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Will Kirby Smart and his offensive coordinator give quarterback Jake Fromm more opportunities to air it out in 2018?

Georgia football: The biggest questions of the offseason

Cy Brown

Welcome to Good Day, UGA, your one-stop shop for Georgia football news and takes. Check us out every weekday morning for everything you need to know about Georgia football, recruiting, basketball and more. 

6 Burning Questions

As I’ve written this “Way-Too-Early Look at 2018” and reflected on Georgia football’s strength and weaknesses heading into next season, I’ve tried to think of the biggest questions the Dawgs face in the offseason. So now it’s time to wrap up the series. (For now. We’ll be previewing 2018 in some form or another, off and on, all offseason.) To do that, I’m going to pose those questions to y’all.

Obviously none of these have answers yet. But when they do, those answers will determine just how successful Georgia is in the third season under Kirby Smart. Let’s go.

Will the defense rebuild or reload? The bad news is the defense loses most of its secondary and linebacker corps from last year. The good news is there is plenty of young talent on the defense to earn those open spots. But are those youngsters could enough (and ready enough) to step in without losing a beat, or will there be a learning curve as the new starters gain first team experience?

How will the offense change without Nick Chubb and Sony Michel? Smart and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney want to run the ball. That much is clear. But will they want to run the ball as much now that Chubb and Michel won’t be there to split the carries? And with less proven tailbacks to rely on, will they give Jake Fromm more opportunities to air it out now that he has a season worth of experience under his belt?

What carries the day on the offensive line: talent or youth? In two seasons, Sam Pittman has helped assemble the most talented group of offensive linemen perhaps ever seen at Georgia? One day or another, UGA’s line will be one of the best in college football. But those guys are still mighty young right now. Is there enough talent within the group to make up for the inexperience?

Is there a suitable replacement for Cameron Nizialek at punter? Georgia fans didn’t know how blessed they were when Nizialek transferred from Columbia. He was one of the best punters in the SEC during his lone season in Athens and turned one of Georgia’s greatest weaknesses into a strength. But it’s back to square one at punter. Will Marshall Long reclaim the starting punter job or will highly-touted signee Jake Camarda snag it? And will either be able to match Nizialek’s production?

Which freshmen will contribute early? In his first two seasons at Georgia, Smart has shown he isn’t afraid to rely on freshmen in important roles. Fromm, D’Andre Swift and Andrew Thomas were major contributors to the offense last season as freshmen. With plenty of spots open at defensive back, linebacker, offensive line, wide receiver and running back, some freshman will make the most of an opportunity and earn a lot of minutes. But who will it be, and how much of an impact can he make?

How will the team respond to the National Championship Game loss? This is the most important question of them all. The last two seasons, the national title has been won by the team that lost it the year before. Losing at that level, in that moment, can be a helluva motivator … if you don’t get complacent. Will the Dawgs be satisfied from making it all the way to the title game last season and try to coast on its past accomplishment next, or will it double-down and work harder after seeing what it takes to win it all?

A Way-Too-Early Look at 2018: Schedule breakdown | Top 10 players | Early enrollee rankings | Top redshirt freshmen | Top rising sophomores | Top rising juniors | Top rising seniors | Potential breakout players | Most important games

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4-star 2019 DT de-commits

Georgia lost the commitment of Class of 2019 4-star defensive tackle Rashad Chaney on Thursday. Chaney’s decision drops the Bulldogs down to six commitments for the recruiting class of 2019. All of them hold at least a 4-star rating, and three of them are considered 5-star prospects.

Lady Dogs win 6th straight

The Lady Dogs are rolling. The No. 21 Georgia women’s hoops team won its sixth consecutive game Thursday night, an emphatic 62-50 victory over No. 11 Missouri to move to 18-2 on the season, 6-1 in SEC play. The 18-2 record the best start for any Lady Dogs team since 2009-10, and the six-game winning streak is the program’s first of that length since 2010-11.

Freshman Que Morrison led the team in points with 17, while senior Haley Clark provided a career-high 14 points plus 7 rebounds and 3 assists.

“Every night it is a different player and that is the beauty of this team,” Georgia coach Joni Taylor said. “That is what I appreciate, everyone is ready to go. All of their buckets are huge and everyone answers the call every time.”

Next up for the Lady Dogs is a trip to Gainesville, Fla., on Sunday to face the Gators. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET on SEC Network Plus.

Why are Georgia tight ends getting less catches

In the latest post of his series of position breakdowns, Seth Emerson of DawgNation took a stab analyzing the decreasing catches for Georgia tight ends.

Georgia tight ends accounted for 245 receiving yards in 2017, down from 485 the season before. From 2009-13, the tight ends accounted for at least 500 yards every year. Since then they’ve yet to crack 500, and have been under 400 three times, including this season. …

Perhaps one factor lately has been the inexperience Georgia has had at the quarterback position. The past two seasons, the team started freshmen, and in 2015 the quarterback was a transfer who arrived weeks before the start of practice. Maybe a quarterback more experienced in a system will be more adept at checking down, and tight ends tend to be check-down receivers. Or maybe that’s just a guess. Perhaps it’s time to just stop asking whether this is the year Georgia throws more to the tight ends, and be surprised when they do.

Quarterbacks | Running backs | Wide receivers

Georgia’s secret weapon

Jeff Sentell of DawgNation has a really good piece looking at Georgia’s secret weapon the recruiting trail, director of player development Jonas Jennings. Jennings, who played at Georgia and then eight seasons in the NFL, is considered to be a huge asset for Georgia when recruiting kids from metro Atlanta, where Jennings is from. While coaches pitch kids that they can help them improve their technique and draft stock, Jennings pitches the opportunity to build a successful life, like he did after coming to Georgia.

“All I do is tell them the truth,” Jennings said, according to Sentell. “I went to Georgia. I played at Georgia. Those avenues helped make me successful. From the avenue that I came from, which is south Atlanta and the projects down by the airport, the story just kind of writes itself.” More from Sentell:

“I am life,” Jennings said. “Life coach. That’s my persona. Love. Some of them need to be loved on and some of them need hugging. But every situation is different. You’ve got 130 kids. All of those stories are written differently. You can’t treat them the same. You have to learn who they are and then they react to you based on that. If you invest in them and their lives, then they give it back.”

“It is just like investing your money in an annuity. If you annuitize it, then at some point you are able to draw back. It is no different with love.”

Jennings has been integral in the recruitment of 4-star DT Rick Sandidge. If the big man from Concord, N.C., lands in Athens, Jennings will be a major reason why.

Mail time

In his weekly mailbag, Emerson looks at whether this could be an historic year for Georgia in the NFL draft.

There’s a chance this could be a historic draft for Georgia. The most the program has ever had taken in one was draft is eight: 2013 and 2012. Looking at the 2018 draft, I’d be tempted to take the over:

  • Certain to be drafted: Roquan Smith, Isaiah Wynn, Sony Michel, Nick Chubb, Lorenzo Carter.
  • Good bets: Trenton Thompson, Javon Wims, Davin Bellamy.
  • You never know: John Atkins, Cameron Nizialek, Dominick Sanders, Aaron Davis, Reggie Carter.

There are eight who are at least good bets, and if they all get drafted and just one of the others gets plucked, then it’s a record.

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