July 18, 2013
By Phillip Marshall
HOOVER, Ala. – Georgia head coach Mark Richt looked around the room and smiled Thursday on the final day of Southeastern Conference Media Days.
“It’s good to be here for the 13th year in a row,” Richt said.
Other than South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, no current SEC coach has been to the annual preseason event more times. Not even Spurrier has attended 13.
The Bulldogs were picked Thursday to win the SEC East, but they were also picked to have the same unhappy end as last season. Alabama was picked to win the overall championship.
Last December, time ran out on Georgia at the Alabama 5-yard line in a 32-28 loss in the SEC Championship Game. The Bulldogs went on to beat Nebraska 45-31 in the Capital One Bowl and finish 11-2.
“It was a tremendous season last year,” Richt said. “We got a taste of how close you can get and not quite get it done. I think that will serve to motivate us. Once again, the goal is to get back to Atlanta. Once you get there, if you win that game you have a chance to play for a national championship.”
Georgia will have some of the top offensive weapons in the game available for the journey. Aaron Murray returns for his senior season at quarterback. All five starters return on the offensive line. Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall might be the top running back duo in the SEC.
But Richt said there are still plenty of questions to be answered, especially on defense.
“I think our team is one that has a lot of questions,” Richt said. “It creates a lot of excitement, a lot of energy. A lot of players are still fighting for positions. You could see it in our offseason conditioning, see it in spring ball.”
Those five yards, 15 feet, the Bulldogs didn’t get convinced Murray to return for his senior year instead of opting for the NFL draft.
“To come that close to winning a championship and being able to compete for a national championship, it’s hard to not give it one more go if you have the opportunity,” Murray said. “I had to take it. I’m very excited.
“This is the best offense I’ve ever been a part of. We have the whole offensive line, the best running back duo in the country, some unbelievable receivers, and some incredible tight ends. We have a lot of work to do. We have to stay hungry, stay dealing.”
With the SEC still trying to finalize its future schedules, Georgia will visit Auburn for the second consecutive season on Nov. 16.
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: