Georgia Bulldogs 2016 NCAA Football Preview
Southeastern Conference – East Division
2015 Record – 10-3
ATS – 5-7
2016 MEGALOCKS Opening Power Rating Rank
East Division #3
Well the Bulldogs had another boring 10-win season. It seems all they do is win – one season with less than 8 wins in the last ten years – and a lot of fans are never satisfied. In 2015, they were inexperienced at QB, lost a Heisman Trophy candidate RB less than halfway through the season, had one reliable option in the passing game – yet still had a fine year culminating in a bowl win over Penn St. HC Mark Richt was finally let go after the regular season and was replaced with Alabama DC Kirby Smart. Maybe it was time for a change.
The Bulldogs want more from the QB position this season. Greyson Lambert was 5th in the SEC in passing efficiency last season, and even had a game where he was 24-25 (96%) setting an NCAA record for completion percentage, but they need to be more dangerous in the passing game to make a serious run in the SEC. Enter highly-touted true freshman Jacob Eason who by all accounts looked great in the spring game going 19-24 for 244 yards and a TD. Fans are excited. He could be the real deal.
A huge question mark entering the season is the health of star RB Nick Chubb who ran for over 1,500 yards in 2014, had 747 yards in just five games last season, and then suffered a serious knee injury. It appears that his recovery is going well but it is unclear how explosive he will be when and if he returns. They have 1,000 yard RB Sony Michel back and are probably fine when it comes to depth at the position. The Bulldogs have some young talent to work with at WR and new OC Jim Chaney likes to get the TEs involved.
A big win for the Bulldogs was grabbing ace OL coach Sam Pittman from Arkansas. If the OL can gel quickly – and Eason provides the dangerous passing game they have been lacking – there is big-time upside for the Georgia offense.
The defensive roster is chalk full of young talent – but the inexperience in the front 7 is a concern. Among the losses is leading tackler and team MVP Jake Ganus. HC Kirby Smart did a great job with Alabama’s defense and will likely get this unit performing well in short-order.
The secondary returns all four starters and all they did last year was lead the NCAA in fewest passing yards allowed per game while finishing 7th in pass efficiency defense. Now while it is true that they did not face a murderer’s row of QBs in 2015 – the reality is that the slate of opposing QBs looks pretty average again in 2016 – not to mention the fact that Georgia managed to play great pass defense while only recording 21 sacks. Who knows how good they can be this year if they find a way to put a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks?
The return game should be very good. PR Isaiah MacKenzie is an absolute WEAPON returning punts. The big worry here is at PK where MEGALOCKS SEC INSIDERS advised us that we could have a fiasco in the making. They knew going into the season that this could be a trouble spot and the spring game did nothing to alleviate that concern.
MEGALOCKS ATS Value Rating (10) 5.0
Excitement is in the air. An SEC record 93,000 fans at the spring game proves that point. Georgia has the raw talent to win 10 or more games this season. The schedule is also very manageable. In particular, November looks relatively soft – at Kentucky, Auburn, ULL and Georgia Tech. Georgia could really be sitting pretty heading into that stretch if they can find a way to win some tough games in September and October.
Overall, we give the BULLDOGS a 5.0 ATS Value Rating (Average) this season. It is hard to think of many teams with more questions – AND more potential – heading into the 2016 season. The sweeping changes and inexperience make it tough to predict how Georgia may fare this season ATS. When you add to the mix the questionable health of star RB Nick Chubb, we think the best idea is to watch the Bulldogs for a few weeks before backing or fading them against the number.
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