Saturday, February 25, 2017

Farewell to 2016: Georgia Bulldogs

The SEC had a down year compared to other years, as Alabama was the lone team to win 10 games or more in 2016. That is an unusual turn of events for the self proclaimed best conference in college football. The East was still down, as Florida and Tennessee continued to struggle despite having high expectations. Georgia is still trying to find themselves under Kirby Smart. LSU made a mess of the Les Miles situation. Ole Miss was clouded over by off-field issues. Here is a look back at the 2016 SEC season, on a team by team basis.

Georgia Bulldogs
8-5 (4-4)

2016 Schedule
Beat North Carolina 33-24
Beat Nicholls State 26-24
Beat Missouri 28-27
Lost to Ole Miss 45-14
Lost to Tennessee 34-31
Beat South Carolina 28-14
Lost to Vanderbilt 17-16
Lost to Florida 24-10
Beat Kentucky 27-24
Beat Auburn 13-7
Beat Louisiana-Lafayette 35-21
Lost to Georgia Tech 28-27
Beat TCU 31-23 (Liberty Bowl)

MVP Offense: RB Nick Chubb
2016 was a season of offensive transition for the Bulldogs, as they went from an offensive minded coach in Mark Richt, to a defensive minded one in Kirby Smart. With a true freshman at QB in Jacob Eason, Georgia went to their strength on offense, and hit the ground running. Chubb was the rock that he has always been. In 13 games, he rushed for 1130 yards and 8 scores, and averaged 5.04 yards per carry. He averaged just over 17 carries per game, as the staff kept his carries down in order to protect him from any injury such as he sustained in 2015. Chubb still managed to be the rock with the football, and has even announced a return for the 2017 season as a senior.
MVP Defense: LB Roquan Smith
There is nothing wrong with the Bulldogs on defense. Smith led the way for the Bulldogs on a unit that allowed 24 points per game. He led the team with 95 tackles, and added 5 TFLs, and forced two fumbles. He collected a season high 13 tackles in back to back games to end the season against Georgia Tech and TCU, and recorded 11 in a win over South Carolina. He should be one of the best defenders in the SEC in 2017.
Others of Note
Eason eased his way into the QB job as a freshman in 2016, and had some bumps and flashes along the way. He passed for 2430 yards, averaging 186.9 yards per game, which is OK, but not legendary. He also only managed to complete 55.1% of his passes on the season. He attempted 28.5 passes per game, averaged 6.6 yards per attempt, and had a rather pedestrian QBR of 120.26.
Sony Michel missed one gam in 2016 at RB, and had a season that I am certain could have gone better. He recorded 840 yards rushing, but scored just four times while averaging 12.67 yards per game. Expect an uptick in 2017.
Isaiah McKenzie showed some promise at WR, posting a line of 44-633-8. He averaged 14.39 yards per catch, and should be the top play maker in the passing game in 2017.
Only three other Bulldog receivers caught 20 passes or more in 2016.
Georgia averaged 66.15 tackles per game, and forced opponents to make 75.15 per game.
The Bulldogs allowed 82 TFLs in 2016. They allowed only 50 in 2015.
The Bulldogs forced 15 fumbles in 2016, and picked off 15 passes as a team.
The Bulldogs were only penalized 4.7 times per game at home, but were hit for 6.6 penalties per game on the road.
Best Win: North Carolina 33-24
With Georgia not being high on many radars entering the season after a coaching change, the Bulldogs rolled int Atlanta and showed North Carolina that this program may be a bit slow right now, but was not at a full stop. The Bulldogs got after the UNC offense early and let their defense control the flow of the game.
Worst Loss: Vanderbilt 17-16
This was certainly a low point moment for the Buldogs in 2016. Losing to Florida and Tennessee was bad enough, but this loss was a kick to the gut.
2017 Non Conference Schedule: 9/2 Appalachian State, 9/9 at Notre Dame, 9/16 Samford, 11/25 at Georgia Tech
Georgia should be favored in each of these games in 2017. Nobody knows what to expect from Notre Dame, and the only game that could be a tough go is against Georgia Tech on the road. Tech has had UGAs number lately in the rivalry. Worst case scenario, I still see Georgia going 3-1 against this lot.

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