The college football season can’t come soon enough. With every season comes new faces and possibilities. Who will be the teams to watch out for this season? This will be the 22nd of many posts covering the top 25 teams in the country and will cover the no. 4 Georgia Bulldogs.
Kirby Smart validated himself by leading Georgia to a Rose Bowl win and a National Championship Game appearance. The Bulldogs went 13-2 with one loss coming at Auburn and the other against Alabama in the National Championship Game. There are 10 returning starters from last year’s team, but still a lot of reasons to be optimistic about Georgia this season.
The offense ranked 20th in scoring, ninth in rushing and 105th in passing last season. It will be expected to put up more points this season. There are six returning starters, but more star power coming to fill some of the voids by those that left for the NFL.
Jake Fromm returns for year two under center after a dream freshman season. He threw for 2,615 yards, 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions on 62.2% completion. The hope is that he’ll progress and be better after a year of experience under his belt.
Fromm’s weapons will be a big reason he’ll improve from last season to this season. Terry Godwin is the most productive receiver back, but Riley Ridley and Mecole Hardman have loads of talent. Godwin had 639 receiving yards and six touchdown catches. Hardman and Ridley had below 500 receiving yards last season, but will be featured in the offense this year. Isaac Nauta will be back as a talented tight end, but he’ll need to add more to the offense this season.
Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are in the NFL and Georgia will still be loaded at running back. D’Andre Swift had 618 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 7.6 yards per carry. With more opportunity this season, Swift can be a star. Behind him will be more talented recruits who are vying to take on Swift’s role from last season.
Isaiah Wynn is also in the NFL and the Bulldogs will be able to cope without him. They have three returning starters along the offensive line. They have recruited well and will control the game through the trenches.
Georgia has the playmakers and the offensive line to make this offense better this season than last.
The defense was loaded with NFL talent last season that will need to be replaced. Georgia does have four returning starters to rely on. They ranked sixth in points per game allowed, 20th against the run and eighth against the pass. Those rankings will be tough to live up to, but the defense should be formidable by the end of the season.
Jonathan Ledbetter is back at defensive end after recording 2.5 sacks in 2017. The senior is a power rusher who is better against the run than rushing the passer. Tyler Clark will also return at defensive end and will function well in the 3-4 defense. Julian Rochester will take over in the middle of the three-man front.
The linebackers will look completely different from last season. Natrez Patrick and D’Andre Walker both saw playing time though last season. They tallied over 30 tackles each last season and have the skill to be good in the SEC. Patrick will be the leader of the defense as an inside linebacker, while Walker is a good pass rusher from the outside linebacker spot. Monty White will likely join Patrick on the inside, while Walter Grant will join Walker on the outside, although a lot of players will get playing time at the positions.
Deandre Baker is the most talented player on the defense and a future NFL player as a corner. He did a tremendous job covering some of the best SEC receivers. Tyrique McGhee will join him at corner. J.R. Reed is back at safety, while new starter Richard LeCounte will join him.
It will take time, but once this defense gets rolling, they will be one of the toughest in the SEC.
Out of conference, the Bulldogs play Austin Peay (home), Middle Tennessee (home), Massachusetts (home) and Georgia Tech (home). Georgia Tech will provide some competition, but the Bulldogs should be able to sweep the non-conference schedule.
In the SEC, Georgia has tough games against South Carolina (away), Missouri (away), LSU (away), Florida (Jacksonville, FL) and Auburn (home). Georgia will be able to win most of these games, but it is always tough to win them all.
The Bulldogs will cruise through the SEC East and win double-digit games in the regular season for the second straight year.
Make sure to check out our college football page for more updates and rankings.