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Kirby Smart is entering his fifth season as Georgia's head coach.

National media spells out what Georgia football must do to become elite national title contender

Connor Riley

As of this moment, the college football season continues to look more and more like it will go on. The NCAA announced this week an updated plan as far as gearing up for the 2020 college football season.

The Bulldogs have been holding voluntary workouts since June 8, and the team continues to work out and train in different groups. The Georgia football social media accounts posted a video this week of players discussing getting back to work and resuming a routine of sorts.

As for what people are saying about the Bulldogs for the 2020 season, most think the coming weeks and preseason will be very significant for Georgia given all the changes on the offensive side of the ball.

Related: Why Georgia football, more so than other elite teams, needs to take advantage of new NCAA schedule

Georgia brought in new offensive coordinator Todd Monken as well as two transfer quarterbacks in Jamie Newman and JT Daniels. Newman is immediately eligible while it is yet to be seen what the status will be for Daniels in 2020, as he has filed a waiver to be immediately eligible for this season.

There are a lot of pieces on the Georgia offense and if the necessary changes or tweaks come together, there’s a good chance Georgia joins the elite teams in the country.

Bruce Feldman of The Atheltic made the case for Georgia being one of the teams that is a “tweak” away from being an LSU-like team for this season.

Feldman praised Monken’s work and what he’ll be able to bring to the passing game, an area where Georgia really struggled in 2019.

“He’s a whiz with the passing game,” Feldman said. “He’s got some Air-Raid background with a little NFL influence. He’s very creative, very detail-oriented and great with receivers. His quarterbacks and wideouts know where the ball needs to go and Monken has a lot of savvy in terms of what passing concepts work best against certain looks.”

One of the wide receivers who figures to benefit the most from Monken is George Pickens. As a freshman, in a passing offense that really struggled, Pickens finished with 47 catches for 727 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns. Those numbers all led the team. Pickens also peaked at the end of the season, scoring a touchdown in his final four games.

Now as a sophomore, Pickens is expected to be one of the top wide receivers in the country. ESPN tabbed him as the most exciting player on Georgia’s team for this upcoming season, and credited him with being the type of player that, “defensive coordinators already fear.”

Monken in the past has had a ton of success at both the college and NFL level with the likes of Justin Blackmon, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. A big season from Pickens would also likely mean big things from either Newman or Daniels. And Pickens having a big year would likely open things up for some of the other receivers, such as Dominick Blaylock or Demetris Robertson.

While the Bulldogs do have some questions to sort out on the offensive side of the ball, the defense once again should be outstanding. Bud Elliott of 247Sports said on Thursday’s episode of DawgNation Daily Georgia might have the best defense in the country.

But because of the concerns on offense, national analysts are giving pause to placing Georgia in that top tier with the likes of Clemson, Alabama and Ohio State. Chris Hummer of 247Sports placed the national title contenders into tiers, and had Georgia in tier 1.5. Above teams like Florida, Oregon and Oklahoma but not quite in the penthouse.

“Georgia is a weird team to place,” Hummer wrote. “The Bulldogs’ talent stacks up player-to-player with Alabama and Ohio State. Its history, three straight seasons with at least 11 wins, does too. But there are a few big-picture reservations with Georgia that the programs above it lack.”

The Bulldogs will get a chance to show how they stack up against Alabama, as the two teams meet early in the 2020 season with the Bulldogs visiting the Crimson Tide on Sept. 19. Georgia opens its 2020 season against Virginia on Sept. 7.

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