#14 Georgia Football 2017 Preview


Georgia Bulldogs


Overall Rank: #14

#4 SEC

Coach Kirby Smart enters his second season leading the Georgia program and there are high hopes for an SEC East tile. Last year the Bulldogs finished just 4-4 in SEC play, but did pick up a nice win over Auburn late in the year. And they got more momentum in the Liberty Bowl with a 31-23 victory over TCU.
2016 Record: 8-5, 4-4
2016 Bowl: Liberty Bowl vs. TCU (W 31-23)
Coach: Kirby Smart (8-5 at Georgia, 8-5 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jim Chaney
Defensive Coordinator: Mel Tucker
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Nick Chubb, RB, 1,130 yards
Passing: Jacob Eason, QB, 2,430 yards
Receiving: Terry Godwin, WR, 397 yards
Tackles: Roquan Smith, LB, 95
Sacks: Davin Bellamy, LB, 5.0; Lorenzo Carter, LB, 5.0; Trenton Thompson, DT, 5.0
Interceptions: Dominique Sanders, S, 3
Other Key Returnees: RB Sony Michel, TE Isaac Nauta, LB Natrez Patrick, CB Aaron Davis, S Malkom Parrish, CB Deandre Baker
Key Losses: WR Isaiah McKenzie, OL Greg Pyke, DB Maurice Smith
The offense welcomes the return of running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Both could have gone to the NFL, but opted to return for their senior seasons. Chubb rushed for 1,130 yards and eight scores last season, while Michel added 840 yards and four touchdowns. The problem last year was that was all of Georgia’s offense and the line was very little help. Quarterback Jacob Eason showed some promise as a freshman and the hope is that his experience will turn him into a leader on the field. On the year he threw for 2,430 yards and 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The wide receiver position remains a big problem though and the recruiting efforts there will probably not pay off immediately. If the line has a few surprises in store and somebody can develop into a consistent pass catcher, this will be a great offense. As it is though, Georgia will likely continue to struggle to move the ball besides the occasional flash of brilliance from Chubb and Michel.
The defense will be great and keep the Bulldogs right in the mix for an SEC East title. Nickel back Maurice Smith is the lone starter lost from a unit that ranked 16th in the country in total defense. The front seven has an amazing amount of depth, led by rush linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy. Like Bellamy and Carter, tackle Trenton Thompson recorded 5.0 sacks last season. Inside linebackers Roquan Smith and Natrez Patrick led the team in tackles last season. Senior free safety Dominick Sanders leads the secondary and intercepted three passes last season. He has a shot at breaking the school record for career interceptions during his senior season. Malkom Parrish will again start beside Sanders, while Aaron Davis and Deandre Baker will likely start at cornerback. However, there are some freshmen who will push for playing time in the secondary.
The Bottom Line:
Georgia’s defense will keep them in most games and that is enough for this group to stay competitive in the SEC. If the offense can improve even a little bit during Eason’s second season under center, the Bulldogs will stay in the race for the SEC East title well into November. A trip to division foe Tennessee on September 30th will be the first big conference test. In the end though it could come down to the Florida game in Jacksonville to decide who wins the East.
Projected Bowl: Citrus Bowl
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 191.2 (50th in nation, 9th in conference)
Passing Offense: 193.5 (97, 10)
Total Offense: 384.7 (87, 11)
Scoring Offense: 24.5 (102, 11)
Rushing Defense: 143.7 (36, 4)
Pass Defense: 183.8 (16, 2)
Total Defense: 327.5 (16, 4)
Scoring Defense: 24.0 (35, 5)
Turnover Margin: 0.62 (18, 2)
Sacks: 2.23 (53, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 1.85 (47, 7)
Madness 2018 NFL Draft Rankings:
#22 Sony Michel        
#45 Nick Chubb         
#51 Davin Bellamy    
Madness 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#14 Isaiah Wilson      
#28 Richard LeCounte          
#35 D'Andre Swift    
#45 Deangelo Gibbs  
#50 Jake Fromm         
#53 Andrew Thomas  
#67 Robert Beal         
#88 Jaden Hunter       
#100 Nate McBride   
#111 William Poole
#136 Trey Bishop
#144 Walter Grant     
#148 Mark Webb       
#149 Jeremiah Holloman       
#156 Netori Johnson  
#192 Malik Herring