Georgia's offense returned all but one starter for the 2013 season. Then games began, and starters fell by the wayside. Despite that, entering the final stretch of bowl games the Bulldogs rank 16th nationally in total offense. That's not an easy feat, and matching the numbers next season isn't automatic, even if everyone stays healthy.
Yes, Todd Gurley is back, as are a host of injured players. Malcolm Mitchell is at the top of that list, and his absence is often underrated when appraising this season.
But Georgia also loses three offensive line starters, a first-team All-SEC tight end, and a star quarterback. Hutson Mason was very good at times the final two games, but shaky at other times. The jury is still out.
Still, experience should once again be a strength of the Georgia offense in 2014. As the offseason begins, it appears every open spot can be filled by someone who already has game experience. And when you add in the injured players, there is quite a lot of depth.
Things will happen, as they always do in the offseason, so the following is merely a snapshot in time. But it's a good educated guess at Georgia's offensive depth chart for 2014:
Starter: Hutson Mason, Sr.
Top reserve(s): Faton Bauta, Soph., and Brice Ramsey, R-Fr.
In the mix: Jacob Park (will redshirt).
Park isn’t so much in the mix as he is ready to be called on in case of a bad emergency. The job is essentially Mason’s, though he doesn’t have Aaron Murray-like job security. Especially once games start being played. Bauta and Ramsey should have a heated battle for the top backup job, with Bauta starting out with the lead.
Starter: Todd Gurley, Jr.
Top reserve(s): Keith Marshall, Jr.
In the mix:J.J. Green, Soph.; Brendan Douglas, Soph.; A.J. Turman, R-Fr.; Nick Chubb, Fr.; Sony Michel, Fr.
What a deep position. Obviously Gurley is the top man, but this year shows again why Georgia will plan to play three or four tailbacks. Marshall will be one of them assuming he returns to full health, and if he doesn’t, he might redshirt. Green could still end up at receiver or cornerback, but for now the coaches are saying he’s a tailback. Turman was held back this year by injuries and redshirted. Either Chubb or Michel could redshirt if the depth holds up, but they might be too good not to play. Especially Chubb.
Starter: Merritt Hall, Jr., or Quayvon Hicks, Jr.
Top reserve(s): Hall or Hicks.
In the mix: Dominic Bryan, Soph.-w; Taylor Maxey, Sr.-w.
Hicks still has a chance to be a blocking and short-yardage stud for the offense, but first he needs to beat out Hall. Consistency has been Hicks’ problem, which is why Hall, a former walk-on, was the starter the second half of the season. Either way, if both are healthy, both are likely to play.
Starter: Jay Rome, Jr.
Top reserve(s): Jordan Davis, R-Fr.
In the mix: Jeb Blazevich, Fr., Jake Looman, Jr.-w.
This will finally be Rome’s time, after two years of being Arthur Lynch’s understudy. Rome has a chance to be a star if he can stay healthy and not be a liability in his blocking. Davis redshirted this year, but he was solid in practice and the coaches feel comfortable about playing him in 2014. Blazevich ideally would redshirt, as Davis did this year in similar circumstances, but if injuries happen he’ll play.
Starter: Malcolm Mitchell, Jr.
Top reserve(s): Justin Scott-Wesley, Jr.
In the mix: Reggie Davis, Soph.; Blake Tibbs, Soph.; Shakenneth Williams, Fr.
Mitchell and Scott-Wesley should be back healthy, but Scott-Wesley is set to miss the Clemson game because of his marijuana arrest. As for the rest, Georgia has enough depth at receiver that a lot of players can go at each receiver position.
Starter(s): Michael Bennett, Sr. or Chris Conley, Sr.
Top reserve(s): Bennett or Conley.
In the mix: Jonathan Rumph, Sr.; Kenneth Towns, Soph.-w; Uriah LeMay, R-Fr.
Conley technically is a flanker, but he can play both spots, and he and Bennett will basically be co-starters. Rumph remains a bit of an enigma. Keep an eye on Towns, a walk-on with some potential. LeMay drew praise from Mark Richt later in the season. The team also is expecting freshman Gilbert Johnson, and he has an outside chance to play.
Starter: Mark Beard, Sr.
Top reserve(s): Kolton Houston, Sr.
In the mix: Zach DeBell, Jr.; Dyshon Sims, Fr.
This spot could get interesting, with Kenarious Gates departing the scene. Beard was Gates’ top backup the past two seasons, and replaced him for some series. But John Theus could get involved, which could open up right tackle again for Houston and push Beard inside. There are a lot of possibilities. Sims is the team’s highest-rated offensive line recruit this season.
Starter: Brandon Kublanow, Soph.
Top reserve(s): Greg Pyke, Soph.
In the mix: Aulden Bynum, Fr.-R.; Houston.
Kublanow was the only true freshman offensive lineman who saw playing time this year, and has a good chance to replace the departed Dallas Lee. Pyke, who will be in his third year in the program, has been the precipice of pushing for playing time, but hasn’t broken through yet.
Starter: David Andrews, Sr.
Top reserve(s): Josh Cardiello, R-Fr., and Hunter Long, Jr.
In the mix: ?
Andrews returns as the leader of the line. Cardiello might be groomed as his eventual replacement, though others could become involved.
Starter: Watts Dantzler, Sr.
Top reserve(s): Pyke or Bynum
In the mix: Dyson Sims, Fr.; Jake Edwards, Fr.; Houston.
Dantzler finally seems set to get significant playing time, and will enter spring as the favorite at right guard, where he occasionally spelled Chris Burnette this past season.
Starter: John Theus, Jr.
Top reserve(s): Kolton Houston, Sr.
In the mix: Xzavier Ward, Jr.; Kendall Baker, Fr.
Theus should be a starter somewhere this season, right? Houston might have a chance too, and could push at one of the guard spots. He started at left guard briefly. It will be interesting where each player is put in the spring.
Starter: Marshall Morgan, Jr.
Top reserve(s): Patrick Beless, Jr.
Morgan was on the hot seat in September, after Beless didn't miss a kick during Morgan's two-game suspension. Then Morgan became an all-conference kicker, and he'll enter next season with a streak of 17 straight made field goals. So, never mind the hot seat. Georgia has its kicker.
Coming next: The projected depth chart for ... obviously ... the defense.