Welcome to the Deadspin 25, a college football poll that strives to be more democratic and less useless than every other preseason poll. Leading up to the college football season kickoff, we will give you previews of the 25 teams that you, the readers, voted to be most worthy of writing about. Now, No. 13 Georgia
Last year, the Bulldogs had everything. Even when Todd Gurley went down and it looked like all was lost, they ended up getting it all back with Nick Chubb. But even with the best running back couldn’t stop Georgia from shitting away its shot at the SEC East title.
After opening 6-1, the Bulldogs rose to No. 9 in the polls and seemed poised to run away with the division. But then came a stupefying Nov. 1 loss to Florida, in which the entire Georgia squad seemed to forget how to play football and got thumped 38-20, allowing Missouri to come in a swipe away the division.
Aside from Chubb, a lot Georgia’s 2014 success was owed to its ability to stop the pass. The team held opponents to a measly 54 completion percentage, and though the rushing defense can be improved, the Bulldogs still managed to finish as the 17th-best scoring defense last year, holding opponents to 20.7 points per game.
Part of the success in stopping the pass last year must be accredited to outside linebackers Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd, who are back in action for Georgia again. The two are a terror when they rush the line of scrimmage, and will more than likely be in the NFL come this time next year. What the Bulldogs need to concern themselves with now is replacing departed inside linebackers Ramik Wilson and Amarlo Herrera. Floyd is going to spend some time playing inside, but Tim Kimbrough and Reggie Carter will have to step up, too.
The defensive backfield will be full of studs once again this year, as it returns Quincy Mauger, Aaron Davis, and Dominick Sanders, a trio that combined for eight picks and 14 pass breakups in 2014. Although the defense as a whole let the Bulldogs down in losses to South Carolina and Florida, this year’s squad, though a little shaky on the line, should be an improvement on last year’s unit.
The offense, which is coming off another stellar year that concluded with the Bulldogs ranked eighth in the nation in scoring, will have to rely on the running game once again in 2015. Although they return four starters on the offensive line and the man you wish you were, Nick Chubb, there will be a lot of new faces in important spots this year.
Georgia brought in a new offensive coordinator in Brian Schottenheimer, and will also have to install a new quarterback. Sophomore Brice Ramsey, junior transfer Greyson Lambert, and junior Faton Bauta are currently competing for the starting spot. Whoever eventually gets the nod will be in a good position to succeed thanks to Georgia’s strong running game, but they will have to deal with some question marks at receiver.
The Bulldog receiving corps is headlined by senior Malcolm Mitchell, but the team will have to replace the production of Michael Bennett and Chris Conley. Although neither were once-in-a-lifetime talents, they still accounted for more than 1,000 yards last year, and though tight end Jeb Blazevich is back, Georgia will need Isaiah McKenzie and Mitchell to come through if they want to win the East. That shouldn’t be too hard, though, given how easy the Bulldog’s running backs are going to make things on them.
Georgia has the best backfield in the nation. Whenever you can lead with Nick Chubb, who is a player you should watch on a weekly basis, you’re off to a good start. Add in Sony Michel, Keith Marshall, and A.J. Turman—players whose are talented enough to carry the running game on their own—and you have yourself a fucking stable. Opposing defenses can line up as many bodies in the box as they want, but Chubb will just bounce off of them while he rumbles into the endzone. This unit is going to be a nightmare for SEC defense to deal with. I can’t wait.
Really? Did you expect to get to this section and see someone not named Nick Chubb? After Todd Gurley was lost, in walked Chubb, who didn’t miss a beat and ran for 1,547 yards and 14 touchdowns despite not starting five games. If they still made NCAA Football video games, he would absolutely be be given the “LeBron Rule.”
I mean, look at these two runs he put together against Clemson, a team that was actually quite good on defense last year:
He’s freaky, and you’re out of your gourd if you don’t watch him every chance you get. Now that defenses know better than to underestimate Chubb and his line, you can expect teams to load up packages aimed specifically to stop him, but I have no faith whatsoever that anything can be done to slow this man down. He’s probably going to be your Heisman winner and a future first-round pick, so get used to seeing him.
Despite the presence of an unstoppable Chubb and a laughably easy non-conference schedule, Georgia is not going to make the playoff. The Bulldogs are bringing in a new quarterback with no big-time weapons on the edge, and I just don’t see Georgia overcoming whoever battles their way through the West.
Chubb will have another fantastic year, and even though he can carry the team through multiple games, a whole season is a lot to ask. The interior defense will also be a major question mark, as the Bulldogs have to replace five of their front seven this season. Again, there is plenty of talent coming up in the ranks, but lacking experience where it’s needed most will hurt Georgia down the line.
Mark Richt sometimes sends recruits creepy hand-drawn portraits, but otherwise seems to be a relatively okay dude.
Will Georgia Do It?
The Bulldogs will probably win the East, but as tradition of late goes, whoever shows up from the West will stomp them in the title game, thus terminating any shot the Bulldogs have to Do It.
Sept. 5: Louisiana-Monroe
Sept. 12: @ Vanderbilt
Sept. 19: South Carolina
Sept. 26: Southern
Oct. 3: Alabama
Oct. 10: @ Tennessee
Oct. 17: Missouri
Oct. 31: @ Florida
Nov. 7: Kentucky
Nov. 14: @ Auburn
Nov. 21: Georgia Southern
Nov. 28: @ Georgia Tech