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NCAA Football Georgia BulldogsSEC Football

Return of Aaron Murray Boosts 2013 Georgia Bulldogs

John David Mercer, USA TODAY SPORTS

The Georgia Bulldogs came up just five yards short of playing in the BCS National Championship Game in 2012, losing to the Alabama Crimson Tide 32-28 in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game.

Getting that close to a goal that every team strives for left a bitter taste in the mouth of head coach Mark Richt and the Bulldogs. Despite the loss to Alabama, the 2012 ‘Dawgs became just the third team in school history to finish with 12 wins. Previously, only the 1980 National Champion Bulldogs and the 2002 SEC Champion team had accomplished that feat.

Key defensive cogs from the 2012 squad have moved on. Specifically, All-American linebacker Jarvis Jones declared for the NFL Draft, where he is expected to be a high selection.

The 2013 Bulldogs will rely heavily on what should be one of the nation’s best offenses. Quarterback Aaron Murray, a three-year starter for the Bulldogs, elected to return to school rather than declare for the NFL Draft, which bolsters the offense. Murray connected on 64.5 percent of his passes for 3,893 yards and 36 touchdowns in 2012. He also threw 10 interceptions. He was also second in the nation in passing efficiency.

During the 2012 campaign, Murray became the first quarterback in SEC history to pass for more than 3,000 yards in three straight seasons. He is on pace to break SEC records for passing yards, touchdowns and completions in a career. Through three seasons, Murray is 696-of-1131 through the air for 10,091 yards, with 95 touchdowns and 32 interceptions.

Murray will be playing with an offense that returns 10 starters in 2013, including the entire offensive line. In fact, the only starter not returning was Murray’s primary target last season, Tavarres King, who caught 42 passes for 950 yards and nine touchdowns.

The good news for the Bulldogs and Murray is that Michael Bennett, who missed nine games last season with an ACL injury, is expected to return in 2013. In only five games last season, Bennett caught 24 passes for 345 yards and four scores.

With the defense in flux, Georgia will be forced to put up big numbers on offense in 2013. It appears that they have the firepower to do just that, especially with the return of Murray.