they will always be in the hunt to contend for the conference title. They just can’t have too many slip-ups like they did last season; they must remain focused.
The Bulldogs will have their share of struggles in 2015, but with a guy like Chubb running the football, guys like Jenkins and Carter rushing the quarterback and a guy like Ramsey leading the offense, 2015 could be the season the Bulldogs stand tall at the Georgia Dome in December.