Early 2014 rankings have Dawgs in or near the Top 10

Todd Gurley is a big reason early predictions have Georgia ranked fairly high for 2014. (Phil Sears / USA Today)

Todd Gurley is a big reason early predictions have Georgia ranked fairly high for 2014. (Phil Sears / USA Today)

Some of the earliest predictions on college football’s preseason Top 25 have Mark Richt’s Georgia Bulldogs in or just outside the Top 10, which is lower than last season’s Top 5 preseason poll position but a lot better than the Dogs finished the season — unranked.

The highest credible ranking I’ve seen so far comes from Jerry Hinnen of CBSSports.com, who has Georgia at No. 10. Hinnen’s reasoning: “Aaron Murray’s gone, but Todd Gurley isn’t, and the Bulldogs seem to play their best defense when expectations are lower. (Having up to 10 returning starters on that side of the ball should help, too.) If the Bulldogs’ collection of injured receivers can return to full strength in 2014, this is still the likely SEC East favorite.”

ESPN.com’s Mark Schlabach puts the Dogs just a notch lower, at No. 11. Says Schlabach: “Nothing seemed to go right for the Bulldogs in the second half of the 2013 season, from myriad injuries to the final minutes of a crushing 43-38 loss to Auburn to a 24-19 loss to Nebraska in the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl. But if there’s a silver lining in UGA’s disappointing 8-5 campaign, it’s that a lot of injured players are coming back in 2014. The Bulldogs will have to replace record-setting quarterback Aaron Murray, but rising senior Hutson Mason performed pretty well in two starts after Murray suffered a season-ending knee injury. Georgia might bring back six starters on offense, along with top receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley and tailback Keith Marshall, who suffered season-ending injuries. The Bulldogs will have to replace three starting offensive linemen. UGA might have back 10 starters from its underperforming defense, which started six freshmen and sophomores in 2013. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham will be under fire to fix UGA’s problems on that side of the ball. The Bulldogs open the season against Clemson at home and don’t play Alabama, LSU or Texas A&M during SEC play.”

And Athlon Sports pegs Georgia at No. 12 in its early ranking, saying: “The SEC East is the early favorite as the biggest mystery in 2014. Who knows what to expect from Florida, and Missouri and South Carolina both have key pieces to replace. The Bulldogs return a good chunk of their depth chart next year, and Hutson Mason has a two-game showcase to make his case for the starting quarterback spot. Mason won’t have to do it alone, as running back Todd Gurley is one of the best in the nation, and Michael Bennett, Chris Conley and Malcolm Mitchell are a talented trio in the receiving corps. The biggest concern for coach Mark Richt is the defense, which allowed 29.4 points a game in 2013. Will another full offseason help some of the young talent on the Georgia roster? Linebackers Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd could be two of the best pass rushers in the SEC next year, while the secondary returns safety Josh Harvey-Clemons and cornerbacks Damian Swann and Shaq Wiggins.

I have to admit that’s almost enough to lift some of my post-Gator Bowl pessimism about the Dogs’ 2014 prospects. And Gurley alone is a big plus in the Dogs’ favor. But, as I wrote last week, there are quite a few lingering problems that need to be addressed in order for Georgia to get into the College Football Playoff conversation — which at the very least means winning the SEC East.

So what do you think? Are these early rankings overly optimistic, or do you see the 2014 Bulldogs as a legitimate Top 10 to Top 15 team?

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731 comments Add your comment

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
9:11 pm

Gut rake

I believe it’s past your bed time….you need to get your mom to change your adult diaper before you head to bed though! Lmao!

Gutrake

January 8th, 2014
9:12 pm

hey…anybody read the story? Anybody? Anybody?

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
9:13 pm

Do you fish for BASS..I do too….but usually stick with catfish!

Gutrake

January 8th, 2014
9:13 pm

hey….hey….the McGarity story…anybody read it? Hey…hey…anybody?

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
9:15 pm

I’m a toothless redneck that likes to skin deer….who am I !

Gutrake

January 8th, 2014
9:15 pm

35,

Have fun, sport. No need to chew up your sleeves…

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
9:16 pm

I have a wad of tobacco in my mouth and warts all over my arse….who am I? I is gut rake….some call me the human dictionary! Wooooohoooooo!

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
9:18 pm

Gut rake

You’re not a bulldawg…you’re a Richt apologist!

BigWally

January 8th, 2014
9:25 pm

gutter rat mixes moonshine in with his Kool Aid. That explains a lot.

BigWally

January 8th, 2014
9:26 pm

gutter rat is the Dennis Rodman of UGA blogs.

The Monger

January 8th, 2014
9:31 pm

Let the lunacy begin I guess. Georgia will be 7-6 next year, another typical underachieving Mark Richt year. This year he used the injuries and young defense excuses, so next year….. he will probably use the 1st year quarterback and a still gelling Offensive line? Sounds about right. So Mark Richt has now had Matthew Stafford, Knowshon Moreno, AJ Green, Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree, Brandon Boykin, David Pollack, Odell Thurman, Baccari Rambo, Musa Smith, Verron Haynes, John Jenkins, Sanders Commings, Todd Gurley, Orson Charles, Aaron Murray, and numerous others that I can’t remember right now, and still hasn’t won a National Championship or even played in a BCS title game? I could field an NFL Pro Bowl team with the players off UGA rosters the last 13 years or so, and yet 6-7 and 8-5 seasons have become the norm for this program, and some of these “fans” accept this? Pathetic

BigWally

January 8th, 2014
9:36 pm

I read the McGarity story gutter rat. Sounds like a weak AD to me.

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
9:41 pm

The monger

Great post! Richt has been given every resource and great players to win a championship but he just can’t do it and never will. It will even take a miracle for UGA to win the sec again.

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
9:43 pm

Big wally

I agree the AD is weak….gut rake must be his mentor! Lmao!

BigWally

January 8th, 2014
9:54 pm

That would explain a lot. It looks like he doesn’t want to be remembered as the AD who canned Saint Richt. He reminded me of Mel Brooks’ character “The Governor” in the movie Blazing Saddles with his quote “We’ve gotta protect our phoney baloney jobs, gentlemen!”. I guess that would make gutter rat, Mongo.

MAJ Dawg

January 8th, 2014
9:54 pm

Good evening, Bulldawg Fans…GO DAWGS!

Can UGA be ranked 12th or higher after the 2014 season? I think it is possible; however, at a minimum, UGA must:

- win all home games, beat FLA, and beat Mizzou or SC
- dawgs hold opponents to a 13-17 PPG AVG
- zero opponent TDs resulting from UGA Special Team turnovers
- operational depth on the offensive line
- few prolonged injuries exceeding two Conf games
- stronger kick-offs with fewer opponent returns
- positive turn-over ratio

BigWally

January 8th, 2014
9:55 pm

gutter rat/Mongo “only pawn….in game of life”.

Gutrake

January 8th, 2014
10:21 pm

Guess I need to include BigWaffle in 35’s sleepover friends…

Do you boys keep your hands to yourself in that dark bed tent? I bet 35 makes sure none of the flashlights have batteries in them…Hmmmmm? Pop Tarts, Little Debbie cakes and milk, mmmm-mmmm….pimples and poots all night long in the bedroom of 35…

BigWally

January 8th, 2014
10:21 pm

Hoop Dawgs just pulled major upset in Missouri. We’re now a basketball school folks!!!!!!!!!

BigWally

January 8th, 2014
10:28 pm

gutter rat’s paddleballs are always defective.

Mark Richt's Ballsac

January 8th, 2014
10:39 pm

Mark lost me in a bet with Nick Saban in 2008….Nick keeps me in a small jelly jar because, well, I’m not much to speak of. When are you losers going to learn that Georgia football is dead with a half man like Mark leading the team.

BigWally

January 8th, 2014
10:42 pm

“Mark Richt’s Ballsac”!, your going to get gutter rat all excited with that moniker.

Macclenny_dawg

January 8th, 2014
10:44 pm

Early next week after speaking with Mcgarity, Richt will give the sales pitch that the marketing genius came up with. New batch of koolaid and enough for everyone. I think they will tell us Richt will finish his degree this summer on the cutting edge. Koolaid anybody. Stay thirsty my friends. Lol!!!

BigWally

January 8th, 2014
10:58 pm

I got a slogan for them “KNOCK THE &^$%^&!@% BALL DOWN!.

Dawggie Marge Mead

January 8th, 2014
11:05 pm

Gentlemen and KoolAid drinkers: We finished 8-5…Our record says what we are! Rejoice in the great BBALL win on road vs #21 Mizzou!

CamdenCountyRealist

January 8th, 2014
11:09 pm

MAClenny…Time for McGarity to make decision perhaps…just sayin

GLUTRake

January 8th, 2014
11:11 pm

Night. I’m still a HATER.

koolaid

January 8th, 2014
11:31 pm

I’m sick of you TROLLS using my name in your numbskull irrational Richt-hating comments…Selah

7576DAWG

January 8th, 2014
11:42 pm

Worse Special Teams in America , 6 first team play makers coming back from ACL injuries, a new Quarterback and a Secondary finishing with one of the worse stats in 2013 and Vegas has us 25 to 1 odds of win the National Championship. Amazing we have that good of odds. Do they know something we don’t?

nussmeier

January 8th, 2014
11:48 pm

Curch Urban Meyers beware!!!! I handled Sabans offense.! We will whipp you now!

GLUTRake

January 8th, 2014
11:53 pm

7567…many teams in ncaa have no special teams coaches…problems are more indepth than that dont ya think?

ShowMeYurTD's

January 9th, 2014
12:10 am

Ranked near or in top 10? Huh? We were ranked # 5 last yr and #1 yr before pre season. My comment is SO? Lord help us. Mcgarity is a Bafoon, he tapped danced his ars off avoiding answering the meaty questions…… Fasten your seat belts, next year is going to be a long bumpy ride…..7-6 at best if we don’t get a coaching house cleaning….. damn petrino went to Louisville, another one gets away.

ShowMeYourFG's

January 9th, 2014
12:20 am

Preseason means squat! Hope they have us 2-11! We will end up 8-4 and have not seen schedule yet.

james

January 9th, 2014
12:41 am

I’m going to PENN ST!!!!! And fighter boy stays as an underachieving coach at uga.

VandyIntramuralAD

January 9th, 2014
12:55 am

UGA might can beat us next yr!…lmao

Flo- Ri- Duh

January 9th, 2014
1:44 am

UGA beat the #4 & #14 ranked teams , played the 6th most difficult schedule in the nation and came within an unlucky bounce of beating #2 – all of this with 9 new starters on defense and major injuries on offense & defense. Must not be as awful as you Trolls whine about.

Macclenny_dawg

January 9th, 2014
7:29 am

Lost first game of season with no injuries to a team ranked lower. Got whipped on both lines by Missouri. Came within a fumble of losing to Tennessee as the guy went into the end zone. Took 3 quarters to finally get put away North Texas. About let worst Florida team in 2 decades come back to beat them. Took overtime to beat Tech. Lost to Vanderbilt. Stay thirsty my fellow Dawgs.

Damn Disgusted Dawg

January 9th, 2014
9:02 am

Duke plays better football than UGA.

Damn Disgusted Dawg

January 9th, 2014
9:03 am

@ Macclenny_dawg … We beat Florida for the third year in a row. Check your facts.

Mark Richt's Ballsac

January 9th, 2014
9:49 am

You boys are so mean. My good works and money making for the university serves as cover for my mediocre coaching, but you morons will never get it that the almighty dollar is god. You keep buying into my gargabe program, I get paid very well, my players underachieve or get injured and you morons spent your life frustrated. But hey, we’ll get ‘em next year. Bless your hearts. Go Dawgs!

UGA Insider

January 9th, 2014
9:53 am

Just read the interview on AJC with McGarity. Basically he is saying that we can email, twitter or text our issues with UGA Football. However he really doesn’t give a damn and mostly ignores us.

UGA Insider

January 9th, 2014
9:59 am

You know UGA is in trouble when are fans are opening hoping James Franklin moves to Penn St. Then openly wonders who the next Vandy coach is.

Boy do we have problems.

Bulldawg35

January 9th, 2014
10:09 am

I can’t believe UGA is scared of vandy!!! Hoping the coach will leave! Another 5 loss season ahead folks! You think people like gut rake for that!

Damn Disgusted Dawg

January 9th, 2014
11:20 am

Either McGarrity proves his mettle and makes major changes or he can McGo!

Flo- Ri- Duh

January 9th, 2014
11:26 am

BS35 (aka Milk Dud) – UGA hasn’t said anything about James Franklin going anywhere and they could care less. Don’t worry your little self – Dawgs will crush Jamie in 2014 – just like they got revenge on LSU & Steve Arrogance in 2013.

I agree that Richt & Grantham should get 2014 to get it right. Pat Narduzzi is on the short list if they don’t

Bulldawg35

January 9th, 2014
11:27 am

Even the basketball team can win a big game on the road against a favored team! Richt needs to go talk with fox on how he did it! But I bet the basketball team will tank from here on though.

Bulldawg35

January 9th, 2014
11:30 am

Flo – ri- duh

Yeah I want see us beat SC on the road! You think we are going to be the team that ends the chickens 17 home game winning streak??? I don’t think so!

Flo- Ri- Duh

January 9th, 2014
11:32 am

Saban’s OC has jumped over board and made a lateral move to Michigan. After getting chewed out by the Gnome publicly on the sidelines of the Bama Loser Bowl he knew there would be a scapegoat and he was the target. Smart move by the OC.

Rumor is that Lame Kitten has interviewed for the OC job and Saban praised him as a bright offensive mind. Got my fingers crossed that Saban will put another nail in the coffin by bringing in the Lame One. Kiffin could sell a used car to a used car salesman/

TMC DAWG

January 9th, 2014
11:35 am

JESS SIMPSON from Buford Wolves Now thatd an Idea. Talk about WINNING. I believe he could make the jump from HS to UGA and make us all proud. THINK ABOUT IT

Flo- Ri- Duh

January 9th, 2014
11:35 am

BS35(aka Milk Dud) – Clowney’s gone, Lattimore’s gone, their QB’s gone and Spurrier will soon be gone to Sun City Retirement Community in in beautiful South Carolina. He’s 68 now you know?