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
8:14 am

We do have the worst coaching staff in the sec!!! They all take after Richt!

SwampDawg

January 8th, 2014
8:26 am

Maybe we need to be rating the coaching staff. Most would have our staff as dead ass last and that is a crying shame. Just look at the schools that have made changes.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

January 8th, 2014
8:28 am

A true supporter……..

that spends a couple thousand each year to watch their football team isnt going to be on here wanting to make excuses for 3 seasons of 5 or more loses in a 5 year period

and

6 seasons of 3 or more losses in 8 seasons with a couple of 2 loss season being the best there is with no conference championships and mediocre bowl appearances

Im sure that “true fan” loves wasting a couple thousand each year for lackluster Ray Goff results

Joey

January 8th, 2014
8:28 am

If McGarity doesn’t force the hard-headed Richt to hire a Special Teams Coordinator, after this season’s ST atrocities, there is no hope – they aren’t gonna fix themselves.

It is simply laughable Richt still doesn’t seen the need for one.

DawginLex

January 8th, 2014
8:47 am

Unless we can run the ball in the red zone, we won’t win 9 games. That’s what champions do. Run the ball in the red zone for TD’s. We will have 7 running backs next year but we replace 3 OL starters.
Murray to Mason is a big dropoff. If we have to rely on Mason to win and we can’t run the ball over 50% of the time, we will not win 9 games.

Defense? I’m waiting on the announcement about Grantham and Lakatos. I know SL will be re-assigned but Grantham is back unless he gets an NFL gig. Short of a miracle turnaround with the defense, 2014 will be Grantham’s last year in Athens.

SC on the road with the win streak will be unbelievably difficult to win. Mizzou on the road also. Florida has to improve and Auburn has 20 starters back

Anywhere from 8-4 to 11-1 is possible with somewhere in between likely reality.

JB

January 8th, 2014
9:00 am

Class A ball games. Clem,SC,Mizzou,AU, Vandy
class B ball games. Tenn,Ark,Fla,Tech
Class C ball games. Troy, Kentucy, Chas So.

Take your picks

Gene

January 8th, 2014
9:02 am

The trouble with these rankings is, you eventually have to play an actual game.

JB

January 8th, 2014
9:10 am

I seem to remember Dawgs ranked pretty high last year. Then the whistle blew and the games started.
Like Sprurrier says, play the Dawgs early while their stars are suspended.

DawginLex

January 8th, 2014
9:15 am

Only an idiot doesn’t take into consideration all the injuries in 2013

Of course, there are a lot of idiots in our fanbase

Most of them post on these blogs

UGA Insider

January 8th, 2014
9:16 am

NCDawg, You are the ultimate homer.

FSU beat Auburn and we did not. Who cares is #8 was sucking wind? FSU was in better physical shape to make plays in the end and UGA did not. Simple as that.

Stop making excuses.

crossdawg

January 8th, 2014
9:26 am

Is Clemmons coming back? Or will he end up at Auburn or some other school that allows left handed cigerettes?

mcdaviddawg

January 8th, 2014
9:35 am

Until the fan base including the junkyard dawg have higher expectations of the Georgia coaching staff, we will continue to get poor work ethic out of the coaching staff and continue to fall in the SEC. This year we’re the lower half to the league and with recruiting continuing to lag, we’re headed for the bottom third. Season ticket purchase for the coming year greatly in question.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

January 8th, 2014
9:37 am

Dawginlex

A terrible record against the top 25 the last 5 years

3 bowl losses in the last 4

3 seasons of 5 or more losses in 5 years

6 seasons out of 8 with 3 or more losses

Still drinking the kool-aid I see

Matt

January 8th, 2014
9:43 am

Same article, different year. Every year adequate players who are no more than contributors go on to play 10 years in the NFL. Brandon Boykin and Marlon Brown are the most recent examples of this. Neither was a superstar and hardly anything the other team had to be scared of.Every year we waste talent. Every year there is an excuse. The best running back in Athens since Herschel will be wasted. We will have had 2 top 15 picks at the RB position, the #1 pick at QB, and a top 5 pick at WR in the last 5 years with nothing to show for it.

Keep drinking the kool-aid. If Mason is another Joe Cox or JOe T3 and I’ve seen nothing to convince me otherwise the next 2 years (we will have another starting QB in 2015) will be just as frustrating.

Hey, if your goal is to win 9ish games next year then you won’t be disappointed.

dawgfan

January 8th, 2014
9:50 am

“Real fans” of Georgia football say things like “all we can ask for his hope and optimism?” “True supporters” of the program ignore glaring coaching deficiencies while all of our rivals go on to play for national titles?

Okay then fair enough. I’m not a real fan. Whatever makes you feel better.

I look forward to your excuses for our 2 or more losses in 2014.

JB

January 8th, 2014
10:02 am

Georgia football is like a nice new restaurant that’s opened near your house with average food. You keep going back knowing the food will get better because of all the money they spent to build and run the place. You just know It’ll get better.

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
10:03 am

Our road record has been terrible the last 5 years….I expect road losses to SC and mizzou and Arkansas! Plus we will struggle mightily with Kentucky on the road! Richt use to be confident on the road and get us big wins on the road but now he has become a dud!! When is the last big road game we have won??????? Can some kool aider please answer me?????

JB

January 8th, 2014
10:06 am

When is the last time we beat a favored team? Was Carolina favored over us This past year?

Steve

January 8th, 2014
10:14 am

I know Gurley was battling injuries most of the year, but he needs to get in the best shape of his life for next year

sc_dawg

January 8th, 2014
10:15 am

Wow hasn’t anyone learned anything about this program. We’re not even a top 25 team much less top 10. Hutson Mason is the next Joe Cox. Grantham’s defense could not stop my sons pop warner team. Our special teams are laughable at best. We have NO offensive line. Our S&C program is bottom tier. Have they forgotten we have Mark Richt as our head coach. Unprepared, turnovers, penalties, poor defense, no special teams, poor O-line play, lack of discipline, lack of focus. I guess to sum it up this program is just LACKING in every phase of the game. Firing the staff and rebuilding is the only answer. Too many talented coaches out there to be stuck with the ones we have now. Everyones worried about rebuilding, we just finished 8-5, it couldn’t be much worse.

JB

January 8th, 2014
10:18 am

Steve, he will. Money year.

sc_dawg

January 8th, 2014
10:21 am

And FYI , Gurley is injury prone and lacks physical endurance. He’s great for 3 plays then he’s winded and on the sidelines for 10. That’s not a top notch back. Blame his ankle if you want but there’s no way your gasping for air on the sidelines after 2 or 3 plays unless your just plain out of shape. Our strength and conditioning program is a joke and Gurley is proving it .

Attrition

January 8th, 2014
10:27 am

Georgia will experience an exodus of players come summer. I can feel it coming. Some we already have- bead on, having been benched for “issues”, etc. This is the Georgia way.

Bottom line, Coaching is more than being a nice guy. The guy at the top had better hire tough coaches to manage the players. Another way to manage them is to recruit kids that want to win, instead of what we hear about around the SEC.

2014? UGa will end up 8-5. UGA is not an elite football program anymore than we are in basketball or baseball. Folks LOOK at the record over the last 10?, 20? Years.

UGA alumnus and FORMER $ contributor

JB

January 8th, 2014
10:29 am

Dawgs need to start next year like they finished. NOT RANKED. Earn their way in to being ranked. Lose to Clemson and SC and it makes everyone look silly. Win those games, then rank us. If I’m doing pre season predictions and i know Murray is gone and this entire staff is back, I say No way Jose.

DawginLex

January 8th, 2014
10:31 am

Flat tire the retard

What did I type to warrant the kool aid label?

You are an idiot

JB

January 8th, 2014
10:31 am

If they went by hope and change and spin, Dawgs would start off #1.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

January 8th, 2014
10:31 am

Georgia football is moving in the right direction when South Carolina is now considered a signature win.

South Carolina; a program that took over 100 years to win 11 games in a season an won its first bowl game in 1995

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
10:33 am

Did anybody hear Grantham on 680 the fan?? Basically he was calling Damian swann out! Said he needs to hit the weight room more! Grantham is always blaming the players and not himself! Haha!

DawginLex

January 8th, 2014
10:33 am

So Richt is supposed to control who SC hires?

Spurrier is not a bad coach you know. Won a few games at some other school maybe??

Time for me to leave for good

Too much flat tire idiot

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

January 8th, 2014
10:35 am

Whose the retard;

the one who said years ago this program has a Flat Tire with no one to fix it or the one who continues year after year to make excuses an claims things will be better

Dog4Life

January 8th, 2014
10:37 am

I completely disagree I-Dog. Goff inherited a championship team–loaded with Garrison Hearst etc…that ‘91 and ‘92 team should have won it all–but stupid Goof blrw it–Goof created his 5 loss seasons with poor recruiting and poor coaching–Goof was a disaster from the hiring to the firing.

ElStinko

January 8th, 2014
10:38 am

UGA wqill Play Texas A & M in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta in December and the score will be 578-654. You can decide which defense will make a stand at the end of the game.

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
10:38 am

Richt allowed SC to pass us by because Richt couldn’t hire the right DC! First promoted willie then hired Grantham! Did Richt really think these bozos could stop spurrier’s offenses???? Lmao!

DawginLex

January 8th, 2014
10:38 am

YOU GOT THAT OUT OF WHAT I POSTED?

You are a flapping retard

I hope you get help crossing the street

God, you are stupid

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

January 8th, 2014
10:38 am

Oh well Dawginlex has to leave when factual posts are being posted that he cant counter

Oh and thanks for pointing out South Carolina hiring a good coach; its amazing what good coaching can do for a football program that has been a joke for over 100 years

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
10:40 am

Dawg in lex

Well leave then!!!! Spurrier is winning with less talent! Their 2014 recruiting class is not even in the top 25! Well glory be! Woopty doo…we will lose to sc again in Columbia!

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
10:44 am

Coaches I would fire today

Richt

Friend

Lactose

Grantham!

Dog4Life

January 8th, 2014
10:45 am

NC our S and C is okay. We finished some long drives and the D fought as hard in the 4th qtr as the 1st qtr. Our d schemes and some unexplained bad STs issues cost us some games–but S and C was not a problem.

RJ

January 8th, 2014
10:45 am

Think about it UGA has the talent to be very good next year so why so much pessimism or shaky oppotimism. Simple the coaching isn’t matching the talent and unless there are some major corrections we again will see games lost because of fumbled fair catches, lack of stopping key 3rd down conversions, always some suspensions to key players, poor tackling in key situations and as seen in the bowl game game changing dropped passes just to name some of the obvious.
I like Coach a lot he is a decent man who truly cares about his players and the University and I hope he can Coach next years team to the fullest. But only he can make this happen and if he does he will deserve the credit as Head Coach and if we continue to see the same mistakes and recurring problems then some AD decisions need to be made.
Go Dawgs

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
10:48 am

I wouldn’t be surprised if Arkansas and Tennessee pass us by next year! All of the coaches in the sec scare me! Richt says every team we play is great….that’s just a scape goat for when lose to them!

DawginLex

January 8th, 2014
10:51 am

DawginLex

January 8th, 2014
8:47 am

Unless we can run the ball in the red zone, we won’t win 9 games. That’s what champions do. Run the ball in the red zone for TD’s. We will have 7 running backs next year but we replace 3 OL starters.
Murray to Mason is a big dropoff. If we have to rely on Mason to win and we can’t run the ball over 50% of the time, we will not win 9 games.

Defense? I’m waiting on the announcement about Grantham and Lakatos. I know SL will be re-assigned but Grantham is back unless he gets an NFL gig. Short of a miracle turnaround with the defense, 2014 will be Grantham’s last year in Athens.

SC on the road with the win streak will be unbelievably difficult to win. Mizzou on the road also. Florida has to improve and Auburn has 20 starters back

Anywhere from 8-4 to 11-1 is possible with somewhere in between likely reality.
******************************************************

So this is kool aid drinking according to you 2 losers????

Your brains combined don’t equal a mushroom

DawginLex

January 8th, 2014
10:53 am

You 2 gum flappers have a response now that I’ve shown you to be the idiots that I have said you are for years now?

DawginLex

January 8th, 2014
10:54 am

I got news for you 2 losers

Your misery makes me smile

Richt will be our coach for a loooooooonnnnnngggggg time yet

All you 2 loser will do is continue to bash and cry and whine like 2 little girls

I love it

Enjoy your misery losers

DawginLex

January 8th, 2014
10:59 am

Still waiting flat tire

Explain how the above post, laying out a realistic scenario for 2014 is kool aid drinking

You know why you have not responded?

Because you know you are wrong and you are too much of a little girl to own up to it

DawginLex

January 8th, 2014
11:00 am

Funny thing how the complaining, whiny little girls with no real answers get real quiet when faced with facts.

Still waiting flat tire

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

January 8th, 2014
11:05 am

Lex

Glad to know the coaching staff is more important to you than UGA program

The Ray Goff years we are now in are really fun

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
11:06 am

Dawg in lex

Come on now! I know you are thinking 11-1! You’re one the biggest Kool Aid drinker on this board! We have a terrible OL and a horrible DC! Deal with it! We lose to sc and mizzo…Arkansas and Florida….plus Clemson! Book it!

DawginLex

January 8th, 2014
11:06 am

I bet you two idiots can’t even give us a definition of a kool aid drinker

Why don’t you give it a shot?

Someone who refuses to be miserable like you 2 idiots?
Someone who realizes that we have ZERO say in what goes on in Athens
Someone who realized that all the hot shot coaches like Mullen, Muschamp, Kiffen and Dooley that you “guaranteed” would win championships are not as good as Richt.

Why don’t you define it for us?

DawginLex

January 8th, 2014
11:08 am

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

January 8th, 2014
11:05 am

Lex

Glad to know the coaching staff is more important to you than UGA program

The Ray Goff years we are now in are really fun
*****************************************************************

Again, you don’t answer my questions. And again, where did I say any of that?

Are you truly that dumb?

Do I need to get someone to read it to you AND interpret it for you?

Matt

January 8th, 2014
11:08 am

Including Shokley’s senior season we avg. 9.5 wins a year. Donnan averaged 8 wins a year. Given the rankings of their respective recruiting classes I’d say Donnan got more out of his players.