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Curtis Compton / AJC
Georgia football has a swarming defense returning nine starters from the Sugar Bowl lineup that should lead the program on a national title run.

4 reasons Georgia football set for title run when action resumes

ATHENS — At some point, the smell of fresh grass and the shrill of coaching whistles will return. When it does, it will be a race to preparedness.

Georgia football is in as good of shape to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic as any program in the country and probably better.

RELATED: Kirby Smart recharging amid break in action

The harsh reality of the global pandemic has taken effect and unsettled millions around the globe, a health crisis still too fresh to completely put into perspective.

And yet, most are striving to work harder and more efficient than ever in their career fields, and  college football coaches and players are no exception.

The Bulldogs, like most every other championship level program, have players scattered across the country lifting weights and performing drill work in small groups.

There are plenty of examples of such, from new quarterback Jamie Newman hunkered down in his hometown lifting weights and watching film, to players like Nolan Smith and Eric Stokes posting workout videos.

WATCH: Nolan Smith, Eric Stokes post workout videos

In time, there will be a more sophisticated level of organization, likely via the same sort of virtual learning they are experiencing as students with campuses shutdown.

But the mere makeup of Kirby Smart’s program is what gives Georgia an edge.

Here are four examples of why the Bulldogs are better off than the rest of the SEC schools:

1. Defense

The defense is always ahead of the offense in the offseason. That’s commonly reflected by “sloppy” scrimmages, coaches often bemoaning the lack of synchronization in the pass game, the ball security issues at running back and offensive lines lacking continuity and blitz pickup.

This offseason figures to be the most chaotic and challenging in history, and the longer this crisis prevents large gatherings (10 or more), the less time offenses will have to catch up with defense.

Georgia has the best defense in the nation returning with 9 of the 11 starters back off the Sugar Bowl team. The Bulldogs led the nation in scoring defense and run defense last season, and they were third in total defense and eighth in pass efficiency defense.

2. Simplicity

If there was an area Georgia seemed to be at a disadvantage, it was with the lack of complexity of its offense this season. The Bulldogs are replacing a three-year starter at quarterback and lost four offensive linemen who had multiple starts last season.

Indeed, a look into the receiving ranks reveals an expectation that UGA is counting on immediate contributions from most of the incoming pass catchers in the signing class.

New offensive coordinator Todd Monken was going to have to simplify the offense even before the cancellation of spring football, and now that wouldn’t appear to be as much of a disadvantage as before.

3. Staff

Georgia maintained continuity in one of the most important — and underrated — areas of the team with Scott Sinclair running the strength and conditioning program. Both Alabama and Tennessee lost their high-profile strength coaches, arguably moving Sinclair to the top of the totem pole as the SEC’s best.

 

To boot, the Bulldogs took the Tide’s strength and conditioning coach — and master motivator — Scott Cochran. When action resumes, that transaction will be bigger than ever as there will be an insane sense of urgency when the team convenes.

As if Smart’s extremely vocal nature at practices wasn’t enough, Dan Lanning and Charlton Warren — known as “Mr. Intensity” while a player at Air Force — are noted as two of the most effective motivators in the assistant coaching ranks. Cochran as the special teams coach throws fuel on the fire, and anyone who watched bowl practices saw the instant energy Matt Luke brought to the offensive line.

4. Players

At the end of the day, players make plays, and Georgia has recruited the best in the nation during Smart’s tenure, per the 247Sports composite team rankings:

2020: Georgia No. 1

2019: Georgia No. 2

2018: Georgia No. 1

2017: Georgia No. 3

It’s often said the cream will rise to the top. With the leadership and motivation Georgia football has in place, there’s reason to make the Bulldogs a favorite to win the national championship.

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