It’s getting harder to find reasons to excuse the 2017 season.

David Wunderlich, whom some of you might remember as Team Speed Kills’ Year 2 in a former blogging life, breaks down the rosters of the SEC East’s three traditional powers, based on the average numerical value from the 247 Sports Composite for the players on the teams’ rosters as publicly available on their official websites as of a couple of days ago.

Cutting to the chase, of the eight position groups he ranks, Georgia tops seven of them.  On a cumulative basis, it’s not close between the Dawgs and their rivals, either.

Florida and Tennessee are fairly close in talent. A scoring system that hands out three points for first place in a position grouping, two for second, and one for third would give the Vols a score of 13 and the Gators a score of 12. They’re about even, though both are far behind Georgia’s 23 points.

The only position where Georgia hasn’t accumulated the most talent is wide receiver, but even there, it’s not a place where the other two have much of a gap over the others.  As Wunderlich explains,

Wide receiver has been a position of weakness at UF for about as long as quarterback has been, but the Gators win this grouping outright. The best player at the position, Antonio Callaway, is only sixth in the talent ratings too. Sophomores Tyrie Cleveland, Josh Hammond, and Freddie Swain are all above him, as are 2017 signees James Robinson and Daquan Green. The Gators have a lot to like at the position, but much of it is still more about potential than proven performance.

That said, Georgia and Tennessee are in similar situations. The Bulldogs have the solid if unspectacular Terry Godwin leading a group of unproven young talent, and the same largely goes for the Vols with Jauan Jennings and the rest there.

That all being said, what could be his most profound observation is about the defenses of the three.

Defense was largely what won Florida its two division titles under Jim McElwain, but that was also mostly with players who signed with Will Muschamp. That well is almost dry at this point and McElwain simply hasn’t recruited defenders at the same high level. The ratings for the defense show it well…

The top lines of the depth charts for all three teams are in good shape, in other words. UGA and UT are better equipped to handle injuries, though, as Florida would have to turn to some of those talented true freshman before too long.

To illustrate, the Gators finished third in all three position groups on that side of the ball.  Yes, the mighty have fallen a bit.

Now, obviously, there are no guarantees to take away from this.  But if you start with the premise that Georgia’s schedule is favorable, add to it rapid talent improvement in personnel compared to the other two East squads, what you’re left with in assessing the chances for any of the three to emerge as the 2017 division champs boils down to a couple of other factors.

The Gators’ starters will be competitive with the Volunteers’ and even the Bulldogs’ starters. What the talent comparison shows, however, is that UF doesn’t have much margin for error. That’s true for the defense especially. Florida can win the East for a third straight year, but it’s going to take high-quality coaching and a bit of injury luck to make it happen.

There are two relevant parts to coaching here.  One is game day management; the other is player development.  The Georgia staff is in its second year on the job.  How it manages the learning curve in those departments, at a time when it’s typical to see improvement, will tell us much about how this coming season plays out.

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55 Comments

Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football

55 responses to “It’s getting harder to find reasons to excuse the 2017 season.

  1. Jared S.

    I really expect Georgia too look much improved this year, mainly due to coaching continuity. I hope my expectations are justified.

    What I am curious to see is whether 10-2 Kirby Smart is more or less arrogant and insufferable than a 7-5 Kirby Smart.

    Like

  2. Russ

    I’ll have a hard time feeling satisfied with anything less than the SEC East. But that’s been the case for several years now, unfortunately.

    Like

  3. PTCDAWG

    I think 2012 was the last time the favorite won the SecE…

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  4. All of his comparisons are fine but you are not comparing apples to apples. This years 5 star may be a 4 star in another year. And a 3 star this year may be a 4 star in a different year. I think the Florida writer is just trying to make a “pre-excuse” in case we do win the SECE this year.

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    • So, you believe Georgia still isn’t on a level playing field with its talent, compared to UF and UT?

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      • Yeah not seeing that at all. Entering 2017 Georgia is at the very least on equal footing with every other SEC East contender. And that’s if a good bit of its blue chippers end up as busts.

        1-85 Georgia is more talented than Florida and Tennessee. It needs to show it on the field, and that’s the great unknown. Because while I think Georgia has more talent than both Tennessee and Florida, it remains to be seen if it has more coaching acumen.

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        • fastcarsslowwomen

          I think it’s safe to say, right now, Georgia is better than Tn & UF at recruiting but worse at player development, and game day mngt, and overall coaching staff ability. But there’s really no argument again Georgia having (again) the most talent.

          Kentucky has the most talent in basketball every year, so what?

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          • Couldn’t agree more. UGA has the talent, but until I see it this year I’ll remain skeptical it has the coaching/development aspect to maximize it.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Hal Welch

              I’ve heard this UGA has the talent drum beat for so long I nearly believed it. Until I asked myself a couple questions.

              What player on this roster would start at Alabama or Clemson?

              And how have our last few drafts gone versus the same few teams?

              Ask yourself that and I’ll believe you’ll have to admit, there was a time when that statement were true and it may be true for 2017. But it has not been the case since 2012/13.

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              • WTF does starting for Alabama or Clemson have to do with being more talented than Florida and Tennessee?

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                • dawgman3000

                  Exactly this ^^^

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                  • I don’t think anybody around here is going to hold it against Kirby for not winning a national title next year. Barring an apocalypse of injuries, not winning the East over teams Georgia is more talented than will be held against him, and rightfully so.

                    Liked by 2 people

                    • Mayor

                      Really? Was Vandy more talented than Georgia last season? How about Tech? I guess we must be at parity with Mizzou and UK since we barely got by them. The truth is Georgia had better talent than every team it played last season (yep, including Ole Piss) and look what happened. The problem isn’t a deficit at player talent–the problem is a deficit at coaching talent.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • What part of “not winning the East over teams Georgia is more talented than will be held against him, and rightfully so” didn’t convey that I think Kirby should be held responsible for not beating those teams?

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                  • Hal Welch

                    Some of you guys are so myopic… It really is all related. The idea the UGA is and has been supremely talented isn’t new, it’s not exclusive to this season, last season, nor any particular opponent. UT & UF aren’t slouches for God’s sake. If UGA were heads and shoulders more talented across the board then we’d have had more draft pics and more players that could play for better programs. But we don’t, and we haven’t for a couple years now.

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              • 81Dog

                Hi, Hal. Have you met Nick Chubb? Or Sony Michel? Or Eason? Or one of our highly touted TEs? Nah, they’re overrated. Many of our defensive guys were recruited by Alabama and Clemson. Maybe we just aren’t coaching them up. And even if you are 100 percent correct, you’re comparing us to the wrong programs. Do we have anyone who’d start for Florida or Tennessee? South Carolina? Vandy? Missouri? Auburn? Tech? A Notre Dame program limping in off a 4-8 season?

                I don’t think anyone expects us to win the NC this year, or even the SEC. Alabama is still Alabama, it appears. But there is no, none, zero, nada, nunca excuse why we should be looking up at anyone in the east this year, save a flurry of injuries to key players. Kirby didn’t inherit a Saban roster, but he inherited plenty of players good enough to play in the East, and he has supposedly recruited lights out the last two years. Quit talking about 5 years from now. He needs to start producing this year, and by producing I mean win the east and be competitive in Atlanta. Any more than that? Gravy.

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          • Gaskilldawg

            I disagree about us being worse than Tennessee at game day management. Agree on other points.

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  5. The only way to excuse 2017 ending without a trip to Atlanta is if a major injury assault happens on multiple fronts. The normal season wear and tear isn’t enough to excuse not winning the East this year.

    If Eason doesn’t progress or the OL doesn’t improve that’s on the coaching staff. Plain and simple.

    Liked by 1 person

    • fastcarsslowwomen

      good point Parrish, really the team didn’t improve any position group, it’s the same basic players that went 7-5. You hope experience helps at oline, wr, and Qb, but most of those struggled in the Spring game and all last season. Can be sometimes hard to justify positivity when it’s pretty same weaknesses as 2016. I think the defense could become an elite one, and if that happens, Georgia has a chance to win the East in spite of the weak special teams and low scoring offense. good post and good points.

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      • Agree. I could see a scenario where UGA wins the East traversing a similar path as did Florida the past two years. DEF eventually wins games while offense does enough to keep both teams in a lot of them.

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        • MGW

          Man I hope not. Sounds very boring and disappointing. Also sounds like a team that would get pasted by Bama in Atl. I just don’t see the point of having a gunslinger if we’re going to try to make the D win, and relegate him to the role of a game manager. If we can pound the ball and set up play action, great. If not, I hope Kirby’s willing to let Chaney open up the offense some. Looking at his history, Chaney knows how to do it.

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  6. Jt (the other one)

    If we don’t win the east this year…

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  7. ApalachDawg

    The Gators don’t have Muschamp’s D.
    UT is a dumpster fire just waiting to be lit.
    No excuses for the Dawgs. We should win the east. If it doesn’t happen this year…
    I have no scientific proof but I just feel like we are going to curb stomp some folks this year.

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    • I love… nay, LOVE to rip Butch Jones as much as anyone, but the fact of the matter is his teams play UGA incredibly well even when they have no business doing so. That game being at Tennessee will be tough.

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    • fastcarsslowwomen

      The thing that’s different in the East, is UF & Tn have offensive minded head coaches where Georgia has a defensive minded head coach. That’s why I wanted tom Herman, I thought we needed a Head Coach that could outscore Tn & UF. The Georgia offense just didn’t score enough points. Does anyone think Kirby will suddenly become an offensive genius? No. Right now, it’s looks like the Georgia AD made the wrong choice in going with a defensive minded head coach. It can be said the Georgia defense declined compared to the 2015 defense, that’s particularly concerning as that was supposed to be the main reason Kirby was hired.

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      • Mayor

        I generally agree with your premise but…it is the experience factor that is the coaching deficit at Georgia right now not just the offense vs. defense thing. B-M choked on the hire by not getting a Tom Herman type HC because the guy we got has no HC experience and it really showed last year. Tom Herman would have easily won 10 games with the kids Georgia had on its roster last season if only because he wouldn’t have kicked away games at the end like Kirby and Chaney did.

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  8. Macallanlover

    I have a problem accepting team rankings seriously in terms of “exactness”. It just isn’t a science when evaluating 17 year old talent and projecting how they will be at age 20, hundreds of variables that minim the difference 3 and 4 stars, and even 3 and 5 stars. Teams within the Top 12 are close enough to that seeing one beat any of the others just isn’t a big shock to me. You may have a unit that is deficient within the team, but it isn’t all related to recruiting. That said, we have no excuse for last year’s team, and particularly should have no excuse for not winning the East in 2017.

    I have been baffled by the lack of WR recruiting given the reputations of both Eason and Fromm. You would think receivers would be lining up to play with those two stud passers on board but we didn’t seem to get any bump. Could it be Chaney’s reputation? (BTW, I don’t think we are particularly weak at receiver, just feel we struggled to land any big names.)

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    • Brandon

      You hit it in the last paragraph. Even with Eason and Fromm we’ve also had Chubb and Michel. And run it up the gut Chaney calling the shots. Big time receivers want to play for programs that are going to sling it to showcase their skills, not ones that are going to run on 1st and 2nd down 90% of the time and only pass on 3rd and long when everyone in the country knows its coming.

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  9. dawgman3000

    I have been a big defender of Kirby on here, but I cannot defend anything short winning the east. There is simply too much talent on the team to not win it.

    Like

    • fastcarsslowwomen

      As a yankess fan, I can tell you having the most talent doesn’t mean you’ll win it every year. You need solid coaching more than talent.

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      • dawgman3000

        That’s my point. If he can’t win it this year, barring some kind of freakish 2013 injury plague, then the Georgia Way made the wrong hire.

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  10. fastcarsslowwomen

    Georgia is the more talented East team (again) at most position groups, so what’s new? TN and UF have beaten Georgia the last few years, so until Georgia starts showing the ability to beat at least one of those teams, no one should really pick Georgia to win the East. Why? Coaching. McElwain and Butch seem to just be better coaches than Richt (formerly) and Smart. Coaching comes down to developing talent, picking the right asst’s, and game management as the Senator points out two of those. Let’s look at those three.
    1) Developing Talent: Georgia last year has no All SEC 1st team members, and one guy got drafted on draft day, so Georgia didn’t develop talent well. 2) Game management, we all remember the poor coaching in games like Vanderbilt, Tenn, and Georgia Tech, all three should have been wins if you’re talking talent. 3) Asst Coaches- Georgia’s Asst coaches breaks down to solid on defense, terrible on offense and hideously bad on special teams. Remember, Georgia is 0-4 vs Tenn & Florida the last 2 seasons, until that record is rectified, no one should go with Georgia. Georgia really hasn’t even been competitive vs UF the last few years. I do have TN with a slight edge over georgia based on how they have handled Georgia the last 2 years. The trends are moving towards UF & TN, and away from Georgia. Georgia is dangerously close to becoming irrelevant.

    Liked by 1 person

    • slowcarsfastwomen

      I agree with your assessment on assistant coaches except I think the OC was hideously bad last season, too.

      Like

  11. Dawgy1

    Talent is important and Georgia has plenty of it. With that said, we were more talented than Vandy and GT last year and lost. We didn’t lose because we were less talented. We lost because of …….other factors.

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  12. Sherlock

    The JRs and SRs on Florida’s D were recruited by Muschamp. As pointed out in the article, there will be a drop in talent in the second string this year and in the starters for the next couple of years. McElwain has upped the recruiting game of his staff this past offseason and may get back to Muschamp level talent on D in a couple of years. To me, the bigger issue for them is losing Geoff Collins as DC. Randy Shannon hasn’t called plays in a decade (though all but one of his teams were top 10 on D), and no one would hire him as a coordinator for several years after being fired at Miami. A couple of key injuries and a poor showing by Shannon could be devastating for FU.

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  13. The Dawg abides

    Anyone want to wager how long the troll stays on the rails here?

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  14. Tlkdawg

    It’s great that we are superior in every player group vs. the gators. Maybe we can stay within ten points in the game this year. That might be nice. Yeah, the scarring runs deep in this old dawg.

    Like

  15. Warthen

    A quick look at projected rosters, which might miss a few transfers, shows the following numbers of players rated .90 or above on 247 sports composite as recruits:

    Alabama: 66
    Georgia: 50
    Tennessee: 31
    Florida: 24

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    • Warthen

      For the Freshman and Sophomore classes (might be missing a few red-shirts) the numbers are:

      Alabama: 41
      Georgia: 30
      Tennessee: 16
      Florida: 15

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  16. MGW

    I don’t “expect” to win the SEC, but we should be very good this year; no excuses. If the line ain’t getting it done you can bail out and start running 3+ wide shotgun as the base set and win with this talent. Pounding a great back into a sub-par line to make a point will lose us winnable games.

    Put your two best receivers on the field, with Michel as the third, a tight end, and Chubb at RB; Eason in the gun/pistol. Go score.

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  17. Connor

    I agree Senator. Too many gave Kirby a pass for last year. The O-line, the QBs, the WR, the scheme change… no excuses this year. UGA has more talent than anyone in the division, a favorable schedule and coaching continuity. A failure to win the East is 100% on the coaches.

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  18. I don’t think it’s real complicated the UGA OL wasn’t very good last year. Eason couldn’t hide behind that line as a freshman and y’all couldn’t really lean on the run game. That’s a hard course unless your defense is pretty darn good.

    UT is the team that should kick themselves. They had the talent and experience to win last year, but were just too dysfunctional.

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  19. junkyardawg41

    Mixing apples. oranges and grapes. Recruiting is defined as talent accumulation. Coaching is defined as the ability to make use of your roster, design a game plan, make adjustments and incrementally improve your team throughout the course of a year. Player development is making your players better during bowl prep, S&C, spring practice and fall camp. I think we all agree Kirby and co. have done an A+ job at Recruiting. I think the player development is an incomplete as this is just year 1+. I think the coaching piece is the most concerning on how we approached the season last year. I am not confident that it is where it needs to be but we are just beginning year 2. Whether or not we win the East, the SEC, or the NC is immaterial if we don’t see player development (meaning player improvement through the off season) and coaching (game plan, game adjustments, and incremental unit improvement.) Regression to the mean on turnovers, officiating woes, or weather are all things that could impact Wins and Losses above normal control. However, failing to see improvement will impact the program and confidence that CKS is our future coach.

    Like

    • fastcarsslowwomen

      ESPN projects 9 wins on the schedule for Georgia. Wow! The only toss ups, and they are all 4 basically 50-50 toss ups are Notre Dame, Tn, UF, and Auburn. ESPN projects Georgia beating UF and losing the other 3. But the bigger point is, there are 7 easy wins on this schedule that Kirby damn well better win. And then if he does beat UF and GT, he goes 9-3 likely wins the SEC East. I think they have GTech wrong, I’d also say that one’s a 50/50 game. I think the minimum expectation is 7-5, the other 5 are toss ups (Notre Dame, Tn, UF, Auburn, GTech) of which Kirby should win another 1-2 games, bringing his record to either 8-4 or 9-3. Gerogia does have a real shot at 11-1 statistically according to the % probability, because ESPN has only Auburn easily beating Georgia.

      Georgia is predicted to go 9-3 by ESPN’s big data machine: http://www.espn.com/college-football/team/fpi/_/id/61/georgia-bulldogs
      Tn is also predicted to go 9-3 http://www.espn.com/college-football/team/fpi?id=2633&year=2017
      UF is also predicted to go 9-3 http://www.espn.com/college-football/team/fpi?id=57&year=2017

      The flaw in all this is ESPN fpi is based off 2-3 years of data PRIOR to Kirby that included Richt, Pruitt, Grantham, Bobo, etc. I think it pulls from 3-4 years of data.

      Like

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