Over at The Power Rank, Ed Feng ranks the top 25 college football programs in order of the talent they’ve accumulated over the past four seasons, based on Rivals’ recruiting rankings. Georgia comes out fifth.
Kirby Smart has shown he can recruit, as he got the 9th and 3rd ranked class in 2016 and 2017 respectively. But can he turn this talent into a SEC champion? The offense declined dramatically in his first year as coach, perhaps because he played a true freshman at quarterback.
I’m not sure I’d describe the offensive decline from ’15 to ’16 as dramatic, but that’s a subject for another post.
What I do find interesting about Feng’s post is first what DawgNation’s Brandon Adams concludes from it. Calling it a crucial advantage over everyone on its 2017 schedule, Adams notes that “Georgia has a more talented roster than any of its opponents this season, and a higher ranking based on recruiting ratings than all but four teams in the country.”
That’s fine as far as it goes, but the other thing I caught from Feng’s rankings is grounds for some caution. Georgia plays six teams in the regular season that appear in Feng’s top 25. They’ll be facing plenty of talent themselves, in other words.
It’s nice to have more talent than the other guys on any given Saturday, but over the course of the season, with injuries and the ups and downs that are inevitable as the season progresses, there are going to be plenty of times when a talent advantage — and that’s even before we get to analyzing how big that advantage may be against a particular opponent — means less. Georgia’s track record from last season had more examples of that than we liked.
It’s a long slog, in other words, and talent won’t always get you where you need to go. Can Smart’s team step it up and carry through in games when it isn’t out-talenting someone?