There is good promise for this Georgia football team heading year 2 under Kirby Smart.
Nick Chubb and Sony Michel made amazingly mature and intelligent decisions as they decided to return for their senior years. I hope they both stay healthy, because if they do, with the assured improvement and progression of quarterback Jason Eason, a 5 star quarterback 2 years ago who had a pretty good freshman year and shows plenty of promise, along with a defense that returns 10 of 11 starters, the Dawgs could very well going be to Atlanta with a chance to play the west winner for the SEC Championship and a possible New Year's Six bowl game and having a chance of getting into the playoff.
Chubb burst onto the scene 3 years ago as a freshman rushing for 1,547 yards and 14 TDs. In 2015 as a sophomore, he injured his knee severely in the 6th game against Tennessee after rushing for 747 yards and 7 TDs, but he came back last year and rushed for 1,130 yards and 8 TDs. Not the prolific performance of his freshman year, but in Media Days, Chubb seemed locked and loaded and ready for a tremendous senior season. Same for the phenomenal Michel. Chubb is the north-south guy with excellent speed when necessary, while Michel is powerful and has tremendous wheels. When Chubb was hurt in 2015, Michel rushed for 1,161 yards and 8 TDs. After an all terrain vehicle accident last summer, Michel played the 6 games and rushed for 747 yards and 7 TDs. Both are spectacular players. Brian Herrion looks like a good third option when necessary. Elijah Holyfield had a really fine spring game, but got into trouble with marijuana and will be suspended for a game or more. The receiving corps is not that experienced overall, but Terry Godwin caught 35 passes for 865 yards and 2 TDs and looks like a very good vertical threat. Riley Ridley, Calvin Ridley's younger brother, had an impressive freshman year and looked to be a star in the making, but got arrested for marijuana as well this spring and he'll miss at least one game, maybe more. But there are some young guys like Jeremiah Holloman, who look like they could be pretty special. Isaac Nauta is a terrific tight end.
The o line was a problem for the Dawgs last season, but they brought in 6 freshman for the 2017 signing class, and 2 might play right off the bat. Five star Isaiah Wilson is a 6'7", 350 pound tackle out of Brooklyn, New Yawk who looks like he could be a dominant player. The Dawgs are also high on 98, 4 star tackle Andrew Thomas, who is 6'5", 335 and played at Pace Academy in Atlanta. There are 4 more and there are some good players returning. including guard Isaiah Wynn (6'2", 302) and Lamont Gaillard, a 6'2", 302 guard-center. The Dawgs have work to do on the line, but if they can solidify that spot along with wide receiver, they should be pretty effective offensively and explosive with Chubb and Michel churning out the yards and house calls. Eason got some good competition from early enrollee Jake Fromm, a 6'2", 229 pound 5 star quarterback out of Warner Robbins, GA. Fromm looks outstanding and even could give Eason a challenge for the starting job in the near future. Eason will start in game 1 versus App State, but if he struggles, Fromm looks more than capable to take the reins. Jeb Blazevich is another weapon at tight end to go along with Nauta. Probably a better blocker than Nauta, Blazevich will be a major contributor to this offense as well. The Dawgs just got a 4 star linebacker commit, Caleb Tannor, this afternoon to add to their 2018 class, which includes 5 star running back Zamir White.
Up front defensively the Dawgs look big and strong. Defensive tackle Trenton Thompson (6'4", 295) is the horse in the middle. He was 3rd on the team last year with 56 tackles and led the team with 9 1/2 tackles for loss last year. Kirby is expecting a stellar year out of Thompson. Defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter (6'4", 277) is another Sherman Tank up front who will be a major disrupter for the Dawgs' D. Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy are excellent linebackers, and the secondary will be led by senior safety Aaron Davis. Kirby and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will have a lot of work to do in August to get this defense ready and for game 1 and will need to develop depth, but there is potential for a good year on that side of the ball.
The kicking game is pretty solid with kicker Rodrigo Blankenship. He converted 14 of 18 kicks last season, but was 3 of 5 in the spring game and missed from 40 and 49 yards, so he'll need to improve on that distance. But he's pretty solid overall. Marshall Long will be the punter. Godwin and Mecole Hardman look like pretty dynamic kick and punt returners respectively.
Last year, Georgia finished 8-5 and 4-4, and it was a disappointing first year for Smart. But he was in a rebuilding mode in Athens. While I see this team as better this season, I'm not sure they have the total horses to beat Alabama or Auburn in the SEC Championship game, but you never know. I like the Dawgs in the east though. They've got talent, and I'm a believer in Kirby Smart. I'm watching offensive coordinator Jim Chaney closely because I'm not sure he's the answer there. They have weapons this year, so we'll see if he can make it click.
The Dawgs open at home vs. App State, which gave Tennessee everything it wanted in game one last season, losing 20-13 in Knoxville, and finished 10-3 last year winning their bowl game over Toledo, 31-28 in the Camellia Bowl in Montgomery. So that's no gimme. App State returns a 1,000 yard rusher in Jalin Moore and a good senior quarterback in Taylor Lamb with talent around them, so that'll be a challenge in Athens. That game will be at 5:15 PM CT on ESPN, Saturday, Sept. 2. Then the Dawgs head up to Notre Dame for a Saturday, Sept. 9th contest at 6:30 PM CT on NBC. Those first 2 games should tell us a lot about this team. Game 3 is versus Samford on Sept. 16th. On Sept. 23rd, the Dawgs play a key game against superstar quarterback Nick Fitzgerald and the Mississippi State Bullies. Should be a major challenge for the Georgia defense in that game. That'll be another key game. Then, Sept. 30th, the Dawgs head up to Knoxville to face the Vols. Huge. The Dawgs are @ Vandy, Oct.7th, vs. Missouri, Oct. 14th, then after a week off, it's that Cocktail shindig vs Florida on Oct. 28th, another massive game. The Dawgs host South Carolina, another heated rival, on Nov. 4th. Then, on Nov.11th, the South's Oldest Rivalry commences on the Plains as Georgia travels to Auburn for the 121st meeting. Georgia leads that series 57-55-8, and won last year between the hedges, 13-7. Kentucky comes to Athens on Nov. 18th. Kentucky's getting better and better, Mark Stoops has recruited well and continues to do so, so that'll be a challenge. Then Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate transpires on November 25th when the Dawgs travel to Atlanta to play the Ramblin Wreck of Georgia Tech for the 112th time. Georgia leads this intense rivalry, 65-41-5, but Tech upset the Dawgs last year, 28-27, in what was a classic albeit for college football fans not Georgia fans. So Georgia will be amped up for that one. But Tech is tough. That triple option offense is extremely hard to defend, and while Tech lost quarterback Justin Thomas, who graduated, Paul Johnson will most likely find another guy to lead the offense well.
So it's a major challenge. That's life in the SEC though. Everybody has to go through it. The key for the Dawgs is keeping Chubb and Michel healthy by rotating them, but leaning on the hot hand in games. The offensive line must be productive and Chubb and Michel don't need to get hurt. There's usually an injury or more than one at running back, but if they can stay healthy, that'll really help the Dawgs' cause.
I like the Dawgs to emerge from the East if they can remain relatively healthy. Chubb and Michel are dynamite, and if Eason can get improve his completion percentage, checking down to Chubb and Michel, and being more accurate down the field, he can be pretty spectacular. But the line has to block, the receivers have to catch it, and the defense needs to be stout. So there are some question marks for Kirby Smart in year 2, but he and his team have a chance to win the SEC East and challenge Alabama or Auburn in the SEC Championship game if they can execute.
Jordan captured his 3rd major just 4 days shy of his 24th birthday, which is this Thursday. Spieth looked in trouble on No.13 when he pushed his ball ball way right off the tee and took 21 minutes to get his ball dropped and hit his shot, but ended up with a miraculous up and down for bogey. Down by a shot to Matt Kuchar, Kuchar was -8 and Spieth was -7, he then went birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie on holes 14-17, and parred 18 to finish -12 and claim a 3 shot victory over Kuchar and capture his 3rd major championship.
Spieth won the 2015 Masters and U.S. Open, and claimed the 146th Open Championship yesterday at Royal Birkdale in England. He almost aced the par 3 14th and had a kick in birdie. On 15, he sank a 55 foot eagle putt. On 16, he canned a birdie putt from 25 feet, and sank an 8 footer on 17 for birdie and finished the round with a low stress par on 18 to finish -12. Kuchar was -9, but gave Spieth a superb battle all afternoon long. It would have been a terrific story had the 39 year old veteran Kuchar won, but it was just as good a story that the humble Spieth, from Dallas, who brings his game face every time out without fail, won the Claret Jug. He was electric yesterday and now goes for a career Grand Slam at age 24 when he'll compete in the 99th PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C. on Aug. 10th-13th. That should be epic.
Bama Golf and Brownie were victorious in their predictions. Well done guys.