The Georgia Bulldogs, under second-year head coach Kirby Smart, have started out this season 7-0, and have looked very formidable behind the efforts of freshman quarterback Jake Fromm and a stout defense led by Lorenzo Carter and Roquan Smith.
Even with the impressive wins over Notre Dame in South Bend, Vanderbilt in Nashville, and Tennessee in Knoxville, some critics still believe that Georgia will not stand a chance against the mighty foe from the West, Alabama, in the SEC Championship.
The question I pose to those critics: Why can’t they?
Georgia has the pieces to compete for an SEC championship this season, even with the injury to their pre-season starting quarterback, sophomore Jacob Eason, who went down with an ankle injury in the season opener. They are led on offense by their rushing attack, averaging 284.0 YPG. That attack is spearheaded by Nick Chubb (688 yards in 7 games), Sony Michel (492 yards), and D’Andre Swift (358 yards), who form a three-headed monster that ranks 9th in the NCAA and 2nd in the SEC, only behind Alabama.
Georgia also has a capable passing attack, even while not racking up the most impressive numbers. Even while ranking 111th in the country in passing yards, they boast the 15th best passing efficiency in the country, which speaks to the level of game control that they possess. Their offense isn’t necessarily built to kill you with the big play, but to wear you down play by play.
That same sort of wear-you-down offense by utilization of the running game is the trademark of a Nick Saban offense, and when you consider Kirby Smart’s coaching roots, the fact that Georgia runs a similar style really shouldn’t surprise you. In fact, Georgia and Alabama are similar in most offensive statistics, including Game Control, which is the most Saban-esque stat that exists.
The way that Georgia has built their program is extremely similar to the Alabama model that Saban has laid out over the years, with the early recruiting success, run-dominated offense, and stifling defense, which is led by Kirby and Mel Tucker, another former Saban assistant.
Speaking of that defense, they are the crown jewel of the Georgia program. With the unit being 3rd in the NCAA in total defense, 4th in scoring defense, and 5th in rushing defense, they are truly elite and can hang with any other program in the NCAA. Smart and Tucker’s system has transferred over very nicely from Alabama, and again, the defensive statistics line up with Alabama’s very similarly.
So what does this all mean?
It means that Kirby Smart has built something at Georgia that can potentially match up with the likes of Alabama in the SEC. If Georgia finishes out their season strongly and goes to the SEC Championship to likely face Alabama, they’ll get their chance to take down the beast that is Alabama, and finally cleanse their collective palate from their 2012 SEC Championship appearance, where they were 5 yards away from breaking the hearts of Alabama fans and making it to their first BCS National Championship, where they would have played (and probably would have beaten) Notre Dame in Miami for their first national championship since the days of Herschel Walker in 1980.
For now, however, the Bulldog faithful needs to remain focused on the rest of their regular season schedule, including their always-important matchup with Florida in two weeks. If the Dogs can remain unblemished, they’ll certainly be in the thick of the College Football Playoff discussion, and the Dogs and Jake Fromm can be the first team since Jamelle Holieway led the Oklahoma Sooners’ wishbone attack in 1985 to have a true freshman quarterback win a national championship.
Gotta go one game at a time first, though.