Player development, for the win

I thought it might be fun to go back and look at Phil Steele’s preseason projections of Georgia’s standing in each of his 2017’s top individual units, not because I want to take a shot at Steele’s analytical acumen — honestly, I couldn’t find much to disagree with at the time I first read them — but in the hopes that it might provide some indication of the job Georgia’s staff did developing the talent in the course of what wound being one of the program’s best seasons in decades.

Here come the bullet points, with Steele’s ranking and my comments.

  • Quarterbacks.  24th.  (A fair assessment, based way more on potential than on results to date.  It’s just that Fromm exceeded expectations by a wide margin.)
  • Running backs.  2nd.  (Hard to go up here, but I’d argue that Swift wound up with a better freshman season than most thought he’d have coming in.)
  • Receivers.  21st.  (This one is a little hard to judge, given that the passing game wasn’t exactly a point of emphasis.  I would argue, though, that between the improved blocking, the emergence of Wims and that Georgia finished 11th nationally in yards per passing attempt, that the group was a little underrated going in.)
  • Offensive line.  46th.  (I have the feeling next year’s bunch will be somewhat more favorably rated by Steele.)
  • Defensive line.  11th.  (This one strikes me as about right, both then and now.)
  • Linebackers.  6th.  (There were some higher ranked units that didn’t pan out as well as Georgia’s, so, yeah, this one wound up a bit on the light side.)
  • Defensive backs.  16th.  (Before the CFP, I might have questioned this ranking, but as Georgia wound up 15th in defensive passer rating, I can’t object too much.)
  • Special teams.  Unranked, i.e., outside the top 55.  (Yeah, that would ordinarily rank as a major whiff, except nobody else saw this special teams’ season coming.)

Bottom line, no lapses –that’s as much about good coaching as the improvements are, by the way — and three major leaps at quarterback, offensive line and special teams.  Pretty much explains the season, don’t it?

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16 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water

16 responses to “Player development, for the win

  1. W Cobb Dawg

    How could anyone ever foresee the contributions from players like Wims, Swift, Fromm, Reed, Nizialek, Thomas, etc., etc. Six months ago it was unimaginable. Steele did quite well for the most part. I follow the Dawgs on a daily basis and never could’ve imagined the improvement between ’16 and ’17.

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  2. merk

    ST was 1 bad offsides call away from having a major block in the SEC champ game + in both CFP games

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  3. DawgByte

    Pittman did an outstanding job with the 2017 OL, IMO. Going into the season I believe that was an area of weakness and by the end of the season it became a strength. Inserting Cleveland in at RG was a much needed boost at the stretch.

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    • Skeptic Dawg

      DawgByte, I agree 100%. Pittman transformed this OL from a liability in 2016 into an asset in 2017. And while I did not see it coming, in addition of Ben Cleveland was pretty incredible to watch. The kid really played well in the final 4 games.

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      • RandallPinkFloyd

        Crazy part is it should get better the next couple of years. We could very well have an elite OL at UGA soon.

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  4. Cousin Eddie

    If nothing else it gives me a confidence in the hires that Smart will make for the two open positions. So far the coaching staff looks to be doing an overall good job.

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  5. Cojones

    “Pretty much explains the season, don’t it?”….Yep, sure does.

    It has also whetted our appetite for another kick up in 2018, but what seems really odd is that it gives us room to accept defeat better. At this time last year I was skeptical with 5 defeats and a couple of close near-mishaps in the books and thankful that Sony and Nick were returning but with feelings of trepidation for them both. Then the Coachs’ coaching took over and even a football idiot as myself could see the causal relationship that has kicked up our anticipation of next year. The realization that we don’t have to lose any game we begin has sunk in bigtime because of the coaching. Within two months of this time last year, I feared for a complete recruiting reversal from the past, but ,once again, was pleasantly, no, euphorically surprised by the newly added recruiting prowess provided by all those asst to the asst coaches and grad assts.

    Yep, given that Steele has been favorable to us in the past with his analysis, this coming year’s prediction should be as easy to forecast as a Republican stating how helpful the Soviets have turned out to be to our democracy.

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  6. Special teams were a weapon. Mecole is going to break one this year. Hot Rod will be spectacular. Please find a way to keep KB hanging around.

    Offense – I didn’t see the line becoming the force they were, and nobody else did either. Sam Pittman is worth his weight in gold.

    Defense – reload and we’ll be all right.

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    • Skeptic Dawg

      EE, as a whole I agree with your assessment. Special team is a weapon both offensively and defensively, but how much will that change with the loss of our special teams coaches?. And while Mecole is a very solid punt returner, he is not the dynamic threat capable of taking it to the house on a consistent basis. If he were, he would have shown those skills by now. I hope that you are correct about the defense, but I am taking the wait and see approach. Our D took a huge hit in both leadership and talent. It may take a handful of games for the new squad to find their footing.

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      • Rocket Dawg

        You just can’t have nice things can you? Septic Dawg lives!

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      • Cojones

        His coach (Hardman) thinks that Mecole has a big upside this coming year (see Rivals recruiting) and is athletically capable of hitting another gear as WR. I’ll take his assessment anytime. What evidence formed your opinion?

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      • His big return early in the second half of the Rose Bowl was the spark that lit our comeback…….and he was 1 wrong cut away from a house-call… But do carry on.

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  7. Jared S.

    When will September get here?

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