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Hyosub Shin / hshin@ajc.com
Roquan Smith and coach Kirby Smart celebrate Georgia's 2017 SEC championship.

ESPN’s Football Power Index tabs Georgia as SEC favorite

Cy Brown

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FPI: Georgia favored to win SEC

ESPN updated its Football Power Index ratings on Wednesday. For those of you who are unfamiliar, FPI is a rating system designed to measure a team’s strength and project its performance, In its preseason form, FPI uses data from the previous season — such as returning starters, how a team performed in the past and recruiting rankings — to make its projections.

FPI isn’t a perfect metric, but it does a solid job of letting us know what we can expect from teams and provides us with some other cool info. Considering we’ve got a long five months until the season begins, and not much else to talk about, I figure it’s worth a look.

As things stand, Georgia (23.1) ranks third nationally in FPI, behind No. 1 Clemson and No. 2 Alabama. The Dawgs are projected favorites in all 12 regular season games. Their lowest projected win percentage of the season (66.7 percent) comes in the all-important Nov. 10 contest with Auburn. Their projected win percentage doesn’t drop below 77 percent in any other game, with five clocking in at greater than 90 percent. Despite that, Georgia has a projected win-loss record of roughly 11-2, according to FPI.

Interestingly, Georgia ranks behind Alabama in overall FPI but ahead of Alabama in percentage chance of winning the SEC. The Bulldogs have a 42 percent chance to repeat as SEC champions. The Tide are given a 37 percent chance to win the conference. That disparity stems from the fact that Alabama will have to battle its way through the SEC West while Georgia only has to emerge from the comparatively easier SEC East. According to Seth Walder of ESPN, there’s a 47 percent chance Georgia and Alabama will meet in the SEC Championship Game. Of course, as last season showed, failing to win the SEC Championship isn’t much of a hindrance to Alabama’s ultimate goals.

1 Clemson, ACC 0-0 11.4 – 1.5 15 25.5
2 Alabama, SEC 0-0 10.8 – 1.8 30 23.2
3 Georgia, SEC 0-0 10.9 – 1.9 43 23.1
4 OSU, Big Ten 0-0 10.3 – 2.0 49 22.4
5 Notre Dame, FBS Indep. 0-0 10.0 – 2.0 19 22.3

Tom Crean’s coaching staff begins to take shape

Tom Crean has made the first addition to his new coaching staff. It’s not Jonas Hayes, but it is someone who knows the state well: Former Georgia Tech assistant Chad Dollar.

Dollar, who was an assistant at South Florida last season, is an Atlanta native who played for Douglass High School. His father Don was a longtime high school coach in the Atlanta area, so Dollar has deep recruiting ties within the state.

Regarding Hayes, it’s now clear Crean wants him on his staff. It’s just a matter whether Hayes wants stays in Athens or pursue new opportunities. According to Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald, Crean said in a radio interview with Chattanooga’s ESPN 105.1 FM that Georgia has presented Hayes with “lucrative proposal” to remain an assistant on Crean’s staff.

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Bama-fied and Saban-ized

Stories about the Bama-fication/Saban-ization of Georgia have become a genre unto themselves in the years since Kirby Smart took over in Athens. But that doesn’t make them any less interesting. In the latest entry into that bibliography, Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated spoke with a few UGA assistants about the discipline and attention to detail that’s become ingrained in the program.

Wrote Feldman:

“No detail is left un-talked-about,” Georgia offensive coordinator Jim Chaney says. “We dot every I and cross every T. It sometimes might be a little uncomfortable to talk about, but it’s gonna be talked about. Kirby is diligent as heck about all that.”

Awkward as they may be at times, these conversations become the norm. “It’s had every day,” Georgia quarterbacks coach James Coley says. “I always felt like when you walked in staff meetings, you were there to get your players better. Everybody’s trying to get better, but now you’re saying to yourself, ‘How can I get better in this staff meeting?’ Because you really get better as a coach. Coach Smart has done a great job helping us all get better as coaches.”

When asked for his definition of discipline, Coley rattles off examples. “This is what it means to me: Not jumping offsides. Being able to stop when the whistle blows. Running your route exactly where it’s supposed to be run.”

Odds & ends

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