It’s still too early to make predictions.

This piece at Dawn of the Dawg, provocatively titled “Why Georgia football will not win more than eight games in 2016”, has, I’m sure, generated plenty of clicks – which is a good reason why bloggers use provocative titles.

It’s kinda lacking in substance, though.

The author points to three specific reasons Georgia will fall short of nine wins in Smart’s first season:  the schedule, youth and new coaching staff.  Allow me to peel off a little bit on each topic.

The schedule:  Georgia loses the opener because “North Carolina’s defense figures to continue its upward trend under defensive coordinator Gene Chizik, who turned the Tar Heels’ defense around in a big way last season. I expect that to continue in 2016, and that should give Georgia a loss in week one.”

North Carolina finished 96th nationally and 13th in the ACC in total defense last season. To put that in some perspective, the team that finished 95th was South Carolina.  Those rankings were an improvement over the Heels’ showing in 2014, so technically you can call that an upward trend, I suppose.  Except even that’s belied by the way Chizik’s defense played over the second half of last season, when it yielded almost 100 yards more per game in November than it did the previous month, only to top that by an incredible post-November increase of another 220 ypg against Clemson and a crippled Baylor offense.

NC’s defense finished 127th in plays defended last season.  That averaged out to almost 80 plays a game.  Georgia’s offense, in case you’re wondering, averaged fewer than 63 plays per game in 2015, with a season high of 77 against Missouri.  It seems to me that if Chaney can run the ball and the Dawgs can avoid turning the ball over, there’s a good chance the offense can do enough to win.

The rest of the tough spots on the schedule he cites – Ole Miss, Tennessee and Florida – are certainly closer calls, especially given that Georgia lost to two of them last season.

The lack of veterans:  Hey, did you know Georgia had some seniors last season?  Did you know Leonard Floyd left early for the NFL draft?  Did you know Smart may start a new quarterback?

Did you know that Georgia isn’t the only school facing significant roster turnover in 2016?  Yeah, I get that there are some real concerns at wide receiver and there’s a respectable chance Eason starts, but take at look at those potential losses again and you’ll see North Carolina and Florida having to replace their quarterbacks and Ole Miss losing its top defensive talent, the best offensive lineman in the SEC, and a great wide receiver in Treadwell.

I’m not a big fan of preseason Homerism, nor of its opposite.  Besides the obvious, it’s simply too early to know who’s playing where.  What I do know in June is that Georgia’s recruited better than North Carolina over the past few seasons, and certainly not worse than the other three programs have over that time.

The new coaching staff:  If you want to pick on Kirby Smart for being a newbie, that’s a valid point.  Out of those four potential losses, he definitely comes up short in the experience department against his head coaching counterparts.

But that’s not where the argument goes.  Instead, it’s “Smart’s assembled what appears to be a strong cast of assistant coaches, including offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. Despite the coaches’ prowess, there’s something fans need to consider: Most of these guys have never coached together before now.”

Well, wait a minute… Chaney and Pittman have coached together before.  Smart and Tucker have coached together before (and Schumann was on the Alabama staff with them, as well).  Sherrer comes out of the Alabama system and as the article acknowledges, coached with Rocker in Athens last season.

As a problem, this seems way overblown.  What’s a bigger concern is the transition the players have to make with a largely new coaching staff, and even that is a somewhat lesser issue on the defensive side of the ball, where Smart is swapping out a DC who cut his teeth under Saban (Pruitt) for another Saban-groomed defensive coach, and where two of the position coaches from last season were retained.  All told, that should prove to be a much less painful change than the one the team faced in 2010, for example.

Offense may be more of a challenge.  Some players will be learning their third offensive system from their third offensive coordinator in three years.  But if youth is being served in certain areas, like wide receiver and quarterback, then even that problem is somewhat mitigated.  Besides, I doubt there are many who would argue that it’s not worth making the tradeoff at offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, or that Smart has managed to upgrade the coaching experience in both spots significantly.

None of which is to guarantee nine or ten wins in 2016.  I’m just not buying that anyone needs to accept eight as the ceiling at this point.  There’s a lot left to go through before making that call.

64 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

64 responses to “It’s still too early to make predictions.

  1. JtP

    Bad blogging is bad.

  2. Columbus Dawg

    This is a joke of a site that advertises for writers for said site, on it’s own site. This clown knows SQUAT about football, college football or any other kind of football. LARGE waste of bandwidth.

  3. Atticus

    If NC, Ole Miss, TN, UF are the games that could go either way, odds are you aren’t going to lose them all, you likely split. You have recruited better than all of them the last 4 years with the exception of the bag man at Ole Miss possibly. Only way they only win 8 is if they lose them all or lose one against Auburn, Mizz or GT. 9-3 or 10-2 is the most likely scenario.

  4. If we win 7 or fewer in the regular season, Kirby’s honeymoon is going to be over quickly.

    • Normaltown Mike

      I’d say we preemptively fire him before that happens.

      • DawgPhan

        I like the way you think.

        • AusDawg85

          Which has been Richt’s secret plan all along. He’ll get our old $4 million, Miami’s $4million and then get re-hired at UGA for a new $4 million. I read most of that on the internet somewhere too.

  5. Jared S.

    I see a 9-win season well within our grasp (and hope for better)!

  6. The Quincy Carter of Accountants

    “North Carolina finished 96th nationally and 13th in the ACC in total defense last season.”

    Jim Chaney’s Pitt offense finished 82nd nationally and 11th in the ACC in total offense in the same period. Better buckle it up.

    • Have you looked at the talent Chaney had to work with at Pitt last season?

      • 202dawg

        ^^^This^^^

      • The Quincy Carter of Accountants

        That’s fair, they were Bob Goulet level not talented.

        I may be looking at the numbers wrong and Kirby Smart certainly knows what is difficult to defend better than I, but I don’t get the Chaney hire. His 2012 Tennessee team was very good. His others…I’m less enthusiastic. Again, Smart is a great defensive mind and I’m just a guy on the internet. But I don’t get the attraction.

        • Cojones

          Was it because he played against him in the past? That’s how he was impressed with others he hired.

          Can any one think of another HC we have had who was impressed by a D Coach years earlier that he had faced such that he was hired as D Coach at UGA?

          • The Quincy Carter of Accountants

            Yeah – I assume that’s exactly what happened.

            That’s what I mean when I say that Smart knows what is difficult to defend more that I do. But looking at the numbers from Chaney’s past offenses I don’t get it. From 2009 to 2014 when he coached Tennessee and Arkansas his offenses ranked never ranked higher than sixth in the SEC in yards per game, yards per play or points per game – except for 2012.

            Again, Smart is probably right and I am probably wrong. But I don’t understand how he made his assessment.

            • Will (The Other One)

              But of those teams, really only the 2012 UT squad had comparable talent levels to what he has at UGA (and even then, Neal and Lane were only OK RBs…though that WR corps was better than what we have on paper.)

          • I Wanna Red Cup

            Yes that would be exactly what CMR said when he announced Van Gorder as his DC

  7. Derek

    If Kirby approaches 2016 like saban approached his first seasons at LSU (8-4 and lost to UAB) and Alabama (7-6 with a loss to La. Monroe) then he could be right. To me that question has been the most interesting since Kirby took over. Is he going to focus on maximizing win totals or focus on creating an identity and build towards the future? Both of Saban’s second year squads won the west and LSU won the seccg so it’s not like the latter is a bad choice. I just wonder what Kirby’s choice will be.

    • You think Saban’s initial campaigns at LSU and Alabama can be explained simply as a result of philosophical approach, without regard to returning talent or changes in scheme?

      • Normaltown Mike

        People forget that the 07 Bama team took Georgia to OT.

        Yes they lost to Directional U, but they weren’t a total dumpster fire.

        • Otto

          I expect UGA to look much better than the team is and at other times to look worse than they are…. which is what Saban’s 1st Bama team did.

      • Jared S.

        Not sure what Derek’s response will be, but I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to think that Saban likely would have beaten UAB and LA Monroe in his first years at LSU and Bama respectively if he’d been more focused on immediate success than building a strong identity and foundation for the long-term.

        • Not trying to be snarky here, but why so?

          How does building a foundation interfere with a game plan to beat a cupcake?

          • Russ

            IDK, but some things I can think of would be playing young talent (too) early with an eye toward prepping them for the next season. Saban may or may not have done this, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.

            • I don’t remember the situation he walked into at LSU, but everyone was aware that ‘Bama was lacking on the talent front when Saban arrived, because of previous sanctions and because Shula wasn’t a great recruiter.

              And I’ve got to say that if prepping towards next season was the reason for the loss to ULM, how did Alabama manage four conference wins?

              • DawgPhan

                Saban didnt want to lose that game. He had to lose that game. Everything he has done since that game is built on his failures in that game.

                Dont you see? It’s so clear to me now.

                Fail fast.

              • Derek

                Can you see the possibility that there is a difference between:

                Trying to win the game my way, and

                Trying to win the game in the most expedient way?

                For example, Mike leach becomes the head coach at tech. He desperately wants to win the opener. Does he play option football or does he throw it 70 times? I’d say he plays option football. He could try to win it his way and might but it won’t be the most expedient way. The most expedient way would be to do what he players are used to and capable of. His way will take time and a turnover in talent. If he wants to win the next year and is not as worried about his years opener he plays his way.

                Does that clarify it?

          • Jared S.

            So what I said is that I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to think it’s likely the case. I did a lot of equivocating, and for good reason: I don’t have any proof Saban cost himself wins in the short-term because he was planning for the long-term. Mind you I’m very aware that I’m just talking out of my behind when I say these things. I don’t think anyone here is trying to prove one thing or another, we’re just talking out loud about things that we are pondering. Speaking of which….

            I would say (in relation to what Derek wrote about Kirby’s approach to 2016) it is interesting to ponder – for example – what Kirby will do for Game 1 with Nick Chubb and Jacob Eason and Kirby’s decision regarding these two might say about his philosophy about short-term vs long-term.

            Everyone (including Kirby?) seems to indicate that he needs to go with “whoever gives us the best chance to win” the first game. Do these people mean Kirby needs to play whoever (and however) he needs to win this first game of the season against a non-conference opponent, without regard for how it might affect the rest of the season? This doesn’t seem to be what he means. At least I hope not. Does this mean play Chubb “early and often” against UNC if you think he gives you the best chance to win that game, regardless of what it might do for his (and the team’s) prospects for the rest of the season? I don’t think many people would buy into that. Given the choice I think most fans and coaches would trade the chance of early success with Chubb in game one with more certain success later on — making sure he has had the proper time to heal, etc.

            And then the QB situation. (Bear with me.)

            Let’s suppose that Kirby decides to start Lambert Game 1 because he doesn’t think Eason is quite ready. He decides that Lambert will give him the “best chance” (“most certain”?) chance of success in that game. Even though he knows that there’s a very good chance that Lambert will be replaced by Eason before the season’s end. My argument is that this is silly. Why not start Eason Game 1 (even at risk of losing) because you know that the game experience will reap benefits and make him a better starter against conference opponents than he otherwise would have been later on down the road.

            But, again, I’m talking out of my behind.

            • Otto

              The argument against playing Eason in the UNC game is that he isn’t ready, and that by playing him he may fall or create bad habits which will then have to be coached out, rather bringing him along at a more natural progression. Look at Lambert throwing it away quickly, missing targets when rushed, absence of faith in the OL.

              • Jared S.

                I understand the argument against playing Eason if he isn’t ready – I totally get the part about how starting a QB too early can preempt the process of making him a good or great QB.

                I’m just wondering how willing Smart is to start Lambert even if he thinks he’s his most certain chance of success, given the fact that almost no one on earth other than Lambert and his momma want to see him start.

                Either way I trust Smart and Chaney to make the most informed decision.

                • Otto

                  Agreed, especially with Lambert, his momma, and maybe his girlfriend. I actually have some hope for Ramsey. Saban and Smart seem to take the role of breaking down their scheme into way a college kid can grasp very seriously. I think most of us believe Schott was shotty at developing talent, and was incompetent at play calling and/or could not get the kids to execute.

                  I have been no Bobo fan but it wouldn’t surprise me if he would would have turned Ramsey into serviceable QB. Bobo could develop a QB, it was his play calling that lost me.

            • Derek

              I think the proof will be more on the defensive front than at qb or RB. Will they play two-gap, try to control the box with 6 and get in nickel? That’s what Bama does. Watch how much the weak side LB plays. That’s the key. The spot that Dillon Lee played. He only got substantial snaps against teams like lsu that tried to play power. Most of the time they convinced teams to pull the fb out because running wasn’t an option. Of course then there’s Les who kept running up the gut despite the futility.

              The ability to stop the other team running with 6 is the key. Not needing safeties for inside run support is huge for them. You do that with less than optimal personnel and you get exploited initially but it teaches the guys you do have what is expected of them and what they will have to do to be successful in the future.

              • Cojones

                Our D is being overlooked by us oracles. Playing against Chizik is another facet that’s overlooked. We concentrate on how good our O is and sing about our O players running roughshod over opponents, but, if you get outscored the O glory diminishes. If we are trying to gather our shorts up later in the season, it will be because of the D.

                • Derek

                  We have depth issues along the def. front to be sure. Optimally, with this group you’d try and score a bunch of points and force the other team to try and keep up. This allows you to play pass defense and rush the passer which should be our strengths on defense.

                  If Chubb is healthy, you’ve got Sony, Eason, a bunch of talented TE’s and at least a decent group of young, serviceable wide outs and a pretty good OL. We can win the East this year playing aggressively with our offense and bend don’t break with the d concentrating on forcing field goals and to’s.

                  That’s how you compete to get to ATL with this squad. That’s not the process though. Will he play small ball and protect his defense knowing that we’ll likely lose games against teams that can play offense like UT and Ole Miss and perhaps Florida and maybe even Auburn by November? Or will he try and score points knowing he’ll also be giving up a lot of points on the hopes that we can split those 4 and get to ATL? Personally I’d rather try to average over 40 even if we give up close to 30 a game rather than averaging 23 points a game knowing that there are games we just can’t win with an anemic offense.

                  In short, you can ride Chubb and Sony to 8 or 9 wins and acclimate your defense to the new reality vs. the better offenses we’ll face OR you can play bend don’t break on D, throw Eason in there and go for broke trying to get to double digit wins. I know what I’d do. We’ve seen what Saban does. WWKD?

      • Siskey

        I wonder about this too. I remember that 07 Bama team as having a lot of talent (relative to going 7-6). LSU was prior to Saban a team that was never any good for more than 2-3 games a year. And to that point had nver been consistent in my lifetime.
        I think that Kirby takes over a vastly different and better situation at UGA than what Saban took over at both places but if “we” lose 3-4 regular season games because younger players are playing than would have played under Richt. I don’t think that he will or can “tank” the season to prove a point but by the time the Florida game rolls around if we have a way different starting lineup especially on defense than we did against UNC I will think that he is playing guys in anticipation of the future.

      • Derek

        No. Nothing involving 85 people and a coaching staff can be completely explained with simple answers. What I am saying is that Alabama’s and LSU’s rosters were substantially better than ULM’s and UAB’s respectively. Any coach worth his salt could have game planned to win those games, including Saban. I don’t think he was as concerned with getting those W’s as he was with creating an identity. Most coaches go about the business of game planning for a win week to week. Saban goes about building a monster that can beat anybody with essentially the same game plan every week. That requires recruiting at the highest levels and committing to his “process.” We should recognize that what Saban brings to the table is just different than what an Urban Meyer or a Spurrier or even a Vince Dooley did. I’ve been and continue to be curious about Kirby’s approach. Does he think he can replicate what Saban has done at Alabama or will he go his own way? If he thinks he can sign top 3 classes year in and year out, go with the process. If it’s going to be more in the 4-8 range like CMR was able to do I think he’ll crash and burn doing it Saban’s way.

        • I don’t think he was as concerned with getting those W’s as he was with creating an identity.

          Sounds like it to me.

          It was a sloppy performance that left Saban, paid $4 million a year to turn around a traditional power, “embarrassed for all our fans.”

          “I’m certainly not pleased the way we represented that tradition today,” Saban said. “We did all the things in this football game that get you beat regardless of who you play.

          “We just did a lot of things today that is not winning football. I think we’re all responsible for it. It starts with me. I don’t think we had a very good week of preparation.”

          Before the game, Saban used recent basketball upsets as cautionary tales for his team.

          “I talked to them about Grand Valley beating Michigan State, Gardner-Webb beating Kentucky,” he said. “I ran the gamut on everything that I could talk about relative to respecting your opponent and getting ready to go out and dominate the people that you play. I failed in that, obviously.”

          • Derek

            I don’t know if that was supposed to prove any sort of point or not. Did you expect him to say:

            “I didn’t give a shit about winning today.I’m looking to next year?”

            Did you expect him to say:

            “Building a defense that has three dl that can play 2-gap requires 8 to 6’6″ 300 lbs plus beasts who can run and since we don’t have that yet, we’re going to lose games like this, but just be patient.”

            I don’t. I do know that the latter quotes would be more accurate but they damn sure ain’t fan or press friendly.

            • Your latter quote indicates a talent deficit, not an approach issue, so maybe we’re just debating over semantics.

              • Derek

                The talent was better than the shitty opponents that they lost too. The 2015 roster was better than his 2000 or 2008 team. So a deficit as compared to optimal but not a deficit as compared to uab or ulm.

  8. Macallanlover

    Nice job with those UNC defensive stats Senator. I recalled Baylor taking them apart with a limited offense but was not aware of the other info. Looks like Cheetzik shouldn’t feel all that comfortable this summer. If Pittman can get that OL in sync, we have enough firepower at RB to make this game less about the QB than many think. As an opener, we still will be concerned, and have many unknowns, but you can understand why we are a slight favorite over the Heels. My biggest concerns are still the ability to stop a decent runner with our defensive front, and the communication and coordination of a new staff at game speed.

    • Defensive line is my biggest worry for the opener. If I were Fedora, I’d be playing HUNH a bunch and try to exploit the lack of Georgia’s depth there.

      • Looks like that may be their plan per comments from a UNC player.

      • Otto

        Agreed but on the flip side, UNC front 7 is questionable, especially against Chubb if he is ready.

        UNC’s plan HUNH, even with an established Bama D it was CKS’s weakness.

        UGA, control the clock, run the ball take advantage of UNC’s inexperienced front 7.

  9. With so much predictions going on, if I have my own blog and dare say that Dawgs will only win 6 games, I probably will have more hits than ESPN, LOL. What I’m saying is a negative opinion means more hits with the built in pessimist within us to balance over confidence.

  10. W Cobb Dawg

    Well, the offense has no where to go but up. And did we really get off 77 plays against mizzou!? Seems like our O was actually trying NOT to scope. I can understand why Pruitt would wig out on our offensive coaches.
    IF I was going to point out a weakness, it would be the kicking game.
    I think the coaching staff is a strength. All except Shumann are veterans. This is not on-the-job-training like we’ve seen in the past.
    Kirby’s work ethic and attention to details is gonna pay off big.

    Here’s my predictions:
    – We’re gonna have a terrific crowd in the dome and bring home a W over unc.
    – Ole Miss will have trouble fielding a team by the time we get to Oxford. They have FSU in Orlando, a short week before Wofford, and bama is gonna pummel them into the dirt in their 3rd game.
    – We get ut at home knowing this is likely the deciding game for the division championship. Something tells me Chubb is gonna be thirstin for some payback!
    – The coach(es) who pissed their pants every time they walked on the field in Jax are gone. fu’s luck has run out.

    • Will (The Other One)

      Remember, Mizzou’s offense was even worse than our offense. I’d missed watching most of that game live and had it DVR’d but deleted the recording right after it was over. The final 8 minutes were painful enough.

  11. pumblechook114

    I’ve posted this elsewhere, but the closer we get to the opener, the more I’m feeling this season hinges on the offensive and defensive lines. The offensive line figures to improve simply because there really isn’t anywhere to go but up, and it isn’t unreasonable to expect a sizable improvement with Pittman based on his reputation alone.

    But the defensive line is truly worrisome, especially when you consider Georgia’s huge whiff in recruiting the position the last cycle. I love Tracy Rocker as much as the next guy, but he truly has his work cut out for him this year and next. I honestly can’t remember a year where Georgia was this short on both depth and talent at the position.

  12. rchris

    The strongest reason we might not win more than eight this year was not even mentioned. Our schedule is very front loaded this year, with us having to play 3 of our 4 toughest games by October 1. All our learning curve issues (plus any problems getting Nick back up to speed, his assurances notwithstanding) will occur over the first half of the season. Once we are rolling good, if our confidence is not shot, we will be very formidable.

    • Jared S.

      This is an excellent point. Again, I don’t get the common feeling expressed by a lot of dawg fans that it should be a cake walk for Kirby to win 9 or 10 games this year. Why do they think it’s going to be so easy and simple for a newly assembled coaching staff to roll past UNC, Ole Miss and Tennessee in the first five weeks? If we lost to two of the three I’d be very disappointed but not surprised.

      Plus I won’t even be surprised if we lose to one of the supposed pushovers we play this year — think Mizzou, USCe, GT.

      • rchris

        On the flip side, if we do manage to win 2 of those 3 and win against all the “supposed pushovers”, we could be rolling into Jax with a shot at making the playoffs, if we beat Florida and Bama (or whoever). Not an easy path, but at that point our team would be much better than at the beginning. Pass the Kool-Aid!

  13. JCDAWG83

    I’ll wait and see. Who knows how good Auburn, UF and tech might end up being and how bad UNC and Ole Miss might be?

    • Siskey

      Good point. UNC and Ole Miss could look like great teams early in the year and be very mediocre by the end of the season and not just because they would be “dawggraded” if they lose to us.

      • JCDAWG83

        Or vice versa, We might trounce UNC and Ole Miss and they may not lose another game and Auburn and UF may come out of the blocks on fire and fade at the end of the season.

        The only thing I’m fairly confident of right now is; Bama will be good. All those back to back #1 recruiting classes tend to prevent down years.

    • PTC DAWG

      I tend to think that no way GT nor South Carolina are as bad as they were last year. We don’t play Bama..that is the only team I see as head and shoulders above us in talent in the conference…Ole Miss on the road is tough…UT and UF, tough to beat both of them. Lots of ifs.

      • Will (The Other One)

        SCar’s recruiting and coach don’t cause a lot of worry. The NATS probably won’t be as hapless on offense, but I suspect their defense will return to terrible status (it was statistically a good bit better per play in 2015 than 2014). But we have to hope Tucker has better results vs the knee-diving option than Grantham or Pruitt had their first seasons.)

  14. Semper FI Dawg

    Dawn of the Dawg puts the “D” in Douche Bag

  15. PTC DAWG

    I can see anywhere from 7 to 11 regular season wins..just because winning all of’em is about impossible. Looking forward to the season…

  16. Who in their right mind thinks we lose every tough game. That is ludicrous we will win half the tough games(i.e. UNC, TN, Ole Miss and UF) but the concern is if Kirby finds a way to punk up a lose against Mizzou ,uSC or GT.

    • I Wanna Red Cup

      Why can’t we win all the tough games, or at least 3 of the 4 ( assumes AU is not better than we think), and win those we are supposed to win? Isn’t that why we hired CKS for?

  17. TMC DAWG

    I do not know how many wins we will have. But I can tell you this, we will be COMPETITIVE in every game. Smart has hung around Saban too long NOT to have his team ready to play.

  18. Midgadawg1

    I think as a fan, I like to see the team improve as the year progresses- which certainly doesn’t relate to wins and losses. Sometimes you run into a hot team that day – just minimize the dumb stuff that has killed us numerous times. Please show up in Jacksonville – this has got stop and continued domination over GT,Auburn and UT. For a coach to do otherwise – he probably won’t last long. A lot of pressure on Kirby to do well – just wonder if the fan base will stay quite if he shits the bed a few times – and it happens to the best of them(coaches). Of course the country club AD office is of no use in my opinion – his best days were assistant AD not AD.

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