Aug 31, 2013; Clemson, SC, USA; Georgia Bulldogs running back Keith Marshall (4) carries the ball while being defended by Clemson Tigers linebacker Stephone Anthony (42) during the fourth quarter at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Tigers won 38-35. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia Bulldogs Game 1 Preview: Clemson Tigers

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The Georgia Bulldogs are once again ready to open up the season against the Clemson Tigers. This year Dawgs will play host to the visiting Tigers, and even more may be on the line for both teams than last season

Date: 8/30/2014
Kickoff Time: 5:30 pm
Venue: Sanford Stadium – Athens, Ga.
Series Record: Georgia leads, 41–18–4
Last Meeting: August 31, 2013, Clemson 38, Georgia 35
Radio: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network from IMG; SiriusXM Ch. 126/205
TV: ESPN
Internet Stream: GTV on Georgiadogs.com

Georgia is looking to take revenge on the Tigers for last years deflating defeat in Death Valley. The Bulldogs will have a new starting quarterback, new defensive coordinator (and a new defensive attitude to go with it) and a practically new secondary coming into Saturdays game.

Keys to the game:

The unveiling of Georgia’s new defense is what everyone will be looking at, and with good reason.

Senior defensive back Damian Swann will be attempting to wipe the slate clean from a disappointing 2013 season, and alongside senior safety Corey Moore, he’ll try to help lead this young Georgia secondary.

The Linebackers, all of them among the best in the nation, will be a huge part of keeping Clemson honest and not constantly picking on Georgia’s secondary. Look for Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins to spend some time dropping back into pass coverage, while Amarlo Herrera and either Tim Kimbrough or Ramik Wilson will work to clog the center.

On offense, the two keys are clearly quarterback Hutson Mason and running back Todd Gurley.

The Bulldogs will want to get the ball into Gurley’s hands early and often and establish the line of scrimmage and the run game, leaving some easier throws for Mason to make in the fifth-year senior’s first opening week start in Sanford Stadium.

Sep 21, 2013; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs running back Todd Gurley (3) runs against the North Texas Mean Green during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Georgia defeated North Texas 45-21. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

When Gurley needs a rest, Keith Marshall, Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and Brendan Douglas will continue the relentless Bulldog rushing attack on a tough Clemson defense.

Strengths and Weaknesses:

Georgia’s defense really has to be looked at more like a question than a weakness, but the fact that some of the depth is now gone along with some of the starters, is something that has concerned the Bulldog Nation for months.

Georgia’s strength is clearly their offense, and the plethora of weapons they can continue to throw at the Tigers. Running or passing, Georgia has a lot of depth and a lot of talent, and they have the experienced offensive line to make it all work. Hutson Mason should have no real issues once he gets past the opening butterflies and adrenaline.

Clemson’s weakness is their offense. While they are still a quality squad, they lost their two biggest offensive producers — quarterback Tajh Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins, and those are two All-American players that will be missed more than most wearing orange would like to admit.

The Tigers defense is stout, and with Vic Beasley leading the charge, the defensive line is going to put up a heck of a battle against Georgia’s hogs in the trenches. Watch for some serious man-to-man battles on the line.

Prediction

Neither team will have any easy time of it, but Georgia’s depth on offense, and the home field advantage will be enough to avenge last year’s loss. Vegas has the Dawgs by 7, we’re calling it 10. Georgia 31 – Clemson 21.

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Tags: Football Georgia Bulldogs Hutson Mason Todd Gurley Vic Beasley

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