It’s time for fearless predictions. It’s too easy to predict things such as Georgia will finally beat Alabama, the Bulldogs will finally win the national championship, or George Pickens is the program’s best receiver since A.J. Green. Those opinions are all so cliché.
Here we go:
Stetson Bennett will play in a crucial moment
Disclaimer: I hope no UGA or opposing player ever gets hurt. But you can see this one coming from a mile away. For the first time in three seasons, ironman Jake Fromm doesn’t have a 5-star backup. It’s just karma that he’ll get dinged up (hopefully only miss a few plays or series), and wide-eyed Stetson Bennett will be taking snaps under center at a critical point of the season, perhaps with a playoff berth on the line. If you remember, the two quarterbacks ranked ahead of Fromm (Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa) both got knocked out of games last season during the championship run. It’s football, it’s a physical sport, and quarterbacks are always targets. Back to UGA: Fromm is an all-star, but he has no proven depth behind him. Bennett is a former walk-on who dazzled on the UGA scout team, while I always thought D’Wan Mathis would redshirt this year, even before the brain injury. To me, quarterback is, by far, the scariest position of depth on the team. Will Bennett be ready to shine when his moment arrives? His teammates think so, comparing Bennett to Baker Mayfield, among others. Again, Georgia’s season could depend on it.
Lewis Cine will be best safety at UGA since Thomas Davis/Greg Blue
The freshmen Bulldogs on defense are like an All-Star team – outside linebacker Nolan Smith was the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit, linebacker Nakobe Dean has enjoyed a meteoric rise since enrolling early, and cornerback Tyrique “The Freak” Stevenson may be the freakiest talent on a team of freaks. But it’s safety Lewis Cine who stands out to me. He’s a tall and lanky guy who has incredible field vision and acceleration. Most notably, he brings the thunder with his hits. I very rarely write about my recruiting evaluations. One of my last articles like that was back in 2014, when I tried very hard to make the case that this running back from Cedartown, Ga., deserved to be rated as a 5-star because despite (among other reasons) his 40 time being average, he always was fast enough to not get caught from behind. Defenders also used to complain that he was too tough to tackle. That young man, of course, was Nick Chubb. I feel the same sort of way about Cine. He just has the “it factor.” Those other freshmen may get a headstart on Cine as he learns the system, but you can count on Cine turning heads in 2019 with his licks on special teams. Cine is just something special. He may not get a ton of time this year at safety, but it is coming. You have been warned.
Charlie Woerner will make All-SEC team
Hey, these are fearless predictions, right? Let’s take a step back and look at this from a different angle: UGA is loaded at receiver, but they are young or inexperienced. Even though he’s a tight end, Woerner is the most trusted hands that Fromm has got. Woerner, a senior, is going to play a ton of snaps because the only veteran behind him is Tennessee transfer Eli Wolf. From a deeper perspective, UGA has got to throw the ball to the tight end this season — early and often. Otherwise they’ll seriously damage their chances of recruiting elite prospects at the position, such as 5-stars Arik Gilbert and Darnell Washington. Those two have surely gotten an earful from other schools with “negative recruiting” about how the Bulldogs never really throw to the tight end. So UGA is sort of cornered here. Back to Woerner: He’s got a personal connection and chemistry with Fromm, as the two are the best of friends and college roommates. Finally, many people forget that Woerner is one of the team’s best overall athletes, playing quarterback in high school and qualifying for the state meet in the high hurdles. He’ll definitely being playing on Sundays.
Tennessee will be UGA’s toughest game in regular season
The Vols are still low on talent, as coach Jeremy Pruitt is in the midst of a major roster overhaul. They’re going to struggle again, but Pruitt can lose just about every big game if they upset Georgia. That will buy a lot of patience and goodwill from the overzealous fanbase. Pruitt and Kirby Smart have publicly shown nothing but professional respect for each other, but behind the scenes there’s an intense rivalry between the two former Alabama assistants. I would not be surprised to learn later on that Tennessee has been dedicating part of practice each week since August to installing bits and pieces of the UGA gameplan – far in advance of the October showdown. Pruitt knows Smart’s tendencies (and vice versa), and the Tennessee staff is loaded with former UGA assistants, including Jim Chaney. He (Chaney) knows the Bulldogs offensive personnel as well as anyone, including members of Georgia’s current staff. This is a sneaky, scary game for UGA.
Please post your own fearless predictions for UGA below.