Why Georgia Will Win the SEC East Division in 2014
And that team was the Georgia Bulldogs.
Making a case for Mark Richt's team to win the SEC East in 2014 really isn't all that hard. You might think it would be considering that the Bulldogs lost Aaron Murray, the SEC's career leader in passing touchdowns. But there's more than enough in Athens to make up for it.
Murray's successor, Hutson Mason, isn't going to come right in and duplicate what Murray was able to do. So Georgia fans shouldn't have those lofty expectations heading into the season.
However, Mason was able to gain much-needed experience in the final three games of the 2013 season due to Murray's injury. And during the spring, Mason looked extremely comfortable in the starting role, which is certainly a positive sign heading into the summer.
But Mason won't have to do it by himself on offense thanks to a running back named Todd Gurley.
Gurley is destined to be the premier back in the SEC next season, and with defenses putting the majority of their focus on him, it may allow Mason to ease into things by not having to do too much early on.
A dominant Gurley and a consistent Mason would be the ultimate combo for offensive coordinator Mike Bobo company.
But speaking of coordinators, new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt may ultimately be the man that decides Georgia's fate this fall.
Fans had been begging for the exit of now new Louisville defensive coordinator Todd Grantham for a while, and they got their wish when he bolted for the Cardinals.
To replace him, Richt decided to go to Pruitt, a man that had just helped lead the Florida State Seminoles to a national championship.
On paper, that's not a bad exchange.
Pruitt definitely has a ton of talent to work with, as the Bulldogs not only return Ramik Wilson (the SEC's leading tackler in 2013), but also a bulk of their starters. Although not dominant in Georgia's spring game, the defense showed its potential.
As we all know though, championships aren't won solely based on potential though.
Pruitt should continue to improve this unit throughout the summer, and if he can fix the secondary (perhaps the biggest problem area right now) before the season opener against Clemson rolls around in late August, this defense will simply be dangerous.
As for the schedule, Georgia's SEC slate is extremely favorable.
The conference opener at South Carolina will be difficult, but after that, the road schedule isn't bad at all with games at Missouri, at Arkansas, and at Kentucky. The toughest opponent on the schedule is defending SEC champion Auburn, but the Bulldogs get that game in Athens.
Things are undoubtedly setting up well for Richt's team. Mason's progression and Pruitt's ability to fix the defensive weaknesses will be what determines this team's success.
Right now though, this looks like the team to beat in the SEC East.
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