By Evan Williamson @EvanWilliamson_ on March 27, 2014
The Georgia Bulldogs enter the 2014 season with high expectations as usual. After a disappointing 8-5 season a year ago, head coach Mark Richt brought in an entirely new defensive staff that is headlined by former Florida State defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. The Bulldogs lost just one defensive starter a year ago and just four on offense, but they return a host of talent on both sides of the ball, including 5 players to watch for this fall.
John Theus shined as a freshman at right tackle in 2012 as he was named a freshman all-American, but last year the sophomore struggled down the stretch as he ultimately lost his starting position. This year Theus is moving back to his natural position at left tackle, and he will be key to anchoring a line that lost three starters from a year ago.
Brendan Langley burst onto the scene early last season as a freshman as he started the first two games on the season, but the cornerback struggled mightily against South Carolina and only appeared in nine games all season with 12 tackles. This year, Langley has already benefited from Pruitt's new defensive scheme as he is one of the two starting cornerbacks in spring practice. He will vastly help improve the team's secondary from a year ago.
One of the most dangerous weapons on the Georgia offense is Malcolm Mitchell. Mitchell led the team in receiving in 2012, but he tore his ACL celebrating a touchdown against Clemson in the first game in 2013. He was again injured in spring practice last week, but he is expected to be fully healthy by the fall. Mitchell will be needed by the Georgia offense to help aid new starting quarterback Hutson Mason and provide a spark to the passing game.
Tray Matthews had a solid freshman season considering he missed multiple games due to injuries, but Matthews enters 2014 as a sophomore leader in the secondary looking to improve the defense from a year ago. The biggest question with Matthews will not only be health, but his recent arrest on misdemeanor theft by deception charges. It has not been revealed whether he will miss any games, but that could be a big blow to the team's secondary.
There is no doubt that Hutson Mason is the most intriguing player entering this season, because he follows in the footsteps of one of the most prolific statistical quarterbacks in SEC history in Aaron Murray. Mason garnered valuable experience in two and a half games last season in which the team went 2-1, and he will undoubtedly be the key to the Dawgs' success if they plan to win the SEC East and SEC Championship.
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