All of those returning starters who set all kinds of records for Georgia’s offense last season are enough to make Bulldogs fans salivate about the potential for even more in 2013.
(AJ Reynolds/Staff, @ajreynoldsphoto)
Mark Richt on the field during the first day of the University of Georgia football practice in Athens, Ga., August 1, 2013.
Fifth-year quarterback Aaron Murray knows the system in and out.
Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall may be the best tailback tandem around as sophomores.
The passing game weapons include a deep receiving corps and senior tight end Arthur Lynch.
The offensive line has all five starters back and adds Kolton Houston, who already has made a push for significant playing time.
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo is reminding his guys they need to prove themselves all over again.
“The first thing he said to us, it might have been before the summer, is that we haven’t done anything this year,” junior wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell said. “You’ve just got to come out there and play and not worry about what everybody says about us, about how good we were or how good we could be.”
The Bulldogs were good enough to go into the program record book with 529 points, 6,547 total yards and 72 touchdowns.
“These kids don’t lack confidence,” said Bobo, now in his seventh season as coordinator. “They believe they’re going to light up the scoreboard every time they touch the field. I’m kind of the guy that tries to bring them down to Earth to say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to go to work and do this to get where we want to go.’”
That message seems to have resonated this preseason.
“I think we haven’t got complacent at all,” center David Andrews said. “I think having leaders like we have, that allows us not to be complacent. We have a lot of experienced guys that know what it takes to win. That gives us that opportunity.”
Only receivers Tavarres King and Marlon Brown have departed, but Michael Bennett is back from a torn ACL and junior Chris Conley also returns.
“They’ve got a lot of firepower coming back,” former Bulldogs quarterback David Greene said. “I know Coach Bobo’s licking his chops.”
Murray is 1,438 passing yards away from surpassing Greene’s SEC career record of 11,528 after Murray led an offense that averaged 37.8 points per game, most in program history.
“The way they ran up and down the field week in and week out and the type of balance that they had on offense was just what I was so impressed with,” Greene said. “Knowing all the guys that they have returning this year, I don’t think the expectations could be much higher.”
Even coach Mark Richt’s is ratcheting up what he hopes to see from the unit.
“I hope we improve,” he said. “Most everybody’s back, and we ought to be better in what we do.”
Asked what his expectations for the offense are, Murray’s said: “High. I’m excited. We’ve got to keep working. We can’t be happy with what we did last year. I don’t think anyone has been complacent or feels like we’ve arrived as an offense. We know we have a lot to continue to do as a unit, individually, to be the best. I think we can as long as we stay focused.”
Or as Bennett put it: “I feel like we can go as far as we want to, really. I feel like the only people that can really stop us are ourselves. … Best offense in school history. Whatever you want to call it, but we can be great.”
It just might have to be great, especially early on in the season as the defense breaks in a cast of new starters and faces top-10 teams Clemson and South Carolina.
“Because we had success last year and you’ve got a lot of guys back doesn’t guarantee success this year,” Richt said. “There’s a lot of factors that go into it. We would hope to be a well-oiled machine compared to starting a year ago. We’re probably going to need that.”
Murray said he believes Georgia “can definitely do better than we did last year.”
Added Lynch: “Whatever the expectations may be, we still have to match those things with productivity and I think we will.”
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