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 8th, 2014
2:53 pm

…or comma…

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

January 8th, 2014
2:56 pm

Mr Guru

You buried me??? How is that?

JB

January 8th, 2014
2:58 pm

Guutrake may be Buckeye since the Buckeyes got beat,,,,,,Who is really a Techie hiding behind the Buckeye “theme”

Pago Pago Dawg

January 8th, 2014
3:07 pm

After watching all the bowl games….guess who had the quietest sideline?? Come on people.
Even the MAC teams had movement …..

CAL G Man

January 8th, 2014
3:09 pm

8 -4 again at best. Vandy will beat us again and possibly TN. as well. Grantham and back coaches are pathetic. Still no special teams coach and any reason to expect any improvement there as catastrophic plays continue to add up. Same old story and just another losing chapter to add to this ongoing saga of mediocrity at it’s finest.

JB

January 8th, 2014
3:09 pm

Looks like Vandy’s Franklin to Penn St. Who goes to Vandy? I like it. Franklin was trouble for Dawgs.
Richt and co take no one lightly. We blow out NO ONE. Dawgs on the field, it’s nail biter.

JB

January 8th, 2014
3:11 pm

Yea Cal Man, no one fair catch’s a punt better than the Dawgs. Risk of return yardage is way overrated in Richt’s book.

UGAly

January 8th, 2014
3:27 pm

I’ve lost all faith in Mark Richt. I expect the team to underachieve as long as he reamains in Athens.

Skokie Dog

January 8th, 2014
4:18 pm

For those who are forecasting a much better outcome for 2014, say 11-1, don’t forget that this year’s 8-4 record could easily have been as bad as 4-8. In three of those eight wins (LSU, Tenn., and Fla.), ‘Dogs prevailed by three, and the win over GT (in OT) was only by seven. Of those wins, the victory over UT was the “lucky” one, since their receiver fumbled what would have been the winning catch. That play was offset by Auburn’s “lucky” catch to beat the ‘Dogs a few weeks later.

Mark Richt, Power Bottom of the SEC

January 8th, 2014
4:20 pm

The longer Mark Richt stays at Georgia and the longer half you morons think he’s going to deliver ever again is the longer this sad program will stay the way it is. Pathetic.

drdawg

January 8th, 2014
4:23 pm

We will lose one between Clemson and SC for starters. Fragile Mitchell will not make it through four games without an injury. We will lose at least one between Missouri and Vandy and Auburn will whip us between the Hedges. We are due to lose a heartbreaker to Florida. Richt will refuse to use our two great new freshmen running backs. It looks like another 8 wins at best.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

January 8th, 2014
4:26 pm

Im not as worried much about Missouri

They lose their RB; 2 of those top WR’s and most of their Defense

If Franklin is still at Vandy I see more of a problem there than I do Missouri

BigWally

January 8th, 2014
4:34 pm

With our Defensive coaching staff, we could lose to anyone. Lakatos’ secondary is always a long pass play waiting to happen.

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
4:42 pm

I’m glad Arthur lynch is gone! I wonder who the next guy that will have stone hands and drop everything!

BigWally

January 8th, 2014
4:44 pm

Sorry for repeating this, but Lynch should be our secondary coach. He knows how to knock everything down!

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
4:54 pm

Big wally

Lol

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
4:57 pm

I’m UGA fan for life! But I will never be a fan of Richt!!! As long as we keep bringing Richt back every year…well then expect 5 losses every year! It’s pretty simple folks!

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
5:15 pm

Right now our recruiting class in the sec is ranked 7th! That’s not going to get it done folks! Tennessee is ranked ahead of us! I’m damn sick and tired of our poor recruiting!!! Why do we only have 16 commits! Hell fire and brimstone Richt needs to get more motivated and over sign! Gawd!

Castle pine canine

January 8th, 2014
5:23 pm

Well right now Kentucky has 34 commits,and UT 33. Last year we had the big class! Recruiting classes should be judged after the 3rd year! Remember the dream team? UT took Darick, he did a lot there?

Here is what I think? Who cares about these gurus, I want to see something on the field! Right now we have enough to win with, and win big! It s up to the coaches

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
5:25 pm

Thanks to UGA…..Clemson thinks that they are world beaters! UGA is nothing more than an 8-4 team as long as we have bird hair Richt!

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
5:29 pm

Castle pine

We still don’t have enough good O lineman! We will struggle again next and lose to that embarrassing Dabo again!

Damn Disgusted Dawg

January 8th, 2014
5:33 pm

No need to get excited. Remember Duke is better than we are. Thanks CMR!

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
5:39 pm

Just like the sloppy field we played on in Jacksonville!!! We are stuck in slop as a program! We are stuck in neutral and going no where! 8-4 again next year! Hip hip hip hip hip hip hip hip hip hip hip hip hip hip hip hip hip hip hip hip hip hooray!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
5:41 pm

All of Kool Aiders remember that smug smirk on Richts face when Colorado upset us in 2010! Yes folks this guy is our leader! Mr bird hair!! Hip hip hooray!!

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
5:46 pm

Also who cares about the baseball hall of fame!!! Baseball is the most stupid sport ever invented on planet earth!!! I hate baseball!!!!! Stupid!

SCseas

January 8th, 2014
6:00 pm

Ahhha…yes it is good to get back to the offseason where the smack talk about the next preseason MNC can start…

Playing the actual season is hard and stinks.

DawginColorado

January 8th, 2014
6:27 pm

BigWally
January 7th, 2014
11:03 pm

“Some of us have the intelligence to see the real picture, and that is Richt can’t get us to the National Championship Game.”

LMFAO! Intelligence? How about lack of heart? How about impatience? Dipwad? oh jeeeez… that hurt. Ever heard of self fulfilling prophecy? Even if you got your wish and they replaced Richt, you “dipwads” would do the same thing with the next guy. And the guy after that… because you’re too faint of heart to really believe.

Tom

January 8th, 2014
6:29 pm

Hmm. Isn’t Bark Madley from Cain-tuck-y, DawgInLex?
And don’t DawgInLex and NCDawg sound an awful lot alike ?

Tom

January 8th, 2014
6:30 pm

Or am I just trying to stimulate this blog ? Or is it, “blawg”?

Tom

January 8th, 2014
6:32 pm

I see NUTH-ing !!!

DawginColorado

January 8th, 2014
6:39 pm

Didn’t I see some crack brain say something like “you kool-aiders are ruining out football program…”?

Put the crack pipe down! My God… if you can’t see of alarmingly stupid that statement is then you are a danger to yourself and everyone around you. That is seriously messed up.

Could someone explain to me how a few disgruntled fans think that they can “save” a football program?

1969 Graduate

January 8th, 2014
6:46 pm

2014=More of the same…

Bad coaching staff=More of the same…

Win one more game or lose one more game=More of the same…

We could be a lot worse, or a little bit better. I don’t think we can be a lot better. Why? Same coaching staff. Same expectations and/or demands of mediocrity. As long as football makes a lot of money all is okay, right, coach?

Gutrake

January 8th, 2014
8:31 pm

I can see Prozac has an endless list of prospective clientele here, but no way in hell the 2014 dictionary finds a new word to add from this blog….

Gutrake

January 8th, 2014
8:33 pm

This thread is about as stale as they come…these boys rail about “continuity” and then continuously say the same things…over…and…over…and…over…and…

Gutrake

January 8th, 2014
8:35 pm

Mensa would disband if they had to pick new members from here…

Gutrake

January 8th, 2014
8:38 pm

The saddest part of my day is seeing that 35, flat and their sleep-over friends still have computers…

Gutrake

January 8th, 2014
8:44 pm

I conducted a study over the past bowl season.

I exposed my “special” students to statements made by 35 and flat. The first two readings revealed no significant changes in their already-compromised cognitive abilities.

After those first two postings, however, subsequent posts began to lower their cognitive reasoning in viable terms. After 6 posts from 35 and flat, my students registered a -10.6 point differential from their starting IQ measurement.

Since then, I don’t post here very much.

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
8:56 pm

Gut rake

Your post didn’t make any sense….so sorry I didn’t read past the first one! Maybe soon you will realize nobody cares what you have too say bud!

Gutrake

January 8th, 2014
8:58 pm

well, that makes me and the dictionary thinking the same way.

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
8:58 pm

How could Richt let the special teams gets so awful? We don’t even return punts or kicks! That’s chicken ball! Why doesn’t the staff recruit somebody that has a history of returning kicks! Richt needs to quit ignoring the special teams for crying out loud!

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
9:01 pm

Did anybody read the Mcgarity article??? Great questions from chip…..but very shady answers from Greg. Makes me think he is just sitting on a pile of money and waiting till retirement day! What a shame!

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
9:03 pm

Gut rake

No….the saddest part of the day is you thinking that you’re relevant around here!

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
9:05 pm

2013- 8-5

2014- 6-7 or best 9-4…

The sink mud is getting deeper! This coaching staff is on the verge of sinking!

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
9:06 pm

Don’t worry folks after Kentucky and vandy upsets us next year……Richt will be forced out….

Gutrake

January 8th, 2014
9:06 pm

Hey, Everybody,

35 asks “did anybody read the McGarity article?” Anybody?

Gutrake

January 8th, 2014
9:07 pm

35,35,35,35,35,35,

BOO!

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
9:07 pm

I hope Richt realizes that the donors are in charge of rather he has a job or not! As soon as the donations stop coming then Richt will be gone!

Gutrake

January 8th, 2014
9:08 pm

35 says he’s sitting on a pile of money…anybody…anybody read it…

Bulldawg35

January 8th, 2014
9:09 pm

Gut slop

How was I supposed to ask it mr guru??? Stop picking your boogers…you’re causing yourself brain damage….you redneck wanna be!

Gutrake

January 8th, 2014
9:10 pm

it’s whether–not rather, dum bass.