Alas, the tradition of Clean Old Fashioned Hate was interrupted for the first time since 1924 last year. Nearly a hundred years have passed since Uga got their red panties in a wad about several “political” issues that we all know were just a cover to avoid being slapped around by John Heisman.
It wasn’t so bad having to miss a year of our beloved neighbors located about 60 miles outside the perimeter of Atlanta. Georgia is a program on the verge of being nationally elite only to fall short each year, and Tech is in the middle of a major overhaul. The odds are stacked right now, and not having to listen to them gloat over beating us for a year (though they absolutely do not care!) was a nice reprieve.
Anyways, enough of the thinly veiled shots that help me sleep better at night. This will be a “mostly” fair assessment of how the dawgs will look this year.
Georgia had musical chairs going for the quarterbacks just halfway through the first game last year. Eventually, JT Daniels landed the job after he was healthy enough from an ACL tear the year prior. He lit up Miss St for 400 yards passing, 139 against South Carolina, 299 on Missouri, and 404 against Cincy in the bowl game. This went along with 10 touchdowns and 2 INTs.
This has a lot of people talking about him being what Georgia needs at QB this year but I have my reservations. Here are the pass defense rankings of those teams; Miss State (105th), South Carolina (97th), Mizzou (84th), and Cincy was 40th but also had two players from the secondary opt-out who were both drafted. Daniels is a pretty decent QB who can launch a ball downfield but I want to see him take on the tougher defenses before anointing him the Uga savior just yet.
Oh, speaking of being able to hit deep threats, the main guy at wide receiver in George Perkins suffered a nasty ACL injury over the summer and may not be back until late in the season. They have recruited talent at the position but none are as experienced or a mismatch quite like Perkins. He had to come off the field a few times last year and they felt it when he did. Kearis Jackson will be the one who will step up to try and fill his shoes as he was the other big piece of the receiving game last year.
Georgia stays loaded in the running back department but they had some games where they just couldn't get going. Tennessee held them to 3.9 yards per carry, Cincy to 1.9, and Miss St to 0.3 yikes! JT Daniels also rushed 10 times for -71 yards. Sacks are included in this total but he never actually crossed the line of gain in any attempt. That might weigh the offense down.
The offensive line wasn’t up to snuff last year, but that can be excused with a lot of turnover at the position and no spring workouts to help them build chemistry. They return about the same experience this year with Ben Cleveland and Trey Hill gone but they should be better with the amount of talent they have brought in recently.
You really can’t say anything negative about this side of the ball for the last two years. Georgia might have even had some pretty ugly records by their taste if the defense wasn’t at the level that they play.
The defensive line just bullied opposing offenses with their size. Malik Herring will depart from the end position but DT Jordan Davis returns (WHY!?! Go make your millions and leave us be!) despite easily being a top-round draft choice. The line only generated 4 sacks but stuffed the run, allowing just 72 yards per game.
Linebackers were the heart and soul of this machine with almost everyone returning. They produced the other 28 sacks for the defense with Azeez Ojulari claiming 8.5 of them. He will be gone and so will Monty Rice and quite a few others. Inexperience will be felt here early on after such an exodus of talent.
Another hard-hit area will be the secondary. Eric Stokes, Tyson Cambell, and Richard LeCounte were all names called regularly when the ball came their way. They take 8 INTs with them along with two backups who were steady fill-ins. Georgia will try to shore up the holes with transfers from Clemson and Bama but we will see how they fit in.
Carmada is back and is probably the best punter in the state now that our own Pressley Harvin III has left for the NFL. Ol’ googly eyes left a pretty big hole to fill at kicker but freshman Jack Podlesny actually did a heck of a job. He was 13-16 and was perfect from beyond 50 yards. They also return both Kearis Jackson for returns so don't expect a drop-off here.
People are pretty high on Georgia once again and with their schedule, it is hard to see them losing many games. The SEC East just isn’t a bastion of solid teams right now. I do think Clemson will win the first game since Georgia’s defense has to replace so many good players. Outside of that though, Florida might be the only other stumbling block they could have in the regular season.