August 30, 2017

Doubling Down on the Dawgs: Our UGA Football Season Preview

Flag Football

Photo Credit: Cory A. Cole / UGA Athletics

Here’s hoping Nick Chubb’s knee doesn’t fold like a seven-deuce offsuit.

I'm not going to do it this year. No, I won't. Every preseason I get hyped about the Georgia Bulldogs and predict they'll turn all the corners, bust all the heads and return to the glory days. Every preseason I'm wrong. I won't make that mistake again. Nope, nope, nope.

At SEC Media Days, sportswriters picked Georgia to win the East. But I'll be honest with you folks: I have no idea what to expect from UGA this season. This will be my third year writing the Flag Football column, and while I credit myself for knowing a helluva lot about these Dawgs, I'll be the first to admit they have a few mysterious qualities that make them hard to nail down.

We have no idea what to expect from this offense, for one. It could take a step forward as Jacob Eason grows with experience and Nick Chubb returns to his pre-2015 injury form. Or it could take a step back if neither of those things happen, and be further deflated by a young offensive line, unproven, wiener-fingered wide receivers and an offensive coordinator who far too often has shown an ability to outthink himself.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the defense, which should be lights out. Only one starter from last season didn't return. Say what you will about Kirby Smart's abilities as a head coach and CEO, but the man knows how to coach up a defense, and this one has the potential to be one of the best we've seen in Athens in many years. But will that defense be good enough to make up for an offense that has the potential to be disastrous for the second year in a row?

The point above about Smart's abilities as a head coach may be the most important factor in deciding whether this team is good (nine or 10 wins and an SEC East title) or bad (anything less). He went through a lot of growing pains in his first season at the helm, and we're about to find out whether he's learned from his many mistakes, or if he's just prone to making them. That, and his ability to coach up the ample amount of talent he's recruited, will be the biggest determiners of Georgia's success this season.

But when has knowing anything ever stopped us from making bold predictions? I've devised a handful of over/unders concerning the Bulldogs, and I'm going to give my prediction on how they shake out. Because there's nothing like putting a prediction down on paper to make you feel like an idiot later on.

O/U: 3,000 yards passing for Jacob Eason

We should see an improved, more accurate Eason in his sophomore season, after he threw for 2,430 yards as a freshman. And although unproven, I have a good bit of faith in the receivers surrounding him. Accuracy and game management are more important qualities from the QB in this offense, and Georgia can still be good if he doesn't put up gaudy numbers. Under.

O/U: 3.5—number of games after which I call for offensive coordinator Jim Chaney to be fired

If it's anything like last season, over. Waaaaaay over.

O/U: 10,000 gun-strapped, tailgatin' rednecks per game

We've got campus carry now. I can foresee no way that ever ends badly. Over, God help us.

O/U: 2,500 team rushing yards

The backbone of the offense is Chubb and Sony Michel, and neither played to their potential last season. I blame that less on the backs than I do the line, though. The problem is, we have no clue if this line will be better than last year's. But sheer determination from Chubb and Michel to have big seasons their senior years might be enough to put up big numbers. Over.

O/U: 5,000 Dreamland barbecue sandwiches begrudgingly eaten per game

The most fired up fans got this offseason was with the news that a barbecue chain from Tuscaloosa, AL is setting up shop in Sanford Stadium. Georgia fans love to whine, and this provided the perfect opportunity. But when stomachs are rumbling on a Saturday afternoon, Dawg fans forget all principles and eat anything put in front of them. Over.

O/U: 8.5 wins for the Bulldogs

Ah, screw it. What fun is life if you can't believe in Dawgs on Top? We're gonna win the national championship. Over.

Georgia Football Schedule

Sept. 2: Appalachian State, 6:15 p.m., ESPN

Sept. 9: at Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m., NBC

Sept. 16: Samford, 7:30 p.m., SEC Network Alternate

Sept. 23: Mississippi State, TBA, TBA

Sept. 30: at Tennessee, TBA, TBA

Oct. 7: at Vanderbilt, TBA, TBA

Oct. 14: Missouri, TBA, TBA

Oct. 28: Florida (in Jacksonville), 3:30 p.m., CBS

Nov. 4: South Carolina, TBA, TBA

Nov. 11: at Auburn, TBA, TBA

Nov. 18: Kentucky, TBA, TBA

Nov. 25: at Georgia Tech, TBA, TBA