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Joshua L. Jones
Roquan Smith is one Georgia player who has a good chance to make an All-SEC team next season.

Good Day, UGA: The ‘Changes’ edition

Cy Brown

Good day, UGA. Welcome to your one-stop shop for all the relevant UGA football news and takes every Monday through Friday. In today’s edition, we look at one projection that has TCU favored in the Liberty Bowl and Georgia’s exclusion from the coaches All-SEC teams. If you’re looking for things to listen to this morning, look no further than the Bitter Southerner’s Best Southern Albums of 2016. You can’t go wrong with anything on the list, but Charles Bradley is a personal favorite,

What S&P+ says about the Liberty Bowl

One of my favorite statistics in college football is Bill Connelly’s S&P+. Although it’s still a fairly obscure stat, it’s become a more popular way to look at college football over the last few years. Many of you are probably familiar with it. For those who aren’t, you can find a detailed description here, but the long and short of it is that S&P+ uses metrics that measure things such as explosiveness, efficiency and field position, then boils them down to an adjusted scoring margin. It’s a single number that encompasses many of the factors that make a team good or bad. It evolves as the season progresses and, by the end of the year, it gives you a good idea of where teams rank against one another.

It can also be used to project how two teams will fare against each other, and has been incredibly precise in regards to Georgia as recently as the Georgia Tech. S&P+ projected the Jackets to win, 27.5-27. They won, 28-27.

So, it pains me to say, S&P+ is not predicting good things for Georgia in the Liberty Bowl. Based on UGA’s -0.6 and TCU’s 7.1 S&P+, the Bulldogs are expected to lose by 7.7 points.

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Of course, this does not doom Georgia to defeat. The Bulldogs actually beat their two opponents with the highest season-ending S&P+, Auburn and North Carolina. But it is something to keep in mind. I’ve heard some fans speak confidently about beating TCU with ease because of the Frogs’ 6-6 record in a supposedly weak Big 12. There is no doubt Georgia has a solid chance to win this game, and you won’t be faulted if you think Georgia should win this game. Going off what we’ve seen from both teams this year, though, TCU goes into the game as the favorite.

No Georgia Bulldogs on All-SEC teams

For the first time in more than a quarter-century, no Georgia players were named to the coaches All-SEC first or second teams. The AP All-SEC team is released later this week, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the first time since 1959 no Georgia Bulldogs made that list. Even if the East is down enough to be considered one of, if not the worst, Power Five conferences, there still is individual talent all over the conference in a season when Georgia doesn’t have much individual star power.

Nick Chubb and Sony Michel were both the names you would’ve slated before the season as possibilities to earn the honor. Chubb was even named to the coaches preseason All-SEC first team. Both had subpar years and were passed by Kamryn Pettway and Darius Guice. Isaiah McKenzie also had a spot on that preseason list, as second-team all-purpose and kick returner. Although he had one spectacular day against UL-Lafayette, his season as a whole wasn’t enough to earn a place in either of those slots.

On defense, Dominick Sanders was named to the preseason team, and he had a good season for Georgia, coming down with 4 interceptions so far. But he was definitely overshadowed by players such as Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick and Florida’s Jalen Tabor. At Georgia, you could even say Maurice Smith was a better defender than Sanders this season, even though his stats weren’t as flashy. Roquan Smith is another player who should vie for inclusion, but he’s hurt by the coaches selecting only three linebackers instead of four. It’s hard to argue with Vanderbilt’s Zach Cunningham and Alabama’s Reuben Foster; the second-team linebackers, such as Kentucky’s Jordan Jones, were also excellent.

Georgia is a young team and some Bulldogs will be back on the team next year, no doubt. Sanders has an excellent shot to get in there if he sticks around. As do Chubb and Michel, obviously. Although he didn’t set the world alight this season, we know McKenzie has home run potential and that isn’t going to disappear. He’s a threat for both the return and all-purpose slots. If Smith continues on the trajectory he’s been on this season, he should be in the thick of the fight for one of the linebacker spots.

There also are a handful of other players I could see making a push next season. If he progresses and improves as expected, Jacob Eason should be in the conversation, considering the SEC is generally a weak league in terms of QBs. Alabama freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts, first-team All-SEC, will stand in his way, but the second-teamers, Josh Dobbs and Chad Kelly, aren’t back next season, and no obvious names pop out to replace them. Isaac Nauta also forged a connection with Eason and should become even more of a target next season. If those two find a groover, Nauta could put up big numbers.

What to do in Memphis

If you’re looking for things to do while you’re in Memphis, the Liberty Bowl Twitter account provided this little list of attractions to check out while in town. The Stax and National Civil Rights Museums sound great. And who would pass up a chance to see Z-Bo and the Grizx?

ICYMI

Good dog

Me too, man.