ESPN lays out 3 big questions Georgia football must answer to be a national title contender
The Georgia Bulldogs figure to have a very good team in the 2020 season, given the talent the Bulldogs bring back along with another elite recruiting class coming in.
But the Bulldogs do have some questions that need to be answered if they’re going to achieve their goals of winning the SEC and ultimately a national championship. And ESPN’s Bill Connelly outlined what the answers might be for the Bulldogs and a number of college football contenders for the 2020 season.
For Georgia, the Bulldogs only have three big questions that need answers. The only teams with fewer questions are Clemson, Ohio State and Alabama. But the questions for Georgia are rather large, with two coming on offense and one coming on the defensive side of the ball.
The questions Connelly asked of Georgia are:
- If Jamie Newman lives up to the Pro Football Focus hype
- If another wide receiver emerges
- If the havoc rate for the Georgia defense continues to improve
With Newman, he’s received a ton of offseason hype. Some have penciled him in as a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, with others listing him as a Heisman Trophy favorite. Pro Football Focus has been perhaps the conductor of the Jamie Newman hype train, as the outlet ranks Newman as the No. 3 returning quarterback in the sport, behind only Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields.
Living up to that hype would likely do wonders for a Georgia offense that struggled last season, especially during the month of November. At Wake Forest in 2019, Newman threw for 26 touchdowns to 11 interceptions, while rushing for 574 rushing yards and six touchdowns.
Newman could have some more serious competition at the quarterback this season if USC transfer JT Daniels gets immediate eligibility. Daniels started 11 games as a freshman at USC and is a former 5-star quarterback. But he is coming off a torn ACL and meniscus that ended his sophomore season, and it is not yet known if the NCAA will grant him eligibility to play right away.
In regards to the wide receiver position, Georgia has one proven entity in George Pickens. The sophomore posted a 12-catch, 175-yard outing against Baylor in the Sugar Bowl to cap off a strong freshman season.
Beyond Pickens though, there are a number of questions at the position. Dominick Blaylock seems like a player who could have a bigger season, but he is coming off a torn ACL that ended his season in the SEC championship game against LSU. There are also holdovers like Demetris Robertson, Matt Landers and Kearis Jackson, who might benefit from a new system led by Todd Monken.
The Bulldogs also signed five wide receivers as a part of their 2020 signing class, with three ranking among the top-100 overall prospects in the 247Sports Composite. Two of those freshmen names to know will be Jermaine Burton and Marcus Rosemy, who are set to arrive at Georgia this week to begin voluntary workouts, starting June 8.
As for the Georgia defense, it has very few questions to answer in this upcoming season. The Bulldogs bring back a number of talented players at all levels of the defense. And it was a group that led the nation in scoring defense and rushing defense in 2019.
But as Connelly points out, Georgia still has room to grow in terms of creating havoc or negative plays. Smart and his staff spoke at length about this topic a season ago and did see some improvement from the 2018 team. The Bulldogs ranked 41st in the country in havoc rate and 89th in sack rate last season.
Georgia has a lot of talent to address these issues, especially at the outside linebacker position where it is led by Azeez Ojulari, who had a team-high 5.5 sacks a season ago.
If the Bulldogs are to improve their havoc rate, sophomore Nolan Smith, Travon Walker and Nakobe Dean will likely play a big role in doing so. All had promising moments as freshmen and will look to take on bigger roles in 2020.
Some of the teams in the same tier as Georgia include rival Florida, LSU and Penn State. The Bulldogs are clearly better off than most teams entering the 2020 season. But to surpass the teams in front of them, it will need strong play from Newman, better production from its pass catchers and a more disruptive defense.
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