Closer look: Digging into ESPN ranking Georgia offense higher in 2023 preseason than last year
ATHENS — What if someone told you this season’s Georgia offense has higher expectations that last year’s did?
It might seem hard to believe with celebrated offensive coordinator Todd Monken, quarterback Stetson Bennett and offensive weapons Kenny McIntosh, Darnell Washington and Adonai Mitchell having moved on.
But ESPN’s most recent “Future Power Rankings” paysite article for offenses has the 2023 offense ranked No. 3 overall compared with last year’s No. 5 ranking.
ESPN has USC No. 1, which makes sense because of QB Caleb Williams, a player Georgia pursued in the transfer portal following the 2021 CFP Championship win over Alabama.
Ohio State was No 2, even with the loss of quarterback C.J. Stroud.
But Georgia was sitting pretty in the No. 3 spot -- a higher than a year ago.
“So why is Georgia moving up?” the ESPN pay-site articles states.
“(Because of) an excellent group of returnees and recruits, plus Mike Bobo is no stranger to the coordinator role at Georgia, having served in it from 2007 to 2014.”
Georgia does have an influx of talent at receiver, particularly Missouri transfer Dominic Lovett, who figures to provide an explosive element on shorter routes and over the middle.
The quarterbacks, Carson Beck and Brock Vandagriff — noted as the No. 37 overall recruit in 2021 — do indeed bring enough talent and background to provide immediate results.
ESPN is a bit more bullish on the backfield than some, perhaps not aware of the injuries that slowed Kendall Milton, Daijun Edwards and Branson Robinson in spring drills.
Milton, in particular, will be pivotal for the Bulldogs because of his high ceiling as a powerful breakaway threat running between the tackles as well as on the perimeter.
Of course the tight end position is strong with future College Football Hall of Famer Brock Bowers.
Furthermore, Lawson Luckie made a big enough move this spring to wonder if he might have passed up Oscar Delp. Luckie’s physicality and toughness as an incoming freshman was talked about quite a bit this srping, while Delp is just now settling in as a capable blocker in his second year in the program.
The offensive line is, in fact, stronger than it was a season ago with powerful offensive guard Tate Ratledge looking better than ever, statuesque right tackle Amarius Mims ready to maul opponents on run plays and preseason All-American Sedrick Van Pran anchoring the line at center..
Still, it’s fair to wonder if there will be imminent drop-off at left tackle with first-round pick Broderick Jones moved on to the NFL, and Austin Blaske and Earnest Greene lll in competition to replace him.
ESPN brings a realistic enough rational to the table to suggest improvement with Bobo this season, but the biggest factor of all is the Bulldogs’ schedule.
Georgia’s slate is conducive to the team growing, as the Bulldogs open with home games against UT-Martin, Ball State, South Carolina and UAB.
The Sept. 30 road game at Auburn figures to be the first true challenge.
Coach Kirby Smart and Bobo will have some flexibility with the lineup leading into that on-campus rivalry game at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Georgia, by then, will have sorted out the quarterback position while developing key new contributors and finding an offensive identity.
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