Establishing the 2018 parameters

It’s January.  The shape of this year’s recruiting classes hasn’t been finalized, let alone has the first snap of spring practice occurred, but a pundit’s work is never-ending.  If you’re looking for early hints on the Georgia narrative, the most optimistic one I’ve seen so far is that of CFN’s Pete Fiutak, who’s got the Dawgs going 11-1, 7-1 in the regular season and coasting to an easy divisional title (he predicts no other SEC East team will post a winning conference record).

On the flip side, SI.com’s Chris Johnson identifies Georgia as one of five teams likely to backslide in 2018.  Why?  Well, because Georgia:

Georgia is clearly trending upward under Kirby Smart, but unlike Alabama, it needs to string together multiple seasons like the one it had in 2017 before it can be trusted to reload and compete at the sport’s highest level no matter how extensive its personnel turnover.

We’ve already talked about roster turnover.  Yes, there’s a lot of leadership that just left town and Roquan Smith is a rare talent who will be next to impossible to replace.  But roster change is a fact of life in college football, not just at Georgia.  The complementary issue is how well a program continues to stock the talent pantry on the recruiting front and it would appear based on Smart’s three classes (or at least what’s been reeled in so far) that Georgia is in better shape to withstand its losses than most teams in the SEC.

There’s also the matter of a schedule that on its face appears friendlier than 2017’s was.

What’s your head/heart telling you about Georgia’s outlook for 2018?

73 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

73 responses to “Establishing the 2018 parameters

  1. Cuzfuzz

    Jeff Dantzler says it will be another throwaway season.

    Like

  2. Derek

    12-0 and Bama in Atlanta. Loser probably advances.

    The toughest game looks to be at LSU, but by mid season we should be clicking.

    USC, Missouri, LSU, Auburn and Tech all present challenges and you can throw any (all) of them away, but I think we’ll be ok. LSU and Auburn have more gaps to fill than we do and the rest have a significant talent disadvantages.

    The balance of the schedule is just a bunch of bad teams. UT and UF are both at least a year away.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jt (the other one)

    My heart says undefeated regular season…my head says “remember Mark Richt”! and the “Georgia Way”.

    Like

  4. DawgPhan

    11-1 seems about right. Schedule is good. No big ooc game. Auburn, UT, and Tech at home.

    The trip the Death Valley could be a slip up or maybe the trip to mizzou.

    Like

  5. The other Doug

    I’m in the 11-1 crowd. We will be favored against every team, but drop one to Florida or LSU.

    Like

    • Stoopnagle

      I think the Jacksonville game is super-dangerous. We keep forgetting about the number of players they had suspended/injured in ’17. Kirby better have him ready to buckle up for that one.

      Like

      • Cojones

        Not only did they have a past Georgia-like season with those injuries and suspensions, but they haven’t matched their recruiting from the past. The Dawgs have moved ahead such that we won’t look back for several years. We haven’t just edged ahead in recruiting, Smart has taken us to new recruiting territory after an 8-5 season that was actually worse than the numbers. Another edge is in the number of red shirts who have been trained for a year and are rearing to go as most of them are 4-stars or better.

        The 2018 class will be a college football record setter for talent and that ain’t chopped liver. We have seven 5-stars on board (with the possibility of two more in this class) along with a plethora of 4-stars. The 2019 class has begun with three 5-stars and four 4-stars and several more on the way. Not only FU, but also, no other college team can match that talent. That doesn’t mean that a coach of any team on our schedule can’t prepare for us a give a close game, but the same ole, same ole Georgia Way has been left behind in the dust.

        If you are saying that FU’s coaches can outcoach Kirby and his team in that J-ville matchup, I disagree heartily.

        Like

        • Tony Barnfart

          agreed. Talent alone didn’t beat Mississippi State so decisively this year. Kirby busted up Mullen and Grantham.

          Like

  6. Charlottedawg

    I see 10-2 to 12-0. I don’t think we’ll be as good as this year but schedule looks easier. I expect lsu, Florida, or south Carolina to be much improved. Offense takes a step forward, defense takes a step back.

    Like

  7. ASEF

    The article you posted on underperforming teams just had me thinking. If UT has been recruiting at 8 nationally and UF 11, then competent coaching could make those teams very dangerous in the short term. Especially against a team that now enters 2018 with a clear target on its back. And UF and UT both made competent hires. Maybe not home runs, but definitely competent.

    Like

    • On UF, unless Mullen finds a QB, I don’t see them significantly better in 2018. Even Corch, with the stockpile of talent Zook left, struggled a bit in year 1.

      On UTK, I’m not convinced Pruitt is just a redneck version of Boom. He has never had to make all of the decisions a head coach has to make, and, if his first spring is like his first spring in Athens, he’s likely to run off a bunch of their talent. Again, no competent QB is on the roster.

      I think 11-1 and win the East because we’re bound to stub our toe somewhere when we have superior talent. Lately, that place has been Columbia, South Carolina but wouldn’t be surprised to lose in Baton Rouge if it’s at night.

      Like

  8. Kdawg

    I would go with 10 – 2 and a loss to Alabama in the SECC.

    Like

  9. 3rdandGrantham

    So all of last off-season I predicted that we would go 11-2, with a loss to Bama in the SECC and end the year at 12-2. Of course, at the time many if you here and elsewhere thought I was utterly insane. Barrett Sallee said we would go 13-1 with a loss to AU and a revenge win over AU in the SECC, so that guy totally pegged our season.

    My gut says we take a small step back next year but, as mentioned, our schedule is favorable. Look out for SCU week 2 – that is a game I’m already nervous about, similar to ND last year. I see 10 wins minimum in the regular season and perhaps an 11-1 finish, but for now I say 10-2. Not discounting next year by any stretch, but ’19 looks to be a really, really fun season for us, with a Natty to show for it.

    Like

  10. jermainesdye

    I look at that schedule and I say….”Where is the loss?”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cojones

      Amen.

      New coaches and staffs at the stronger schools only leave one to worry about and that’s LSU. Barring injury, we are set to beat their current team, besides, we have Fromme and his leadership that can’t be evenly matched in the SEC. Two-deep at every position is just pure fun to contemplate what this team is capable of and with the remaining experience to get it done.

      Like

  11. sniffer

    What do I know? Barnhart, though, says we will play 12 games and be in all of them. Ha also says postseason is possible, if we win most of our games.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Hogbody Spradlin

    Has anybody quantified the recruiting stars in the likely 2 deep for 18 vs 17?
    Maybe less experience but more raw skills this year? The 2015, 2016, 2017, and “2018” recruiting classes are cycling through.

    Like

  13. ugafidelis

    I slipped up and told myself we’d make it back to the CFP. Then I said 7 Hail Mary’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. J-DawG

    LSU should be a defensive battle that we should win. Ettlinger cannot compete with Fromm. They don’t have their usual monster RB this year. USC is the game that concerns me. Boom has got them playing well and they gave us a battle this past season. He wants to beat Kirby so bad he can taste it. If we do a “Richt” it will be that game. I see 11-1 at worst.

    Like

    • Otto

      LSU, Auburn, and USC can all beat UGA but UGA should be favored in every game. The WLOCP is also the kind of game the prior 3 head coaches would swing and miss on. I will be happy with 11-1 not dropping the WLOCP returning to Atlanta.

      Like

  15. Spike

    Beat Florida. Again.

    Like

  16. Erk's Forehead

    11-1 is the worst acceptable regular season record. If we go 10-2, it means that we either lost our only 2 games that should have been competitive or 1 of those and a bed wetter. Either way, we go back to ATL to face Alabama. Which means we won’t be in the playoff.

    Like

  17. HiAltDawg

    Our terrible schedule makes me thankful to be at So Car in Week 2. It’ll give us the test we need to see if we backslide. We lose a lot of leadership but the loss against Bama gives the Dawgs a lot of motivation. Heart says one loss, head says two

    Like

  18. JoshG

    Looking at the schedule and the state of the programs we’re facing compared to ours, I expect 12-0. We’ll he favored in every game, so why would we expect to lose any until Atlanta?

    Like

  19. Mayor

    Fuitak is right about the LSU game being the toughest game on the schedule IMHO. Some of the early road games scare me a little too. If Georgia gets through the regular season at 11-1 we should all be pretty happy though. The Dawgs would be basically in the same position they were last season at that point. Sooner or later the Dawgs will have to face Bama though. And beat ’em this time.

    Like

    • Erk's Forehead

      “And beat them”
      Therein lies the rub

      Like

      • Dawg151

        Yes. Beat them.

        We should have beat them in the title game. There’s nothing about Bama that intimidates me as a Georgia fan. They’re a well-run program with Saban at the helm and have loads of talent up and down the roster…but so are we with Kirby and so does our roster. We showed we can play toe-to-toe with them…and beating Bama isn’t some impossible feat for Georgia. We’ve done it before. We’ll do it again on a big stage.

        Like

        • Erk's Forehead

          To be completely honest, I’ll be comfortable in my pessimistic doubting that we can beat Saban. Who is 12-0 against former assistants. Until we do.

          Like

  20. Macallanlover

    11-1 is my early thought against that schedule but I could be off one either way. We will be in Atlanta again, don’t know what our chances are yet. If our defense improves throughout the year, we could win another SEC. Defense will have all the question marks in 2018 but the offense will be the our best in years, probably the best in the SEC. Coaches need to take the reigns off the offense and let it run a little this season.

    Like

  21. Bright Idea

    Can we get through another season with so few injuries? We seem to have overlooked what a big thing that was. If so 10-2 at the absolute worst.

    Like

  22. Austin

    12-0 is completely do able. So is 9-3. Don’t sleep on South Carolina, they gained experience and confidence last year. They also have some key pieces coming back. They will be a big test on the road early for our “new defense”, and it will most likely be a night game. Their offense should be better than it was last year, though they lose that amazing TE they had. LSU at LSU and again probably a night game is scary, but they lose a lot of pieces offensively and have a new coordinator to boot. Their D should be better than South Carolina’s and probably the best we will have seen to that point in the season. However they have a string of tough games before us so they will either be battle tested or limping along. Baton Rouge is not a friendly place to play. Then of course there is Jacksonville. There is not much more to say than that. Florida gets back missing players, but everything is new to them. But as we saw last year revenge is a great motivator. Mullen knows what is at stake. He was embarrassed by us last year at Mississippi State and his new players were embarrassed even more by us. He also knows if he can’t beat us this year, the gap will widen even more talent wise, and the narrative will really start to change about Florida’s hot streak at the cocktail party. He knows he can get a pass this year, but if he can’t make it respectable then talent will continue to flow north to Georgia and to Miami and Florida State. Time is not on his side and that too is a great motivator.

    Auburn looses too much to be a huge threat this year. Tennessee two years from being a legitimate threat. Kentucky is Kentucky, Vandy doesn’t have Franklin anymore, and Mizzou’s defense is awful and their new offensive coordinator has proven to be ineffective at best at most of his positions he has held on the field. Oh and Tech plays football, but yeah Johnson is an idiot and they will only be slightly better than last year.

    All in all I say 12-0. Or some hiccup, defensive let down and we got 11-1. Perhaps we can elect to sit out the SEC Championship and just go straight to the playoffs a la Alabama.

    Like

    • rchris

      Good post. South Carolina might be our toughest game. LSU has better athletes overall, but Muschamp is getting more from his. Also, USCe is earlier in the season. By the time LSU rolls around, a lot of the talent from Kirby’s last 2 classes should be kicking in.

      Like

    • Russ

      Georgia-LSU seems too good for CBS to pass up, so we’ll play in the afternoon.

      Liked by 1 person

      • From your keyboard to God’s ears, Russ

        Like

      • Derek

        Doesn’t CBS get two night spots too? Isn’t that why LSU/Bama is often at night?

        I think I’ve been 3 of the last 4 times we’ve played down there. I missed the 2008 game. I don’t think we’ve played a night game down there since 1990. The one game I saw us win was with Quincy Carter and Champ. Both 2003 and 1990 were very close I think we lost each because LSU got the ball last.

        I’m planning on making this one. I hope LSU sucks this year. Not just because it will be an easier win, but because the fans are pleasant when they are terrible and intolerable when they are good.

        They’ve got a pretty tough schedule before we get down there:

        Miami in Dallas
        at Auburn
        at Florida
        and ole miss is always a big one for them.

        Like

    • Cojones

      Great and realistic post, Austin.

      Like

  23. I predict we will bitch slap Ga Tech again.

    Like

  24. Snoop Dawgy Dawg

    10-2 seems like a pretty likely scenario, given the loss of leadership and our schedule.

    @Mizzou makes me nervous, only because any time you play a team with a gunslinger for a QB, things can get dicey in a hurry. @LSU is always tough. Auburn is going to want some revenge.

    we ought to win the east. Can’t pick us over Bama in the SECCG until we do it. We lost a LOT of leadership off last year’s team. It’s hard to replace that in the offseason, and their leadership affects all 12 months of preparation.

    Like

  25. Russ

    On the offensive side, QB and OL will be better/more experienced. RB should be close to the same with 5 solid backs (maybe 4 is Zeus is out for knee). WRs should be close. Ridley, Godwin and Mecole should be better, and I think we’ll find someone to help fill Wims’ role.

    On defense, I think we’ve played enough players to give us good replacements. Baker in the secondary will be huge and Lecount will play big. DL will be fine and I think we’ll have some good options at LB. We’ll certainly miss Roquan but should be fine.

    Schedule seems about the same, though the early trip to Sackerlina will be tough as I expect them to be improved and motivated. LSU might be tough but I expect us to be rolling by that time.

    Bottom line, I expect to be back in Atlanta for the SECCG where hopefully we get revenge on Bama.

    Like

  26. PTC DAWG

    I told y’all all of last season, if we found our way to the SECCG, UGA was going to win it. I’ll stay with that prediction again. Kirby is on it.

    Like

  27. Rebar

    The only way we get back to the CFP is to win the SECCG. The cupcake schedule is going to bite us in the butt if we do not win the all!

    Like

  28. Got Cowdog

    My goodness! Who are you guys and what have you done with the regular Dawg fans? Have you all put your Inner Munsons in time out? 11-1? 12-0? That’s crazy talk! We haven’t even played the G-Day game yet. We could be 8-5 easy. We know Pruitt can coach, Mahlzahn’s hyphenated hoodlums always play us lights out, Mullen made MSU something to keep an eye on, imagine what he’ll do with Florida’s talent base. Paul’s Johnson and the cut block champions can always get lucky.
    All this optimism is making me dizzy. Someone has to be devils advocate, I guess its my day in the barrel. 8-5 and a divided fanbase marching up Lumpkin towards Butts-Mehre with torches and pitchforks the last Sunday in November, a flaming Jim Chaney effigy leading the way.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. lakedawg

    Looking at schedule do not see how we can possibly lose two games, however just feel that the leadership lost we will make a mental mistake to lose a game or two. Everyone says offense will be better and O line improvement will hopefully off set Chubb and Michel toughness we are definitely losing there. Defense to me will not be quite as good again because of senior leadership. Anyhow 10-2, 11-1

    Like

  30. RLJ

    With the schedule, 12-0 is very possible. I would expect no lower than 10-2. In either case, I expect to see us play for the SEC championship.

    Like

  31. Jared S.

    2018 schedule should be easiest in years.

    That being said, we could get beat by LSU and Auburn and I wouldn’t be surprised.

    I expect 10 or more regular season wins and the SEC East crown. Anything less will be a bitter disappointment.

    Like

    • Russ

      Despite the results in JH this past fall, we have pretty much owned Auburn over the past 10-12 years. I think we’re 9-3 over that time, and that includes losing to $Cam one year, and the fluke TD another year. Auburn doesn’t scare me. At all.

      Like

  32. Stoopnagle

    Win the East and get to Atlanta. After that, you do your best.

    I think the Florida and South Carolina games are the toughest tests. Florida will get players back and has players, SC is early in the year on the road (and it won’t be on a Sunday this time).

    Next I think the road games at LSU and Mizzou are tricky. The schedule favors us for the LSU game (they’ve got Ole Miss and @UF in the lead up while we play UT and Vandy at home). Lock can fling it which is our toughest match-up scheme-wise. He’s the best QB we’ll face for sure.

    Beyond those four, obviously Auburn has the talent to stay on the field with us and Tennessee may find some fire under Pruitt, but I feel better about those two games at home than I do those road games. And last is Tech, but I think they know what’s coming.

    I hate to say we’re going to win out, but I think we’re better than everyone on our schedule talent-wise and coaching-wise.

    Like

  33. RandallPinkFloyd

    UF and USC will be the big tests. USC early on scares me as I think by midseason the younger players will be playing with confidence.

    Personally think Kirby can and will coach circles around Coach Cajun in Baton Rouge. I don’t care if the game is at night, that juice only gets the players so far. Let’s not forget they lost to Troy this year…at night.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Uglydawg

    The “next up” set of running backs will need to be as immune to fumbling as Nick and Sony have been.
    We will need to dodge the injury bug again. (as other’s have mentioned)
    Prediction..We will have a good, solid running game and will look like a VD team of old. But it’s hard to run the tables..even ‘Bama lost once.
    If we can manage to win the East, even with a loss somewhere along the way, I’ll be happy..
    Fromm will have two solid years under his belt and should be very, very good by Thanksgiving.
    The defense may be a little less physical, but it will be better than most are thinking. There will be one or two defensive players that will step up and be great ones. (can’t wait to see who takes R’s place in that “defensive I formation” if we use it again. Since Fishfry will be expecting it and will plan for it, we might see a different twist this year)
    With a better O line, a brilliant QB with two years of running the offense, a solid and dependable kicking game and the experience gained by the coaching staff and players…we go 11-1 and beat Alabama in Atlanta.

    Like

  35. W Cobb Dawg

    Although I’ll miss Roquan, I’m already geeked up to see Monty Rice laying some monster hits on opponents. I expect Walker to have a great year rushing the passer. Baker, Reed, McGhee, Natrez, Clark, Rochester, Ledbetter and Marshall make for a very good base to build from. Tons of sophmore and freshman talent eager for playing time. Dawgs remain a top 10 defense, no question about it.

    Like

    • Russ

      I also figure McBride is due to make an impact at LB.

      😛

      Like

    • I agree … there’s a ton of talent at all 3 areas of the defense. Don’t sleep on Walter Grant. The guy made a ton of plays last year when given the chance. With a year in the strength program, he could be a monster.

      Liked by 1 person

      • RandallPinkFloyd

        Agreed. Seemed like a smart football player, too if Kirby trusted him to play against ND in his second game as a true freshman. Walker and Grant off the edge should be nasty.

        Liked by 1 person

  36. 1smartdude

    A 10 wins should be a reality. 12 wouldn’t be shocking. Injuries could always change things up or suspensions, or dismissals, as we all know. The offense will need to help out the defense more this year and while I think the win number will be fine, I fully expect the margin of victory in games to be much less. Don’t discount how the dominating wins contributed to the mental edge UGA played with this year. That and the senior leadership was huge, IMO.

    Like

  37. AusDawg85

    Seems the purpose of these predictions is to be able to shout “I nailed it!” at the end of the season, so here goes:

    Dawgs go 10 – 2. First loss is not planned, so probably to USC, or Mizzou. Second loss will be TOTALLY INTENTIONAL by Kirby (he’s a sly one…) so figure LSU or Auburn. We’ll have the East sewn up and he’ll play vanilla ball again to keep the SEC West champ overconfident and guessing.

    We win the SEC again. We’ll be in a Herbstreit sh*tstorm of controversy about CFP eligibility with those 2 losses.

    Kirby don’t lose to Florida or Tech no mo’.

    Date stamp this post please.

    Like

  38. 15-0 and winning the national title 70-0 of course.

    Like