Head Coach: Kirby Smart
2018 Record: 11-3, 7-1 Conference
Bowl: 21-28 Loss to Texas at Sugar Bowl
O/U 11 wins (O +115, U -145)
Will UGA make Final 4? Yes +125, No -155
Kirby Smart is back for his fourth season at Georgia, but the team loses both its coordinators. Smart replaced them from within the ranks, showing his supreme trust in what he has built at Georgia. Georgia also had a top-3 recruiting class in back-to-back seasons, so the talent should be accruing and along with that, of course, comes some high expectations. The Bulldogs seem ready to answer those expectations after failing to make the four-team CFB playoff in 2018.
Jake Fromm is the starting quarterback this season without any competition for his spot looming as it did in previous years. The junior is going to attempt to make the leap to being an elite QB this season, and the same can be said about the team’s top backfield option, tailback D’Andre Swift. Swift is a good dual-threat running back as a good receiver, and he will see plenty of sets designed to maximize his talent. After him, there is a lot of competition for the No. 2 back. Zamir White was ready for a big freshman season but tore his ACL in both knees quickly in succession. A fully healthy White would answer the team’s need for a secondary handoff option.
The receiving options are a bit dicier than the QB and running backs, though. The team lost its top-three receivers, but it is hoping that Jeremiah Holloman and former five-star recruit Demetris Robertson are ready to step in as major performers. Fromm will have weapons to air it out to, but setting on which is still a matter for Smart to decide.
Fortunately, the offensive line is loaded and stacked as it usually is. Offensive lineman coach Sam Pittman has been a tremendous recruiter of talent, and left tackle Andrew Thomas will be the key part of a deep and talented OL. It should excel at creating paths for its running backs, while Fromm will hardly have to fret frequent blitzes.
Georgia has had a first-team All-American the last two years in Roquan Smith and Deandre Baker. Repeating that task might be tough, but there is a deeper talent base than in previous seasons, so that might not matter too much. Edge rusher and JUCO recruit Jermaine Johnson is a tremendous talent, and the best of the defensive unit could be Nakobe Dean. Dean is a freshman inside linebacker who is lightning quick making plays. Dean might not even start Day one, with the plethora of talent that surrounds him on the defense. That should allow Georgia to ease him into it, which can only work to his advantage really.
Cornerback is one area of slight concern with what happened to UGA in the Sugar Bowl loss. JR Reed is a fifth-year senior who is the best in the secondary. The DL is also needing some improvement, but it should be better with five-star freshman Travon Walker and sophomore Jordan Davis. Davis shined as a nose tackle in the second half of 2018. Georgia is also hoping Tyler Clark returns to his dominance after a lackluster junior season a year ago.
Rodrigo Blankenship is a strong field goal kicker, but his miss in the 2018 SEC title game was costly. Jake Camarda is a good punter who will be a sophomore this year. The return game loses two great options, but there are a number of promising options for the roles. The most consistent of those will probably be the one chosen, but losing Mecole Hardman and Terry Godwin is a pretty substantial loss for the special teams.
The goal really boils down to something this simple for Georgia in 2019: BEAT BAMA. Georgia had Alabama in trouble twice in a row last year, and the team is even more talented this season. The Bulldogs certainly know its “big brother” program has the upper hand, but the fate of the SEC depends on whether it can match up with the Rolling Tide.
Prediction: 11 wins