The SEC is the preeminent conference in all of football and the University of Georgia Bulldogs were five yards short of winning the league last season and probably putting an Alabama sized butt whoopin on Notre Shame. But where do the Bulldogs go from here? How do they replace the star studded defense that was just drafted this past April? Will Gurshall be as good in their sophomore seasons as they were in their freshman campaigns?
UGA will be outstanding offensively. With Aaron Murray returning and the backfield being loaded the Bulldogs will be able to compete with anyone on offense. I think the major question will be defense. Although UGA lost a ton of big names I actually think this group will be better and will play better as a team. With no legitimate stars on the defense look for young guys to step in a make a difference. I predict a 10-2 season with an Outback bowl appearance.
Georgia Tech is in a make or break season in terms of the future of the program. Paul Johnson has to make improvements on the defensive side of the ball and be more consistent against the better ACC programs with the triple option. Vad Lee will provide an explosive playmaker at the QB position with his quickness in the run game and decent arm strength in the play action game.
The defense will return some decent depth but for a team who finished .500 last season the Jackets especially need to scheme up a defense who can be dominate at least in ACC play. With all of that said I expect the Jackets to improve on defense and bust more big plays on offense in a rebound season of 9-4 with a second consecutive loss in the ACC title game.
The Georgia Southern Eagles are in a transition year which will be their last in the SOCON and FCS. The Eagles will join the FBS Sunbelt Conference next season and will not be eligible for a bowl until 2015. And as disappointing as not being able to make the playoffs is the senior Eagles want an undefeated season. Yes we all know they play the Florida Gators but they still want 11-0. And it is realistically achievable considering what weapons they have returning on offense. Jerick Mckinnon is one of the best athletes in the state and in FCS. He and the offense will help the team early as the defense looks to replace 3 NFL players in JJ Wilcox, Brent Russell, and Darius Eubanks. The defense does return Josh Rowe after being academically ineligible last season, which should help.
With a stacked offense and developing defense it seems that the schedule lends itself to the Eagles being able to comfortably develop that defense. The Eagles will either finish 10-1 or 9-2 depending on how the ball bounces up at the Rock against the App State Mountaineers.
Mercer Football is Back! And in a big way considering the gorgeous new stadium in downtown Macon. Mercer needs a great season in its return to football simply to build momentum going into their new conference home in the SOCON in 2014. Mercer is playing the 2013 season in the Pioneer League and should be fairly competitive in a non-scholarship league. I predict a 6-5 season for the Bears.
Valdosta State returns a ton and should compete for a Gulf South title and possibly a national title. They need to replace a great offensive line and if they can Florence, Alabama and the D2 National Title needs to watch out.
Georgia State is terrible and will remain terrible.
All in all it is great that football is back. This season should be fun and entertaining with great matchups on the schedule. Keep tuning into MidGaSports.net for updates on how the season is going!