Look I'm all for a little overhyping college football expectations in August but Scout.com went completely off the deep end today with putting Georgia at #3 in the nation. Ahead of Florida (last time I checked Florida owns Georgia). Ahead of Boise State (shut up Georgia fans, they are better than you, deal with it). Ahead of Texas and Oklahoma. Ahead of Iowa? Come on Scout. Let's get serious. Here is their reasoning:
Predicted Record:: 10-2
Why Georgia Should Be No. 1: Don’t be fooled by last year’s slide. The loss of Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno, along with a laughable array of injuries, kept Georgia from being Georgia, but this year’s team should be back to form thanks to a deep offensive line that will be among the best in the country (if everyone stays healthy), a phenomenal linebacking corps, a strong backfield, and a future NFL star in WR A.J. Green. Throw in the best kicking game in college football, and shhhhhh … here’s your sleeper for the national title.
Why Georgia Isn’t No. 1: Aaron Murray. The Georgia quarterback situation wasn’t exactly settled this offseason with Murray the best of a mediocre lot. Murray has the tools and he has the talent, but he has to prove he can navigate his way through the SEC wars. On the other side, unlike last year, the defense has to play up to its talent and athleticism.
Key to the Season:: Turnover margin. Georgia, with enough talent and speed to hang around with anyone in the SEC, forced two fumbles and picked off ten passes, while the offense gave it away 28 times. Alright, so takeaways aren’t necessarily indicative of success (Florida and Cincinnati only recovered three fumbles and Alabama came up with seven), but the knucklehead streak when it came to penalties didn’t help. The Bulldogs were flagged 105 times; only five teams got hit with more penalties.
Relative Strength: Offensive Line, Linebacker
Relative Weakness: Quarterback
What to watch for on offense: The health of the offensive line. There were a slew of injury problems throughout the line last year, highlighted by a second knee injury to OT Trinton Sturdivant, and there was plenty of scrambling. The starting combination was rarely the same with the right starting five not set until halfway through the year. Even with all the drama, the production was still solid. Now, with talent, depth, and plenty of experience, the line might be the best in America if everyone stays healthy and the skill players will get plenty of time to work.
What to watch for on defense: The 3-4. Grantham will install a pro-style defensive scheme taking pass rushing star Justin Houston off the line and making him into a hybrid. The idea is to put three sides of beef up front, and the Georgia linemen are quick enough to get into the backfield, too. The four linebackers will be turned loose to be disruptive, swarm around the ball, and fly to the quarterback from a variety of angles.
You gotta realize that Georgia is starting a quarterback in Aaron Murray who has never taken a snap in college. If you remember Matthew Stafford's first season you will recall how painful that was. And that team was much better talent wise than this years team. Listen, Georgia's defense should be better but that isn't saying much. They were completely awful last year. To say they are a top 5 preseason team means they have a great to good defense and an offense that will score a lot of points. Georgia has proven neither. Their offensive line should be strong with plenty of experience and depth coming back but I don't see a talented back in the mold of Knowshon or Herschel or even a Garrison Hearst who is going to lead you past Florida.
I see Georgia going 9-3 at best during the regular season. South Carolina in Columbia is always tough (50/50). Arkansas the next week in Athens could see Ryan Mallett throw for 300 plus yards (50/50). They should beat Tennessee but then again the Vols always seem to play their best game against the Dawgs especially in Athens. Florida could again crush them in Jacksonville. Auburn on the road is not easy and history tells you the last time the Bulldogs won 5 straight against the Tigers was in the 1940's so expect a close battle. And then you got the home state battle with Georgia Tech who under Paul Johnson can hang with Mark Richt scheme wise. So you are telling me that Georgia could possibly lose only one of those games Scout? Highly doubtful.