It’s hard to figure out where Georgia stands in the talent department. My current working theory is that there’s certainly talent on the roster — talent that’s as good overall as any team in the SEC East — but that the roster is imbalanced because of the crater left in the wake of the implosion of the 2013 class.
So I get where Matt Brown is coming from when he writes,
… For now, it’s hard to know what to make of the Bulldogs in 2016. Smart is a great defensive coach, and he hired a good offensive coordinator in Jim Chaney. The offensive line has experience, and if star tailback Nick Chubb, who injured his knee last October, and Sony Michel, who broke his forearm last month, are healthy, the Bulldogs can have a dominant ground game. There are, however, questions in the passing game, with a lack of proven weapons at receiver and the ongoing quarterback debate as Smart decides between playing true freshman phenom Jacob Eason or incumbent Greyson Lambert (or Brice Ramsey, who has spent more time at punter than quarterback).There’s also talent in the defensive front, but a question of how quickly Smart builds depth — especially with tough games against the North Carolina, Ole Miss and Tennessee offenses early in the year. It’s unreasonable to expect an SEC title in Smart’s first year at Georgia, and the Bulldogs are unlikely to win the SEC East either. Last year’s results may have gotten Richt fired, but ultimately Georgia should hope to get the running game going, keep Chubb and Michel healthy once on the field and start preparing Eason for the future, with matching 2015’s results — minus the embarrassing losses — an acceptable target.
(For the record, Brown thinks the Dawgs will come up short on matching last season’s win total, as he projects an 8-4 record for 2016.)
And here’s the thing to ponder: yes, quarterback is the most important position on the field and that hasn’t sorted itself out quite yet, and yes, by and large, we’ve got a new coaching staff to break in, but I like Bud Elliott’s rebuttal.
As my colleague Bill Connelly has said, winning in college football takes talent acquisition, development and deployment. I agree. But Gene Chizik has a national title, while Mark Dantonio and Gary Patterson do not; acquisition is by far the most important element. By NCAA rule, coaches get just 20 hours per week with their players. Only so much development can be done.
In other words, the Jimmies and Joes matter, and Georgia’s signed more four- or five-star recruits in the last four years than any other school in the division. Dave Bartoo has a similar evaluation here.
No, I’m not crazy enough to insist this is a guarantee of anything, results-wise. (After all, Richt got fired after bringing the bulk of the talent in, because he couldn’t get back to the SECCG after the heartbreaking loss in 2012.)
What I am saying is that, while Georgia isn’t Alabama, it isn’t craptastic, either. There’s talent in Athens and a favorable schedule. Sure, there’s only so much a staff can do, but in this case, they’ve got enough to work with to have a shot.