Likely Bulldogs That Can Jumpstart The Passing Game In 2015

John Kelley/

True, 2014 wasn’t the year that year that many fans wanted to see from the passing game prospective and if you listen to many experts 2015 couldn’t be much better. The truth is that Georgia found a huge strength in their running game and then starting quarterback Hutson Mason was just playing to the strength of the offense.

The Bulldogs averaged just under 200 yards a game through the air in 2014. The passing game accounted for 34 percent of UGA’s touchdowns.

Yes, the Dawgs don’t know who their starting quarterback is and they likely won’t know who it is until a week before their first game against ULM. As that stands it’s between redshirt sophomore Brice Ramsey, junior Faton Bauta, and junior transfer from Virginia Grayson Lambert.

The wide receiver group lost their two top pass catchers from last season in Chris Conley and Michael Bennett.

So an unknown at quarterback and the group that is tasked with catching the ball is not as deep as year passed. Are things not looking good in Athens?

Not so and here’s why…

Soph. WR/KR/PR Isaiah McKenzie

McKenzie showed Georgia fans last season that he can be a game-wrecker with his play on offense, not to mention his contributions to the special teams return unit. The South Florida native racked up about 11.2 per touch on offense in his freshman season.

Sure he only caught the ball six times for 67 yards. But, he also rushed for seven times for 78 yards on screens/sweeps.

McKenzie showed his playmaking chops with his return ability in 2014. He really came to show it against Kentucky with a 90 touchdown on a kick return and 59 yard punt return for a score.

New offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is likely beside himself with excitement looking at a player like Isaiah McKenzie. Tavon Austin anyone?

In Austin’s two years with Schottenheimer in St. Louis, he posted 660 yards receiving. This included a four touchdown 2014, where he averaged 16.8 yards per catch.

McKenzie could be a huge difference maker for the Bulldogs on offense this season. He could be a huge help in that passing game.

Senior WR Malcolm Mitchell

Mitchell is by far the Bulldogs most experienced/accomplished receiver heading into this season. He has put up 1,485 yards in 116 catches for 11 touchdowns over his career.

Of course, who could forget his memorable catch/run to ice the Bulldogs win over Florida in 2012?

Mitchell came back last season after missing the first three games from a knee injury. He would go on to post 31 catches for 248 yards and three touchdowns.

In the past, head coach Mark Richt has thrown out the idea that Mitchell could be the “best receiver in the country.” He should have the chance to show that in 2015.

Senior WR Justin Scott-Wesley

Scott-Wesley showed his playmaking ability in 2013, before he went down against Tennessee with a season-ending torn ACL. We all remember that 85 yard season long touchdown catch/run against South Carolina that season.

The senior from Camilla missed half of last season trying to recover from that knee injury and coming out of the spring feels like he is explosive as ever for the 2015 season.

Scott-Wesley has four touchdowns in his three year playing career, but with a year stronger on that knee he is set to add to that total. If Georgia gets the 2013 JSW for the entirety, it could be an amazing year for this offense.

Soph. TE Jeb Blazevich

Like McKenzie, 2014 was a very successful campaign for the young tight end out of Charlott, North Carolina. He ended the year with 18 catches for 269 yards and two touchdowns.

Blazevich played in all 13 games last season and started 10 of them. He was part of a group that was feared to be short on numbers heading into the season, with Jay Rome hurt and Arthur Lynch graduated.

Let’s look at a player like tight end Dustin Keller and what he was able to do in Brian Schottenheimer’s offense from 2008 to 2011 with the New York Jets. During that time, Keller posted 213 catches for 2,559 yards and 15 touchdowns during his four years with Schottenheimer.

I bring up Keller, to prove that in a Schottenheimer offense a tight end can really prosper. With the perimeter talent Georgia could have in 2014, they might have the middle of the field open for a player like Blazevich.

Let’s also remember that Schottenheimer was working with a young Mark Sanchez at quarterback during the better part of those four years. He’ll be in a very similar situation in Athens this season.

Soph. RB Sony Michel

Michel showed early in the season that he can line up in space and make a play after the catch, when he took a touchdown pass from Hutson Mason 33 yards in Georgia’s game at South Carolina. Michel only had seven catches in 2014 for 106 yards.

Let’s also not forget that he missed for games with a shoulder injury in his debut campaign for the Bulldogs. The smart money would be that he could be looked to in the passing game out of the backfield over Nick Chubb. Chubb will likely be looked to mostly in running the ball and for pass protection on third downs.

Michel also showed in 2014 that he is a team player, as evident in his play on special teams. Like his American Heritage teammate Isaiah McKenzie, Michel could truly benefit from Schottenheimer calling the offensive plays this season.

Other’s To Watch For In 2015 To Help The Passing Game:

Senior TE Jay Rome, JR WR Reggie Davis, and Freshman WR Terry Godwin.

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