The first thing I thought about as a 2nd and 26 pass from Tua’s left arm fell into the hands of former Georgia commit Devonta Smith, was how much it would take to get back. How much talent and depth we would have to stack. How many close games and breaks would have to go our way to find ourselves with another opportunity to win a national championship? How much work this team would have to put in behind the scenes to get back? And then I had a slightly different thought. How spoiled are we? How spoiled are we to be living in the second coming of the golden age of Georgia Football? So many years of huge expectations and mediocre performances. Finally, it seems, there is a man in place that will consistently deliver. Consistently put Georgia where they should be in the pecking order of college football while also keeping the future top of mind. The next ten years will be a great time to be a Georgia Bulldog.
But 2017 will always hold a special place in my heart. Not only were the beatings of Tennessee, Florida and Tech like sweet sweet therapy. But we also found redemption against Auburn and played in arguably the greatest Rose Bowl of all time. 2017 was the year that changed Georgia football. Expectations and potential were realized. We became who we were always supposed to be. 2017 changed my pessimistic “we will find a way to blow this” attitude into an optimistic “we will pull this out somehow” demeanor. Yeah, we didn’t finish the drill completely. But 2017 plotted a course for what could be a decade or more of continued success. We aren’t going anywhere.
2018 Breakout Stars and Guys with Something to Prove
In college football, there are Dudes and there are slappies. Dudes are difference makers that have a chance for the next level. Slappies were often referred to as those that were “stealing” when it came to their scholarship. When I worked for coach Pruitt in 2014, he was insistent that x’s and o’s weren’t that hard with the right dudes. Breakout dudes are athletic freaks. Obviously, some of our best players will not be on this list, as they have already broken out and made themselves well known around the SEC.
· Riley Ridley- This dude is just so strong. One of the most impressive aspects of his game is downfield blocking and I think that is why he was getting so much playing time late in the season. The national championship was his coming out party and I think we will see more of the same in 2018.
· Monty Rice- The Dawgs need Rice to breakout in a big way this season. No one can fill Roquan’s shoes but Rice is a production machine. He doesn’t have the raw talent to run sideline to sideline as well as Roquan did but he can be a solid replacement. He is a striker and he will lead this team in tackles
· David Marshall- Marshall will have a strong junior campaign. With Tyler Clark and Johnathan Ledbetter garnering a ton of attention on the defensive front, Marshall should benefit. The former 3 star Auburn commit has a ton of raw strength and athleticism. He puts it all together this year and has a huge season
· Andrew Thomas- I think Thomas is the most talented player on this team. In my opinion, he is a future top 15 pick. He has the longer arms than any NFL offensive lineman. He makes his name known this year as one of the best Tackles in the country and sets up for a dominant junior year.
· Ben Cleveland- Ben was a high risk, high reward 5 star prospect out of high school. Well, it’s time to reap the reward. I am shocked he put it together this quickly but he is on his way to becoming a dominant SEC lineman after coming off the bench last year.
· Walter Grant- Such a versatile player. He will play OLB and star this year and fill in for Lorenzo Carter nicely. I was super impressed by his confident production last year. I looked at him as a multi-year project out of Cairo but he put it together very quickly. He isn’t the best pass rusher on the team but his versatility is crucial.
Something to Prove
The way this roster has developed in such a short amount of time is unbelievable. Not a lot of slaps on this roster. Even Keyon Richardson, who Pruitt said would never play at Georgia is getting meaningful reps on ST and some defense. But there are a few guys with something to prove this year:
· Latavious Brini- Not a ton of chatter coming out of Fall camp on Brini. He has all the size you want in a CB but has not been able to play with consistency. With the DBs we brought in last year, it’s not likely Brini will crack a starting lineup.
· Nate McBride- You won’t find someone who was colder on McBride coming out of high school than me. He was absolutely a take, most 5 stars are. But McBride’s high school production was not good at all. He may still be a valuable contributor on special teams as a straight line runner but he cant find the ball consistently enough to play ILB at Georgia.
· Honestly, that’s really it. Really impressive and speaks to our depth
Prediction- Georgia vs Austin Peay
I am not going to give you a full breakdown of Austin Peay because Georgia is going to beat them by 40 points. But I will dive into how I think the Dawgs will handle this game with a crucial trip to Colombia coming up in a week.
· Justin Fields plays meaningful snaps. Gives Muschamp extra goal line/short yardage situations to prepare for
· This will be the Holyfield/Herrien show. Limit Swift’s carries and don’t show James Cook just yet
· Fromm spreads it around and gets a bunch of different receivers in on the action Jadon Haselwood will be pleased with what he sees on Saturday
· Monty Rice leads the team in tackles. D’Andre Walker gets two sacks and starts a huge senior campaign as one of the most dominant pass rushers in the SEC
· 14 true freshman see a snap
· Georgia wins big: Dawgs 45 Govs 3
Bucky’s Easy Money of the Week
Overall record: 60-56-2, 52% winning percentage
I am on a mission to be better than Bear from college gameday this year. Should not be too difficult as Bear himself is a slappie. Lets get to the week 1 picks, where Vegas doesn’t have full information on who a team is just yet and I like to pretend that I do!