HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) – Georgia ended its 2012 campaign with a win over Nebraska and finished the season 12-2, 7-1 in conference play. A crushing loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship game prevented the Bulldogs from winning its first SEC Championship since 2005.
This year, Georgia has the chance to return to the SEC Championship Game for the third season in a row.
“Once again, the goal is to get back to Atlanta. That’s it for us. You get to Atlanta, once you get there, you win that game, you got a chance to play for a national championship,” head coach Mark Richt said during his opening statement on Thursday.
Much of Georgia’s hopes rest on the shoulders of senior quarterback Aaron Murray. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound signal caller had a chance to leave early and enter the NFL Draft, but he opted to return to Athens for a chance to further his legacy with the Bulldogs.
“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. Offensively, this is the best offense I’ve ever been a part of: 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.”
Murray headlines a Georgia offense that returns nine starters. Sophomore running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, perhaps the best duo in the country, return after phenomenal freshman campaigns.
“I think Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, they’re poster boys for collegiate athletics. They are tremendously talented guys, obviously,” Richt said of the two backs. “They’re handsome kids. They’re smart. They have tremendous character and leadership abilities.”
The Bulldogs begin the season on the road at Clemson, only the third time in 19 seasons they’ve opened the season away from Athens. The Tigers will assuredly be a major test and measuring stick for Georgia heading into their 2013 campaign.
“Well, definitely a big challenge. My guess is that we’ll both be top-10 teams or near the top-10 mark in the pre-season rankings,” Richt said. “So their offensive team is one of the best in America. Tajh Boyd obviously is one of the best quarterbacks in the country. Playing at their place is going to be tough.”
“It’s exciting to start the season off, 8:00 p.m. on ABC. It’s really pushed us this off-season, probably the best [off-season] I’ve been a part of. Guys understand we have to be in mid-season form from the very beginning,” Murray added.
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