Georgia now has to deal with the weight of expectation after making the National Championship last season and falling short. Even with a lot of big-time players gone from that squad, most expect this group to coast through the SEC East again with plenty of high-end talent waiting in the wings in Kirby Smart’s third season. The Bulldogs had the Fourth-best odds to make the College Football Playoff at +180 (5Dimes Sportsbook) in the spring and +800 to win it. Quarterback Jake Fromm is also expected to contend for the Heisman (+1400) with running back D’Andre Swift having a little steeper odds (+3500).
There was early talk of a quarterback controversy, but it’s going to take a great preseason from incoming freshman Justin Fields to truly move the needle. He was better in the spring Game, but Smart made it clear that the second-team defense is quite different than the first team. Fromm stole Jacob Eason’s spot last season and finished with a solid 8.99 yards per attempt (24 TDs, 7 INTs) to lead the Bulldogs. Top receiver Javon Wims is gone, but Terry Godwin (639 yards, 6 TDs), Mecole Hardman and Riley Ridley have one more year of experience and lead a deep group. Running back could end up being a question with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel gone, but Swift is expected to be the next great Georgia running back after going for 7.6 yards per carry last season (81 carries). There are plenty more in the waiting with Brian Herrien expected to have a bigger role, as well. The offensive line loses its top guy, but returns Four starters and that should be enough for the group to be one of the best in the country.
The defense could end up being the biggest issue for the Bulldogs with so many new faces and a lack of depth a real problem. The departure of Roquan Smith, Davin Bellamy and Lorenzo Carter is the major worry at linebacker, but Monty Rice stood out above the rest with 14 tackles in the spring Game and looks headed for a great campaign. But that doesn’t mean this defense can be just as good after allowing 13.2 points per Game in 2017. The secondary had three picks in the scrimmage, but is still an area of concern, while the line isn’t nearly as deep as last season. Yet at the end of the day there is still tons of talent throughout the group with guys like D’Andre Walker and Natrez Patrick expected to make names for themselves similar to Smith and the rest a year ago.
The SEC East may be improved, but it is still Georgia’s to win. The Schedule isn’t the most favorable, which could lead to a close finish with an early Game at South Carolina and then a trip to LSU before facing Florida and Auburn in November. A couple of those road Games could end in losses, but the Bulldogs should be headed for double-digit wins again and another appearance in the SEC title Game. With the best quarterback and possibly best offense in the division, it would be a disappointment if Georgia weren’t in the national conversation again.
2018 Georgia Bulldogs Football Schedule
Sept. 1 vs. Austin Peay
Sept. 8 at South Carolina
Sept. 15 vs. Middle Tennessee
Sept. 22 at Missouri
Sept. 29 vs. Tennessee
Oct. 6 vs. Vanderbilt
Oct. 13 at LSU
Oct. 27 vs. Florida (EverBank Field, Jacksonville)
Nov. 3 at Kentucky
Nov. 10 vs. Auburn
Nov. 17 vs. UMass
Nov. 24 vs. Georgia Tech