What expectations should Bulldog fans have for 2017? I have to agree that not winning the SEC East would be a disappointment. Even if they don’t advance to the SEC Championship Game, it is far too early in Kirby Smart’s regime to suggest replacing him. That’s crazy talk.
The Dawgs should be improved. With a year under his belt, QB Jacob Eason will hopefully not miss as many receivers as he did in every game last year. Should he struggle (and he might) freshman Jake Fromm (above) will be waiting in the wings. The running game has to improve. The offensive line should be better, but OC Jim Chaney has to find yards for seniors Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. But even if the ground game is a success, Chubb will fall short of Herschel’s career rushing record. For the offense to tick, Michel needs plenty of catches out of the backfield.
For Georgia to compete, the offense has to strike a run/pass balance. Relying on either will give opposing defenses the advantage. If both are strong, defenses won’t know which to expect. Georgia’s defense will be improved as well. Dawgs won’t be blowing out many opponents, but most weeks they will be the better team. If Eason and company can translate that into wins, then good for them.
September 2 vs Appalachian State. The Mountaineers win at Michigan happened long ago. Since then App State has been regularly blown out in season openers – including by Georgia. Dawgs win.1-0.
September 9 at Notre Dame. As usual, the national media is expecting big things from the Irish. But if the Dawgs aren’t spooked by Touchdown Jesus, there’s no reason they can’t win this game. Will they? If Eason can rise to the occasion, yes. But he doesn’t. Georgia falls to 1-1.
September 16 vs Samford. Hopefully no one gets hurt. 2-1.
September 23 vs Mississippi State. Not an easy win. At least they’re home. 3-1.
September 30 at Tennessee. Lots of preseason badmouthing of the Vols, mostly by “experts” who picked UT in the past and were burned. Georgia seeks revenge for last season’s Hail Mary defeat. Vols always play Dawgs tough. After several rough outcomes, Georgia comes out on top. 4-1.
October 7 at Vanderbilt. As usual, the Commodores will come into the game thinking big, especially after last season’s upset. It won’t happen again. 5-1.
October 14 vs Missouri. Tigers aren’t quite as tough as they used to be, but this will still be a fight. 6-1.
October 21: bye week.
October 28 vs Florida in Jacksonville. After so many heartbreaks, Eason makes enough plays to not lose. 7-1.
November 4 vs South Carolina. This will be a close game. Dawgs come in after the previous week’s high. Gamecocks come in cocky, strutting, pointing fingers, and mouthing off. Hopefully Georgia can quiet them quickly. Otherwise it will be along day. But Dawgs win. 8-1.
November 11 at Auburn. As usual, the Tigers pull off a miracle in Jordan-Hare. Eason has a bad day. 8-2.
November 18 vs Kentucky. Wildcats have their usual string of early success again weaker teams, but have long since fallen back to earth before arriving in Athens. Coach Stoopes’ motivations are beginning to fall on death ears. Dawgs are mad. 9-2.
November 25 at Georgia Tech. After losing to Tech last year in Athens, Kirby won’t let it happen a second straight year. Dawgs win decisively. 10-2.
December 2: SEC Championship Game in Atlanta. Dawgs compete, but can’t keep up with Bama. Even after the improved 10-3 season, fans will complain.
Dogs will go to a good bowl, and win. 11-3.