Justifying expectations

Some of you may have misconstrued the point behind yesterday’s post about Phil Steele’s returning starter numbers.  (Well, maybe not so much with the previously banned troll who returned under yet another moniker.  But I digress.)  It wasn’t offered as preseason happy talk, or as a prediction of greatness.  It was meant to show that last year’s excuse about roster holes isn’t going to work so well in 2017.

Or to put it another way,

Georgia’s got a nice-looking roster.

The Dawgs have one of the best situations in the country, with almost their entire defense coming back (10 players) and a stud QB, Jacob Eason, heading into his sophomore year. Their 17 returning starters are tied for third-most nationally, they’re ninth in returning production, and they’ve added some instant contributors with the country’s No. 3 recruiting class. Steele also has UGA with seven returners on offense, including stud running back Nick Chubb.

Kirby Smart has a lot at his disposal, and this looks like the clear SEC East favorite.

At some point in time, it’s not the talent accumulation that’s the issue.  It’s how the talent is developed and deployed that matters.  Is that point in time this season?  You tell me.

Advertisements

48 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

48 responses to “Justifying expectations

  1. Charlottedawg

    Barring an extremely unique set of circumstances (2013 injury apocalypse, winning 10+ regular season games but having one off day to the wrong sec east team) if we don’t win the east this year there will be and should be serious doubts about Kirby’s abilities as a head coach. There isn’t a team in the East more talented than we are. Jacob Eason and the offense should take a significant step forward in their second year in the system. You can talk about “The process” all you want but if a process doesn’t produce results (in this case wins and eventually championships) then it’s a shitty process that needs to be discarded.

    Like

    • Uglydawg

      Last year scared me (and still does) because of the ineptitude of game coaching. Excepting that, “The Process”, to me, is looking like a beautiful thing. But if we see a repeat of last year’s game day debacles, it will be akin to noticing the beautiful thing is getting a 5 o’clock shadow after you’ve sent flowers and made dinner arrangements.

      Like

  2. MGW

    We shouldn’t expect to be the class of the SEC, but we should be doling out some severe ass kickings to lesser teams and should be competitive with anyone in the conference. We should be a very good team.

    Like

  3. lakedawg

    Am thinking with Chaney’s successor now on staff, that side of the game will show significant improvement or else. Course Kirby may need to keep his nose out of the offense somewhat also.

    Like

    • dawgtired

      “Course Kirby may need to keep his nose out of the offense somewhat also.”
      I’m seriously wondering if this if part of the problem. I’m sure we’ve all experienced that new supervisor on the staff that feels he/she has to make a huge impact in every detail. When really they just need to let people do their job and monitor the results.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Macallanlover

      I hope you are right in your optimistic outlook that Chaney will get out of the way and adapt to what we have, and what the opposition is doing. We didn’t look much better at the end of the season than we did in the earlier part. That lack of demonstrated ability to adjust our approach over the course of spring to December is what concerns me the most. I would love to be proven wrong but fear this is another year where we leave critical points on the field and come up short of our potential.

      Like

      • I thought we looked better in the bowl game, but I remain unconvinced that we will actually stick to a working philosophy. For instance, I thought the run game out of the pistol formation looked great, but wouldn’t be surprised not to see it again in 2017.

        Like

      • Puffdawg

        Here’s what I wonder, Mac. Our offensive struggles can be chalked up to several factors: (1) rookie QB who showed flashes of great and bad (2) erratic WR play, but mostly (3) lousy OL production. And I think we all mostly agree that was due to wholesale shift in approach from zone to man blocking. The guys who under performed at OL had at least played decent before last year. With all that said, I wonder how much of our stubbornness to change to what worked better last year than not was attributable to less than dynamic playcalling and how much was attributable to the throw away year mentality by Kirby. In other words, did we stick to what wasn’t working because we thought “let’s stick with the long term plan despite current success but experience will help us next year after a year in this new blocking scheme” or was it because Chaney is a complete inelastic idiot. I tend to give him benefit of the doubt there and believe Kirby knows what he wants the offense to look like and pressured Chaney to stick with that system. When we switched to more successful schemes later in games, maybe we saw a glimpse of Kirby trying to balance the process and winning now. It was kind of half pregnant approach, maybe. It’s all speculation on my part, and hopefully I’m getting my point across. Now, if my theory is true, and the coaches CONTINUE to stick to an unsuccessful approach with an eye to the future, then I think they are crazy. I’m just wondering if we can chalk the stubbornness of 2016 up to that mentality instead of Chaney being a doofus. Just my two cents.

        Like

        • Puffdawg

          I should add that if poor OL play as a result of scheme change was in fact the major factor holding us back on offense, I think it would be fair for Kirby to comfortably expect that part being fixed the further down the road we get with Pittman, given his reputation and resume.

          Like

          • Macallanlover

            I also think it could have been scheme with the OL issues, and how damned stupid is that if it 1) wasn’t noticed in scrimmages during Spring/Summer and certainly early season games, and 2) why didn’t we switch it if it was noticed? These guys are supposed to well versed and always have multiple plans and ideas, so how does Pittman and Chaney just hang out in buffet lines during the week and pound their pud when they see us getting stiffed during games? This is a highly compensated staff. do something when the opponent has you figured out.

            As Twist said, the bowl game, at least the 2nd half, showed some offensive success but then, so did the offense in the opening game. Now the common denominator is neither of those teams were known for having top flight defenses either. Very frustrating, particularly since we don’t know if we enter Year 2 any closer to a solution. To those who say we don’t need another OC change, how is it better to go into Year 3 with a new guy?

            Like

  4. The Truth

    “At some point in time, it’s not the talent accumulation that’s the issue. It’s how the talent is developed and deployed that matters. Is that point in time this season? You tell me.”

    That point in time is always. Clemson won a “developed and deployed” national championship. If it was a “talent accumulation” national championship Bama would never lose.

    Like

    • Atticus

      True but it took Clemson several years ( a few bad ones) to get there. And last I checked Bama is ALWAYS up there and there aren’t any teams up there that aren’t recruiting well. SO its both.

      Like

    • Uglydawg

      While Clemson did have an awesome team, they pretty much rode Watson to that NC..as Auburn did with Cam a few years ago. If you get a pretty good team, that one special skills player can put you on top. When he’s gone, (see Herschel Walker) you’ll still be very good in the afterglow, but you won’t be where you were. Alabama is a different case. They are so loaded with talent that no one player is essential for a great season.

      Like

  5. Russ

    Yep, we need to win the East or have some compelling reasons why we don’t. “Lack of talent” doesn’t fly with me anymore.

    Like

  6. Otto

    OL is still building……..

    Like

    • dawgtired

      I will soooo be glad when this crutch is gone. I don’t know how long it takes to develop a good OL but we should certainly see improvement this season with the influx of talent coupled with the second year of Pittman. …and in 2018, if the OL is still a problem then changes must be made…

      Like

    • MGW

      Yes but it shouldn’t be the crater it was last year. Excellence shouldn’t be expected, but competence definitely should.

      Like

      • MGW

        Basically, we don’t have top level line talent that isn’t young, but lots of lesser teams across the nation don’t have great talent either, yet they put together decent lines.

        Like

  7. 3rdandGrantham

    Maybe I’m a sunshine pumper, but based on my gut and from what I’m hearing in/around the program…the fun is about to begin folks.

    UGA will be an 11 win team this year and will just miss out on the playoffs after a loss to Bama in the SECC.

    Like

    • MLB2

      Thanks for the kiss of death, 3rd and G.😉

      Like

    • MGW

      Seems about right. Basically, we should be a very good team thats tough to beat.

      Like

    • Cojones

      Interested in what you are hearing that produces that attitude. All I’ve heard is that Trent is in limbo and Roquan had his pec operation; both giving me a dip in expectations for the first four games. Hope to God that we don’t have a bad D substituted for the improved (?) O, even if that ever happens.

      Like

      • 3rdandGrantham

        TT will be good to go game 1 and Smith will be 100% healthy by opener as well.

        Like

        • 3rdandGrantham

          As for why the positive attitude:

          the historically predicable 2nd year bump will materialize, along with coaching improvement on/off the field, more veteran leadership, talented freshman filling key spots/depth, favorable schedule, and a weakened SEC east. The buy-in from the players also is far better than previously too.

          Let’s just say that if we don’t win at least 10 games, I’ll be very, very concerned about Smart’s long term success unless we suffer brutal injuries at key spots.

          Like

  8. dawgindosta

    This is why I am worried. Unlike our East counterparts for the most part, we return only 7 starters on offense, we lost three of our offensive lineman and our key receiver. A stud qb?, receivers and running back was statistically among the worst. The East teams all return as many or more on offense. We also lost our key special teams star. So 2 out of 3 units were hit the hardest in the East.

    Like

  9. rchris

    We will be extremely young and extremely talented at offensive tackle and our outlook at receiver will depend on the freshmen and Ridley and Wims development. Other than that, we’re good to go everywhere. Of our 2017 opponents, only ND and Auburn have recruited and retained at our level. FL and TN are a little behind and everyone else is clearly outclassed. We should go at least 2-2 against those 4 and I say that cause all 4 are away from Athens Beat everyone else and we go 10-2 which I think is a fair expectation of Kirby this season, whether or not that wins the East.

    Like

    • Cojones

      I expected 10-2 out of last year’s team. That was what I would have expected from Richt with last yr’s talent.

      Like

  10. Dave

    I do not place as much stock in the ‘returning starters’ argument as many do, because it seems to overlook the quality of the returning players. I was not at all high on Tennessee last year when most were, because I didn’t feel that, with certain obvious exceptions, they’re returning players were all that fantastic to begin with.

    Having said that, I do think Georgia is at a point in time where we should/need to see a marked improvement on the field. So much (very) young talent got its collective feet wet last year, and the QB play should be vastly improved.

    Won’t say it’s a total failure if we do not win the SECE this year (catastrophic injuries or extreme fluke-iness could derail that), but I do expect a minimum of 10-3 including a bowl.

    Like

  11. 92 grad

    Well, I’m of the opinion that the OC and DC actually do more to determine wins and losses during the season when the bullets are real than the HC. So naturally I’m left with low confidence that our OC is going to be able to win games. Everybody knows that Kirby is important, I do think the coordinators are overlooked a bit though and when I put myself in kirbys shoes can I answer the question “is our OC really the best out there for a million bucks?”

    Like

    • 3rdandGrantham

      Great point and I agree. My #1 concern is the OC as well, as I have low confidence in Chaney. We will see.

      Like

  12. Snoop Dawgy Dawg

    To those in here sandbagging our WRs and their abilities, it will be amazing how they will improve this year if the game slows down for Eason. He had wide open wide receivers on many occasions last year and either did not see them or couldn’t get them the ball.

    A quarterback that can throw a WR open makes the whole offense look different. What Aaron Murray did in 2011, 2012 is what I’m talking about. Eason has the arm to do that. he has the quick release to do that. Does he have the gamesmanship to do that? Lord I hope so.

    If he does, even Chaney won’t be able to prevent us from having an explosive offense.

    Like

    • Cojones

      Agreed. And Stanley had good receptions for yardage. Why isn’t he back catching Eason’s passes?

      Like

    • Puffdawg

      While I agree with your premise that our young WRs have high ceilings, just wanted to make a point that while I do believe Eason was erratic, I think his young WRs were every but as bad or worse. I still have nightmares about the TD we dropped in the corner of the end zone against Ole Miss. Eason dropped in beaut. Here’s an article from last September…

      http://www.saturdaydownsouth.com/georgia-football/georgia-receivers-struggling-with-dropped-passes/

      That said, I believe the WRs will improve. I think your point about throwing them open has some merit too. I just think they bore some of the responsibility for our failures last year. If Stanley, Wims and Ridley can just find some consistency, watch out. I saw enough last year to think they all could be VERY dangerous. And that’d open up Godwin in Imac’s role.

      Like

      • Snoop Dawgy Dawg

        Potentially, but how many of those drops were when Eason was late on a read and just blasted the ball in there? it’s easy to blame WRs on drops when the QB does get them the ball, but behind, low, etc. Plenty of blame to go around, but our WRs were often open with no ball near them.

        More consistency from Eason = more consistency from the WRs = explosive offense

        Like

  13. The other Doug

    I’m in the group that thinks we better win the East. It’s not that big of a hurdle.

    I’m not sold on Kirby yet, but I really want him to succeed. I see the defense coming together, and it should start being a strength in 2017. By 2018 I expect it to be one of the strongest units in the country.

    As for the offense, there is a lot to be excited about. Eason might not be a first rounder, but he is a lot better than Lambert/Mason. We have 2 great RBs also. The problem is the OL. Smart/Pittman/Chaney didn’t make any adjustments last year even though the OL was struggling, and I think that was for recruiting. If he had started some young kids it would have been a lot harder to recruit as many hogs as we did. Yeah, I’m saying the OL was part of the throw away season. Chaney has been successful at a lot of schools and has done a lot of different things. I doubt he is the one dictating that Eason has to be under center and we need to road grade. That philosophy is far more likely coming from Kirby.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cojones

      Think that if the O lives up to expectations of dominance, the game becomes a race in scoring until our D gets back into place, at least for the first four games.

      Chaney has not met our earliest expectations, but in all fairness, he wasn’t hyped to the moon except for QB coaching. That alone has colored much of our thinking and expectations and every game will be Cardiac Kids until they meld into a no-nonsense bunch of Dawgs living up to their own expectations. Chaney will be given credit for what his players produce on the field, but he already has us down and looking up for the next year and I intend to hold his feet to the fire of team performan
      ce all ’round, no matter the individual performances that may pull his fat from the fire.

      Like

      • The other Doug

        I definitely think we need to hold the coaches accountable. Chaney has been around college football and he knows what he is doing, but at the same time I think he doesn’t have a high ceiling. You remember when Bobo was a young OC and made a few mistakes? Yep, me too, but atleast with young Bobo we knew he had potential and a high ceiling. Chaney is a solid OC, but not amazing. Give him a strong OL and he can call the plays.

        Like

  14. Spike

    Beat Florida.

    Like

  15. Bulldog Joe

    The defense is weakest when it counts the most (2nd worst in the nation in the red zone). The front seven is suspect. One of its two best players is not likely to return and the second will miss at least the spring with an injury.

    The offense’s “impose your will” scheme lacks the physical line and physical receivers to be successful. The breakaway speed it had last year is not returning. The quarterback poses no running threat.

    Special teams lacks blocking fundamentals, lane discipline, and does not know how to handle the rugby-style punt, which has become the most common method of gaining field position in the kicking game.

    The coaching staff appears to have no clue on how to manage a clock.

    I love the dawgs, but I don’t share the rosy outlook coming from some of the media.

    Like

  16. Chico Dawg

    I’m really tired of the “extremely young” excuse. Senator posted something not long ago that showed that Alabama and Florida played a less experienced roster than UGA last year. If you are good, you play. if you are not, you don’t. The whole seniority thing just doesn’t play with me. If we wanted experience- Lambert should’ve stayed the starter last year.
    My stance is that the folks on the field in 2016 (and for that matter 2015) weren’t all that good. Not a whole lot of draft picks in those two classes. And NOT ONE PLAYER on 1st or 2nd team all-SEC. That’s why I am not as optimistic about 2017 as some of you. It’s still too early to determine “develop and deploy” in my eyes.
    Think about it- if your sales force came to you and said that sales are up 17% one year to the next, you’d be ecstatic. Well, a 17% increase next year is 9-3. I’ll take that as long as the same increase happens in 2018. All of the teams we play that are good are on the road. This will keep us from the watermark.

    Like

    • DawgPhan

      lol…17%…we need to double in 3 years. 17% aint getting it done. We went backwards in year 1. Year 2 needs to a banger or what’s the point of year 3.

      17% growth is SAD!

      Even if you except the excuses that everyone makes about last season, what challenges was this coaching staff able to overcome? What value did they add to the product on the field? Did UGA beat any team that we couldnt have beaten without coaches? At some these coaches need to start showing clear value add. They need to be able to overcome some of these challenges. They need to be able to adjust to the headwinds and still hit their targets.

      Like

  17. Got Cowdog

    Is it just me, or are we starting to sound like the “Gator” fans in Dave Barry’s book.

    Like