The Georgia Bulldogs were throttled in the SEC Championship game and will miss the College Football Playoff for the second consecutive season. However, despite the heartbreaking outcome, it is only a matter of time before Georgia Football reaches the pinnacle of NCAA success.
As is life in college football, the Dawgs will have to replace a few key contributors on both sides of the football. On offense standout running back, D'Andre Swift and All-American Andrew Thomas are likely gone. Both are projected to be first-round picks in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Wide receiver Lawrence Cager's eligibility is up. Georgia will also lose both tight ends Charlie Woerner and Eli Wolf as well. However, this could also be a great opportunity for the Dawgs to add more playmaking ability and explosion at the position.
Defensively the Dawgs will miss the grit and toughness of senior Tyler Clark upfront. J.R. Reed who has been the team's most impactful defender at times is also graduating. Linebacker Tae Crowder is another key defensive playmaker who has finished his four-year stint in Athens as well.
We will certainly be on the watch for draft decisions by players such as Jake Fromm, Isaiah Wilson, Ben Cleveland, Eric Stokes, Monty Rice, and Richard LeCounte. Each one obviously being welcomed back with open arms if they so choose.
The Georgia Bulldogs running game will be reloaded next season. I suspect that we will see a different, more explosive Zamir White as he will be a full year removed from any knee issues. James Cook, Kenny McIntosh, and super recruit Kendall Milton, will all factor into the running game as well.
George Pickens will be back and a year further along as a big-time playmaker. Talented mauler Cade Mays also returns upfront and could start at any number of positions along the offensive line. Center Trey Hill is still in the fold, along with guard/tackle Jamaree Salyer and likely guard Solomon Kindley to provide some stability upfront.
Regarding the Dawgs defense, anchor Jordan Davis will be back to ensure that the run defense stays stout. Travon Walker has shown to potential to be a disruptive, difference-maker inside as well. Nakobe Dean has the potential to be the next great Bulldogs inside linebacker. Outside linebackers Azeez Ojulari and Nolan Smith will arguably be the top returning pass rush duo in the SEC.
There is great reason to believe that both will make a leap in their development, giving UGA two extremely feared pass rushers.
On the back end of the Bulldogs defense, Otis Reese could provide more thump at the strong safety position. Divaad Wilson returns to provide sticky coverage at the STAR position. The all versatile Tyrique Stevenson will be just a sophomore next year, and Tyson Campbell is expected to return as well. It will be interesting to see if the team would try the 6'2 cornerback at safety if Richard LeCounte departs for the NFL, and Eric Stokes returns to UGA.
As you can see the Georgia Bulldogs are stocked with young blue-chip talent and those are just a few of the many outstanding players on the UGA roster. More recruits will assuredly commit to the G in the near future. The cupboard is far from bare and no SEC East team has assembled close to the level of young talent. Despite rumors to the contrary, the gap between the Dawgs and the Gators is not closing, and the rest of the SEC East is still in shambles.
The Bulldogs definitely need to open up the offense more, whether or not that entails becoming a truly balanced team that slings the ball around a bit more or adding an explosive running quarterback to the ground attack.
Certainly, the loss of Sam Pittman hurts, but Kirby Smart should be trusted to hire the right replacement. Good programs lose assistants as a testament to their success, but they march on like clockwork.
Many fan bases on social media call Georgia Bulldogs fans delusional because they always believe that they can win the next year. Though this may have been true in the past, the Georgia Football program is at a level where almost any year could be the year.
Looking forward, the Dawgs top two obstacles LSU and Alabama are possibly both breaking in new quarterbacks. This gives UGA as good of a chance to take the SEC crown as ever before.
What many UGA fans perceive as the sky falling, is actually the glass ceiling over the Georgia Football program continuing to shatter and fall to the ground. The Dawgs have certainly taken their lumps along the way. However, when they break through that barrier the confetti will fall and trophies will be hoisted. As the Georgia Bulldogs and coach Kirby Smart continue to weaken that glass ceiling over the program, breeching the obstacle is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when.