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?