Georgia will enter the 2015 season with momentum from last season’s bowl win and lofty expectations in an SEC East that should be there for the taking. Mark Richt returns 13 starters, including one of the best running backs in the nation in Nick Chubb. The Bulldogs lost veteran leadership in wide receiver Chris Conley, running back Todd Gurley and quarterback Hutson Mason, but should be able to plug those holes with a plethora of talent.
The 2015 schedule is no easy task but Georgia only has three true road games. The question is and has always been can Georgia overcome themselves. An early October run of games (vs. Alabama, at Tennessee) should shape the rest of the schedule and give everyone a clear look at what Georgia will have to do to make the College Football Playoff. Will Georgia lose to an inferior foe once again or can they make it back to the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta?
Georgia’s Five Biggest Fall Camp Storylines
1. Greyson Lambert or Brice Ramsey?
The one question on everyone’s mind headed into fall camp is who will be under center? Lambert transferred in from Virginia, where he finished last year completing 59 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. A prototypical pocket passer, Lambert showed at times he could lead, but he also was engaged in a quarterback battle for most of 2014. Ramsey was a highly regarded recruit entering Georgia but hasn’t been able to distance himself from the pack. He also was outplayed by backup Faton Bauta in the spring game. Even with a solid returning core on the offensive line and Chubb running the ball, Georgia needs a quarterback who can control the tempo of the game and lead this team to wins.
2. Brian Schottenheimer Offense
One thing that I took away from SEC Media Days was Richt’s faith in Schottenheimer, his new offensive coordinator. Schottenheimer’s ability to keep the offense the way it was is one of the reasons that Richt hired him. Mike Bobo led Georgia to an SEC-best 41 points per game last season. Those are huge shoes to fill, especially since the Bulldogs have yet to identify a starting quarterback. Schottenheimer’s offenses ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in each of his three years in St. Louis, but having Chubb will almost certainly help his cause. If Schottenheimer doesn’t produce quickly, he may get the “Fire Bobo” treatment quickly.
3. Filling the Holes Left by Ramik Wilson and Amarlo Herrera
Wilson and Herrera were the two leading tacklers on a very good defense last year. Replacing these two will be no easy task, but second-year defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has plenty of playmakers to choose from. Jordan Jenkins will move to defensive end while Leonard Floyd, Tim Kimbrough and newcomer Jake Ganus will secure the second level for Georgia. Ganus is the wild card in this bunch. He transferred in from UAB as the team’s leading tackler each of the last two years and was a second-team Conference USA selection. If Ganus can react to the speed of SEC offenses, this should be one of the Bulldogs’ best defensive units.
4. Who Will be the Thunder to Chubb’s Lightning?
Everyone watching, playing against or game planning for Georgia knows that Chubb is going to get the ball a lot this year. But at some point you have to give him a break. Chubb is a phenomenal playmaker but he can’t do it on his own. That is why Sony Michel and Keith Marshall are so important. These two must be able to come in and give Chubb the necessary rest so that he will be healthy late in the fourth quarter. Michel played well last year and I see no drop off in 2015. Marshall is the key. He has lost some weight since last year but still looks to be just as big. If his knee holds up, Marshall will be the bruiser that Georgia will need to give Chubb a breather.
5. Jeb Blazevich
Yes, the Blaze. Blazevich should be a huge factor in this offense. With Justin Scott-Wesley and Malcolm Mitchell both coming off of injuries, Blazevich will need to be a reliable target in 2015. He finished his freshman campaign with 18 receptions, 269 yards and two touchdowns. In the past, Georgia has been known as a tight end factory and Blazevich has all the tools to be a great one. He will give whoever starts at quarterback an extra blocker on the line and a security blanket with great hands and the ability to get up the field quickly.
— Written by Justin Nails, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @justinnails.