Aaron Murray has nothing to be scared about, no matter what South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney says.
He is in his final year at Georgia, he is coming off a year where the Bulldogs won 12 games and he is in a position where he could end the 2013 season as the most prolific passer in SEC history.
Speaking of passing, Murray will definitely have the weapons to rack up some huge numbers this year. Receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Michael Bennett have done some damage with Murray over the last two seasons and both are poised to have a strong 2013 season if they remain healthy.
The same goes with tight end Arthur Lynch who was picked to the Preseason All-SEC First Team by the experts during SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama this week.
Because of the talent of Mitchell, Bennett and Lynch, and what they are capable of doing this season, the Bulldogs have the best group of receivers/tight ends in the SEC.
This is not going based on what units did in 2012 because Mitchell played cornerback the first half of the season, and Bennett missed the second half of the year due to a torn ACL. But whenever both were healthy last year, each player did damage.
Despite playing wide receiver part-time last season, Mitchell was second on the team in receptions (40), yards (572) and was third on the team in touchdowns (4). Mitchell had a huge 45-yard touchdown catch against Florida, which gave the Bulldogs the win, and he also had three catches for 88 yards against Georgia Tech. In his freshman season, Mitchell exploded onto the scene with 45 catches for 665 yards and four touchdowns. Mitchell is the deep threat that keeps opposing defenses on their toes.
Bennett was the team’s leading receiver before he went down with the injury. He had 24 receptions for 345 yards and four touchdowns through five games. During his freshman season in 2011, Bennett only made four starts, but caught 32 passes for 320 yards and five touchdowns. He has proven to be a great possession receiver, but he can also stretch the field just like Mitchell. And with Tavarres King and Marlon Brown gone, Bennett will have a chance to really make some noise.
Lynch became a rising star last year at tight end. He caught 24 passes for 431 yards and made three touchdowns. The Bulldogs awarded him the Most Improved Player Award and he was also named to the Phil Steele All-America Third Team.
Even the backups have the ability to make plays. Receiver Chris Conley had 20 receptions for 342 yards, but was second on the team in touchdowns with six and averaged 17.1 yards per catch. Tight end Jay Rome had 152 yards on 11 catches with two scores. He showed glimpses of what he can do if he’s given the opportunity, and is poised to be the next great Bulldogs tight end.
The only other team in the SEC that has the same caliber of receivers/tight ends is Alabama. Receivers Amari Cooper and Kevin Norwood will be able to put up big numbers this year, especially with quarterback A.J. McCarron back for his senior year. Brian Vogler and O.J. Howard are the two tight ends for the Crimson Tide, and while they are unproven, they have the ability to get the job done.
There’s a good chance that the Alabama receivers and tight ends could have better numbers than Georgia’s group because of the dominant run game the Tide possesses.
But the Bulldogs have a strong run game of their own with Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley. Those two, along with an experienced offensive line, will make Murray’s life easier to get the ball to Mitchell, Bennett, Lynch, Conley and Rome.
The Bulldogs receivers and tight ends not only are the best in the SEC, they could end up being the best in the country if the Bulldogs take the next step—which is winning the SEC and making a trip to the BCS.