Head Coach: Kirby Smart
2016 record: 8-5 overall, 4-4 SEC East
2016 Postseason results: Beat TCU 31-23 in the Liberty Bowl
2017 returning starters: 7 offense, 10 defense
Odds to win 2018 College Football Championship game: 35/1
Odds to win 2017 SEC Championship Game: 10/1
Odds to Win 2017 SEC East Division: +153
Regular season wins: over 8 1/2 -135 / under 8 1/2 +115
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Last year, Georgia had an up and down season. They started off 3-0, then lost four of the next five. They closed the season winning four of the last five including wins over Auburn and TCU in the Liberty Bowl.
This year, the Bulldogs, coached by Kirby Smart, get 17 starters back and look to contend for the SEC East Division title with Florida. Here is the look at Georgia on offense, defense, and special teams, plus a look at the schedule and outlook for the season.
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Georgia struggled on offense last year. The Bulldogs averaged 385 yards and 25 points per game last year. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney gets 7 starters back but they need to be much better on offense.
Sophomore quarterback Jacob Eason is back after a good but not great freshman year. He completed 55.1% of his passes for 2,430 yards with 16 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. With another year under his belt, he should be better in 2017. True freshman Jake Fromm is the back-up, but he gave Eason a run for the starting job.
The top three running backs are back but need to stay healthy. Nick Chubb had 224 carries for 1,130 yards with 8 touchdowns, plus 5 catches and a touchdown. Sony Michel had 152 carries for 840 yards and 4 touchdowns, plus 22 catches for 149 yards and a touchdown. Chubb and Michel both could have gone to the NFL and might be the best running back duo in the country. Brian Herrien had 63 carries for 263 yards and 3 touchdowns. Fullback Christian Payne is mostly used for blocking but he did have 8 catches for 62 yards and a touchdown.
Receiver Isaiah McKenzie left early for the NFL and is now with the Denver Broncos. He had 44 catches for 633 yards and 7 touchdowns, plus 19 carries for 134 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns. The next five receivers are all back though. Receiver Terry Godwin had 38 catches for 397 yards. Tight end Issac Nauta had 29 catches for 361 yards and 3 touchdowns. Receiver Riley Ridley had 12 catches for 238 yards and 2 touchdowns. Javon Wims had 17 catches for 190 yards and a touchdown.
The biggest question is on the offensive line where the Bulldogs lose three starters. Isaiah Wynn and Aulden Bynum are the tackles. Dyshon Sims and Solomon Kindley are the guards. Lamont Gaillard is the center.
Georgia allowed 328 yards per game on defense and 24 points per game. The defense will likely be even better as ten starters are back for coordinator Mel Tucker. This has the potential to be the best defense in the SEC even better than Alabama.
Defensive end Trenton Thompson had 56 tackles, including 9.5 for loss and 5 sacks. Jonathan Ledbetter will start at the other end after making 24 tackles last year. John Atkins is the nose tackle.
Sam linebacker Lorenzo Carter had 44 tackles, including 6 for loss and 5 sacks. Davin Bellamy had 51 tackles including 9 for loss and 5 sacks at the other outside linebacker. Jack linebacker Roquan Smith led the team with 95 tackles and five for loss. Natrez Patrick had 59 tackles at the other interior linebacker.
Cornerback Malkom Parrish had 49 tackles and 2 interceptions last year. Deandre Baker will start at the other corner after making 31 tackles and 2 interceptions last year. Safety Dominick Sanders had 31 tackles and 3 interceptions last year. Aaron Davis will start at the other safety after making 54 tackles last year. A good recruiting class will add depth to the unit.
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Kicker Rodrigo Blankenship made 14 of 18 field goals as a freshman but needs to improve the distance on his kickoffs. Punter Marhall Long is also a sophomore. He suffered a broken kneecap late last season but is expected to be healthy in 2017. Terry Godwin will likely return punts and look for Mecole Hardman to return kicks. .
Outlook and Schedule
Home games against Appalachian State and Samford are sandwiched around a trip to Notre Dame. The Bulldogs open SEC play at home against Mississippi State before a two game road trip to Tennessee and Vanderbilt. Georgia hosts Missouri before the showdown in Jacksonville against Florida that will likely decide the SEC East title. The bulldogs then host South Carolina, travel to Auburn and then host Kentucky. Georgia closes the season at rival Georgia Tech.
The schedule has some soft spots but trips to Notre Dame, Tennessee, Florida and Auburn will not be easy. If the offense can be more consistent then I think the Bulldogs can win 10 games and the SEC East title.
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