An early look at the new direction

Seth Emerson takes a stab at projecting a 2018 depth chart here.  And, yeah, while it would be total folly to pretend that anything stitched together in the middle of January is etched in stone (not that Seth’s doing that, of course), it is interesting to see how the talent is accumulating, even before the last bits of this year’s recruiting class are known.

Start with what is going to be the early strength of the defense, the three down linemen and outside linebackers.  There is real depth on the line and I’m excited about what Walker and Grant bring to the table in succeeding Bellamy and Carter.

Another position worth drooling over is what Sam Pittman is putting together on the offensive line.  It’s a nifty combination of returning experience — four of the starters Emerson projects started on the o-line in 2017 — and burgeoning depth.  I expect Salyer to push Kendall Baker hard and the battle to start at right tackle could be epic.

If the line continues to improve, the situation at running back is fine, even with Chubb’s and Michel’s departures.  The same can be said at quarterback, at least assuming good health at the position.

If there are wait and see areas, they’re largely in the back six of the defense.  It’s hard to know how the interior linebackers will be deployed until Natrez Patrick’s situation is sorted out.  Will he be this year’s Ledbetter?  That would be great both for him and the defense, but it’s too soon to tell.

As for the secondary, the return of Reed and Baker is huge, no doubt, but there will be a wide open battle to replace Sanders.  The wild cards are LeCounte and Gibbs.

G-Day will be fun to watch, but there will be plenty of decisions that will come down to fall camp.  The good thing is that it appears Smart will have plenty of viable options.

Your thoughts?

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52 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

52 responses to “An early look at the new direction

  1. Timphd

    Has there been any news on Gibbs lately? He had some unspecified “illness” at the end of the year. Don’t remember if he suited up for the last games or not. I expected him to be a big player for the defense but worry now.

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  2. Mg4life0331

    I cant wait to see if Mcbride is going to come through. He had a couple of good pops on people on kickoff coverage.

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  3. The other Doug

    I think Gibbs, LeCounte, and maybe a true freshman are going to push for playing time. It’ll be interesting to see how Kirby’s competition plays out.

    How about that OL? Yep. I’m drinkin’ the Kool-Aid! They should be even better next season.

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    • artful codger

      Better hope they push for more than just playing time. We need 2 fulltime starters in our nickle5 set. And that assumes McGhee settles in as fulltime CB opposite Baker

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  4. While not mentioned, I suspect Johnson and Shaffer will be involved along with Sayler at the guard positions. Also not mentioned, but who should be a factor in the secondary, is William Poole, III.

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  5. The only thing that really worries me on that depth chart is the center. If Gailliard goes down, that is not the position to entrust to a freshman even with an experienced QB behind him. We saw what happened when Andrews went down at Florida in 2014 and how poorly the line played after his departure.

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  6. Turd Ferguson

    I spent the 2017 offseason crossing my fingers and hoping/trusting that Pittman could develop the OL into something special. And he delivered.

    For 2018, I guess, it’ll be the secondary. Smart and Tucker have their work cut out for them. The talent and athleticism is there.

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  7. The OL is going to be a thing of beauty the next couple of years. Like the Senator, I expect Salyer to push Baker—and I expect him to beat him out, too. I think the offense is going to be scary good provided we’re not bad at RT, which I don’t think we will be. Obviously we all want Wilson to be the guy, but whoever gets the nod will be the only real question mark entering the season. I think we’ll see a dip at the RB spot, but that says more about who left than who’s coming back.

    I think the offense could be among the best in the country next year provided Swift and Holyfield progress.

    Defense is far more up in the air. While the DL should be solid, losing TT, who admittedly underwhelmed this year, is still less than ideal. Add his loss to the entirety of the starting LB corps from the title game plus Sanders and it gets dicey.

    Reed and Baker back are great, and I expect Lecounte to be a starter, too. I think we need McGee to step up, and if he does that gives us a solid 4 out of 5 (nickel package). Then it comes down to development of Speed, Webb, and Gibbs if he ever makes it back.

    All in all I expect the offense to hum next year and lead the way while the defense might take 4 games or so to get a read on who’s going to fill the void.

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    • Cojones

      Swift, Herrien and Holifield can lead the charge before Zeus and Cook get up to SEC speed, but I don’t see a dip, rather, it should be an uptick. It goes hand in hand with the O-line improvement that would have been a boon for Sony and Chubb if they had them up front beginning two years ago.

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      • I don’t think we’ll see an uptick this year. I could see one in 2019, but not this year. Chubb and Sony (more the latter than the former) is going to be very hard to replace, especially with White coming off of an ACL and Cook being more of a third down back. I do think the OL being better will help, but I think we’ll see just how great those two backs were.

        Now, I do think the passing game will improve, which will help a lot. I expect Fromm to put up some damn good numbers in 2018. He’s never gonna put up crazy spread numbers like a Drew Lock, but I think we could see him attempt 25 passes a game and have 230+ YPG.

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  8. Macallanlover

    Concur totally Senator. While the offense will be the stabilizing unit early on, we have serious talent to compete for the defensive needs. Enough quality competition to overcome those weak areas by mid-season, imo. I think we get 1-2 true freshmen who play a big role on the defense, and maybe one new face on offense. Baker was the key, he puts us close enough to bridge the gap to 2017. Only difference is offense will be the lead dog, but the defense will be good enough in the beginning and get stronger as we go along.

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  9. Otto

    Has Gaillard announced he is returning?

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  10. gastr1

    I was worried about the receivers until I saw that Godwin is returning (I thought he was a senior this year)–and remembered Hardman. There’s our guy to stretch the field a little. Ridley doesn’t have Wims’ height, but he’s big enough to be the possession receiver Fromm wants. Just hope his routes and hands are up to the challenge.

    And Hardman will have to block, too, to stay on the field…so there’s that.

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    • Ridley needs to be a go to guy. 5 and 4 are great for big plays but Ridley needs to be there to move the chains. Hopefully that Matt Landers kid is ready to play next year.

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  11. Sanford222view

    The OL depth is heart warming. Looking at Seth’s two deep you realize there are a lot of other highly rated names he doesn’t include still around to battle for spots and to provide depth. We should be good upfront again with lots of opportunity to improve because of the youthful talent.

    I think we will be okay in the secondary. Baker staying was huge and Reed is solid. I feel with all the young talent in the last two classes at these positions Tucker will find a group that can play. They may blow some things early but should be up to speed as the season gets late. Bishop, Webb, LeCounte, Gibbs, Poole, etc. all have the physical talent.

    LB is my biggest concern at first glance. We need some good off season development in this area and some young pups to step up. Outside we should be okay with Walter Grant and Deandre Walker. Adam Anderson will likely make an impact there as well, IMO. Inside is where I am more worried but depth is a concern at both spots. Not only are you losing the best ILB UGA has had maybe ever but the options left are super young and not high in numbers. It would be nice if Patrick makes it back but I am not seeing that occurring. Hopefully Rice, Crowder, and McBride come on strong and stay healthy. The incoming class doesn’t have many LBs in it either. Just Tindall if I remember correctly but he may be playing OLB.

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  12. Athens Townie

    We’re come pretty far since the days (not long ago) when were desperately importing QBs from Virginia and LTs from Rhode Island.

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  13. PTC DAWG

    Any UGA fan not excited about what we have on the table just wants to be miserable. The future is bright…get your shades.l

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  14. BulldogBen

    I’m still not ready to be positive.

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  15. Not to mention who the hell knows what Kirby has up his sleeve with some shrewd roster management/non- traditional recruiting. Seems like he has added 1 or 2 contributors after signing day we weren’t thinking about the past 2 seasons.

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  16. CPark58

    All I know is Fields needs to redshirt and Captain “Slant Pass” Jake Fromm needs to watch out for Stetson Bennet come G-Day. My insurance agent’s hunting club manager’s brother in law in Blackshear says he’s the real deal…..

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    • Its never too early to get this G-day QBR party STARTED!

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    • Yeah, and my next door neighbor’s third cousin’s diesel mechanic’s great aunts youngest son says…
      Redshirt or not, Fields will be #2 QB at G-Day, and Bennett will be toiling away on the scout team doing his part to help the team; like all walk-ons are supposed to do.

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      • Mayor

        Well according to the players themselves Bennett is a “beast” whose skill set isn’t far behind the Heisman trophy winner’s. My brother-in-law’s sister’s hairdresser says that if Bennett doesn’t get a real serious look from the coaching staff this year we’ll likely be watching him on another team in a game in the not to distant future.

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  17. Stoopnagle

    Let’s see, the OOC schedule is all cake. We get UT & AU between the hedges. We have road games at LSU, S. Carolina, Mizzou, and Kentucky. We should rake next year, y’all.

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  18. Biggus Rickus

    My only real concern is replacing Smith, just because he was that good. I expect the secondary to actually improve, though I suppose they could have some growing pains early.

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  19. W Cobb Dawg

    Is it a given that Thomas switches from RT to LT? For the sake of continuity I figured Thomas would stick at RT, and Wilson, Hayes, and Mays would slug it out at LT. Not that I’m complaining. That OL is shaping up to be a monster like we’ve rarely, maybe never, seen at UGA.

    The depth and competition at just about every position on the team is impressive.

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  20. William Abbott

    I’m all for Salyer starting over Baker or Gaillard because OL has to get bigger to be able to run on Bama when they meet again. Dawgs lose alot but with the way they are recruiting you can see the depth starting to accumulate. Thanks to some DGDs for a fantastic season & looking forward to the future!!

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