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NCAA Football Georgia BulldogsSEC Football

Capital One Bowl: Georgia Finishes Season Strong, Future Looking Stronger

Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

“Finish the Drill” has been the mantra that University of Georgia head coach Mark Richt has pounded into the heads of his players since spring practice began, and for the first time in three seasons, the Bulldogs did just that with a convincing 45-31 win over Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl.

An entire page could practically be filled up with all of the Georgia team and Capital One Bowl records that were broken in this game. Georgia QB Aaron Murray set a Bulldogs bowl record with five TD passes. Linebacker Jarvis Jones broke David Pollack‘s team records for sacks (14.5) and tackles for a loss (24.5). Georgia also set a Capital One Bowl record for most yards (589).

The Bulldogs came into the game with questions about motivation and focus after the heartbreaking defeat to Alabama in the SEC Championship game, but they left with a sense of closure and a look towards next season. Georgia’s offense looked practically unstoppable, and the defense looked just good enough to win, and capitalized on big plays when it was needed the most.

With the school’s third ever 12-win season in the books, the questions will now loom about what the future holds for this team. The possibilities of Aaron Murray, Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree and others declaring for the NFL Draft, and the definite departure of at least seven key players on defense, might leave most coaches preparing for hari kari. But Mark Richt can go home and rest easy tonight, because whether you know it or not, this team is loaded with young talent on both sides of the ball, and may be even better next season.

If Murray–the only Division 1 quarterback to ever throw for three consecutive 3000 yard seasons–decides to return for his fourth season, the Georgia offense will be absolutely star-studded and could possibly break multiple school and SEC records. But even without Murray, Georgia has some very talented quarterbacks–Faton Bauta, Christian LeMay and others–waiting in the wings.

Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley (a.k.a. Gurshell ) who combined for over 2000 rushing yards this season, will provide the solid foundation for whoever is under center, along with the return of the entire starting offensive line. And with a full compliment of returning receivers and redshirt freshmen entering the picture, the rest of the SEC will be staring down the barrel of a scoring howitzer in 2013.

On defense, many want to paint a picture of doom and gloom, with the departure of such storied names as John Jenkins, Bacarri Rambo, Sanders Commings, Shawn Williams, and Branden Smith. But if you look at Georgia’s freshman class from this season, as well as some of the underclassmen who will be rising juniors and seniors, there shouldn’t be much of a drop-off.

Georgia finished the drill, and Aaron Murray finally got that “big game” win that had seemed so elusive to his detractors. The future looks bright for the Bulldogs heading into 2013, and the Bulldog Nation will do plenty of chest-thumping as the recruiting season nears.

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Michael Collins is a Rant Sports NFL and MLB Network Manager, and Atlanta sports columnist. Follow him @GaSportsCraze on Twitter and here on Facebook