Monday, July 3, 2017

Position by Position Breakdown Predicts Dawgs Will Be Better in '17

Preseason conjecture. It's about as reliable as star rankings on those beloved recruiting sites. That's not to say it's worthless. Far from it. Rather, it's to say that, for every example we find that proves its accuracy, we can easily find several others that prove out its flaws.

But, as we have no current examples to support conclusions, with kickoff still 2 months away, I present to you, dear unfaithful readers, about as close to a realistic scenario as one can come up with in early July.

Compare and contrast each unit with last year's deeply flawed, yet somehow still 8-5 team; a general improved/same/regressed, along w/ a degree of 1-10 on the level of improvement or regression.


QB: Improved, 7. History supports the notion that the biggest level of improvement for a QB, particularly one that starts his freshman year, comes from year one to year two. Although he looked eerily similar to last year in the first half of G-Day, Jacob Eason was throwing fluidly and accurately as the game went on. By all accounts, his familiarity with the system, playbook, calls, checks, etc. is night and day from last year. Add to that Jake Fromm, who, while most doubt will supplant Eason as the starter, is doing everything he can to keep Eason from resting on his limited laurels.

RB: Improved, 3. It's a very similar situation to last year. The improvement comes in what should be a healthier and more confident Nick Chubb, and the addition of the versatile and talented D'andre Swift. Count me among the biggest believers that Chubb will be closer to his pre-injury self, which will make a boatload of difference when it comes to breaking off some longer runs, and getting the extra yard or two that often mean the difference between a stalled drive and a scoring drive. Sony Michel, I feel, will be further utilized in the passing game along with his 10-12 carries per game.

WR/TE: Improved, 6. This one is tough to defend with any empirical evidence. After all, the top receiver, Isaiah McKenzie is now in the NFL, and there wasn't much behind him in terms of production. Where I see a marked improvement comes in terms of both experience and a huge bolstering of talented depth. TE's Nauta and Woerner should be better with a year under their belts (and Woerner having recovered from some nagging injuries). Ridley and Wims have a ton of talent, and should also be improved w/ an added year of seasoning. Godwin will be reliable if not spectacular. But, the interesting thing to me is that you've got the uber-talented Mecole Hardman making the transition to WR, and then 3 very talented pure WRs and a tall, athletic, yet raw WR coming in as freshmen. So, the Dawgs should have plenty of experience to go along w/ more talent than we've had at these spots overall in quite some time.

OL: Improved, ?? This is the wild card, and I suspect, as many do, that the fortunes of the offense will ultimately ride on just how much better the O-Line gets. The traditional thinking is that losing starters at any position, but particularly the O-Line, can't help but create problems, because as bad as this unit was last year, the guys behind them obviously couldn't beat them out. Enter JC transfer Demarcus Hayes, and the best O-Line recruiting haul in the history of modern recruiting rankings at Georgia. The overall competition created alone should pay dividends, and there is nobody more respected as an O-Line coach than Sam Pittman. I have a hard time believing that this unit will be unimproved from last year's. The question is, will it go from well below average to simply below average, or will it jump to average or beyond? If they can be at least average, then I see good things for the offense. If they go beyond that, look out.


DL: Improved, 2. This unit was very good last year, and I expect a slightly better version this year. Trent Thompson should be fully healed, and John Atkins anchors the line for what seems like his 9th season at Georgia. Add to that the fact that sophomores like Marshall, Clark, and Rochester will all be stronger and more technically sound with a year under their belts. The unit did lose coach Tracy Rocker, but new DL Coach Trey Scott is regarded as a rising star, so I'm bullish on the D-line for sure.

LB: Improved, 2. Here again is a unit that was very, very good in '16. Having Bellamy and Carter return at the OLB spots is huge. The question there is, can they take the next step to being more consistent both during the course of a game, and from one game to the next. Roquan Smith is as good an ILB as there is in the SEC, and there will be some good competition from some youngsters as well. I'm saying this unit will be better, because I'm thinking that Bellamy and Carter view this as their contract years, so to speak. They enter as 3rd or 4th round picks, but big years could bump them both up to a 1st or 2nd round pick, which would mean big things for their careers and bank accounts.

DB: Same. I see this as a bit of a wash in terms of what Georgia lost to go along with what they've gained. Mo Smith was absolutely key at the star position, and Qunicy Mauger was unremarkable but very reliable. Their experience and leadership must be replaced by guys like Dominick Sanders and Aaron Davis. The upside is that, like WR, there is an abundance of high-level talent coming in. Richard LeCounte III and DeAngelo Gibbs figure to push for significant playing time, if not a starting job at star or a safety spot, and I've got my eye on Ameer Speed among all the freshman DBs coming in.

Special Teams

Improved, 2. This might surprise some, as Georgia loses one of the best return men in its history in Isaiah McKenzie. I do think Godwin and/or Hardman can do some good things from that perspective, but I also see the vast upgrade in talent and athleticism with the incoming freshmen, many of whom will be counted on in the ST game. At kicker, Georgia brings in a highly regarded transfer from Wofford, David Marvin. So, Rodrigo Blankenship will have to show a lot more than he did during G-Day if he's to hold off Marvin or anyone else that might walk on.


Improved, 5. This is where I think I disagree with a lot of Georgia fans. Many have already closed the book on OC Jim Chaney. While I agree there was little to be specifically excited about from last year's performance, I don't see the point of writing him off. There was just so much newness last year for everyone involved that I don't think an objective assessment can be made. I expect the overall familiarity to help, along with talent and experience. And, of course, Kirby Smart has got that first year out of the way. I have no doubt he'll still make some head-scratching calls in the heat of the moment, but look for him to be a bit more at ease, having seen and done it for a full SEC season already.

On the whole, I expect the defense to be a little better, which is OK, as the D certainly played at a level good enough to challenge for the SEC East (the Ole Miss game notwithstanding). For me, the offense is in a position to take a giant leap forward. If the O-line can get to the point of making sure Eason can feel comfortable in the pocket, and open up enough holes to let what is probably the best backfield in the country do its thing, then I can't imagine not seeing a vastly improved team and far better results in 2017.


  1. You don't see the point of being unsatisfied with Jim Chaney and Kirby too for that matter too on offense ? How about to lend some credibility Dave ?

    1. Correct. I'm definitely dissatisfied with the results. The point is, I look at the entire situation, and am not prepared to pass judgment based upon the first season. Show little to no improvement this year, and I'll be more inclined to doubt his ability to get this offense where we need it to be. As of right now, it's an "incomplete," and I don't see why that's so difficult to figure out.

      If your contention is that Kirby and/or Chaney suck, then I take that as your wanting them gone already. Otherwise, you are in the same boat as me, where you say that last year was a learning experience for coaches and players alike, and this year is the year they all need to make some strides.