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Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Top offensive players UGA will face

By David Ching

It’s Rankings Week at DawgNation. Each day this week, we’ll rank some aspect of Georgia’s football program and the teams and players the Bulldogs will face in the 2013 season.

Tajh Boyd
Clemson QB Tajh Boyd will be a tough challenge for Georgia's rebuilt defense.
Today we’re ranking the top 10 offensive players the Bulldogs will see this season. On Wednesday, we’ll turn to the top 10 defensive players.

1. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson: The Heisman Trophy contender ranked seventh nationally in total offense last season (339.2 ypg) and figures to be a nightmare for Georgia’s rebuilt defense as a running and passing threat. His 36 passing touchdowns and 10 scores on the ground last season attest to the problems he will present.

2. Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson: Watkins posted solid numbers last season (57 catches, 708 yards, three TDs), but his sophomore season was nothing compared to his freshman All-America season (82-1,219, 12 TDs) he had when he first caught the nation’s eye. With DeAndre Hopkins (82-1,405, 18 TDs) now in the NFL, Watkins will again become the Tigers’ go-to receiver -- and he’s proven he can deliver.

3. Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt: Lost in the thrashing that his team absorbed last season in Athens was that Matthews gave the Bulldogs’ secondary plenty of trouble. In the past two games against Georgia, Matthews has posted 10 catches for 165 yards and a touchdown. He will rank among the SEC’s top wideouts this fall and will be a focal point of the Bulldogs’ defensive efforts at Vandy.

4. Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri: This is a highly speculative pick, but DGB could take a big step forward as a sophomore following a fairly quiet freshman season (28-395, 5 TDs). There’s a reason why ESPN ranked the 6-foot-6 wideout as the nation’s No. 1 receiver and No. 3 overall prospect last year. He’s going to make life difficult for SEC cornerbacks this fall.

5. Jeremy Hill/Alfred Blue/Kenny Hilliard RBs, LSU: We’ll combine LSU’s loaded backfield into one entry here. Hill led the Tigers with 755 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns last season -- including 100-plus in consecutive games against South Carolina, Texas A&M and Alabama -- so he figures to be the workhorse. But Hilliard (82-464) and Blue (40-270 in three games before suffering a season-ending knee injury) are going to get their yards, too.

6. Ja'Wuan James/Antonio Richardson, OTs, Tennessee: Georgia’s Jarvis Jones recorded a sack against every team he faced that actually passed the ball (i.e. not Georgia Tech or Georgia Southern) except for one: Tennessee. Credit the talented tackle combination of James and Richardson for largely keeping the All-American off Tyler Bray’s back.

7. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU: Beckham was LSU’s scariest receiver (he led the team with 713 receiving yards) and also made an impact as a punt returner with two touchdowns. He wasn’t much of a red-zone target as a receiver with only two touchdown catches, but he’ll surely be a handful for Georgia’s young secondary.

8. James Franklin, QB, Missouri: Franklin and his team endured a rocky transition to the SEC last season, but don’t forget about the Tigers’ dual-threat QB. When healthy, he’s a handful as a runner and is a decent passer. Containing him will be tougher now that running back Henry Josey is healthy.

9. Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU: This will be one of the most talked-about meetings between a team and an individual player in the SEC this fall. The story is well known among Georgia fans: The big-armed quarterback, whose mother works in the Georgia football office, once was a Bulldogs player before off-the-field behavioral issues led to his dismissal. His homecoming will be a huge game for both teams.

10. Loucheiz Purifoy, WR, Florida: How about a wild card here? Georgia fans remember Purifoy as the trash-talking cornerback who went head-to-head with Malcolm Mitchell throughout last season’s showdown in Jacksonville -- including on Mitchell’s fourth-quarter touchdown catch. Purifoy played some offense in the spring and could become one of the Gators’ top pass-catching weapons this season.

Ten more to watch: Henry Josey (RB, Missouri), Jarvis Landry (WR, LSU), Chris Boyd (WR, Vanderbilt), Marcus Lucas (WR, Missouri), Tre Mason (RB, Auburn), Martavis Bryant (WR, Clemson), David Sims (RB, Georgia Tech), Marcus Murphy (RB/KR, Missouri), Matt Jones (RB, Florida), Jamal Jackson (QB, Appalachian State)