One difference I expect to see repeatedly from the pundit class is the perception of where Georgia stands in 2021, compared with last season. Here’s an example:
Georgia will field the SEC’s best offense
Georgia‘s offense was transformed once JT Daniels entered the starting lineup this season, and that will continue with him under center for a full campaign in 2021. The USC transfer took over as the team’s starting passer following the Bulldogs’ loss to Florida, and he changed the entire look of Georgia’s attack.
Offense with Daniels: 37 points, 307 passing yards per game
Offense without Daniels: 28 points, 209 passing yards per game
A wealth of talent will be around Daniels, especially if running backs James Cook and Zamir White don’t enter the NFL draft. Star wideout George Pickens leads a talented group of pass-catchers that will also be back in Athens. Pickens surged at the end of the season with Daniels starting, averaging 5.5 catches, 93 yards, and one touchdown per game.
The SEC’s top three offensive units this past season – Alabama, Florida, and Ole Miss – all suffered major personnel losses, including three of the four Heisman finalists departing. That leaves the door open for Georgia.
And here’s what a 247Sports piece that looks at the top five contenders for the No. 1 team in 2021 has to say about Georgia’s chances:
The case for No. 1: This is pretty simple. Talent, talent, talent. The Bulldogs were No. 1 in the Team Talent Index this year and were failed by poor quarterback play to start the season (and puzzling decisions surrounding that position). With JT Daniels returning, Georgia might finally have the season-long triggerman to get them back the Playoff and finish the job.
The case against: Do you trust any of what I just wrote? Since Kirby Smart arrived in Athens, no school has been more snake-bit at quarterback.
Current verdict: Georgia doesn’t have to be at its best 10/12ths of the season; an overwhelming talent advantage allows for any number of slow starts and mistakes. But in the ones that matter — Alabama, Florida — the Bulldogs have been let down by a combination of bad QB play and coaching gaffes. That said, assuming Daniels gets a little bit better, and considering the potential for Georgia to make some scary-good roster moves this offseason (like luring home LSU transfer Arik Gilbert), the stars just might be aligning.
I expect there’s gonna be a lot more of that to come.
Unlike 2020, Georgia won’t be discounted for a lack of offensive continuity. Unfortunately, that was also the case in 2019, and look where that got Smart’s team.
Right now, from this vantage point, it’s easy to conclude this program has all the puzzle pieces to succeed. Can the staff and players put the puzzle together, especially under the weight of heightened expectations?