The Georgia Bulldogs are ranked No. 6 in the AP preseason rankings, and I can't decide if I'm worried or excited. While the Bulldogs are the defending SEC East champions and finished with a record of 10-4 in 2011, I'm concerned that the team isn't nearly as good as last year's record would seem to indicate. The SEC East had one of the weakest years in recent memory in 2011 and it didn't seem like the conference schedule was all that difficult.
Granted, preseason rankings are generally put together based upon the previous year's results, ease/difficulty of schedule, returning starters, coaching stability and recruiting. Certainly there are a lot of things that are in Georgia's favor in those categories.
Scheduling Is Favorable
Yet again, Georgia won't have to play the true superpowers in the SEC West (LSU and Alabama). They also have only two preseason-ranked teams to play (No. 9 South Carolina on October 6 and No. 23 Florida on October 27 in Jacksonville). Win these two games, the Georgia should take the SEC East. Lose just one and that division title could be in jeopardy.
Seven Bulldogs were drafted into the NFL this past April, and with the dismissal of expected starting running back Isaiah Crowell, there's going to be quite a few new faces on the field for the Dawgs. However, by far the most important returning starter is junior quarterback Aaron Murray who was one of the best in the SEC last season with 35 touchdowns and 3,149 passing yards. As Murray goes, so the season will go.
Head coach Mark Richt led a team that won the SEC East and went 10-4 last season but some feel that he should have done even better. He's been the coach at UGA for 12 seasons and has an overall record of 106-38 but the team hasn't won an SEC Championship since 2005. With an even easier schedule than last year, fans and boosters won't accept anything less than a 12-win season and will expect wins over all the major rivals (Florida, Tennessee, Auburn, South Carolina, and Georgia Tech).
Georgia always recruits well, and over the past three years they've been ranked by Rivals.com No. 15 (2010, No. 5 in 2011, and No. 12 in 2012. Getting quality players to come to Georgia has never been the issue; getting them to play up to their potential has proven more difficult.
Julie grew up in the college football-crazy state of Georgia and attended UGA from 1996-2000.