Around the SEC: Georgia

Published 2:54 pm Friday, August 2, 2019

Editor’s note: Florida takes us to part six of a 16-part series, examining every team in the SEC, plus three bonuses, correlating with the three FBS Ole Miss non-conference games. We’ll preview one school nearly every day, alphabetically, until all 16 are completed. Yesterday, we previewed Florida. Today, the Georgia Bulldogs. For each of the schools in the series, see the bottom of the article.  

2018 Season Overview:
12-3 (7-1 SEC), Finished tied for No. 7 in the AP Poll, Lost 35-28 to No. 15 Texas in Sugar Bowl

The Big Three:
Jake Fromm, QB
D’Andre Swift, RB
J.R. Reed, S

When voting was tallied, Alabama led the way with 21 preseason All-SEC Selections, the most in the SEC distributed among the three teams. Georgia was second with 11. It’s sort of the way the SEC has been since Kirby Smart got into his groove at Georgia. The Bulldogs have been an unbelievable football program over the past two seasons, but they still have to get past the big elephant in Tuscaloosa.

If there’s a year, it might be 2019. This will likely be the last year the Georgia has Jake Fromm. The true junior has a good chance to finish his Georgia career second in a lot of Bulldog records, most likely in touchdowns… in just three years. If he somehow returns for a senior year in 2020, it would be well within the realm of possibility (if not just likely) that he breaks them all.

Having Fromm under center is amazing, but what’s made Georgia tick this decade is the running back room. From Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall to Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, Georgia running backs often come in pairs. But this year, it’s really all D’Andre Swift. He’s a preseason first-team All-SEC running back and has a very, very good chance to be the top running back taken in the 2020 NFL Draft.

But it’s not just skill guys in Athens; Georgia also has the best offensive lineman in the country. Where Swift has a great chance to be the top running back drafted, left tackle Andrew Thomas has a chance to be the No. 1 overall pick. The Georgia offense will be so, so fun in 2019.

Fun fact: the worst the Georgia defense has been since Kirby Smart took over in 2016 is No. 14 in the country. It’s crazy to have that kind of mind-bogglingly impressive consistency, but that’s what Kirby Smart does. He’s a defensive guy who’s been coaching defense every year since 2006, including his eight years as Nick Saban’s defensive coordinator at Alabama. He’s brought that same type of hard-nosed, physical defense from Athens to Tuscaloosa, and there’s been seemingly no drop off whatsoever.

For the first time in a while, it’s not a defense with a whole lot of first-round NFL talent. It might be the worst defense of the Smart tenure at UGA, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’ll be bad. Georgia had just three All-SEC defensive selections, two of them coming on the third team. The real guy to keep an eye on that could skyrocket up NFL Draft boards is senior safety J.R. Reed. Reed started all 14 games for the Bulldogs a year ago, finishing second on the team in tackles.

Ultimately for Georgia, they’re the best team in the SEC East. They should be playing Alabama again in the SEC Championship. An interesting wrinkle in their schedule: they play No. 9 Notre Dame at home in the non-conference portion of the schedule. As good as this team is, it’s still hard to see them finishing the regular season and the SEC Tournament undefeated.

 

Prediction: 11-1, First in SEC East

Previous Previews:
Alabama
Arkansas
Auburn
California
Florida


You can reach Nathanael Gabler at nathanael.gabler@oxfordeagle.com with news tips, suggestions or comments. Follow @ngabler4 on Twitter