Steele on Georgia, 2019 edition

Okay, time to dig into my initial impressions on Phil Steele’s take on this year’s model of Georgia football.  I hinted at some of it yesterday — overall, it’s quite positive (third in his power ratings; fourth in his rankings once scheduling is factored in), but a little lackluster in comparison to Alabama and Clemson.

To illustrate, here’s how the three shape up in his unit position rankings:

QUARTERBACKS

  • Clemson 1st
  • Alabama 2nd
  • Georgia 9th

RUNNING BACKS

  • Georgia 2nd
  • Clemson 3rd
  • Alabama 4th

RECEIVERS

  • Alabama 1st
  • Clemson 2nd
  • Georgia 25th (and that’s counting Holloman)

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • Georgia 2nd
  • Clemson 3rd
  • Alabama 6th

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • Alabama 3rd
  • Clemson 5th
  • Georgia 17th

LINEBACKERS

  • Alabama 1st
  • Georgia 6th
  • Clemson 14th

DEFENSIVE BACKS

  • Alabama 3rd
  • Clemson 7th
  • Georgia 16th

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • Alabama 18th
  • Georgia 20th
  • Clemson outside top 57

In areas where Georgia is best, the other two are generally close behind.  But there are significant gaps at several positions where the Dawgs lag behind the other two.

All of this, it should be said, is extremely relative.  Georgia is ranked in his top twenty-five at every unit position, which is nothing to sneer at.  In fact, it reinforces a point I made a while back when I was debating Allen Kenney and Ian Boyd about Lincoln Riley’s comment about Georgia, namely that Kirby’s built his team to excel by making sure that there are no true weak links.

This is nicely illustrated with Steele’s SEC unit comparison chart.

IMG_0346

The Dawgs may not be the best in the conference at everything, but they’re no worse than above-average in any category.  There is no other team on that chart, including Alabama, that can make the same claim.  (Don’t miss his coach rankings for Georgia and Florida, by the way.  But I digress.)

Coming from someone who watched Mark Richt fail to manage to field consistent units from year to year, that’s not damning with faint praise, either.  In fact, it’s hard to do.  Even Alabama during its current run has had seasons fall short because of poor special teams play.

The problem is that in the context of the 2019 season, Georgia’s high level of consistency may not be enough.  For one thing, it appears that Saban’s team can make the same claim, except at an even higher level.

None of this is etched in stone, of course.  But I don’t think it’s unfair to state at this point in the preseason that Georgia has some work to do in order to catch Alabama and Clemson by the time the postseason rolls around.

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53 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water

53 responses to “Steele on Georgia, 2019 edition

  1. Georgia is as loaded as I’ve ever seen it, but as Steele and others have pointed out, that doesn’t mean they’re as loaded as the two top dogs in the game.

    Liked by 2 people

    • JCDawg83

      There’s a chance we are SEC East great but not CFP great. I’ve tempered my expectations for this season. I can see a repeat of last season being a real possibility.

      Liked by 1 person

      • practicaldawg

        Right, but I think that’s where it always has to start. Build a team that can bulldoze the east with high probability, then hope it jells in December forward. I think that’s the very best we can ever hope for pre-season. There will always be a couple of other teams pre-season capable of making a key play in the post-season or being the beneficiary of lady luck at the right time. But none of that matters if we don’t own the east.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve found myself landing on an 11-1 season that ends in Atlanta with another loss to Bama. I do think UGA would rally and play well in the bowl game — as opposed to last season’s abortion in NOLA. I think 12-2 is the most likely scenario.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Got Cowdog

      That’s the recurring thought for me over the last few weeks. Georgia is a really good program right now, but they have to get past a really, really good Alabama team to get into the CFP. It’s not that it’s unfair (It is what it is, obviously) but I can’t think of another team as talented as UGA that has the particular hurdle of having to beat a #1 or #2 team in it’s CCG in order to get to the playoffs. That’s reason I have such a beef with ND always getting the benefit of the doubt. Make them join the ACC and play Clemson. That’s also the reason I hope UGA smokes their ass in Sanford this year. It’s not personal, I just want the point proved.

      Liked by 1 person

      • What if we’d been at this level with the SEC as it was in Richt’s first ten years? This current cycle vs. Fullamerde, Zook, Tuberville, and Shula would have been fun to watch.

        Like

      • Russ2

        Last year UGA would have had to beat Bama twice to win Natty, and thats the probable path for the next few years . Bama always gets a mulligan . Bama Sux!

        Like

        • Got Cowdog

          This. Assuming things go as expected, Georgia will be the only top 4 team that has to beat a 1or 2 in order to play a 3 or 4. Then play a 1or 2 again.
          I would say it sucks to be us but I’m really looking forward to dropping the hammer on the east. Bama’s gonna Bama. We’ll cross that bridge when we get up to it.
          Go Dawgs

          Liked by 1 person

    • Chadwick

      It also doesn’t mean they’re not as loaded as the top two teams per Steele. Kirby has a good, maybe great team at his disposal. I’m pumped about this team. It’s the most complete team Kirby has had as the head man.

      Like

  2. Biggus Rickus

    I think he’s undervaluing Georgia’s DBs, but it’s fine otherwise. Baker might be gone, but the rest of the guys from a defense that was excellent against the pass despite a lack of pass rush are still there. Some of those rankings will also move when some unknowns step up (I doubt Georgia’s actually going to be 6th in the conference at receiver or 4th at linebacker).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chi-town Dawg

      I would agree, I think the DBs will perform well. Many of us already expected the WRs (even before Holloman) and DL to be areas of concern/uncertainty and he only reinforces it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Russ

      I think the same, BR. We have some unknowns in that they didn’t play much last year (DRob, Woerner, other receivers and DBs), but I think they will be fine. I think Steele is underselling us a little, but that’s okay with me. Just more fuel to the fire.

      Not sure how we’re that far behind in QB ranking either. If Tua or Lawrence get hurt, those teams will be just as affected as if Fromm gets hurt. Given how we’re built to RTDB, I think we may be better off than Clemson in that regard.

      I think we’re loaded, but we have a very tough schedule in November (and then there’s Tech).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mayor

        And you can’t overlook the fact of all those teams having two weeks to get ready to play Georgia. That ultimately has to have an effect on wins and losses.

        Like

    • TXBaller

      Same Biggus.
      Steele will reevaluate in post season – DAWGS DB’s will rise to #1.

      Like

  3. Biggen

    Who is #1 for the OL if its not us??

    Like

  4. practicaldawg

    Clemson seems pretty far out on a few of those too, but maybe I have the wrong shade of rose colored reading glasses on.

    Like

  5. Athensrules

    I thought Clemson basically lost it’s entire DL to the draft this year and UGA is returning a bunch of experienced upperclassmen. I find it hard to believe that Clemson is 5th considering those circumstances and harder to believe that UGA is 17th.

    Like

  6. Great performance isn’t necessarily the result of average unit rankings. There are so many other factors, but chemistry, coaching, quality of depth, and luck (which includes officiating) are the obvious ones. Less obvious: breakout players. I wonder how Georgia’s unit rankings averaged out in 1980, or Auburn’s in 2010, when a single breakout player was an unknown factor.

    Maybe that’s all less true today and it really is just moneyball now, won on spread sheets with advanced stats- I guess that’s the way to bet, anyway.

    But anybody want to bet me we’ll finish the season with the 25th (or worse) best receiving game in Division 1?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dawgflan

    Great in years that others are greater. Has a familiar ring to it…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Mayor

    This is all subjective and nothing more. I put absolutely no stock in position rankings like this.

    Like

  9. Skeptic Dawg

    Strong to very strong position groups across the board! Kirby has worked wonders on this program and the talent that is on hand in very short order. Yes, there are still holes to fill (DL and WR), but not very many. Is Georgia a playoff team in 2019? Given the schedule we face and the issues at DL, I do not think so. Should Georgia win the East again this year? Hell yes! This is what myself and several others asked for when we wanted Richt gone…win the East with a chance every 3-5 years to be in the playoffs. We miss our shot the last two years, but the program is squarely in the mix. We are in a small group of elite programs.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. FisheriesDawg

    The one thing that really keeps me up at night is that Alabama receiving unit. I think that’s the one thing that puts them ahead of us on paper. It’s just ungodly good, and it largely wipes out Alabama’s biggest risk, which is Tua’s tendency to take risks. Against most of their schedule, the WRs just cover up the questionable throws by outclassing DBs and making insane catches. When Tua tries that stuff against more elite DB units (e.g. Georgia and Clemson) he cant just launch the ball 60 yards and expect a TD. But they’re likely to be even better this year, and we don’t have Deandre Baker any more. I suppose the biggest thing to hope for is that he gets lazy again through the early part of his schedule thinking he can keep launching the ball and then when he hits the back end of the season he’s developed bad habits again.

    Of course, I’m sure Nick Saban sees the same tendencies and will ride his ass all season. It’s going to be funny seeing him chewing Tua out on the sideline after a 75 yard TD against Ole Miss.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. rugbydawg79

    What is CH ?

    Like

  12. UnderDog68

    Both Saban and Dabo had about an 8-year head start in loading their rosters over Kirby. We’ll get there, but probably not this year. I think 2020 might be our year. But I don’t buy that Tebow-talk about UGA ‘needing’ to do it this year. Kirby isn’t anywhere close to any proverbial ‘hot seat.’

    Liked by 1 person

  13. jt10mc (the other one)

    Meh….rankings are relative. Fromm ranked so low?

    I think our back 7 on defense is actually as a unit better than Bama’s and Son of Clem.

    There are a lot.of unknowns but from a talent standpoint we are as good if not better across the board.

    Most schools would love to have our promblems.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. ugafidelis

    Just get the ball in the hands of our playmakers and let things play out how they may.

    Like

  15. GruvenDawg

    I really think the ST unit ranking is low for us. I also think by the end of the season the LB, DB, and potentially the WR rankings will finish ahead of where they are projected. The DL is a show me group so I can see the current ranking. If Kirby lets the DL be aggressive as he has stated I think that unit should finish well ahead of where it is listed right now.

    I also think Bama is getting credit for replacing departing talent because they have always done it. Clemson is getting the benefit when replacing talent on their DL. Not sure if UGA is getting that same benefit at this point for any of the position groups.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hobnail_Boot

      We’re gonna miss Mecole and the field position advantage he often provided.

      I had forgotten how good he was at making the “one cut and go” decisions because he never returned one for a TD, but in watching 2018 highlights his contribution really stands out.

      Liked by 1 person

      • practicaldawg

        Hardman is cause for optimism, I think. If he can be developed into what he became, so can these new rising stars.

        Like

  16. The Dawg abides

    All three teams have top shelf staters at QB, but have totally unproven guys behind them. I’d still put our QB room behind those two, but not that far down. And there’s no way our DB room is 16th with the talent that’s been accumulated. I’d put Bama’s OL and RB units ahead of Clemson’s, and swap the WR units.
    Clemson is still getting a bump in unit rankings due to their recent success, which is totally understandable. But when the team talent rankings come out this year they will be well behind UGA, Bama, and OSU. They’re winning with a different formula. Excellent team play and top level coaching from the coordinations, with top talent at receiver and QB. Add in NFL players across the entire DL last year. I think Steele is overrating them at OL, DL, and DB.
    https://247sports.com/college/clemson/Season/2020-Football/ScholarshipDistribution/
    They have an elite back in Etiene, but Feaster is in the portal, so the room is extremely thin. Two highly ranked DE in Thomas and Henry will step into starting roles this year, but they’ll have to prove they’re elite. They’re awfully thin and unproven at DT. I think they still cruise through the ACC, but won’t be nearly as dominant because of losing so much on the DL.
    This time next year, I expect to see Georgia in the top 5 at OL, RB, LB, and QB if From returns. Top 10 at least at DB, and huge rises at WR and DL.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. DawgPhan

    If you look at those rankings like a golf scorecard Bama shot an and UGA was at 31. LSU was right there with UGA at 37.

    Like

  18. 6claude

    Everyone assumes Clemson’s DL will just re-load. We’ll see, that DL last year was ridiculous.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. more spinners

    Think the secondary is better than a 16th.
    Other than the other two listed, who are those teams,
    Could be the surprise unit this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Paul

    We missed our best possible opportunity when we didn’t have to play Ala-damn-bama just to get to the championship. That sort of situation won’t present itself often. The consistency that Saban has achieved is literally unprecedented. We can’t count on Kirby duplicating it. No other human being has. This is not to say he hasn’t done a phenomenal job. He has. It’s just that nothing lasts forever. Regression to the mean so to speak. For the future, it concerns me that we currently have no one coming up behind Fromm.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. This has been a fantastic thread.

    Like many others I thought the DB ranking was wrong, but I grew concerned about wide receiving 2 years ago since Kirby hates wide receivers. There’s 2 positions on the field that have a donna type attitude and you just kind of got a roll with it and that’s quarterback and receiver. even running backs have to have a working man mentality. Were Georgia, we like to run, we like our running backs, but even with the best line in the universe and the best running back in the universe, unless it’s Herschel of course, you still gotta throw the ball. I understood, and completely agreed, with Kirby’s philosophy to getting very hard and very serious, and I know that he sees throwing the ball as an interception, but you cant break the game down into one dimension like that. Clemson beat bama with 10-20 yard bullets. And that’s how you “keep them honest”. But my rec is to turn our WRs loose and forget this ground and pound, and then! You can run all over them.

    Like

  22. WNCDawg

    “If your not the lead dog your view never changes” ! Lewis Gizzard

    Like

  23. John Lane

    So, we still don’t have what it takes to beat Bama. Got it.

    Like

  24. FlyingPeakDawg

    With Auburn and TAMU at the back end of our schedule, look for Kirby to strategically throw a game to A) Get his troops attention for the SECCG and Playoff run and B) See if he can avoid playing Bama in the SECCG by boosting the record of a SECw opponent.

    I’m not more confident we beat ND since we can’t lose 2 and Kirby needs one loss in his pocket.

    Like