Ron Higgins, of the New Orleans Times -Picayune, doesn’t seem to be buying into the continuation of a rebuilding phase for Georgia football. From his early 2017 SEC rankings comes this:
2016 record: 8-5 (beat TCU 31-23 in AutoZone Liberty Bowl), 4-4 tied for second in SEC East
Starters returning: 20 (7 offense, 11 defense, 2 special teams)
Outlook: The good news for second-year coach Kirby Smart is his team’s growing pains acclimating to a new staff and system are over. Even better news is that senior-to-be running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, a duo that combined for 1,970 yards and 12 TDs last season, both decided not to declare for the NFL Draft. They’ll be paired again with rising sophomore quarterback Jacob Eason, who started 12 of 13 games last year, alternating moments of beyond his years brilliance and first-year blunders. Then, combine a defense that returns every starter with an incoming recruiting class that figures to be in the nation’s top 5, and Georgia should climb to the top of the East Division.
Schedule: Game 2 for Georgia at Notre Dame on Sept. 9 is a good early season gauge. Georgia’s toughest league games are all away at Tennessee, vs. Florida in Jacksonville and at Auburn.
Yes, that would be number two, with a bullet. The only quibble I have with his outlook is the first sentence, which I’m not sure I would credit with being a given.
By the way, the only other conference team that returns as many starters as the Dawgs do is Kentucky. On paper, this is a team that should contend. Of course, Georgia fans know well how much that paper is worth sometimes.