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6 Reasons Georgia Will Win the National Championship
The 2017 Georgia Bulldog football season was one of the best seasons for the program in years. Led by seniors Nick Chubb, Sony Mitchell, Lorenzo Carter and David Bellamy, along with Butkus Award winner Roquan Smith, the Dawgs experienced many upsets such as taking over South Bend, knocking off the Florida Gators, winning the SEC Championship and finally getting to smell the roses in Pasadena . In the end, a season full of highs ended with the lowest of lows – watching DeVonta Smith haul in a 41-yarder from Tua Tagovailoa to beat Georgia in the national championship. Even though the 2017 season ended so badly, hopes are high in Athens, and there are plenty of reasons for Dawg fans to be optimistic about the 2018 season. Here are six reasons why the Georgia Bulldogs will rebound and finish the job for their first national championship since 1980.
1. Recruiting class
Kirby Smart was a man on a mission on the recruiting trail for the Class of 2018. His class of seven five-stars was the most in the country and helped Georgia sign the best class in the country. It featured eleven players ranked in the top three of their prized positions coming out of high school, and that includes four ranked No. 1 at their position. The 2018 class consisted of the number one running back in the country, Jemari Cellier, the number one outside linebacker, Adam Anderson, and the number one dual threat quarterback who many feel should have been the best player in Justin Fields. Zamir White, the nation’s top running back, was also signed but will miss the 2018 season after tearing his ACL in preseason practice. Other big names, such as sophomore defensive back Tyson Campbell and number two outside linebacker Brenton Cox, should play early and often. The top class in Georgia history is fully capable of not only plugging the holes left by the 2018 graduating class, but much more.
2. Offensive line
The offensive line was a strong piece for Georgia in 2017, so it’s hard to imagine it getting any better. It will and it’s better. The Dawgs lost first-rounder Isaiah Winn to the Patriots, but sophomore Andrew Thomas is more than ready to move to left tackle. As a true freshman, he started all fifteen games for the Dawgs at right tackle and was able to hold his own. Every other position is up for grabs, although there seem to be definite frontrunners for each position. Ben Cleveland will be the starting right guard unless something unforeseen happens. He earned that spot in Auburn’s regular season last year and never looked back. At 6’7 340 pounds, it’s hard to get bigger than Big Ben, right? Wrong. At 6’8 350 Isaiah Wilson is an absolute mountain of a man and appears to be the front runner for the right tackle spot. Wilson entered as the No. 5 offensive tackle in the 2017 class, but struggled with the heat in Georgia last year. He has adapted and is asking to make his name public. Currently in the center is Lamont Gaillard. Gaillard is a very solid blocker and consistently gets the ball to the quarterback without any problems. If your center doesn’t get called a lot, then he’s doing something right, and that’s the case with Lamont Gaillard. Perhaps the most wide open spot on the line is left guard. However, Kendall Baker should lose. Baker is a 6’5 310 pound senior. His experience will be beneficial to a young but talented and powerful offensive line. If one of those starting five doesn’t perform or goes down, there are plenty of young guys like former top five Cade Mays and Trey Hill ready to play. The average projected starter is 325 pounds, so there is plenty of meat in the Athens stable to run behind.
3. “Easy schedule”
The reason I say “easy” is because nothing is easy in the SEC, but Georgia’s schedule is very favorable. They play Austin Peay the first week before heading to South Carolina the second week. The Gamecocks will be boosted to play a top-three team at home, but Georgia’s surplus of talent will prove more than enough to take care of the Gamecocks. Week 3 is another scrimmage with Middle Tennessee before heading to Missouri to face the Tigers. Mizzou has perhaps the best quarterback in the country in Drew Locke, but with the lack of a team around him on both sides of the ball, Georgia will take over especially in the trenches and easily. However, it will be a great test for high school juniors and can be a great learning experience. Week 5 Tennessee comes to town. Tennessee’s problems run deeper than just their coaching staff, so expect another big Georgia win. Vandy is Vandy for the sixth week. Things start to get a little more difficult in the week. The Dawgs travel to Death Valley to face the LSU Tigers. Death Valley is always a tough place to play, but Georgia showed in 2017 that they can play anywhere and Davgnation should come out strong as that is the hot spot for 2018. The Davgs will win there. So Georgia heads into its eighth week bye sitting at a pretty 7-0 before heading to Jacksonville. Florida will be better than they were in 2017, but their situation is very similar to Tennessee and they will fall to the Dawgs again. Kentucky just can’t match Georgia anywhere on the court. Auburn is the only team on Georgia’s schedule that can match them overall from a talent standpoint. With more depth and the home field advantage they’ll get in Athens, the Dawgs will be favored. The final two weeks of the regular season are UMass and Georgia Tech, so there are two easy wins to end the regular season. If the Dawgs can stay healthy, it’s hard to see them losing a game, and virtually impossible to see them losing two.
4. More talented overall
Georgia lost great talent and valuable leaders to graduation and recruiting, however, strong recruiting over the past few years has Georgia ready to reload. He has a bevy of inside linebackers ready to replace Roquan Smith. Deandre Walker and Jonathon Ledbetter, along with freshman Brenton Cox, are poised to fill and possibly improve the holes left by Lorenzo Carter and Dave Bellamy. The secondary will replace Dominique Sanders, Malcom Parish and Aaron Davis with younger but more talented players such as Richard LeConte, Tyson Campbell, Tyree McGee and DeAngelo Gibbs. Future first-rounder Deandre Baker will retain the corner spot. On offense, true sophomore Jake Fromm will have a breakout year and will have more weapons as Demetrius Robinson joins an already loaded receiving corps that includes Terry Godwin and McCall Hardman. The best running back duo in history is now in the NFL, but there will be no decline in the running game. Deandre Swift has already shown what he can do, and Elijah Holyfield has been waiting for his chance to show what he can do. The aforementioned offensive line will give these backs huge holes to punch through. This might just be the most talented team on paper Georgia has ever fielded.
Every team has their secret weapon and that includes Georgia. The Dawgs have three players who will be able to give them an advantage in close games. James Cook is a fast and explosive fullback. The 5’11, 190-pound running back was a four-star prospect in the 2018 class and will give Georgia’s offense a huge boost with his moves and catching the ball out of the backfield. He will be a big play threat that can help the offense in those close games. Georgia also returns much of its success from 2017 in kicker Rodrigo Blankenship. Hot-Rod was almost automatic on field goals last year, making twenty of twenty-three of his attempts, including a fifty-five-yarder in the Rose Bowl that seemingly sparked a Georgia comeback. The Dawgs will benefit from Blankenship’s field goals as well as his deep kickoffs. Georgia also brought in dual-threat quarterback Justin Fields. Justin Fields is not your everyday dual-threat quarterback. At 6’3 230 pounds, he runs a sub-4.5 forty yard dash. What separates Fields from other dual threats is his arm. He won the Elite 11 MVP, threw no interceptions and scored on seventy percent of his teams’ drives in an event he couldn’t come up with. His special arm and special feet will provide a spark for Georgia’s offense when needed.
The 2017 season was nicknamed the “Revenge Tour” as the Dawgs dominated every opponent that beat them the previous year. Georgia has now received its “payback” for each team. The only team they didn’t get revenge on was the Alabama Crimson Tide. A matchup in Atlanta for the SEC Championship and a berth in the College Football Playoff is very likely and Kirby Smart’s squad will be heavily reinforced with Davgnation expected to fill Mercedes Benz Stadium once again. It will be a home game for the Dawgs and they will be very hard to beat. It’s hard to say who Georgia’s playoff opponents would be, but they won’t be as tough as Alabama and the Dawgs should be favored in both games to win. Add in the fact that with motivation they will have to keep up with glory again and they will be very hard to beat.
The 2017 Georgia football season was one of the best in years, however, the Dawgs are ready to make 2018 the year of the Dawg and make this season even better.
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