Auburn Football Opponent Preview: Georgia

The Georgia Bulldogs have all the pieces in place to make a run at the SEC Championship in 2013.

Following a 12-win season in 2012 that was inches away from a possible shot at playing for the national championship, the Georgia Bulldogs are hoping to finish the deal this year behind senior quarterback Aaron Murray and the league's best tandem of running backs.

With plenty of question marks on defense and a tough schedule, Coach Mark Richt will need a strong start if he hopes to have his Bulldogs back in Atlanta again for the league championship game.

A starter since his freshman year in Athens, Murray completed 64.5 percent of his passes last season for 3,893 yards and 36 touchdowns with just 10 interceptions. Already with more than 10,000 passing yards in his career and 95 touchdowns, the Tampa native is just 19 touchdowns off the SEC record held by Danny Wuerffel.

While Murray will continue his leadership role for the Bulldogs, he will have all the help he needs in the running game from sophomores Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. Combining for 2,144 yards and 25 touchdowns on the ground last year, the dynamic duo should be just the thing for Murray to ramp up the Georgia offense once again this season. Throw in all five starters back on the offensive line and speedy Malcolm Mitchell back as the deep threat and you likely have the league's top offense.

Experience and production is the name of the game on offense, but defensively the top four tacklers are gone from last year's group including first-round NFL selection Jarvis Jones. The production could come from talented sophomore Jordan Jenkins, however, as he produced 32 tackles and five sacks in his first season with the Bulldogs last year.

In the secondary cornerback Damian Swann is the only returning starter for the Bulldogs, but impact youngsters such as Sheldon Dawson and Josh Harvey-Clemons should step up and play much bigger roles in 2013. With physical linebacker Amarlo Herrera returning following a 70-tackle season last year Georgia's defense has some leadership and talent, but how quickly they can come together is the big question mark with a tough early season schedule greeting them.

The series record between Auburn and Georgia is tied 54-54-8, but the Bulldogs have won six out of seven vs. the Tigers and eight of the last 11 games in the series. It's the most successful run for Georgia vs, the Tigers since going 9-1-1 from 1942-1952.

Top Offensive Player

It would be easy to vote for Gurley following his fantastic freshman year, but Murray is poised to become the most prolific passing quarterback in SEC history. Within striking distance of the record for most career touchdowns, passing yards and completions, Murray is still missing a championship and that will be the focus for him and the Bulldogs this season.

Top Defensive Player

Although he had just six starts last season, Jenkins showed glimpses of what he is capable of last season in Georgia's defense. Expected to take on a bigger role with Jones now playing in the NFL, Jenkins should become a force for the Bulldogs coming off the edge. In addition to his five sacks last year Jenkins also added eight tackles for losses and 23 quarterback pressures.

Schedule Tough Stretch

The first four weeks of the season will ultimately decide just how successful the Georgia Bulldogs will be. Opening the schedule on Aug. 31 at Clemson, Georgia returns home to face co-SEC favorite South Carolina in week two. Following a breather against North Texas, Georgia takes on LSU at Sanford Stadium on Sept. 28. Playing three Top 15 teams in four weeks will provide a huge test for Richt's club, but if they can survive then look out for the Bulldogs.

Newcomer To Watch

While junior college wide receiver Jonathan Rumph could make an immediate impact on offense for the Bulldogs, talented safety prospect Tray Matthews may be hard to keep off the field in 2013. Making a name for himself in spring practice after graduating high school early, the talented Matthews could bring a physical force to Georgia's defense from the safety position.

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