Here’s how Glenn Guilbeau of Gannett’s Louisiana Newspapers, the only sports writer in the country who picked Georgia No. 1 in the preseason AP poll, explained his vote to the AJ-C‘s Chip Towers:
“Georgia easily could have won it all last year and they return most of their offense and (Aaron) Murray from that team. And I think it’s good that they don’t return that defense. Sometimes it’s better when you don’t return players from a bad unit, you know? So I think that’s a good thing, too. And I just think it might be their turn. I think that’s what happens; sometimes it’s just a team’s turn.”
I think “bad” is a little strong to describe a defense that finished 32nd nationally in total defense, but I won’t argue that last season’s defense lived up to its potential. I also don’t know if I buy Guilbeau’s rationale about the departures. For every thought I have about how disappointing the run defense was over the last four games, I remember Jarvis Jones and wonder if his production can truly be replaced (and don’t answer that question until you first go back and reflect on what he did against Missouri and Florida). I think about how well Grantham and Georgia have recruited on defense the past three years; then I remember how green this year’s secondary will be when it tries to defense Sammy Watkins and Tajh Boyd.
We’ll have to wait for the empirical evidence to know for sure, of course. But I think what’s implicit in Guilbeau’s vote is a belief that the offense is good enough to overcome whatever defensive shortcomings may exist, whether early on or for longer. We’ll have to see about that, too.