BRYAN, Texas -- Alabama won a second consecutive national championship last season, but their final two SEC games weren't easy. Of course there was the loss to Texas A&M, but Georgia was no pushover in the SEC championship game. The Bulldogs came up five yards short of beating the Tide and more than likely going on to win a national title themselves, and those five yards have been a motivator for the 2013 Georgia football team.
"The whole thing this off season has just been like one extra rep in the weight room, you running that much harder in the running when we conditioning," said Bulldog defensive end Garrison Smith. "Would that take us over the next step of getting that five yards. If you go that much harder would that take us over the edge? That extra effort, that one extra rep, could have been the difference in the five yards and winning the game."
That SEC title loss was the difference between playing Notre Dame for a national title and Georgia's actual bowl, a 45-31 victory over Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl. The Bulldogs are the preseason pick to win the SEC East and get back to Atlanta, and while the loss last season may motivate them, they know they have to focus on this season if they want to return to the Georgia Dome.
Head coach Mark Richt said, "Last year is over. I think that experience, nobody's going to forget that experience, but we know it's a brand new year."
Georgia has a ridiculous ten starters back on offense, led by the best SEC quarterback outside College Station in Aaron Murray. Murray has a chance to break career conference records for passing yards and touchdown passes and has a pair of great running backs in sophomores Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall who combined for over 2,000 yards rushing and 25 touchdowns a year ago.
Murray said, "I think we've been a pretty balanced offense the past couple years between the run and pass. If you want to stack the box that's fine with me I'll throw the ball all day long. It's all good. That's why we've been able to be so successful is the balance between the run game and the pass game."
Tight end Arthur Lynch added, "Potentially we could be very good, just because of the maturity of the backfield and our offensive line. Anybody with half a football mind understands that when you dominate the line of scrimmage up front and you have two guys in the backfield that could take it to the house anytime the sky is the limit."
The Bulldogs return just four starters on defense, which will be challenged when they open the season August 31 at ACC preseason favorite Clemson.
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