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

Gutrake

January 10th, 2014
8:04 pm

Not really, 3.5″. But while you’re begging for attention, go ahead and try to find out what happened to Pulpwood Smith, too. Idiot.

DawginColorado

January 10th, 2014
9:00 pm

Big Wally – No… a little bit earlier.

Bulldawg35

January 10th, 2014
9:08 pm

Just think Richt lost dan Hawkins…the Colorado coach who I think is not even coaching anymore. Cmr lost too Ron zook who is not coaching anymore and lost to lane kiffin who got demoted to OC! Richt will continue to embarrass UGA!

Bulldawg35

January 10th, 2014
9:09 pm

Gut sucks…

I have no idea what happened to pulp wood smith…..why are you bringing him up anyways???

crowell

January 10th, 2014
9:43 pm

LMAO!!! Ole PULPWOOD!!!!! Know he came back to Sanford in ‘85 to thrash us!

palatkaDog

January 10th, 2014
10:12 pm

Jaxdawg: 2:34pm….Foley got National Championships regardless of the $ u speak of!

palatkaDog

January 10th, 2014
10:13 pm

Seeing new trolling with this GUT guy

palatkaDog

January 10th, 2014
10:15 pm

Any rehash ignorance of bloggers that use the word “koolaid” ROFLMAO!

Pulpwud Smiff

January 10th, 2014
10:19 pm

Hey, I bees hyare! Whut youse wont wif me?

Saban

January 10th, 2014
10:24 pm

Who have you Dawgs hired to help team?

KA DAWG

January 10th, 2014
10:36 pm

Meatheads 35 GUT and fan all asleep..we can await more hating tomorrow besides positive discussion and reading.

ProvostSJose

January 10th, 2014
10:52 pm

Bill, it’s Jan. 10th. Get your daughter tucked in at Auburn and comment on Lakatos, Kiffin, and Vandy please! WE NEED YOU!

MAJ Dawg

January 10th, 2014
11:42 pm

Evening, Dawg Fans,

Local media reporting from Nashville that Franklin will hold Vandy team mtg at 0900ET Sat. Penn State has scheduled press conference at their school for early afternoon.

MAJ Dawg

January 10th, 2014
11:43 pm

Will Vandy be interested in Bobo?

DawginColorado

January 11th, 2014
12:41 am

I’m sorry to see Franklin go… he made the Vandy game a bit more fun. He’ll do well at Penn St. Maybe he’ll get under Urban’s skin up at OSU. They’ll be competing for some of the same recruits. Urban doesn’t like competition.

DawginColorado

January 11th, 2014
12:45 am

I guess no one saw the posts about maybe trying to send emails that sound somewhat sane to McGarity? If you look at these blogs, you can see why he’d use terms like “reactionary”. Most of what I’ve seen here looks like a bunch of supposed men that have taken leave of their senses. If those emails he talks about in that interview are like the ramblings I see on here, I can definitely see why he would not take them seriously.

Anybody ever think about that?

DawginColorado

January 11th, 2014
12:53 am

The way I see it, the sun will continue to rise if next year is the same as this year or if it ends in a National Championship. If they fire Mark Richt then I’ll pull for the Dogs just the same as I always have. Is the football team where “I” would like it to be? Does that mean that I like it? Hell no I don’t but I’m not going to pop a vein trying to “will” Mike McGarity into firing Mark Richt either.

WhitewaterCenterBulldog

January 11th, 2014
12:59 am

TROLL..Koolaid!!! Great posts DawginCOL…put me to sleep with your self loathing posts…stay the 65% loving Richt course…

Flo- Ri- Duh

January 11th, 2014
1:01 am

Lame Kitten is the new OC at Bummer…… never seen a recruiting rules violation he wouldn’t commit. Pimped out those “hostesses” to the recruits while at Tennessee. Overall arse hole. Predict he and Saban will be at odds some where down the road ’cause Lame Kitten is a back stabber and Saban better watch his back.

DawginColorado

January 11th, 2014
1:02 am

I guess the question to ask yourself is what difference would winning a National Championship make in your life? I mean, really, what difference would it make? In the end it will make about as much difference as it did getting that whatever you asked for for Christmas when you were 10 made in your life. Yeah, it was great for a while but can you even remember that now? So if that’s they case why spend so much energy complaining about something you really can’t do a damned thing about?

Seems a bit off kilter to me.

DawginColorado

January 11th, 2014
1:05 am

Coach Saban is going to regret this hire. Kiffin is not a team player. He may be a pretty good offensive mind but he is a calamity in waiting. Hiring Kiffin is a booby trap…. you never know when it’s going to blow.

Bad deal…

DawginColorado

January 11th, 2014
1:10 am

I don’t like Bama very much. Their fans brag alot and think the accomplishments of their football team make them better people. Well here comes the other shoe.

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
9:01 am

Dawg in Colorado

So Franklin beating us at vandy made the game fun??? I guess you’re the type fan that likes to see a close game with everyone huh??? Disgusting!

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
9:04 am

We have 16 commits….with less than a month to go…their is no way we sign 21!

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
9:57 am

I don’t know why y’all are making fun of lane kiffin going to Bama….he absolutely owned UGA in 2009. I hope we don’t have to play Bama anytime soon.

dawgfan

January 11th, 2014
10:00 am

That’s funny because Kool Aiders think because Richt is a nice guy and supposedly doesn’t “win at all costs” it makes them better people.

Saban hired Kiffin because he wants to win football games. I know that’s a novel concept for you Kool Aiders. He was a disaster of a head coach but he can call some ball plays. With Bama’s usual great offensive line the sky is the limit on what he can do. This was a big time move by a big time program. While Richt is sitting around on his arse tolerating mediocrity out Grantham Saban is going after the best of the best. Kiffin vs. Grantham would be a laugher. We will get utterly destroyed.

Continuity is a good thing.

dawgfan

January 11th, 2014
10:05 am

The 2009 Tennessee loss might be the worst of the Richt era IMO. It was beyond embarassing. They kept running that same roll out play over an over and over again and we were clueless to stop it. Recall that this was a year after Richt said our defensive coaching was “fine” and there would be no changes. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Continuity is a good thing.

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
10:10 am

I’m glad Franklin left vandy……because he had turned the tables on Richt….I think vandy will just hire some other coach to whip up on Richt!! The elite teams in the sec never lose to vandy……like Bama….Lsu Texas a&m…..we are not elite and unlike the kool aiders I have known this for a long time! The kool aiders think that we are elite! LMAO!

dawgfan

January 11th, 2014
10:51 am

I don’t know. Vandy might take a sep back. It looks like Butch Jones might have our number though. It’s always going to be something with Richt. You just have to outwork him which isn’t hard. Alot of teams don’t have our talent but if their coaches put in the hours we’re very beatable. We strike fear in no one anymore.

This is Mark Richt Football.

Mosh

January 11th, 2014
11:47 am

The coaching carousel continues and top tier coaches and those with upside get upgraded to storied programs, while this stale, vanilla program stays pat and folds…Mark Richt is the laughing stock of college football and the fans that still buy into his straight and narrow approach to coaching will get a spot in heavan and Orlando at best during bowl time. Richt had his windows of opportunity from ‘02-’07….if he did screw up that home game at SC, that team would have beat LSU and went on to win the championship…even when he got one brief moment of luck in the six putrid years since then, he failed miserably to manage the last minute of the Bama game…folks, he’s a terrible coach and the posts that state he will remain until the money spigot is turned off are sad but true…how these stakeholders in the program cannot see the forest through the trees is beyond me…all you need to know as the measuring stick is that no one, and I mean no one, ever comes calling and says “yeah, Mark Richt would make us a better program”. Never happen and it never will. It’s over and it’s been over for a real long time…..

Mosh

January 11th, 2014
1:04 pm

and Dawg in Colordo: you are exhibit A amongst the Richt apologists and those that approach the program with indifference. That fake high road that you and a few others take in regards to this is comical. I think fans want consistency, success and a little bit of swagger in their coach and program. What Georgia team in the Richt era was truly feared? The only one I can think of was the second half of the ‘07 team. Yeah, this blog is meaningless and everything people write here is nothing more than a sounding board. I’ve been writing about Richt’s demise since 2008 when everyone jumped on me and told me I was crazy…well, crazy is now the order of the day, and if you think Richt will ever sniff another SEC title, let alone get through the gauntlet of the playoff, that is the new crazy….I wish we had a tenth of the swagger of the Bama program because they expect championships and strive for greatness…Richt strives for mediocrity and the weakness of his product is the laughing stock of college football….