Today is January 12th 2014, My birthday, and I am still not 100% over the 2013 season, especially after looking over the highs and lows to write this post. However it is never too early to look ahead to the 2014 regular season. Looking towards 2014 I think it is safe to say we have cause for both positivity and concern. We have the talent on both sides of the ball to make a run at an SEC title. However anyone who watched 2013 knows we have areas on and off the field that can hurt us in 2014. Lets take a look at my keys to the 2014 season.
First off the Schedule is more favorable this year, however we still have Clemson to start off the season, and big games in the Columbias of South Carolina, and Missouri, the worlds largest outdoor cocktail party, and a home showdown with Auburn. I will also say I am worried about Tennessee becoming a force in the near future. Maybe not this season, but I just have a feeling they will be very good again soon. Here is our 2014 football schedule:
August 30th Clemson @ home
September 6th Open Date
September 13 @ South Carolina
September 20th Troy @ home
September 27th Tennessee @ home
October 4th Vanderbilt @ home
October 11th @ Missouri
October 18th @ Arkansas (Little Rock)*
October 25th Open Date
November 1st Florida (Jacksonville)*
November 8th @ Kentucky
November 15th Auburn @ home
November 22nd Charleston Southern @ home
November 29th Georgia Tech @ home
December 6th SECCG
Dec 31st College Football Playoffs
Now that we all know the schedule for the 2014 season, I think It's safe to say we have our work cut out for us again. I will admit I am not near as confident going into the 2014 season as of right now, but am taking the lets wait and see what happens approach. Since the majority of us our Pessimist on the blog I think that warrants my 2014 causes for concern, before the reasons we will win. Lets take a look at the all familiar troubles of theGeorgia Bulldogs football program.
This is in order from greatest to least concerning.
Terrible, absolutely terrible. Our list of problems includes everything but a field goal kicker. High snaps, muffed punts, cant kick off into the end zone, and lack of return game. I think this area needs drastic improvement and in a hurry. Coaches must pay attention to special teams this off season and get it fixed. This is 1/3 of the game of football, and imagine what 2013 looks like with spectacular special teams instead of weak special teams. I'm hoping for good special teams in 2014 not great, but good would be an excellent change of pace for the bulldog fans.
Again terrible, and the only reason this is not ranked ahead of special teams is because they only account for 1/2 the defense. In 2013 they couldn't line up pre snap, lack of communication between coaches, and players, no safety help over the top for our corners, gave up big plays, and 3rd down conversions regularly, poor tackling, and to top it off we are now in search of a new Secondary Coach. This area has the athletes and potential to get better, but will they turn it around. I do not want a repeat of 2013, I almost died because of our secondary @ Auburn.
No consistency, at times looked ok, but a lot of the time they looked really bad. We couldn't pass protect to give Murray enough time @ Clemson, Missouri, and Auburn the entire game. They looked bad at other times as well. As much as I've heard the O-line will be better, they will be better, I have the least faith in this area for getting better. I hope they do improve but I'm not counting on it.
While I am not a Hutson Mason hater, Aaron Murray threw a better ball as a freshman. I think Mason knows the offense and got valuable experience in our final 2 games of 2013. With an entire off-season with Mike Bobo, I think he will be fine as long as he is smart with the football. (Limit Turnovers) This area is the least concerning for me going forward. If we go with Mason he will be fine.
If these areas improve we may have a special season in 2014 because we have the players to win. My biggest key for winning in 2014 is simple stay healthy followed by the stars need to shine on both sides of the ball. Our coaches are on the sidelines they can't make the plays for these kids, it's time to step up and play like champions. Here is a list of my star players in 2014 and why we need them to stay healthy.
My key players to stay healthy:
Todd Gurley: 165 carries, 989 yrds, 6yrd avg, 10 TD in 2013. It's obvious to all of us. #3 makes our offense go, we are not the same when he is not on the field. I'm expecting a huge season from Gurley in 2014, and if we want to be good next season he needs to be 100% healthy we all know why.
*Keith Marshall: 56 carries, 246 yrds, 4.4 avg, 1TD in 2013. I think behind Todd Gurley, this is our 2nd most important player for being healthy in 2014. One of the reasons #3 looked so good early on is because he had Marshall backing him up giving him breaks while doing a good job of keeping the offense going. Keith Marshall is dynamic and can score from anywhere on the field. If this guy gets into open space Georgia fans go crazy because he has a good chance of taking it to the house. I think he needs to get better at breaking tackles in 2014 to be the starter in 15. If he can do that, with his speed I cant even imagine how good he would be. I've said before he reminds me of Garrison Hearst. I hope he resembles him more and more as he comes back from his knee (multiple) injuries. We all wish him the best and this is one of my favorite Georgia players.
My key receiver to stay healthy is:
Justin Scott Wesley: 16 rec, 311 yrds, 19.4 avg, long 85 yrds (TD), 2 TD in 2013. After the LSU game I was confident good things were going to keep coming because of #86. Again, another dynamic player, he had good hands, was a sprinter in track, he was another take it to the house kind of player. With the ball in his hands good things happen. He must stay healthy for the offense to be consistent in 2014.
more key contributors include:
Michael Bennett: 41 rec, 538 yrds, 13.1 avg, 48 long, 4 TDs. Most reliable receiver, great hands, and he got open. He is not afraid to run the middle of the field post patterns. He will be huge if he can get on the same page with Mason as he was with Murray.
Malcom Mitchell: He may very well be our best WR and athlete. However, we have yet to see him play a full season. He would be a HUGE bonus if he stayed healthy all year.
If these guys all play the entire season, I think it's safe to say our offense will be very good. The team will be very good if the stars play like stars in crunch time. Lets take a look at my defensive stars who need to play well in 2014.
2 from each level of the Defense.
Ray Drew: He showed signs of being a legit pass rushing threat for the dawgs in 2013. If he can put together a good off season and keep working on the basics he could be scary good next year.
Leonard Floyd: A raw talent, but wow was he good. If he puts on some weight and keeps improving he could have a Jarvis Jones edge rushing presence in 2014. Wow would that be nice to have back.
Ramik Wilson and Amarlo Herrara: If you think because i combined these two and don't spend a lot of time here is a bad thing you're wrong. If these two can have as good a season next year as they did last year that would be great. They were consistently solid for us in the middle of the field and Ramik Wilson led the SEC in tackles, I believe Herrera finished 3rd.
Josh Harvey Clemons: Possibly the most physically gifted player on the team. He has the ability and with a years experience I'm anxious to see what kind of season he has next year. I think he will put it all together and play big.
Tray Mathews: He was good for us at the safety spot when he could play. I would rather have him back there than the other 2. Also with a year under his belt I think he will be much improved. I also think he was most physically gifted of our safeties.
If all of these key players stay healthy and improve I think its safe to say we will be very good next year. I believe CMR has what it takes to get us there but thats for another time. What do you think will happen in 2014 Dawgsports? Many questions to be answered. Criticism and predictions are welcome. As always, GO DAWGS!