Phil Steele on Georgia 2017: once burned, twice shy

22nd nationally, second in the SEC East.

“I actually picked Georgia second in the East this year,” Steele said. “I think they may be the preseason favorite to win the East when the SEC media votes, but I went with the Florida Gators No. 1 (in the East). I have the Gators No. 9.”

When it comes to the offensive line, I believe the technical term for this is “damning with faint praise”:

Steele feels that even though the Bulldogs’ offensive line has to replace three starters with a fourth switching positions from guard to center, the unit should show marked improvement in 2017.

“They underperformed my expectations last year,” Steele said. “I thought coming into last season, with 98 career starts coming back, they would have an outstanding offensive line. But they did not produce that way last year.

“They lose a couple guys off the line, but I am sort of looking at the fact that they almost have to be improved. They lose 120 career starts and only have 46 coming back. I have them rated my No. 48 offensive line in the country. That is not great – that is not one of my top 25 offensive lines, but I do think that they will have a little bit more potential. Generally, when you see an offensive line underperform like that one year, they come back the next year and play a little bit better.”

No where to go but up, bitchez!

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74 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water

74 responses to “Phil Steele on Georgia 2017: once burned, twice shy

  1. 3rdandGrantham

    Can’t really blame the guy — he’s been high on UGA pre-season for quite a number of the previous years, so it’s no surprise that he finally decided to pull back after pegging us wrong on myriad occasions. Maybe for once we’ll prove him wrong the other way.

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    • watcher16

      My thoughts exactly. We always do much better when overlooked than when the spotlight is shining on us

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      • 3rdandGrantham

        Yep. I remember preseason in ’14 and especially ’15 him saying UGA should have one of the best OL’s in the country, which made me utterly cringe since most of us knew better and we were curious as to what he knew that we didnt. In the end our pessimism in that area unfortunately was proven correct.

        Speaking of the OL, when is the last time you could honestly say we had a dominant OL — or at least one that was considered one of our position strengths? I honestly think you’d have to go way back to ’02, though if you want to argue ’05 I might listen just a bit. Otherwise, it’s been 10+ years where the OL continually has been a weakness that we hoped would be overcome by talent at the skill positions.

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  2. I’m more pessimistic by nature when it comes to Georgia football, so that could certainly be at play with why I feel this season isn’t going to end well. But I don’t feel it’s pessimistic to have a negative view of the OL coming into the season, which is a large reason why I’m not bullish on the team.

    The schedule shapes up to where 8-4 should be the ceiling even if the OL is as bad as a year ago, but to me that’s not a successful season (not sure it would be considered as such for anyone, really).

    For UGA to truly take a leap the OL needs to do so as well, and while that’s possible—it does have a great OL coach—I think expecting the OL to be a top-25 unit is too much to ask with what evidence we have at our disposal.

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    • Uglydawg

      While I largely agree with you, I am a little, itty bit more optimistic. Here’s why. The defense. The defense will back up a slightly improved offense by giving them better field position, and more possessions. And the offense will be at least a bit better, and can gamble a bit more knowing they have a defense that can bail them out of some mistakes. Add a year’s stability at coaching (and some coaching experience) and you have the recipe for 9 or 10…and possibly the SECeast.
      The game I have circled..that nobody seems to notice too much..is against Mississippi State on Sept. 23 in Athens. That, more than the ND game, will be Georgia’s turning the corner or hitting the stop-sign game. It is the first SEC game against a solid if not very good opponent with a good coaching staff. Win that one and I’ll breath a little easier. Lose it and I don’t want to even imagine the repercussions.

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      • southernlawyer11

        You know, from a schedule griping standpoint, it isn’t listed as sexy. From an absolutely-can-whip-our-*&% standpoint, this game is a big one. Mississippi State lives for slaying the vulnerable giant in games where they have zero pressure.

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        • Otto

          Everyone is sleeping on Miss. St. Mullen looks to have a QB coming on, and a DC that will want the win. MSU is very capable of beat UGA especially if UGA isn’t focused. They scare me more than Kentucky or S. Carolina.

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  3. Otis Day

    Wynn is not a tackle. That is going to be the weak spot if someone does not step up into that spot. Confidence is low that the best players will be on the OL once again this year especially at the tackle positions

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    • See I 100% disagree with this. I think he’s clearly a LT and by far our best option. The problem was if you put him at LT last year it all went to shit everywhere else even more so than it was. I think Wynn was our best OT last year, too.

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      • Got Cowdog

        Care to flesh out that thought, PW? If LT is the most important position why not leave the best tackle there? Unless……..

        You have two stud running backs and are trying to establish a power game? But the Weak side of the Oline cant keep the D off the backs long enough to get the hole open?

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        • This is my working theory (and it could be totally off, by the way) but I think getting an OL is getting the best 5 as a unit. So that could mean that the best overall OT has to play OG because if they were to put him at OT the dropoff would be so much MORE significant. Again, could be totally wrong, but that’s my thinking.

          I think the OG-C units will improve thus allowing Wynn to hold the LT slot and (hopefully) Wilson the RT.

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          • I thought the line did far better with Wynn at LT than Catalina. Wynn moves well and has long arms.

            Greg Pyke on the other hand was totally out of position at RT. He’s a guard with some mobility – aka he pulled well.

            If Wynn can play well at LT, one or more of these monster guards we got can play inside with solomon, and then maybe at RT Thomas or Wilson can start.

            If 1-2 of these freshmen step up and contribute, the line will be just fine.

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            • Mayor

              Spence I think your analysis is spot on. Last year Pyke may be the guy who sacrificed the most by being played out of position. I think he’s NFL caliber at guard.

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      • Greg

        Agree, he does not have the ideal size (what most look at) …but he gets the job done. Long arms, quick and can hold his own there (strenght wise). When he gets drafted…and he will imo, he will more than likely move to guard. He is a DGD, willing the play wherever he is needed.

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        • Mayor

          ^This. Georgia has for years played guards at the tackle position because the team didn’t have enough real tackles. CMR was largely responsible for that because he wanted, I think, an O-line that was interchangeable. In basketball there are point guards and there are shooting guards. Making a shooting guard a point guard might be presentable but it keeps your team from achieving its full potential. Same thing with football. Guards and tackles require different skill sets.

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    • Brandon

      So since Wynn is currently our starting LT, do you think the coaches know he’s not a tackle and are that stubborn or do you think they’re just too stupid to know who our best option at LT is?

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      • MGW

        So if I understand you and Otis correctly, you believe that there are better players who should have played last year, and should play this year, but the coaches just can’t or won’t play them?

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        • We have had very little success with guards moving out to the tackle position. Not a downer on Wynn he is a good player but not a tackle. Right now Hayes is our best option at LT with Wynn moving back inside with Kindley, Allen. Wilson should come in and be the RT with Cleveland for relief. We have depth albeit young depth but play them and get some cohesion. Was not overly impressed with the G day performance after Kirby bragged how good the #1 unit was.

          IMHO Kirby is overruling Pittman as to the OL and until he let’s Pittman run the show, it is going to continue to be problematic.

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          • DoubleDawg1318

            If Hayes was our best option then why was he playing 2nd team behind Wynn this spring? The idea of Kirby who wants a big powerful line, overruling Pittman stretches the bounds of believability

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            • I have a hard time in Kirby’s believability after what he was saying about the OL prior to G Day. I did not see any improvement from last year. I think Wynn is #1 because Kirby says he is, not because Pittman says he is, but Kirby does not allow his coaches to speak to the press so we will never know.

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  4. Shorter Phil Steele: yes, the offensive line situation truly is as bad as everyone intimated.

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  5. Greg

    Going from a zone blocking team to a power blocking one will do that to you (OL), especially when you do not have the personnel to do so……I hope Kirby has learned.

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  6. Keese

    He’s been wrong on OL prognostication for GA more than once before. A few years back we had a lot of returning starts that had their worse year

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    • MGW

      The trend the last 10 years or so that I’ve noticed is this: when our line is expected to be good, it is bad. When it is expected to be bad, it is good.

      So we’re 100% good to go this year.

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  7. Brandon

    For whatever reason my memory tells me that it seems whenever UGA has a lot of returning starters on the OL and is expected to be a strength… they struggle. On the other hand whenever we have a bunch of new starters and are expected to struggle they actually fare pretty well. Who knows maybe its just the whole aim low and avoid disappointment kind of thinking

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    • Keese

      The year we had Jeff Owens, Clint Boling etc all come back. What a waste of talent on some of these rosters

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      • Snoop Dawgy Dawg

        ehh, hard to hold 2008 out as a waste of opportunity. the OL and DL starters missed like 80 starts that season collectively. I don’t remember the number exactly, but good lord was there some bad luck that season with injuries.

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  8. Captain Obvious

    yup, not a very risky pick. concur with ps on this one.

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  9. 69Dawg

    Once again, the offense had us in a position to win 3 of the games we lost. The defense under Kirby Smart’s direct tutelage lost all 3. You can bad mouth the OL all you want but that much maligned Left tackle transfer is currently with the Washington Redskins at guess what Guard. We did not have any true tackles last year period.

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    • Uglydawg

      Not so fast my 69Dawg friend. It was the offense that left the defense in constantly difficult situations. They were both bad. But when you can’t get a first down to put GT away, that’s on the O. They could have won it right there on our final possession..(and even more than the O, I blame scheming and play calling for that debacle)..the D, which may have well just walked off the field whenever the other team got into the RedZ, was left holding the bag. If we look at the team as four units..The O, The D, The STs, and The Coaching. Not a single one of them was even par on most Saturdays. The last one improving is the key for the rest.

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  10. Mike Cooley

    Why is it so hard for us to get good offensive linemen? People do it. They are able to find them. Why can’t we?

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    • Greg

      My guess is, the turnover in staff. A little of “continuity” would help.

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    • southernlawyer11

      I feel like it was a Richt deficiency that maybe is a stigma we have to work hard to push off of us. Richt walked into a slew of offensive line talent inherited from Donnan. I’ll never forget the first drive of the 2nd half of the 2001 game @ole miss when we ran the ball every single play for like a 15 play 80 yard TD drive. Most of it Verron Haynes. Not a single pass. Eli manning & crew folded quickly after that.

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      • Greg

        I just hated those 10 win seasons, deplored them….

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        • 3rdandGrantham

          Sorry — gone are the days when 10 wins really meant something when you now play up to 14 games a year coupled with weak OOC schedules and a historically bad SECE over quite a number of years.

          A better barometer would be to look at CMR’s absolutely horrid record against ranked opponents going way back to ’09; not to mention that in CMR’s final 7 years he averaged 9.1 wins annually, not 10+.

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          • 3rdandGrantham

            By the way, I assume you were proud or satisfied with the ’15 season? After all, we won 10 games yet beat exactly zero P5 opponents with a winning record in the regular season. This is why that glorious 10 win team ended up in a 3rd rate bowl against a 7-5 PSU team coupled with CMR’s ouster.

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          • Greg

            You can pick and choose your starting and ending point wherever you want. Fact is, it will still be more than 8. As far as winning the east goes, he won it 5 times. Who has done it more. I don’t GAS about the change, I just want to show an improvement…

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        • PTC DAWG

          Weak sauce since 05

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        • The Bruce

          Richt is gone and isn’t coming back so man up and get the fuck over it already.

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      • 3rdandGrantham

        It was well known around the program for years that CMR put far more emphasis on recruiting the skill positions than the OL/DL ones. The talent, or lack thereof over the years reflects this. Rodney Garner hanging on for far, far too long while becoming ever increasingly lazy on the recruiting trail didn’t help matters on the DL side, coupled with mediocre OL coaches running things on the other.

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        • Skeptic Dawg

          ^^^ This times 100. The lack of emphasis on the OL and DL is why why the program is in such a mess right now. It will take a few more excellent recruiting classss before this issue is corrected. The deficiencies along both lines of scrimmage are why 2017 will be another subpar season. Kirby and his staff are not without fault and share in the blame. However, below average talent at WR, OL, DL and QB certainly do not help matters.

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          • 69Dawg

            Far be it from me to point out that Jacob Eason could have signed with any pro-style or spread college team in the country. We really don’t know if it’s him or the lack of a coach yet. He certainly has all the tools and will be in the league after his days at UGA. I know you take great pleasure in living up to you handle but you should easy up on the no talent comments until we know whether his coach is WAS.

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            • Otto

              Eason lived up to expectations and actually did as well as can be expected for true Fr that played mostly if not exclusively from shotgun in High School. It is true we do not know how good this staff is.

              The OL comments are well founded and it isn’t a good sign when a Grad Transfer is a starter at LT.

              http://patrickgarbin.blogspot.com/2015/01/living-low-on-hogs.html

              We shall see what Smart does but many UGA fans always feel the ceiling is the limit and they should win the East. While I certainly believe that is possible, the realistic side if I remember a gambling man says 2nd in the East. 2018 with hopefully a 3rd year starter at QB and more depth/stability at OL is the very telling year.

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            • Mayor

              Yep. The kid was rated the top QB coming out of HS in the entire nation in ’15. What I saw last season was a talented QB who got no blocking at all. BTW, I saw 2 talented RBs who got no blocking at all, too.

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            • Skeptic Dawg

              69, all valid points. However, I do not believe anyone is capable of stating that Eason is the answer after an unimpressive freshman season. He was our best option at QB last year and I was just as excited to see the kid play as anyone. He just still has a ton of question marks surrounding his game, hence the reason I mentioned QB in my list of positions with holes. He is an unknown entering year 2. Entering year 2 Eason is still our starter and there should be no debate about about. We just don’t know how good/bad he is yet. We also do not know if his shortcomings are due to his lack of talent or due to an awful OL.

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          • DoubleDawg1318

            There are positions on this team that were short on talent. DL is not one of them. In fact it’s one of our deepest and most talented groups.

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  11. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    Phil Steele picks us second – that’s gotta be a good omen! The best would be if he picked us last, but that’s a little too far fetched. Put this on the bulletin board, Kirby!

    On the LT situation: gotta let Sam figure this one out. Big Isaiah might be the answer, but that seems a little iffy as a freshman for him to do that in this league. Hope I’m wrong. Isaiah is highly touted, but he’s been playing in NY – sounds like as big and strong as he is, there is a decent “speed of the game” issue that may come up. I don’t think we could play worse as a line than last year. To me, center is going to be more important than anything.

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  12. Mayor

    I do feel compelled to say this though: For a team that supposedly has had lousy OL talent have you ever bothered to count the number of O-linemen from UGA that went to the NFL?

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    • Otto

      It isn’t as much talent as depth, which is also the problem with recruiting ratings. The ratings look at the average ranking of a recruit but not if a team fills needs.

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    • Otto

      Patrick Garbin: Notably, for the first 11 years of the Richt era, Georgia signed an average of 4.8 offensive linemen per year, or 21% of its incoming classes; however, from 2012 to 2014, those figures dropped by roughly one-third to 3.3 and 14%, respectively.

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    • Skeptic Dawg

      The O-line sums ups Georgia’s issues…yes there have been very good O-linemen but never/rarely coupled with surrounding talent. Just like they years that the Dawgs have presented great a great offense, the somehow forgot to build a defense. One would believe that UGA suffers from a billy goat curse or the curse of the Bambino. Either that or Georgia is yet another mediocre program with a nutty fanbase. I know which way I lean.

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  13. Dwelling on the past, I see. A Georgia fan’s wet dream.

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  14. The Bruce

    Steele ALWAYS over-emphasizes returning starts. The starts don’t matter if the starters played bad.

    Like

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