Georgia football preview for 2016, including keys to success for the Bulldogs, best players and season prediction.
What You Need To Know About The Georgia Bulldogs Offense
Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney is a veteran who knows how to get an offense moving with a good balance, and he’s got the tools to make last year’s disappointing attack far work far better. Even if star Nick Chubb isn’t quite right, or if he takes a while to get back to form, the ground game is going to rock as long as the line comes together in a hurry. The young receiving corps is going to blow up over the next few years, and it’s going to be good enough right away no matter who’s at quarterback.
Star recruit Jacob Eason is going to be a superstar, but Greyson Lambert is a good veteran and Brice Ramsey knows what he’s doing – the passing game will be more effective and should be ultra-efficient. It all starts with the running game, though. If it can average close to 200 yards a game again, all will be right with the world.
What You Need To Know About The Georgia Bulldogs Defense
Head coach Kirby Smart is a defensive-minded coach to begin with, and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker has been around the block a time or two. Now these two have to keep the fun going after the defense led the nation in pass defense and finished seventh overall. It’s going to be a problem with a line undergoing a total overhaul after injuries and suspensions this offseason might mean a youth movement from a strong recruiting class.
The linebacking corps loses pass rusher Leonard Floyd from the outside and Jordan Jenkins from the interior, but they’ll be fine with a few excellent veterans to work around. The secondary that was so terrific last year gets just about everyone back, but it’s going to need help from the line that’ll need to manufacture pressure from somewhere.
Biggest Key To The Georgia Bulldogs Offense
The offensive line has to be a rock right away. Of all the tinkering being done by the new coaching staff, the O line is the main area that’s being worked on with three starters gone from a disappointing group. Is guard Brandon Kublanow a center now? Is left tackle Isaiah Wynn really going to move to guard, and will Grey Pyke be able to hold down his spot at right tackle?
If that’s the case, can new starters really step in and shine at left tackle and right guard? And what about any developed depth? There won’t be any massive changes overall coming from the new coaching staff, but as long as the line can hold up – and it did throughout the offseason no matter what the combination – the skill guys will do their part.
Biggest Key To The Georgia Bulldogs Defense
Is there anyone left for the defensive line? Coordinator Mel Tucker knows defensive backs, and he’s got some great ones to work with to go along with a nice linebacking corps. The defensive line is going to be put together using smoke and mirrors after losing all three starters and a few key backups. This spring didn’t help the cause with a few ticky-tack injuries and suspensions keeping the new coaching staff from figuring out all the pieces they have to work with. Several future stars are coming in from the recruiting ranks, but they can’t be more than parts of the rotation right away.
Georgia Will Be Far Better If …
The offense can start converting on third downs. The 2014 Georgia offense converted over 49% of its third down chances. Last year the Bulldogs were miserable when it came to moving the chains converting just 31% of their chances, struggling in a big way over the second half of the season doing nothing against Florida – 2-of-12, 17% – and being under 30% in four of the last six games.
The struggles at quarterback were the problem, with the efficiency and the midrange plays not there, but the offense failed when the passing game was clicking, too, converting just 1-of-4 chances against South Carolina even though Greyson Lambert completed 24-of-25 passes on the day. Two of the three losses came in the two games – Alabama and Florida – converted fewer than 20% of its chances, and it converted just 29% of the time in the loss to Tennessee.
Best Georgia Bulldogs Offensive Player
RB Nick Chubb, Jr. – This comes with a caveat. It’s not even remotely a sure thing that Chubb will be ready to roll after suffering a left knee injury against Tennessee in mid-October. While his recovery is supposedly ahead of schedule, and he’s able to run and workout, it might not be until midway through the season until he’s back to being the home run-hitting power back who can do it all. Don’t rule out the chance that he sits the year out – because the knee isn’t quite ready, not from a competitive standpoint – and goes off to the NFL. But if he’s good enough to be back and part of a rotation, he’ll be one of the SEC’s most dangerous backs.
Best Georgia Bulldogs Defensive Player
S Dominick Sanders. Jr. – The leader of a talented veteran secondary that helped Georgia finish No. 1 in the nation in pass defense, Sanders is back after coming up with six picks and 48 tackles in an all-star season. He’ll combine with Quincy Mauger to give Georgia one of the nation’s best safety tandems, and considering the losses on the defensive front seven, they’ll be the leaders and stars. Mauger is the team’s most experienced player, and Sanders is one of the SEC’s best playmakers – they’ll be fantastic.
Key Player To A Successful Season
QB Jacob Eason, Fr. – Anyone on the defensive line could be one of the team’s key players, RB Sony Michel could be it if Nick Chubb really can’t go, and whoever ends up at left tackle will be vital if Isaiah Wynn moves to guard. Greyson Lambert is a more-than-capable quarterback who can and possibly could start and be just fine as a veteran presence for a relatively young team, but if Georgia is going to be a real player, it needs a bigger star and difference-maker at quarterback.
Eason was the star recruit of the 2016 class who committed to Mark Richt, and still signed on after the coaching change. He looked the part in spring ball, and while everyone’s trying to take a step back before anointing him as the quarterback version of Herschel Walker as the child who shall lead them to a national title, he’s really, really good.
The Georgia Bulldogs Season Will Be A Success If …
Georgia wins the SEC East. Of course, all bets are off on what the Bulldogs can do if they get to the SEC championship game, but just winning the East and getting there in Smart’s first year would be fantastic. There’s no way this happens if they’re in the West, but Florida still doesn’t really have an offense, South Carolina and Missouri still need a little while, Kentucky is Kentucky, and as good as Tennessee is supposed to be, it’s still Tennessee trying to finally live up to its potential. The schedule is just okay enough to get it done as long as they beat …
Oct. 1 vs. Tennessee The timing isn’t great coming off road games against Missouri and Ole Miss to start the SEC season and coming before the date at South Carolina, but if the Bulldogs want to take the lead role in the East race, they’ve got to beat the Vols at home. With those other road games, and with the Florida game always a toss-up in Jacksonville, taking advantage of the home games is a must – especially one this massive.
2015 Georgia Bulldogs Fun Stats
– First Quarter Scoring: Georgia 75 – Opponents 25
– Fourth Down Conversions: Opponents 13-of-25 (52%) – Georgia 5-of-12 (42%)
– Punt Return Average: Georgia 13.1 yards – Opponents 8.4 yards
2016 Georgia Bulldogs Season Prediction
What’s going to happen to Georgia this season? Check out what the final record is going to be …