Last season's rendition of Clean Old-Fashioned Hate was pretty depressing for Georgia Tech fans. I'll spare y'all of the details. This year, however, uga looks to be a different team, with added defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and a host of students transferring away (most to Louisville).
The bulldogs had a pretty good season last year, finishing 8-5 with an appearance in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl (which they lost). They're biggest marquee win last season came week 2 against Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks. Aaron Murray threw his team to victory, completing 17 of his 23 passes for 309 yards and four touchdowns. Add to this Todd Gurley's solid outing of 136 yards on 30 carries.
The dogs also had some pretty tough losses last season, most notably Clemson, Missouri, and Auburn. Easily the funniest of these losses was against Auburn. The Tigers/War Eagles/Plainsmen were down late in the game and had just gotten the ball back with just under two minutes to play. georgia looked to be in a good position when they forced the Tigers/War Eagles/Plainsmen into a fourth-and-eighteen situation. All hope seemed lost, and then fate stepped in. Nick Marshall (a former georgia CB now playing QB for Auburn) threw a last-ditch pass deep that was intended for Ricardo Louis. The two georgia safteys (Josh Harvey-Clemons and Tray Matthews) got the bright idea that they should both go up and try to knock the ball down. That's not exactly what happened, and instead of telling you, I'd much prefer to show you.
In the next game, Aaron Murray tore his ACL, forcing the bulldogs to play the rest of the season with backup QB Hutson Mason. For someone who was in that situation, he did not perform badly; it just took him a while to find a niche.
That niche didn't work out too well for him in the bowl game against Nebraska. He did throw for over 300 yards, but he only completed about half (21-for-40) of his passes and only threw one touchdown. Todd Gurley was also unable to eclipse the 100 yard-mark. Ultimately, the Cornhuskers proved to be more than a depleted-bulldogs team could handle.
georgia had an interesting offseason in terms of players leaving. Quite a few players have transferred, most notably Josh Harvey-Clemons, Tray Matthews, and Shaq Wiggins. Three starters last season, these guys left for their own reasons, whether academic, coaching, or some other reason I won't speculate. Harvey-Clemons and Wiggins will be joining former uga DC Todd Grantham at the newest ACC school Louisville, while Matthews decided to transfer to Auburn after narrowing the choice down between Auburn and Louisville.
The bulldogs also added seven players to the NFL: TE Arthur Lynch (5th round - Miami Dolphins), QB Aaron Murray (5th round - Kansas City Chiefs), OL Kenarious Gates (Undrafted - Tampa Bay Buccaneers), WR Rantavious Wooten (Undrafted - Miami Dolphins), OL Chris Burnett (Undrafted - Tampa Bay Buccaneers), DT Garrison Smith (Undrafted - Miami Dolphins), and OL Dallas Lee (Mini Camp tryout - Atlanta Falcons).
The major coaching change to bulldogs had this offseason was the addition of DC Jeremy Pruitt after the departure of former uga DC Todd Grantham. With bringing Pruitt in, the rest of the defensive staff was relieved of their duties, allowing Pruitt to hand-pick his defensive staff.
Pruitt, a Nick Saban disciple, brings National Championship experience to this bulldog defense which struggled mightily at times last season.
Lorenzo Carter - The 5-star DE chose to sign with uga over offers from virtually every school, but most notably LSU, FSU, Alabama, and Georgia Tech. Coming from Norcross High School, Carter will join Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd as uga's main pass rushers.
Sony Michel & Nick Chubb- One of two five star running backs that the bulldogs added this year, one of these two will probably see some playing time with rumors that backup RB Keith Marshall may redshirt this season after tearing his ACL last season in order to play a full season as the premiere back before going pro.
QB Hutson Mason - Mason will be entering his first full season as the starting QB for the bulldogs after starting the last couple of games after Aaron Murray's ACL tear. In his limited time, Mason completed 60.9% of his passes for 968 yards with 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Based on the eye-test, Mason looked much more comfortable taking snaps in a no-huddle offense.
HB Todd Gurley - Todd Gurley had an injury-plagued season last year, only being able to play in 10 games. Even so, he still had a really good season, rushing for 989 yards on 165 carries with 10 touchdowns. Gurley will look to have a healthy and even more impressive junior year before likely going pro.
WR Chris Conley - With all the injuries uga had last season, Conley had something of a breakout season. Conley caught 45 passes for 651 yards and 4 touchdowns.
DL Ray Drew - Drew had an excellent season for a 3-4 DE. He finished the season with 43 total tackles, 6.0 sacks, and 8.0 TFL. He looks to improve in his senior season.
ILBs Ramik Wison & Amarlo Herrera - Together, these two players form one of the best pairs of ILB in the entire country. Combined, the two linebackers had 245 total tackles, 4.5 sacks, 16 TFL, 1 forced fumble, and 1 interception.
OLB Leonard Floyd - Leonard Floyd looks to add to a very successful freshman campaign, where he had 55 total tackles, 6.5 sacks, 9.5 TFL, and 2 forced fumbles.
In spite of all of their losses, uga will still field a good team, so long as they can stay healthy. I noted in my spy-work of uga's spring game that if someone on the offense gets hurt, it could be a long season for them. Realistically, I see uga winning no less than 8 games and no more than 11, and they will likely be in a bowl game again. I do not, however, believe that they will partake in the SEC championship game.