Michael Elkon makes the case for Georgia winning the SEC East this season:
The Dawgs have the best player in the division (Nick Chubb), the biggest coaching upgrade at offensive coordinator and no road games against top contenders Tennessee and Florida.
Smart may not prove to be an upgrade over Richt, but his first season in Athens sets up nicely.
I have to give him major credit for one thing — he was off the Schottenheimer bandwagon last year before it even got started, so I give a lot of weight to his criticism of Tennessee offensive coordinator Mike DeBord (folks who’ve had crappy stints at Michigan usually give Michael a little extra schwinngg!, but his points about DeBord certainly have merit) — but I think he ignores something that’s a huge factor in Tennessee’s favor, the offseason hiring of Bob Shoop as its new defensive coordinator.
Chaney may very well turn out to be a significant upgrade over Schottenheimer, but I believe Shoop represents an even bigger step up from John Jancek. If that turns out to be as key a move as I believe it is, then DeBord’s margin of error grows exponentially. As Elkon notes, “When Michigan had great defenses (1997 and 2006), DeBord was passable.” Passable may be all Booch needs out of his offense.
That may be especially true when you consider that Tennessee appears to have a significant advantage over Florida and Georgia in the area of special teams. Bill Connelly’s revised S&P+ rankings for special teams have the Vols coming off a 28th finish last season, compared to Florida’s 95th and Georgia’s 103rd. That may not seem like much, but when your analysis takes in Tennessee having to travel to Athens as a factor in picking who wins the division, every little bit counts.