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Georgia’s 2017 schedule is full of possibility and foreboding

Cy Brown

Welcome to your one-stop shop for Georgia football news and takes every Monday through Friday. Why UGA’s schedule is tougher than you may think.

Track: Stronger Than That | Artist: Bahamas | Album: Bahamas Is Afie

Only the strong survive

I was reading through Athlon Sports’ post on the toughest schedules of 2017 and it came as no surprise that Georgia did not rank in the top 25. The general sense I’ve gotten this off-season is that people see Georgia’s schedule as fairly easy. College football writer Matt Brown ranked the toughest schedules in college football and rated Georgia 50th.

There’s not a lot more analysis out right now breaking down teams’ strength of schedule for 2017. But I don’t think that No. 50 accurately represents how tough Georgia’s schedule is. I think it should have come in on the tail end of Athlon’s top 25 and fall in line with ESPN’s Football Power Index’s (FPI) conception of Georgia’s SOS, ranking the Dawgs’ schedule as the fourth-toughest in college football. From ESPN, here is a big reason why Georgia’s SOS is ranked so high:

The SEC East is projected to be the most competitive division among Power 5 conferences. It is the only Power 5 division in which three teams have at least a 15 percent chance to win — Georgia (37 percent), Florida (31 percent) and Tennessee (16 percent).

In 2017, the SEC East will be unrelenting. Florida has the fifth-ranked SOS, while South Carolina has the seventh and Vanderbilt the 17th, just to show that everyone has it bad. Since there is no true power in the division, it’s seemingly anyone’s ballgame. And there doesn’t seem to be much to separate the top from the bottom. Every team in the division will test one another. I think Georgia will beat Missouri and Vanderbilt, but I wouldn’t put a lot of money on the result in either case. No one in the East will have an easy path to Atlanta.

One thing that makes Georgia’s schedule tough is that consistency continues with its out-of-conference slate. The Dawgs open with Appalachian State, which is, like, the worst opener imaginable. Georgia should, and probably will, win, but there’s no way the Mountaineers don’t make Dawg fans sweat come Week 1. As far as “cupcake” games go, they don’t come harder than Appalachian State.

Next up is the most-hyped game of the schedule, Notre Dame. Because of their poor 4-8 showing last season, any hype the Irish normally have coming into a season is curbed. There’s doubt around this team. But there’s also talent within it. It’ll be a tough road environment and huge early season challenge for a team that will still be searching for its sea legs.

Samford is the only true cupcake on the schedule; the only game I have no doubts about. (Which probably means it will be unbearably close.) Then comes Georgia Tech, which seems like it will be a toss-up every year in perpetuity. One team could come into the game 11-0 and the other 0-11, and I still wouldn’t know who to pick.

The point is that Georgia doesn’t get a breather. After the Samford game in Week 3, Georgia has 8 consecutive SEC contests, with a bye before the Florida game at the end of October. With the division so close, that will be must win, after must win, after must win, followed by Georgia Tech, which is must win in many fans’ minds following the collapse of last season.

To me, the schedule looks a lot like last season: One simultaneously full of possibility and foreboding. There are so many games that could go either way, I wouldn’t be shocked by anything between 8-4 and 11-1. Not only will the race for the SEC East crown be tight, but each game in that race has the potential to be close as well. There will be no chance to reset and get your mind right because another important game is coming each week until Georgia either clinches or falls out of the race, whichever comes first.

Ch-Ch-Changes

If these are the changes coming to Georgia’s offense, get ready for more Sony Michel on the ball. Which is never a bad thing.

They start in the middle of the field, and run the same route, whatever their position: Terry Godwin (receiver), Mecole Hardman (receiver), Isaac Nauta (tight end), Sony Michel (tailback), Brian Herrien (tailback), and others.

It all reflects one of those tweaks that Georgia offensive coordinator Jim Chaney is making to the Dawgs’ offense: Aligning their players in the best position to make plays, and that includes putting certain players in the slot, where they would create either a size or speed mismatch for a defender.

“It’s been a change. Guys like Sony being in the slot,” inside linebacker Natrez Patrick said this week. “It’s a nightmare looking across and having to check Sony in an open field.”

40k Day

It seems Will Muchamp has been talking a little smack about Georgia fans. Here’s an anecdote Kirby Smart relayed during a recent interview on 680 The Fan regarding Muschamp’s thoughts on the potential attendance at G-Day.

“Muschamp called me and said we would not even get (40,000),” Smart said Wednesday on 680 The Fan. “If everybody knows Muschamp at South Carolina, he’s calling me out. I figure we will get that. He is calling the Dog fans out.”

That’s a little bulletin board material for Georgia fans that Muschamp apparently threw out to Smart. I have no reason to believe Muschamp didn’t say that to Smart. But Smart also is a disciple of Nick Saban, who made up quotes and attributed them to the “national media” to fire up his team before the national title, so you never know. Whatever works, though.

Combo guard inks with Georgia hoops

Size at guard is something Georgia hoops lacked this past season, but it appears Mark Fox is looking to fix that with the signing of Teshaun Hightower. The 6-foot-5 combo guard averaged nearly 20 points per game as a senior for Mt. Zion in Baltimore. To get a small taste of what we can expect from Hightower when he gets to Athens, here’s video of him charging the lane and poking on a bunch of jabronis last season.

More highlights of Hightower can be found here and here.

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‘It’s coming’

ICYMI

Good dog

I wish I could dance this well.