Han Vance on Georgia football: The predominant adjective I keep hearing about the 2018 Georgia Bulldogs is young. Coming off a huge contract extension, Coach Kirby Smart leads his third team into action in September. What a difference a year can make; what a year.
Georgia lost one total (avenged) game over a calendar year, won its league for the first time in a dozen years, then won the Rose Bowl and led in overtime of the national championship game, coming up short of the ultimate goal.
An advantage for the Jake Fromm-fronted defending SEC champions is a significantly softened schedule, as it appears today. I say that caveat knowing how tough the postseason can be and how far off preseason perceptions of programs – always weighted too much by what happened last year, by the media – can change to reality after toe meets leather week after week.
Georgia replaces Miss State (#19 final AP ranking) in Athens with LSU (#18 in same) in Death Valley, but drops (#11) Notre Dame, for a year. The Gators and Vols are down, each whipped by around 40 by Georgia and with new coaches, and the SEC East is therefore, by definition, soft. Only Florida, Georgia, Tennessee have been SEC league champions ever, from the lesser SEC division. Georgia has fared horribly in road cross-division games under Kirby but could find solace in a projected to be down LSU. Trend-wise LSU usually does better than expected when they are predicted not to be strong, though.
Deeper inside the numbers of the final AP Poll of the 2017 football season: Georgia finished #2 and had the most wins in the country and in school history. Those are certainly highly improbable, to nearly impossible, goals to immediately repeat. At 13-2, Georgia matched the wins of the 13-1 SEC champs of 2002, though Georgia had just the fourth best winning percentage in the country last season: UCF 13-0, Wisconsin 13-1, BAMA 13-1. Unusually high amount of teams crowded near the national top, three of the final top 10 were SEC teams. SEC West champion Auburn was an anomaly that high as a four-loss squad, the most losses of any team amongst the top 17. The Big 10 was the second best conference, locked out of the college football playoff, with the final #5, 7, 8, 15, 17. Locking all other leagues out of the final was huge for the SEC as a whole.
Kirby having three recruiting classes under his belt indicates that this is a team of his guys from-the-get-go, mostly, for the first time that he has been a head coach. Surely an exciting prospect for the SEC Coach of the Year. An epic number one national recruiting class is further evidence of Kirby’s dominance throughout his career as a recruiting coordinator and defensive coordinator and head coach. This year and the year after, when Georgia have more mature players, are perhaps what Kirby will ultimately be remembered for, which could not have been said had his ’17 Dawgs made one more play.
This is his time.
Let’s look here at the years after some of Georgia’s very biggest years, to see how the program has fared in the bright, immediate afterglow.
1943 – Coming off an 11-1 national championship, the war ravaged the SEC and Georgia had a down year (6-4) in a season that basically didn’t count. The Dawgs were the dominant program of the decade.
1947 – Georgia got the (war and football) veteran talent back and went undefeated but was jilted for the national championship in 1946. Georgia fell to 7-4-1 in ’47.
1981 – Georgia’s only undisputed national championship (12-0) was followed up by a two-loss SEC champion (10-2).
1983 – While the 1982 team was a one-loss team ranked number one until late in the heartbreaking final game of the season, in the year after Herschel the Dawgs stayed strong (10-1-1).
2003 – Richt’s second team went 13-1 and won the SEC and Sugar Bowl; his third team slipped a little bit (11-3).
2008 – UGA was 11-2 in 2007 and ranked final #2. The program pulled out just 10 wins with three really rough losses (10-3) in the year after, falling from a first-ever number one preseason ranking to start the campaign.
2013 – 2012 Georgia was the other UGA team a play away from everlasting glory in Atlanta versus Alabama. Injuries derailed Richt in an unlucky ’13 (8-5). Of any year to follow one of these big years that was not war-ravaged, the eight-win campaign was by far the worst.
Summational, 2018 Georgia is looking to do what Vince Dooley never did without the school’s best player ever and what Mark Richt never did, in having a great year after a top-tier peak. Kirby has the tools to do it. Save that 1983 team that did win the Cotton Bowl over #1 Texas 10-9, the closest I see to it happening more than once in school history would have been if I’d considered the (10-2) 1981 team – the relative low point of the stellar Herschel era – as a true UGA peak. That team fell short of its expectations, in retrospect.
Could Georgia be entering an era of dominance unseen since the early ’80s?
Which brings me back full circle to the 2018 schedule. A softer schedule is timing up nicely with a young team stepping into some huge shoes. The current schedule, of course, does not guarantee a return trip to the SEC championship game or games in the CFP, where Georgia faced quality competition. Georgia eventually played a tough schedule in 2017, when you throw in Auburn twice, Alabama, Oklahoma, with ranked Notre Dame and Miss State. As the schedule appears today, Georgia is the preseason favorite in every single game.
University of Georgia sophomore Aaron Schunk and senior Keegan McGovern earned another postseason honor recently as they were named All-Americans.Continue Reading
Georgia adds another bit of good news with yet another commitment for its 2019 class. The Bulldogs adds its second commitment in three days with Xavier Truss. He took to Twitter Sunday afternoon and announced his commitment to Georgia. His commitment marks the first offensive tackle of the 2019 class. Continue Reading
At Kirby Smart Football Camp, elementary, middle, and high school kids were thrown into a real Georgia football practice where they all advanced their skills on the football field. They learned what it was like to be a true Georgia Bulldog, and from what I’ve seen and heard they all thoroughly enjoyed the camp, so I’d like you to hear what their favorite part was and what is so special about the camp!
Georgia found its quarterback for the 2019 class. John Rhys Plumlee took to Twitter and announced his commitment to the Bulldogs Friday night. His commitment gives Georgia nine pledges for the 2019 class and the first one since the end of April. Continue Reading
ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia track and field junior Denzel Comenentia has been named one of the 10 semifinalists for The Bowerman, which is given annually to the nation’s most elite collegiate male and female in the sport.
This announcement from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) comes a day after Lady Bulldog senior Keturah Orji and freshman Lynna Irby were included as two of the 10 women’s semifinalists.Continue Reading
NCAA has approved a couple of rules changes that will have an impact on the college football landscape from the minute they take effect. The most widely heralded change will allow athletes to transfer with having to obtain permission from their schools. Continue Reading
Georgia track and field freshman Lynna Irby and senior Keturah Orji have been named two of the 10 semifinalists for The Bowerman, which is given annually to the nation’s most elite collegiate male and female.
Orji, who was named the National Women’s Field Athlete of the Year for the fourth time by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) earlier on Wednesday, became the first four-time semifinalist (2015-18) in the award history. She was also one of three finalists for The Bowerman in 2016 and 2017.Continue Reading
Petros Kyprianou said during this interview that a recruit’s father told him recently that Kyprianou has “made Georgia sexy” by winnin the women’s indoor and men’s outdoor national championships this year. Recruiting is the lifeblood of all college sports and nothing sells recruits like national championships – that parent is on target.
Uploaded by Bulldawg Illustrated on 2018-06-11.
University of Georgia pitcher/outfielder C.J. Smith is among the 32 standout players named to the the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Freshman All-American Team, the organization announced Monday.
A 6-1, 186-pound native of Royston, Ga., Smith made 14 appearances on the mound with five starts and posted a 1-2 record and a 2.48 ERA. He registered 27 strikeouts in 36.1 innings pitched. His first career victory came over Georgia Tech at SunTrust Park in front of a crowd of 17,741 that completed a series sweep. Also, he appeared in 27 games as a position player with 17 starts in centerfield, one in right field and one as a designated hitter. Smith batted .300 with two doubles, a home run and nine RBI in 80 at bats. He fielded perfect 1.000 in 44 total chances as an outfielder. Smith was named to the NCBWA Freshman All-American Second Team as a utility player.Continue Reading
The Lady Bulldogs fell one point shy of sweeping indoor and outdoor nationals to take second at the NCAA Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., on Saturday.
The Georgia women used seven scorers to score 52 points and finish a point behind Southern California (53) for the title. The Trojans won the final 4×400-meter relay to clinch the one-point victory after Oregon accomplished the same feat last year to top the Lady Bulldogs by 1.8 points. Stanford (51), Kentucky (46) and Florida (42) rounded out the top five on the women’s side this year.Continue Reading