“Kirby Smart could have them believing.”

I picked up my Steele’s 2016 College Football Preview Saturday night and spent much of yesterday with my nose buried in it. From 2012-5, Steele was pretty high on Georgia’s chances.  Not so much this season, though.  The Dawgs sit at 29th in his composite power rankings, although he ranks them 23rd after factoring in scheduling.

It’s pretty easy to sum up his qualms about the team.  Although there’s talent and coaching pedigree, Georgia is lacking in experience and Steele puts some emphasis on the learning curve Smart and his program have to track first.

Here are some bullet points to help you see the picture Steele paints:

  • All-American teams.  Steele picks four teams.  Georgia has two players, Nick Chubb and Greg Pyke, both third teamers.
  • All-SEC teams. Again, four teams of 29 each.  Georgia places a total of nine on them.  Pyke is the only first teamer, as Chubb makes second team.  Two newcomers, Eason and Catalina, make his fourth team.
  • Top individual units.  Georgia makes seven of his eight lists of the top 45-50 at each position group.  The whiff is at special teams, which is understandable.  Best showings are at running back (4th) and offensive line (7th).  Georgia barely makes the cut at two others, though — defensive line (45 out of 46) and quarterback (48 out of 50).  (To add insult to injury, Steele ranks Georgia Tech at 27th in quarterbacks.)
  • Conference unit rankings.  Georgia doesn’t place first in any category.

Put it all together and you’ve got a team that is “a legitimate contender in the SEC East”.  That’s a considerable notch down from labeling Alabama, LSU and Tennessee national title contenders.

But Steele also sees Georgia as one of his Surprise Teams, noting that the Ole Miss game may be the only one Georgia enters as an underdog this season.  He then goes on to say,

In the last 3 years Georgia has been favored in 36 of their 39 games but have a disappointing record of 28-11 in that span.  Sometimes a coaching change (Richt was there 15 years) can bring a different attitude and maybe take care of business in that favorites role.

There are a couple of statistical trouble spots he notes.

First, over the last 14 years, teams with three or more net close wins in a season have an almost 80% chance of having a weaker or the same win total the following season.  Georgia had a net of four close wins in 2015.

Second, over the last nine years, Steele found no school losing more than 34 or more starts from a team that finished with 10 or more wins improved its record the following season.

All in all, there’s enough uncertainty about Georgia’s 2016 chances to reinforce my ambiguity about the season.  I do think the schedule is weak enough for nine wins; it’s that tenth one that makes me feel at times like I’m reaching.  We’ll see soon enough.


Filed under Georgia Football, Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water

36 responses to ““Kirby Smart could have them believing.”

  1. Uglydawg

    That was a cold shower.


  2. Uglydawg

    So Georgia (a mere SEC E contender) will be favored against National Championship Contender Tennessee? Is home field advantage that big? Either Georgia is being sold short or Tennessee is overpriced.


  3. I hope it adds fuel to the fire for this team come together behind a new coach and show out. I don’t expect more than 9 wins but what I want to see is the Dawgs playing well on both sides of the ball at the same time, and to not see a bunch of the same mistakes, I understand mistakes happen, it’s the keeping them to a minimum that I hope plays out


  4. Dawg Porn gone bonkers.


  5. Ed Kilgore

    Another detail I noticed is that Steele downgraded his assessment of the UGA secondary’s performance last year because they didn’t face any top-rated passing teams. And he’s also higher on some of our 2016 opponents–Ole Miss, Auburn, even Mizzou–than many observers. Steele made me think eight wins is more likely than I had earlier imagined.


  6. Macallanlover

    Arrive at the exact same conclusion as you Senator, 9 season wins is a reasonable stretch but 10 is assuming everything falls our way, very unlikely but possible. And the schedule is a primary reason anything above eight is a consideration.

    I worry less about the number of highly rated players than I do the position group evaluations. His ranking of Chubb that high is surprising given the severity of the injury he suffered 10 months ago. UGA fans can expect to see NC back in the lineup due to his mental and physical toughness but it is a very slim chance he will ever be at the level we saw before; good for sure, very good is possible, but elite is a longshot for 2016, if ever. Some groups seem to have some upside (kickers may pan out, OL should be better, and QBs could work out to be a surprise) but the DL looks to be a weak area might be just below average, at best.

    I don’t see us favored against TN at all, unless they crap the bed against FU or Va Tech. Doesn’t mean we cannot beat them, just that an unbeaten TN will e getting significant media and betting love by then. We might not even be underdogs against the Rebels if FSU blows them away. Betting odds at this point will change significantly when there are actual results to base them on. The UNC, FSU, and FU games will be the determination of our chances against those two as seen by Vegas, but the real test for us fans will be what we see in the Dome with so many questions/answers being addressed and a first look at a new staff in prime time. 9-3 or 8-4. Given the recruiting momentum we are seeing, if we enjoy a 10-2 season in 2016, I would say the chances of a huge year in 2017 or 21018 go up enormously. So I am hoping for ten Ws this fall but think 9-3 is as far I can go and still feel objective at all.


  7. JCDAWG83

    I can live with 8 wins this season as long as the team looks like they are playing hard, are prepared for every game and we don’t see the bonehead coaching decisions of the past 10 years. The DL issues are going to be the biggest problem in my opinion.


  8. Grathams replacement

    If Kirby changes the level of mental toughness we will all be very pleased with this years team. UT a national champion contender? Seems like the ESPN suits have gotten to Steele to generate hype (see 2015 auburn predictions)


  9. AusDawg85

    I’m amused that everybody thinks we’ll look better in our losses than before. How else do you lose games if not missing assignments, missed tackles, being out-schemed by your opponent, having less talent, poor coaching decisions, etc.? Hell, we have a group of critics that label all these faults on the 2012 SECCG, and if that isn’t an example of a “great loss” than I don’t know what they’ll think of our first one under KS.

    The only way we “look better” is to win…win big and show we have more talent when doing it. That probably requires a 100% functioning Chubb, a capable star in Eason, and some real unsung heros emerging on D. Any losses this year will be just that…losses when we didn’t have that other stuff go right.


  10. Cojones

    Ah, ye of little faith. We don’t operate on no stinkin’ stats. We are Dawgs, bloviating ourselves to a great season. Where’s the fun in doing stupid tea leaves simply because you can? No one has a clue about the Dawgs except us.

    Friggin’ Fall Practice hasn’t even started and we are standing in the July sun beating ourselves and our hopes with poison ivy vines. Now yall can stand around lookin’ down at your toes, but I’m going lakeside for firewater and fireworks. Sadly, it will be my neighbor’s last show (yes, that neighbor with the great antiTech surname), but we are rollin’ together (he’s in a wheelchair and I’m just rollin’) to express our feelings towards our country this evening. Wish yall were here and we could express our feelings together for the Dawgs. Gotta go and attach his flag to his wheelchair so that we can roll in style.

    Go Dawgs!


    • Uglydawg

      “we are standing in the July sun beating ourselves and our hopes with poison ivy vines”….Cojo..that’s perfect. Dizzy Dean or Munson would have loved that description.. I’ll bet Munson bought a lot of Calamine Lotion through the years!! Thanks for that and God bless all of you on this day!


  11. TMC DAWG

    No one is seeing the Kirby Smart effect. I really believe we have little saban at the wheel here. The Oxford trip is key to our season I believe. Win there build confidence and swagger, then we will be ready for UT at home. Why not U G A?


  12. sUGArdaddy

    I think a good barometer for us is to look at 2014 Clemson. Watson got hurt in spring practice, which derailed his development over the summer. He still played early and often. He looked good against UGA, but may not have been ready for the spotlight. The coaches didn’t think so. But we had Todd Gurley and Nick Chubb so it didn’t much matter. Anyone who saw the FSU game that year knows that if they play Watson the whole game they win (and then win the Division w/ the tie-breaker over FSU).

    They had an ugly loss to Tech when Watson got hurt in the first quarter and their offense went missing. They go 9-3, slam OU in the bowl game, and they’re both in the playoff the next year.

    If Watson stays healthy in spring and through the season, that team could have very well gone 11-1.

    For us, it all comes down to Eason and Chubb. If Nick is healthy early and Eason is healthy and continues to develop, we’ve got a chance to be really, really, really good.


    • W Cobb Dawg

      I think you have a good example with clemson. Imagine the kind of season Watson could’ve had if he had two 1,000 yard rushers like Chubb and Sony Michel to help out.


  13. If this team doesn’t win at least 8 in the regular season, the season will be a failure in many eyes. Right now, I would say there are 7 wins on paper before we see the ball teed up (Nicholls, ULL, USCe, Mizzou, tech, UK, Vandy), 3 games that are toss-ups or likely wins (UF, the Barn, UNC), and 2 we are likely to lose on paper (Ole Mi$$, UT). 10 regular season wins is a stretch. 9 would be a solid if unspectacular season. 8 would be we are what we thought we would be. 7 would be a true disappointment with 1 or 2 meaningful wins (tech / USCe). I don’t even want to think what we’ll be saying with 6 or fewer wins, no matter how hard the team plays.


    • dawgtired

      We are better than at least 10 on the schedule and with our amazing new coaching staff, we will upset at least one other, maybe both…see you in Atlanta.


      • I hope so … I would love to be in Atlanta this year, but I’m just not as confident as many about the QB position. Today’s game needs to have a QB who can put the team on his shoulders to win a game but has the trust of the coaches and players not to lose it (see Watson, Deshaun). While I think Eason is going to become that type of player, I just don’t like the idea of putting a team’s championship hopes on those inexperienced shoulders.

        Maybe I’m channeling some Munson … damn, I still miss him.


  14. Argondawg

    I’ll be fine with 8 or 9 because I can see what is coming behind it. We have some elite coaches and we are really in it with some elite talent on the way. This year is putting the pieces in place and getting the schemes down.

    Love The Phil Steele bible that he puts out. In the recruiting section what does IFS stand for?


  15. John Denver is full of shit...

    Chubb second team of anything is bullshit.


  16. Dawg-n-bama

    I see a lot of folks “settling” for and making excuses before the season begins. Fair or un-fair, when Richt was let go it was for lack of championships. That should be the standard and expectation. 10+ wins and an SEC East championship should be the very minimum any of us accept or expect. This more of a referendum on ADGM.


    • 92 grad

      I can’t stop saying “yes but no” to this notion of CMR being let go because of championships. It’s not. It’s about fielding a team that plays to its potential, champs or not, being competitive is what it’s about. We’ve gotten out coached too often. Championships are the by-product, not the goal. Saban says it best, “win against your matchup, nothing else matters”.


  17. Rampdawg

    Just want us to be about +8 to +>8 in turnover margin. If that happens, even as young as we’ll be, I think we will be alright in Smarts first year.

    Your Son


  18. rchris

    Why the uncertainty? I’d say we go 9-3 this year, give or take 3 wins. ;-D


  19. quit dawgrading the expectations for this year. We fired the coach of a Top 15 program because he didn’t win championships. According to ADGM and many of the loudest amongst us ,CMR was the problem, we’ve gotten rid of the problem and replaced him with mini-Satan(yes, I know no one is actually smaller than Saban….I used the term metaphorically) that fixes the true problem why not expect better and therefore championships. One of the recent posts on this blog has 75% of our 40 deep roster as 4 star or better and we took last years National champs off the schedule and a heart breaking away lose is at home this year……..using the same standards used the last few years this is a 10 or 11 win schedule. Didn’t ADGM get rid of Richt because he wet the bed against UF (yes Redcup I do mean FU) and we just KNOW that Kirby will not do that.Where are these 4 or 5 loses coming from? No championships..no peace.
    I know Steele’ guide is the gold stand but bought Lundy’s for some light lake reading and discovered that there are only 3 coaches to ever get fired after having 9 or better win seasons. Everyone on this blog knows that Richt and Fulmer are two of the three but the third is just as scary as Fulmer. Lloyd Carr at Michigan was let go because he should have done better and after they fired him they wandered in the wilderness just like UT has for the last decade. Gawg, I sure hope history does not repeat itself again, again.