Georgia football strengths, and weaknesses, taking shape quickly for 2021 team
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Georgia football strengths and weaknesses taking shape early for 2021 team
When Dan Lanning and Todd Monken spoke with reporters prior to the 2021 Peach Bowl, their comments about the impending offseason could not have been more different.
Lanning spoke about the need to go back to the drawing board after this past season. He acknowledged that college football offenses are ahead of college football defenses at this point.
“I think the offensive game, it’s changed a lot,” Lanning said. “I think every season we go through and we say, What can we do better? What can we do different? This off-season, I don’t see that being any different. We’re going to reassess, evaluate. You have to adapt and change as the offenses adapt and change.
Monken conversely spoke about how excited he was for the future of the Georgia football offense. And that was before it was official quarterback JT Daniels would officially be back for the 2021 team.
“As we’re able to move forward, a guy like JT, who is certainly capable of distributing the ball, understanding where we want to go with the football,” Monken said. “It’s an exciting time, especially for me. Hopefully we’ll have a chance to have a legit off-season, be able to study what we did, what the difference is that we want to change as we move forward.”
A week after those comments we have an even better idea of what tools and toys Monken and Lanning will have to work with going into next season.
So far, Monken has gotten back Daniels and running back James Cook. The Georgia offense is still waiting on decisions from Jamaree Salyer, Zamir White and Justin Shaffer. The offense though did lose center Trey Hill to the NFL draft.
Lanning has seen Azeez Ojulari and Tyson Campbell declare for the 2021 NFL Draft. Seniors Malik Herring and Richard LeCounte have announced they’re moving on as well.
The defense did get back defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt and is still waiting on Jordan Davis and Adam Anderson to announce.
Georgia will have further roster movement via the transfer portal as well. But just days into 2021, it’s pretty clear where Georgia’s strengths will be for next season. That will be on offense, specifically in the passing game.
Defensively, the biggest question mark on the entire team will lie in the secondary.
On offense, Georgia will already bring back it’s top five players in receiving yardage in Kearis Jackson, George Pickens, Jermaine Burton, Cook and Darnell Washington. Getting another offseason, whatever that looks like in 2021, will only help grow the chemistry between the pass catchers and Daniels.
There’s room for that group to get even better too, when you consider wide receivers. Arian Smith, Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint and Dominick Blaylock all saw their 2020 seasons impacted by injury. If Georgia is able to add Arik Gilbert via the transfer portal? Georgia will have a full arsenal for Daniels and Monken to work with.
If there is one concern on offense, it’s the offensive line. Georgia got a taste of what life without Hill and Ben Cleveland was like in the Peach Bowl win over Cincinnati. The Bulldogs ran for just 45 yards and Daniels was sacked three times. Georgia has talent at the position — and Salyer returning would go a long way in helping the group — but it will need to do a better job of meshing and playing together in 2021.
Defensively, the strength of the Georgia team should be along the line, even if Davis doesn’t return. Between Wyatt, Travon Walker and Jalen Carter, Georgia’s defensive line has a strong mix of experience and potential. The linebacker spots won’t be as deep as they have been in years past, but with Nakobe Dean, Nolan Smith and potentially Anderson, Georgia still has defensive difference makers at inside and outside linebacker.
But the secondary is a big concern for Georgia. The Bulldogs lost their top three cornerbacks from the 2020 team. LeCounte’s playmaking skills were not replaced when he exited the lineup. Mark Webb was a solid starter over the past three seasons for Georgia as well.
With most of those exits known, Lanning did spend time speaking about some of the young players at the cornerback position ahead of the Peach Bowl.
Some of those names to know include Kelee Ringo, Jalen Kimber, Ameer Speed and Daran Branch. Georgia also signed Nyland Green and Kamari Lassiter in the 2021 signing class.
“Really all those guys are doing a good job of developing, learning the scheme, and growing,” Lanning said. “I think every one of them will benefit from an off-season in the weight room, getting stronger. Each one of those guys have done a good job of being engaged, ready for their opportunity.
“There’s a great chance you could see them within some of these games, whether it be this next game or in the near future.”
What Georgia does with Tyrique Stevenson next season could be most telling. He was the back-up to Webb this season and saw significant playing time. In the Peach Bowl, he started opposite Campbell at corner and made what was the biggest play of the game.
Georgia’s biggest strength falls in line with what recent title-winning teams have had in a dominant passing offense. But to win a championship next season, Georgia will likely have to stop another elite passing attack.
The Bulldogs couldn’t do that this season against Alabama and Florida. Easily the biggest question with regards to the 2021 team will be if Georgia’s re-made secondary can do any better?
And the follow-up to that will be can Georgia’s strength able to overcome its weakness?
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
- Georgia football podcast: UGA players’ decisions to return could produce unforgettable experience
- Brock Vandagriff: What it already means to him to be a Georgia Bulldog
- Georgia basketball falls short in overtime at LSU, 94-92
- The latest Georgia football roster movement regarding NFL draft, transfer portal and returnees
- Tyson Campbell announces his decision regarding his future
- University of Georgia officially names Josh Brooks director of athletics
- The latest on Jordan Davis and his potential impact on the 2021 team
- 2021 Heisman Trophy odds: JT Daniels emerges as early top SEC candidate
- Georgia LB Nakobe Dean undergoes surgery, will be limited through spring
- Georgia football podcast: Miami’s reported interest in UGA DB raises troubling question
- Alabama WR DeVonta Smith wins Heisman Trophy; how Kirby Smart endorsed him
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The incomparable Richard LeCounte III moves on to that Sunday league. He's poured as much into a college football program the last four years as one player possibly can these days. https://t.co/KwLHTt5Wr1
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