Fair or not, the mentality around the Georgia fan base is championship or bust.
After two near-misses within Kirby Smart’s first three season, including a year ago in what was to some perceptions a ‘rebuilding’ year, this program, until it ascends the mountain to capture college football’s holy grail, will be judged on its ability to capture a national title.
On paper, odds are good for the Dawgs to again have a good chance to do so. Experienced defense, one of the nation’s top QB and RB combos and a monstrous offensive line - elements are in place for another title run.
But it wouldn’t be a Georgia preseason without also thinking about what could cause those hopes to fly south. What can we say? Many of us grew up listening to the Woe Is Usims from Vince Dooley and Larry Munson.
In fact, if he were alive today, he’d probably be carrying on about the season opener.
“We have absolutely nobody to catch passes at receiver....and do you guys realize how crazy those Vanderbilt people are going to be on a Saturday night?!”
Here’s four things Georgia needs to steer clear of to avoid the season falling well short.
Georgia has been very fortunate so far when it’s come to Jake Fromm’s health...well, unless you count fish lures. An offense with Fromm running it is great. But what if Fromm gets hurt? Then, it’s likely Stetson Bennett time. Bennett’s capable of running an offense, but he’s hardly a Fromm.
The defensive line development
You want to tell yourself that time helped the defensive line improve as last year went on, but the fact is that at times, the defense got gashed last year by teams that on paper should not have done so. As painful as last year’s SEC title game is to look back at, a turning point was not having a healthy D’Andre Walker on the field. The play up front suffered, and the defensive line play must improve above what it was last year.
Lack of Focus
The team of two years ago had incredible leadership, and parts of last year, when the team showed, frankly, lack of interest against lesser opponents, showed how much that leadership was missed.
Georgia was able to get away with sleepwalking through games against bad Tennessee and Mizzou teams last year. A much more rigorous schedule (looking at you, November schedule) makes a lack of focus a key ingredient for an inexplicable loss.
About those receivers....
This worry’s already out of the barn. With Jeremiah Holloman’s dismissal, Georgia’s top returning receiver is gone. Tyler Simmons has experience, but is largely unproven. Demetris Robertson transferred in last year with much fanfare and has a lot of speed, but that speed alone didn’t help him crack the depth chart.
This group of receivers, including the newcomers, have a lot of potential. That potential being realized could be the difference between this offense being good and great.