SEC returning starter numbers

Georgia, at 13, is middle of the conference pack (note that the author defines returning starter as someone who started at least seven games in 2017).  Eight return on offense; five on defense.  What’s interesting is the complete flip from a year ago at two positions:  four returning starters on the offensive line and zero linebackers.  Makes you wonder who will be carrying the heavier load early on this season.

The two most interesting tidbits?  Alabama has to replace its top six defensive backs and must do so with a new defensive coordinator/position coach.  No problem for the Sabanator, right?  And Dan Mullen left his successor in pretty good shape, experience-wise, as Mississippi State returns nine starters on offense and eight on defense.



Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football

38 responses to “SEC returning starter numbers

  1. I’d be really surprised if at least one of those returning OL starters aren’t replaced next year. I’d say that both Cleveland and Baker, perhaps even Galliard, are going to have to fight to stay in the line up. Thomas is the only certain returner on the OL.


    • Who do you see supplanting Cleveland and Gaillard?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Guard – Sayler, Hill, Johnson, Shaffer, Wilson are all potential starters at guard for Baker or Cleveland. Kindley may be hungry to get his job back too. If Mays is a day one starter at right tackle like Thomas, that gives them flexibity to move Wilson inside and put Cleveland as the back up to Mays.

        As far as center you have both Hill and Erickson on campus already and it’s my understanding that Hill can play center too. Galliard is more secure no doubt but it’s not impossible. Ben did it and David probably could have if Ben wasn’t there when he arrived.


        • Salyer is an immense talent, but he’s not an early enrollee and he needs to lose some weight (not unusual).

          I agree that Wilson is something of a wild card. Reports are that the light came on for him mid-season and he was absolutely dominant on the scout team. If Mays is as good as some hint, then, yeah, I could see Wilson working at LG.

          My understanding is that Ericson is being groomed for the center position, but probably isn’t physically ready yet.

          Overall, it’s probably best to keep in mind that Andrew Thomas is the exception, not the rule, when it comes to true freshmen offensive linemen starting in the SEC.


          • No doubt, but our interior guys need to stop getting thrown around. Those cut ups we saw of the final game are embarrassing.

            It’s a wonder we did anything on offense.

            Baker is too small. Cleveland is too slow. Galliard was the unsung hero of the team but he’s still a not so highly recruited DL prospect. It would take a special talent to unseat him, but a guy can hope.

            I’m probably just overly impatient about finally having a legit OL. Without Sony and Nick if the OL doesn’t improve considerably, we’ll probably notice. However, reality being what it is, we may still be a year away in that regard.

            Getting that close with an undersized LT playing out of position, a too thin LG, a DL reject at center, a huge but not so quick or nimble RG and a true freshman RT really makes me shake my head. If we had any sort of a competent OL, we’d still be celebrating.

            Raekwon and Payne are good, but it shouldn’t look like grizzly bears playing with Raggedy Anne dolls.


            • Chris

              Galliard was a pretty high prized DT recruit FWIW. I agree with you on the rest of the OL though. 1 year away from a nasty, experienced bunch of large human beings. Bama-esque so to speak.


              • Rivals had him as a 3 Star. 247 had him higher.


                • According to Rivals, Gailliard claimed offers from Georgia, Alabama, Clemson, Florida, FSU, LSU, Miami, UNC, NC State, Notre Dame and South Carolina.

                  That’s not exactly being considered lightly regarded.


                  • You have to take some of those offers with grain of salt. His finalists were us, Miami and Louisville.

                    A solid 2014 recruit. He’d be in the back of the classes we’re signing up now, if he’d be there at all.


                • Chris

                  FYI Rivals is the CNN of recruiting sites. The gold standard is 247 composite, and Galliard was a consensus top 150 player in the nation according to 247. From what I remember, the only knock on him was he had to much baby weight for his frame.


                  • Macallanlover

                    I get what you are saying about 247 versus Rivals in total. But 247 has a glaring weakness, to me, they rate according to NFL potential and not how the athlete might be in college, or when they will be fully developed to that HS ranking. Big difference, with UGA take Wilson versus Thomas, or Fromm versus Eason for instance. I hope our guys do well and achieve their dreams if the NFL is what they want, but rating some one because of their frame and raw potential 3 years down the road is misleading to me as a college fan.


            • willypmd

              Our offensive line was a finalist for the Joe Moore given to the best offensive line in the country. That means the committee that votes on this award considered them top 7 in the country.

              Your comment that “if we had any sort of competent offensive line…” is incredibly ill-informed at best.


              • We were good at tackle. My problem was with the interior line in the last game. Did you see Payne and Davis beat them to the punch, run around them and throw them around like rag dolls? I did. I don’t give a fuck what they were rated. They got their asses kicked.

                The whole line save Wynn got their asses kicked at auburn.


    • DawgByte

      Son, you’ve lost your mind. Nobody is replacing Cleveland unless Pittman decides to move him to Tackle. He’s cemented in the lineup as a starter.

      I do think Baker is vulnerable at LG and believe Salyer will make a strong push to start 3 or 4 games into the season depending on how Baker is holding up. I also think Gaillard will have a lot of competition from Fogerty and potentially Ericsson. Hill is an interesting case. Is he a Guard or future Center? He’d make a heck of a Center, given his girth.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Granthams replacement

    Kindley could replace Baker, but if Galilard is replaced (without an injury or discipline issue) the OL will be the best ever at UGA.


    • Mayor

      ^This. If the OL improves from 2017 to 2018 as much as it did from 2016 to 2017 it will be the best OL in the nation and we’ll all be dancing in the streets in January, 2019.


  3. The other Doug

    Kentucky is bringing a lot back.


  4. Normaltown Mike

    When I see pics or our OL…hungry is the first word that comes to mind.


  5. lakedawg

    Remember 5-6 years ago we had the heaviest OL in college or pros, and results were mixed. Hopefully better conditioning and coaching can make big guys good players.


  6. W Cobb Dawg

    Meh, I take those returning starter counts with a grain of salt. “Starter” has a pretty ambiguous definition. I can already rattle off a pretty good D lineup for the Dawgs: Baker, Reed, LaCounte, McGhee, Walker, Patrick, Rice/McBride, Grant, Marshall, Ledbetter, Rochester, Clark. That’s a lineup with a lot of experience. Same goes for the O: Thomas,


    • W Cobb Dawg

      Oops. Hit the ‘post’ button too soon. The O: Thomas, Baker, Gaillard, Cleveland/Kindley, Wilson/Mays, Nauta/Harris/Woerner, Godwin, Hardman, ?WR?, Swift, ?FB?, Fromm.

      That lineup might have 2 openings – a WR and a FB. Overall, we’ve got experienced veterans returning at all but a few positions on the team, and a ton of incoming talent. Not a bad situation at all.


  7. Darin Smith

    No doubt G-Day will give us all the answers.


  8. Russ

    Not worried about who we’ve got returning. We have some pretty good players filling the gaps. Missouri bringing back 9 on their offense is a little worrying, but SoD running the show should slow it down some.


  9. I think it was a few years ago when Vandy was bringing back the most career starts, and they finished something like 2-10 or 3-9.

    When I think of career starts, the first thing that comes to mind is “lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

    Alabama lost 6 (too lazy to look it up) upperclassmen that would have played significant minutes this year to early entry to the draft … they’re still consensus #1 in the way too early rankings.

    In other words, give me blue chip talent stacked across the board, and I’ll tell you where to stick those career starts. Hopefully, we’re close that kind of reloading.


  10. doofusdawg

    Not having Roquan will cost us three points per game statistically. Think the offense will be about the same with the loss of Sony and Nick offset by the experience in the offensive line. Caveat on offense is once again Chaney’s play calling.

    I guessed 31-17 offense and defense statistics last year.
    Gonna say 36-18 this year.


  11. dawgtired

    It’s hard to know exactly how to view this. Experience is always a good thing, but since the SECE was ‘so far down’ this year, the teams with good recruiting classes the last couple of years may not be overly concerned with some of the returning starters.
    For the sake of the discussion, we’ll assume the returning starters are an improvement on last season. The other ‘monkey wrench’ is the teams with new coaches. UF brings back 10 starters on offense but they’ll be learning new things under Mullen. MO brings back 9 on an offense that was pretty good (I would have to dig deeper to know if the 2 leaving were impact players).
    I have little respect for Vandy or UK, regardless of how many they bring back. Pruitt is a brand new HC in his first year on a team that was bad in 2017. I don’t expect much from UT. SC was solid. The defensive-minded HC is settled in and they return 7 on O and 5 on D. SC and MO may be in the best position to challenge if the ball bounces for them.
    In a year where the East was ‘bad’ it’s surprising that there is this quantity of turnovers. You would hope that if you have a bad team it’s due to having young inexperienced players. Now we are expecting a large turnover, not just of players but coaches as well, in a division that struggled. I guess we can expect the East, as a whole, to continue to struggle. With the rotating of players we achieved in 2017 and the incoming talent, our ‘drop off’ will not be as bad as the rest of the East.
    I fully expect to play in the SECC game.


  12. Mayor

    The other thing is while Georgia lost some starters many of the backups returning were damn near as good as the starters and got plenty of playing time because of the blowout wins. The Dawgs are going to be just fine. We’ll really miss Roquan though–a once in a generation type player.