The Georgia Bulldogs are 1 season out from their underdog run to the National Championship. Now with former UGA safety Kirby Smart at the helm, the Dawgs are showing promise of building a dynasty that could dominate college football for a long time to come. Smart has brought an “Attack the Day” mentality that has formed Georgia into a fast and SMART program. Georgia has become a recruiting powerhouse thanks to Kirby and Running back’s coach Dell Mcgee. The Dawgs have brought in eighteen 5 star recruits in Smart’s first 3 years that has paved the path for success.
RBU: The 5 Headed Monster
Brian Herrien (Left), D'Andre Swift (Center), Elijah Holyfield (Right) during UGA Fall Camp
The University of Georgia graduated 2 of the greatest running backs in program history, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, 2nd and 3rd respectively in school all time rushing yards. Replacing the duo might be the toughest task Georgia’s had to do in decades. Luckily for Dawg Nation, UGA retains upcoming Sophomore D’andre Swift, and Juniors Elijah Holyfield, and Brian Herrien. On top of 3/5 of Georgia’s 5 head monster at running back returning, two 5 star backs joined the mix, Zamir White (#1 RB) and James Cook (#3 RB). Cook has flashed brilliance in both the Army All American Game and throughout Fall practices and could play a role similar to what D’andre Swift did in 2017. White however is already out for the entire 2018 season after tearing his left ACL, the opposite side of the ACL tear he suffered in November. A week prior to the second tear, White was cleared for full contact and the injury was quoted as being “seemingly unnoticeable” by the media who had seen him. The second tear also brought up a strong argument against Kirby as the injury was non-contact during punt coverage. Kirby, when asked, said “Sony Michel was a first-round pick last year, he covered a punt. Derrick Henry covered every punt at Alabama, I mean, why would you ask that?” If you are a Georgia fan, don’t blame Kirby because studs playing punt coverage is a lot more common than people think. On the bright side, remember the last Georgia Running Back from North Carolina who also happened to tear his ACL at Georgia? It was Todd Gurley. And Gurley had 2000 All-purpose yards last season in the NFL. While Chubb and Michel are irreplaceable, I think we’re in good hands.
Monty Rice (Right), D'Andre Walker (Center), and Juwan Taylor (Left) during a 2018 practice
UGA had one of the top defenses in FBS football last year thanks to the strong linebackers that repped the G in 2017. Thanks to their performances, 3 of the 4 starting linebackers were drafted or signed by NFL team: Roquan Smith (1st Round Bears), Lorenzo Carter (3rd Round Giants), and Davin Bellamy (Undrafted Texans). With Natrez Patrick’s connection with the team unclear after his December arrest, UGA could very well be replacing all 4 starting linebackers. With young guys. Senior D’andre Walker will likely take over as the weak side linebacker after strong performances in 2017 as a sub linebacker. 5 star freshman Brenton Cox will probably be the number 2 WLB. If eligible, Natrez Patrick will slot in at Middle Linebacker and call the defense. If he doesn’t play because of coaches choice, Junior Tay Crowder, Freshman Quay Walker and Sophomore Jaden Hunter may fight for the MLB1 or MLB2 spot. Former 3 star Monty Rice performed well in limited time as a freshman and is favorite to succeed Patrick as the primary 3-4 Middle Linebacker. Rice along with Sophomore Nate Mcbride could also be strongly considered for MLB1 if Patrick doesn’t play. Either way, look for Monty Rice to be a premier piece on the Georgia defense. On the opposite hand, Senior Juwan Taylor could start at MLB2 but the chances are higher for him to be more of a role player. The final LB is likely going to be sophomore Walter Grant. Grant has the versatility to slide into a different linebacker position and will show his pass rushing ability as the Strong-Side Linebacker. Freshman Adam Anderson and Senior Keyon Brown will battle it out for Grants backup spot. LBU returns in 2018.
The Great Wall of Georgia
Solomon Kindley (Left), Andrew Thomas (Center), and Ben Cleveland (Left) during 2018 Spring Practices
In 2016, Georgia’s O-Line was the smallest among the SEC. In 2017, the Georgia defense bulked up and became one of the best Offensive Lines in the country. Based off of 2018 practice reports, the Dawgs starting linemen weigh a total of 1,608 pounds. Those are some bigs boys right there. After bringing in one of the best classes with 4 four star O-Line recruits, the Great Wall of Georgia is laying the foundation for many players in the future. Georgia returned 4 of their 5 starters from the National Championship depth chart. The only one that left? Isaiah Wynn, a first round pick of the Patriots. The O-Line has nothing to do but get better. Fall practices have also opened up a spot for 6’7 350 pound Tackle Isaiah Wilson to start. I personally can’t wait to see the New Yorker pancake some Gamecocks in Week 2. All there is to do now is give good ole' Sam Pittman a... YESSIRRRRR
Full Season Projection: 12-0 (8-0)
For the past 3 years, the team to lose in the National Championship, returned to win the Championship in the following year. If Georgia does it, that will be 4 straight years
Final Ranking Projection: National Champions