The 2021 Georgia football team has a number of questions that will need to be answered. What does the offense look like in year 2? Who steps up at left tackle? How does the secondary shake out?
All of these are important questions that will go a long way in determining how well the 2021 season goes for the Bulldogs. But none of those qualify as the biggest question the Bulldogs face entering 2021, according to ESPN.
In identifying the biggest offseason question for each Top 25 team, ESPN stated that Georgia’s biggest question has to do with joining college football’s elite tier. More specifically, can Georgia take the final step, so that it is seen in the same light as Clemson and Alabama?
“In 2021, the Bulldogs open against Clemson before running through their SEC slate,” Harry Lyles Jr. wrote. The offense should be in a much better spot with JT Daniels, and defensively, should be able to reload despite a significant amount of talent departing.
“If they’re able to come out with one loss at the end of the season, perhaps Georgia finally breaks through.”
Georgia obviously can’t answer that question during the offseason. If the Bulldogs are going to prove that they’re elite, it will have to be done during the 2021 season.
The better question might be how does Georgia go about proving it belongs in the same ranks as Alabama and Clemson? We do have an idea of how that can come to be, it will just be something that gets answered during the season.
Below are three things Georgia can do during the 2021 season to prove that it is one of college football’s elite teams.
1. Become an even more prolific and explosive offense
Once Daniels was inserted into the starting lineup, Georgia’s offense more closely resembled what Alabama and Clemson had done on that side of the ball. The Bulldogs averaged 37.3 points and 486 yards over the final four games of the season.
With Daniels and just about all of the top weapons back, it’s easy to see the possibility for Georgia to not just play well on offense but get even better.
Georgia brings back offensive coordinator Todd Monken and will get 15 spring practices to improve upon what they did at the end of the season. Daniels will also get more reps with talented receivers like George Pickens, Kearis Jackson and Jermaine Burton.
There are some questions about the offensive line in terms of who plays where, but the ceiling for this Georgia offense is as high as any under Kirby Smart. If the Bulldogs play closer to that, and beyond what they did in 2020, Georgia should have no problem in most of their 2021 contests.
2. Produce an elite pass rush
Georgia’s secondary probably won’t be as good in 2021 as it was this past season. It’s hard to be when you lose Richard LeCounte, Mark Webb, DJ Daniel, Eric Stokes, Tyson Campbell and Tyrique Stevenson.
The Bulldogs do return some experienced players at safety and Georgia has recruited well at the cornerback position. But as talented as Kelee Ringo, Jalen Kimber and Nyland Green might be, Georgia still has zero career starts at the cornerback position on its 2021 roster.
Smart already acknowledges that the secondary will be a position of concern. He’s also identified a way Georgia can really help itself in covering up for some of the inexperience.
“The best part of the secondary will be the front four getting some pressure and being able to rush, so that will be just as important as anything else that we do,” Smart said on National Signing Day.
Georgia must replace Azeez Ojulari and Jermaine Johnson from the 2020 team. The Bulldogs though have Adam Anderson, Nolan Smith and MJ Sherman all eager to take on bigger roles. Add in defensive linemen Jordan Davis, Travon Walker and Jalen Carter, and the Bulldogs have one of the most talented defensive fronts in the country.
The Bulldogs had 32 sacks in 10 games last season. No team in the SEC averaged more sacks per game in 2020. If Georgia is able to replicate that in 2021, along with another stout run defense, the Bulldogs secondary might not be such a glaring concern.
3. Beat Alabama (or maybe Clemson)
We realize this is very much like the Joker suggesting you simply kill Batman. But if Georgia wants to truly join the elite club, it needs to beat the Crimson Tide.
Georgia doesn’t have Alabama on its 2021 schedule, though there is always a chance the two could meet in the SEC championship game.
The Bulldogs will get a chance to prove how they stack up against Clemson, as the two sides open the 2021 season in Charlotte. The Tigers have their own concerns and questions after a 49-28 loss to Ohio State in the College Football Playoff.
Beating Clemson would certainly qualify as a statement win for the Georgia program. But a win against Alabama would carry far more weight nationally for the Bulldogs.
If Georgia is able to do both, something only 2019 LSU has done in the College Football Playoff era, it would really help Georgia’s case as a truly elite program in college football.
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