26 August, 2023
Even after two consecutive national championships, Kirby Smart will continue to be compared to Nick Saban. But if Smart’s team accomplishes in 2023 what no Saban team has, Smart will have a strong case to become college football’s new leader.
Georgia enters the season seeking a third consecutive national championship. No team has won three consecutive college football championships in the modern era. Minnesota was the last team to three-peat in 1934, 1935, and 1936. Back then, college football was drastically different.
Similar to last year’s squad, Georgia lost a significant amount of production to the NFL draft in April. Georgia, however, is in an ideal position to return to the College Football Playoff due to its exceptional recruiting classes year after year, critical transfers, and extremely manageable schedule.
Georgia’s pursuit of a third consecutive championship will be led by a new quarterback. Stetson Bennett, a three-year starter, has joined the Los Angeles Rams, and Carson Beck, his reserve at Georgia, has been designated the starter.
Beck, a 2020 four-star recruit, played in seven games and threw for 310 yards on 35 attempts due to Georgia’s dominance. He was competing with former five-star recruit Brock Vandagriff for the starting quarterback position, but it was a formality that Beck would be the No. 1 quarterback in Week 1 weeks before he was officially named the starter.
Beck assumes control of an offense that returns Heisman Trophy contenders TE Brock Bowers and WR Ladd McConkey. Bowers is the collegiate football equivalent of Travis Kelce, with the added dimension of occasional handoffs. The junior is versatile and has 63 receptions for 942 yards and seven touchdowns. Additionally, he ran nine times for 109 yards and three touchdowns.
Last season, McConkey caught 58 passes for 762 yards and seven touchdowns on the outside. Although Georgia added Dominic Lovett (Missouri) and RaRa Thomas (Mississippi State) in the transfer portal to enhance its receiving depth, he will return as the No. 1 receiver.
This season, Beck will also be working with a new offensive coordinator. After Todd Monken’s departure to the Baltimore Ravens, former Georgia quarterback and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo is returning for a second tenure as the team’s offensive coordinator.
Kenny McIntosh has left for the NFL, but Daijuan Edwards and Kendall Milton return for the Bulldogs in the backfield. In 2023, they should each surpass 100 carries. Edwards rushed for 769 yards and seven touchdowns during the previous season, whereas Milton averaged seven yards per carry on 85 carries and scored eight touchdowns.
In recent seasons, the Bulldogs have relied on more than two rushers, but it is unknown who the No. 3 back will be entering the season. After sustaining a knee injury in training camp, Branson Robinson (68 carries, 330 yards) is out for the season.
With the return of guards Xavier Truss, Tate Ratledge, and center Sedrick Van Pran, the offensive line should once again be excellent. Even though Georgia must replace both of its starting tackles, there is little cause for concern given the Bulldogs’ front-line depth.
Five Georgia defensive players were selected in the 2023 NFL Draft, compared to eight in 2022. There is still an abundance of talent returning for this season.
In the previous season, linebackers Jamon Dumas-Johnson and Smael Mondon led the team in tackles. Dumas-Johnson had 70 stops and four sacks, while Mondon had 76 stops and eight tackles for loss.
Safety measures Javon Bullard and Malaki Starks comprise one of the finest pairings in college football, and Kamari Lassiter is also returning at cornerback. Smart criticized his team’s pass defense at the end of the 2022 season, so you can guarantee that preventing another in-season decline was a preseason priority.
The defensive line returns only one starter in Nazir Stackhouse, but Smart’s defense rotates defensive linemen so frequently that it is not as significant to be a starter as it is at other schools. Mikel Williams led the Bulldogs with 4.5 sacks in 2022 and could play a larger role alongside Chaz Chambliss. Warren Brinson (three tackles for loss) could also play a larger role.
Expect Georgia’s defense to allow fewer than 17 points per game for the third consecutive season.
The 18th of November versus Tennessee will be the most important contest.
Georgia is the overwhelming favorite to win the national championship due to the depth of its roster. Additionally, because of the schedule’s simplicity.
Before their travel to Tennessee in the penultimate game of the regular season, the Bulldogs will likely be favored by multiple touchdowns over their first 10 opponents. The Volunteers appear to be the second-best team in the SEC East and defeated Alabama last season at home. If Joe Milton leads the Tennessee offense to success, Tennessee could give Georgia a fright. Until the SEC championship game, the Vols are the only team that has a realistic chance of upsetting the Bulldogs this season.
However, this will alter in 2024. With the SEC abandoning its divisional format due to the addition of Texas and Oklahoma, Georgia will no longer have the opportunity to dominate the East. The Bulldogs will face Ole Miss, Texas, and Alabama on the road as well as Clemson in a neutral-site opener next season.
Georgia is +225 Favorites to Win it all at BetUS