As I suspected, the final preseason F/+ numbers – the marriage of Bill Connelly’s and Brian Fremeau’s advanced stats metrics – came out extremely favorably for Georgia, in this case, fourth. That’s quite a bit higher than the Dawgs find themselves in the AP’s preseason rankings. Bill wonders why.
Georgia (F/+ No. 4, AP No. 9)
Why the numbers like the Dawgs: Georgia is consistently good; the Dawgs have finished 14th or better in F/+ for four consecutive years and were fourth last season. They return maybe the best running back in college football (Nick Chubb), a well-seasoned offensive line, and an active, super-athletic back eight on defense. Mark Richt recruits well and wins 10 games each year when the injury bug isn’t particularly cruel. From the perspective of recent performance and returning talent, they are easily the surest bet in the SEC East.
Why the media doesn’t (as much): They dropped the ball last year, laying one of the season’s biggest eggs in a blowout loss to Florida and blowing the SEC East title (to Missouri, which the Dawgs beat by 34 points on the road) in the process. They struggled defending powerful run games last year and must now replace three linemen. And yes, they have a new quarterback.
One more thing: when Richt lost offensive coordinator Mike Bobo to the head coaching job at Colorado State, he replaced him with Brian Schottenheimer. When fans (in this case, those of the St. Louis Rams) lose their offensive coordinator and celebrate wildly, that’s a scary sign.
Of course, all Schottenheimer has to tell his new quarterback is, “Put the ball in Chubb’s (or his awesome backup’s) belly.”
For five of the six teams here, part of the difference between perception and projection might come because of the quarterback position. It’s interesting, and it makes sense, as simply using returning starters doesn’t give extra weight to the quarterback position.
But if everyone expects Georgia to take a heavy reliance on Chubb & Company to lighten the load on Lambert, you’d think that last point wouldn’t factor so much into perception, wouldn’t you?