Two biggest reasons for optimism in 2018

Obviously, it’s a long way from now to September and I could find myself feeling differently, but for the moment there are two things I really like about Georgia’s chances for another excellent year.

First, there’s the schedule.  The out of conference games are awful and they’re all at home (yeah, it’s time to beat Georgia Tech in Athens).  There are only four true road games.  Auburn, the only Georgia opponent that finished in Sagarin’s top thirty for 2017, has to come to Athens.  Look at that schedule and tell me in your honest opinion if you can see more than two losses there.  I can’t.

Second — and I fervently hope I’m not jinxing things by noting this — Georgia has a returning starter at quarterback in Jake Fromm, who, if he manages to avoid injury, will offer the most stability at the position since 2013.  (I know, I know.  I was saying the same positive things about Eason before last season’s opener.)

There are things to be somewhat nervous about, like who steps up at inside linebacker and on the offensive line, and whether there’s a viable replacement for Javon Wims, but those two pluses, along with a largely intact coaching staff in their third season on the job and a rapid rise in the quality of team depth as a result of Smart’s work on the recruiting front, should mean that Georgia’s chances bode well in a division that looks to have several rebooting jobs in the works in 2018.

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82 Comments

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82 responses to “Two biggest reasons for optimism in 2018

  1. Bigshot

    The chance to win a championship went up in smoke this year. With what UGA is losing I just don’t see them having a chance next year.

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    • mbrooks

      GFYS bruh…

      Like

    • Dawg93

      We’ll have a chance simply because the schedule seems very navigable and a trip to Atlanta seems likely. Get to that point and you never know what might happen. But I agree that it would appear 2017 was our best shot to win it all, in comparison to what 2018 looks like. I personally think 2019 is our next “best” shot. Fromm, Swift, Zeus, big/talented OL, and a rebuilt defense . . . .

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    • Dolly Llama

      Oh, for God’s sake. Don’t be maudlin, man. If you PREDICTED us to go to the championship game, much less win it, go back and give a link to that prediction. I’m tickled as hell at where we are. We’re at least a year ahead of schedule. If we can keep everybody out of trouble — law trouble and academic trouble — we’re on a great path.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mayor

        ^This. A lot of posters were saying last year that we couldn’t do it in 2017 because we didn’t have the horses up front and that 2018 would be our year.

        Liked by 1 person

      • No Axe To Grind

        Injury trouble too, which fate commands….i.e. chance, blind ass luck, Providence.

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      • Russ

        Exactly this. The only way we don’t make it back to Atlanta is injuries or suspensions. The schedule is very easy and we have talent filling the holes. OL will be improved, QB has more experience, two of the top 3 RBs in the country joining Swift, Holyfield and Herrien. Defense will be salty.

        I’m optimistic.

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        • Mayor

          The schedule is not easy. I’m already sick of hearing that. We dropped ND and picked up MTSU, plus we dropped Missy State at Sanford and added LSU at their place. That’s at least a wash. Other than that it is the same schedule we have every year.

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          • Russ

            I see no killers there. LSU for ND is a wash. Auburn will probably take a step back plus we have them at home. Tennessee and FL won’t be back yet. Sackerlina there will be harder but we are a much better team than they are.

            I stand by my opinion.

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      • SSB Charley

        Truth here. I had a lovely freezing cold take after the App State game that we would be 8-4 based on our OL’s apparent inability to open holes in the middle big enough for Chubb to get through. I am more than happy to have been wrong, wrong, wrong about that. Given my expectations, this season has been nothing but joy (though admittedly, I did get some PTSD every time I saw Chubb into the middle of the line when it couldn’t open a hole). I was bummed about the national title game, but overall, this season was the best season I’ve experienced in my adult life. And it looks remarkably good in the future too. I don’t expect a return to the CFP next season, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we wound up there.

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    • SonOfSonOfDooley

      WHAAAAT??? Not when we have GSOD on our roster! http://georgiadogs.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=1538

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    • Jt (the other one)

      Well this isn’t your Football program of years past…these coaches have proven they can get the talent to compete at a high level…I believe we storm through the regular season and once again meet Bama’ in the SEC CG…and we beat them this time.

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    • And you totally thought they had a chance of playing for the national title at the start of this season…

      Said no one.

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  2. Dawg93

    Agree on both counts Senator.

    As for who replaces Wims, I’ve always thought Ridley would be a good candidate and the nat’l championship game was evidence of that.

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  3. ScoutDawg

    GFYS twice troll.

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  4. Kdawg

    My way to early prediction is UGA wins the East and loses to Alabama in the SECC. I think they have a chance but still won’t hsve the depth of Bama.

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    • gastr1

      Well, and this year we’ll be young, too. 2019. 2019!!!!

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    • Bama lost both coordinators and a ton of early talent. I don’t think we will be favored neutral site, but I think the talent gap is narrowed and I like our coaching staff better especially with Pruitt gone.

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    • They are about to lose their advantage. Their DL ain’t whipping our OL’s ass next year.

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      • Gaskilldawg

        If the junior college transfer offensive tackle (Haynes) is as good as I hoped and Wilson is ready to play, Johnson and Shaffer are ready after a year in the strength and conditioning program, and Gilliard stays then if any incoming freshman lineman wins a starting job our lie will be the best in Georgia history.

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  5. gastr1

    I think Riley Ridley took some big steps toward replacing Javon Wims. Will Jonathan Crumpton fill Terry Godwin’s role? Which back will replace Sony as the reliable one in pass protection?

    That said, we should all be very confident these coaches will have the answers.

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  6. Bright Idea

    Offense needs to click early and often until the new LBers and DBs get up to speed. The SC game will set the tone for the season. Lose it and your’e playing from behind the rest of the season.

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  7. Kevin

    I do NOT see 2 losses on this schedule. If we come to play we win 12. There is no other team on our schedule that matches our talent and depth.

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    • Mayor

      FWIW Kevin I totally agree with you that Georgia has better personnel than any other team on this schedule and will likely be favored in every game. Think of all the seasons in the past when that was true though. How many times did the Dawgs go undefeated in the regular season? I feel more confident the team can do it in 2018 though because of Kirby and this coaching staff though.

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      • Cojones

        Your caution is well placed, sir. Think back to Kirby’s first year and the 5 losses, then pick which ones should have been won with better personnel. I can see a game where everything doesn’t match up and I won’t be comfortable until after 4 games no matter the opponent. UT may hassle us with their Pruitt-directed D such that a few breaks go their way and ….too late.

        There is no taking the scared apprehension out of some of us. It’s enough to drive a man to more than two cookies a day.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Granthams replacement

    My biggest reason for optimism is the coaching staffs ability to get the players to buy in. Whomever replaces all the seniors – Wynn, Sanders, Parrish, Davis, etc will be better athletes, the only exceptions are Carter and Roquan.

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  9. aladawg

    With a schedule like this and the strength of the East like it is it would be a travesty to lose 2 games. Especially with the talent. Granted we lost a ton, but this conference is extremely top heavy………….Of course I see no way we stop the Alabama offense in the SECCG and no way we get 2 in the CFB again. So we still wait on that Natty………2019 may be our best chance.

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  10. siskey

    I think that Auburn, South Carolina, and Florida in that order are the teams with the best shot to give us a loss. But who knows what Auburn will be by the time we play them, I don’t see the defense as being as good but the offense may be outstanding given that the Quarterback will be in his second year as a starter. Depending on the score in Baton Rouge, Kirby may very well add Coach O to his list of coaches fired after getting worked by the Bulldawgs.
    South Carolina may be really improved and it will be there where we hadn’t won prior to the Sunday game in 2016 since 2008. If their QB ever becomes what they say he is then they could beat us. But we have all offseason and camp to prepare for them and this staff seems to use their time wisely and so I think we will win a close one.
    I say we have a worse team next year with a better regular season record if we can make the secondary what it needs to be.

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    • willypmd

      Auburn loses four seniors on the offensive line, and the top two RB’s off that offense.

      They are certainly not going to be a push over, but Malzahn has not fared well with young offensive lines in the past and they are another year away from Muschamp’s defense.

      I’ve been wrong before, but I think Auburn regresses to 8-4 type season.

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    • dawgtired

      I don’t think UF will be ready to play with us in Mullen’s first year. It will take him time. Auburn seems like a challenge after what they did in our first game against them in 2017. I wouldn’t count them out. South Carolina could be tough for 3 qtrs but I don’t think they’ll be ready to play 60mins with us yet.
      Playing LSU’ defense in the valley could be a challenge. The LSU and Auburn games seem the most likely to have a loss, if we have any. And, I don’t think we’ll lose both. We could be headed to Atlanta undefeated. If that’s the case and we lose a close one to an undefeated team from the West, the committee may show love.

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      • Cojones

        Think yall give LSU too much credit this year. We have beaten them in the past when they had better teams (Greene chewed them up pretty good).

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        • I tend to agree. Losing OC is not going to help and that is not exactly the most talented offense we will see.

          Hope for the dawgs sake it’s not a night game, but I’m planning on being there, so I wouldn’t be heartbroken…

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      • Mayor

        If the committee let 2 teams from the SEC in the playoff again there would be a revolt among the other Power 5 conferences. Remember this is really about money.

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      • Otto

        Agreed LSU in Baton Rouge can be very tough. Even with 1 loss UGA will control their own destiny in the SECCG. Auburn will be interesting to see how RB pans out down on the plains. If they have a RB they can play with UGA.

        SC moves back to an earlier date. UGA should win and I think this staff will have the youngsters ready to play early.

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  11. 92 grad

    FWIW, my satisfaction from our football team will be there if they can win the east and fight tough in the sec championship game. If they win that I will be very happy for them. Anything beyond that is out of their control, so, it’s hard to build an expectation beyond winning our conference. When other people decide your fate all bets are off.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Joe

    I have no doubt Riley Ridley will step up. He came in for JW against Bama and was extremely efficient. Another off season running routes for Fromm and I think we’ll see a break out Year for this young man.

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  13. Timphd

    In my heart I have to admit I do expect some regression this coming year. It isn’t just talent we are losing, it is the heart and soul of leadership that is hard to replace. Maybe someone else steps up to take up the mantle but I don’t think we can underestimate how important Chubb, Michel, Carter and Bellamy, among others we are losing, were. Again, I don’t think it is a big step back, I would predict we win the East again, but winning the conference and a playoff ticket, while I do dream it, is not my expectation. Call me Munson if you must. Again, I truly would love to be wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Charlottedawg

    So not trying to be snarky but why is a trip to death valley an automatic W, and why could Pruitt or Mullen make Tennessee and or Florida a competitive team capable of an upset? In addition how do we know auburn won’t look like they did this year? I don’t keep up with lsu, Tennessee, Florida, or auburn that much but I’m just a little hesitant to dismiss an sec schedule as easy or expect our traditional rivals to stay down forever. Fwiw while the rose bowl was a ton of fun, to me the most impressive aspect of this season was how the dawgs made blowout wins every week against sec competition look routine. That’s a whole lot harder than they made it look.

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    • siskey

      LSU seems to be in a really low place after this season and that they are losing their QB, RB, Arden Key and the Offensive Coordinator. While it is by no means a guaranteed win they could have 3 losses when we play them there next season.

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  15. Mayor

    Playing at South Carolina for the second game (really the first game as Austin Peay will be a complete walkover) is going to be tougher than a lot of people think. Lose that game and the Dawgs are behind the 8 ball the fest of the season just to win the East. Plus at LSU is always a tough game. Lose those 2 and Georgia doesn’t get to the SECCG and is totally out of contention for the 4 team playoff. The Senator asks “do you see more than 2 losses?” No, but I sure as hell see how the Dawgs could lose those 2 games and that would be enough to wreck any championship hopes.

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  16. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    I have come to the point where I think the biggest reason we get back is because Kirby said we would. Well, after the loss to Bama he said that we weren’t going away which I took to mean the same thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I’m glad someone can be optimistic. It’s difficult for me to be when we just lost the best Rb duo in cfb history and the defense is decimated. Also lost a 5 star QB and a damn good punter. Our LOS, both sides, is a huge question mark and we know how important that is. We know what being weak there has cost us. We’ve had some good recruiting classes but I haven’t seem much from the backups that gives me hope.

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    • …but I haven’t seem much from the backups that gives me hope.

      Yeah, kids like Walker and Swift haven’t impressed me, either.

      The problem with being a Gloomy Gus in January isn’t that it’s wrong to note the losses. It’s to pretend no other school is losing anyone. Why not wait until August before slitting your wrists?

      Liked by 1 person

      • So 2 guys? Are they also gonna block and tackle? Are they gonna fill all those voids. You just took an honest, objective outlook and made into a drama. Congrats, buddy.

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      • We’re gonna dominate the east again and return to the NC with all the production you just pulled out of your ass. Slit my wrists, huh? That’s one way of looking at it. I guess we should go all in on that Gus Bus and believe what we’re told vs what we see. Good luck with that.

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        • WTF are you talking about? I’m not making any predictions beyond UGA winning ten games in 2018.

          Is there some reason I should think the SEC East will be a huge challenge this year? Any way you want to stack it up, there’s a talent gap between the Dawgs and the rest of the division.

          Or maybe you think the coaching staff will take a step back in ’18.

          You sound pissed, and for the life of me, I can’t figure why anyone would be angry about Georgia’s 2018 prospects.

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          • Athens Townie

            Me neither.

            As hard as it was to watch the NC slip through our fingers, I loved the 2017 season. What a great ride. Winning the Rose Bowl, beating ND in South Bend, winning the SEC Championship, sweeping the East, etc. We won 13 games. Not to mention, we went toe-to-toe with the country’s best with what I thought was a flawed roster (at the beginning of the 2017 season). Nobody can handle Georgia’s best shot right now.

            I love where this program is going right now. Georgia fans who whine about what’s going on are unreasonable, unrealistic, or just insufferably miserable.

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            • Tim in Sav

              Tickets to Championship game – $4000, Catered tailgate to said game – $1750, Someone paying off B10 refs to throw the game – $350,000, Having said refs despite all their efforts not having Bama cover – PRICELESS. The Championship didn’t slip through our fingers. I agree Athens Townie, it was a great season and I for one don’t see us not getting back soon. ( I didn’t say 2018) Kirby is on the Muther.

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              • Mayor

                I wonder….since Bama didn’t cover, did the Mob break any game officials legs yet? Anyone hear anything? But then, maybe it worked out perfectly with the shifting line so that the professionals who fixed the game won BOTH ways, eh?

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    • Multi-thread whining.

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    • Gaskilldawg

      Shit, I guess we should have signed some recruits in Feb 2016 and Feb 2017. What was Smart thinking in taking Februarys off?
      jabo052, I get that you were not impressed with our backups at RB, and the guys who rotated with Atkins and Thompson.
      My serious questions to you are, we beat UT by 41 points. Is the talent UT returns 41 points better than we are with the backups we will have to play in 2018? We beat UF by 35 points. Is what UF is returning 35 points better than what we have left? We beat Tech and Vandy by 31 points, both at their places. Is Tech’;s and Vandy’s returning talent 31 points better than our returning talent? We beat UK by 29 points. Is UK’s returning talent 29 points better than our returning talent?
      You saw, on December 2, 2017, how Auburn did with a weakened Kerryon Johnson. Auburn will not have Kerryon Johnson next year. Is Auburn’s returning talent 21 points better than our returning talent?

      Those are the meaningful questions, in my mind.

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  18. Russ

    We will reload, and with that schedule I fully expect us to be back in Atlanta next December.

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  19. AusDawg85

    Just win the east, which includes a beatdown of the gators. Everything else will take care of itself.

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  20. ATL Dawg

    We should make it back to Atlanta. I’m guessing we’ll have either 1 or 2 losses going into that game. The 4 road games aren’t super tough but all 4 opponents are decent, so those games do present some challenges. And the home game against Auburn will be tough.

    I don’t expect to win in Atlanta but you never know.

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    • Athens Townie

      I feel the same way. We should win the East. I’d guess we have 1-2 losses by the time we get to Atlanta. Past that, I have no idea.

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  21. Macallanlover

    Hard to call a win total before NSD or Spring Game, but looks almost certain we will win the East. Don’t know if we win 12, 11, or 10, but I don’t see us losing 3 games next season so 9-3 looks unlikely unless the injury monster visits again.

    I think our offense will be unstoppable by anyone other than a Bama and Clemson level defense. Improved OL, stable of stud RBs, solid receivers, dynamite at QB, yeah we might be ready for a Bama/Clemson defense at the end of the year. We won’t be bad on defense but with our losses we will have to take a step back, how big a step you just cannot tell yet. This could easily be the best offense in the SEC, with the defense being upper-middle of the pack.

    I feel like I did last year, except this year it will be the offense that has to carry us until the defense grows up and can prove it self; just the opposite of last season when you knew the defense would be very stout…and it was. The offense answered all the questions we worried about, perhaps the defense can in 2018. Spring game could be a lot of fun, hope we catch good weather again.

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    • less question marks going in than last year in my opinion. We had legitimate concerns at OL, QB, DB, WR, in that order.

      This year, I would say LB, DB and I think both are more promising than what I expected coming into last year for the above position groups.

      Having our Swift/Holyfield/Cook/Zeus plus QB and OL alone is enough to get us 7-8 wins next year.

      I fully expect us to field a top 15 defense.

      UGA is back and ain’t going away.

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      • Macallanlover

        That’s true, we do have fewer questions this year. The problem to me is questions on defense are more worrisome than questions on the offense (although OL questions are really scary). I do feel we have a chance to band aid the defense enough, and our offense should be much more prolific, and capable of controlling the clock. I definititely see a game in ATL in early December, but will wait to see if we can beat Bama then. Hard to lose R, Bellamy, Carter, TT, Atkins, Davis, and Sanders and not pay a price, but agree it is possible.

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  22. Ol should only get better. Zeus gets recovered and splits time with Swift and Holyfield. Offense will be in great shape. Defense will be solid. Just have to see how they meld and come together

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    • Macallanlover

      Love Zeus but first year back from an ACL is tough. He may play but Swift/Holyfield and Herrien will be capable. Everyone continues to overlook James Cook, think you will be surprised. Isn’t built to be an every down back but the guy is quick as a minnow. Look for him in the slot or on screens/flares and maybe a jet sweep. Before his time in Athens is up, he will add some weight; looks much slimmer than his brother. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Holyfield more as a FB, he has the body size with really good speed which makes him even more dangerous.

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      • We have grown spoiled with RB recruiting. Next year we will have 4 backs rated as good or higher than Kerryon Johnson (Swift, Holyfield, Cook, Zeus) and another in Herrian who was good enough to get on the field despite having 3 5 stars ahead of him.

        All 4 of those guys would likely start at every team in the SEC not named Bama next year…

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  23. 69Dawg

    With the offensive line we have left plus the guys that have been redshirted this year plus the 5, count them 5 new Olineman coming in, who in their right mind thinks we are going to have trouble replacing the 2 we lose. On the defensive side I think TThompson was a marginal loss, he seemed to not play up to his ability and is depending on his physicals to get him drafted.

    Line backers are the key and I’ve got no clue. The Dbacks will also be a question mark.

    If that oline opens big enough holes our new set of running backs will have a field day, which will make Fromm’s life a lot easier.

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  24. Jt (the other one)

    Senator…the OL is the LEAST of our concerns…we have depth, experience and talent (5 star type) in spades for the first time…well ever…
    The OL will pace our efforts…buckle up!

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  25. W Cobb Dawg

    2018 will be a very good year. We have talent and depth everywhere!

    Roquan leaving. McBride & Rice are 2 great candidates to replace him.

    Walker, Grant, Anderson & Tindall will do great at OLB.

    Same goes at all positions. Kirby’s already assembled an excellent roster.

    Yes, we are losing some awesome players – great talent & leadership. But Kirby isn’t finished with championship games by a long shot.

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  26. lakedawg

    Will take some freak play or a couple injuries to lose to a team on next years schedule. Can see Mullen, Pruitt, possibly Muschamp giving us a problem in a couple years, but we are that far ahead of them right now.

    Like