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2023 Previews: SEC East

1. Georgia Bulldogs (12-0, 8-0)

Georgia is trying to do what no team has ever done in the modern era at college football’s highest level, and that’s win three National Championships in a row. Much like Alabama on the other side of the SEC, the Bulldogs’ season will likely come down to whether the coaches can find a quarterback to make some plays without putting the team in a bad position.

Rankings (Ex, Vg, Av, Fr, Pr)

Quarterbacks: Av
Running Backs: Ex
Wide Receivers: Ex
Offensive Line: Vg
Defensive Line: Vg
Linebackers: Vg
Defensive Backs: Vg
Special Teams: Vg

Offense: What could go right
Georgia has the best tight end in college football, Brock Bowers, and a veteran receiver unit, running back group and middle of the offensive line. If new QB Carson Beck lives up to his prep reputation, Georgia won’t miss a beat, and could possibly get even more dynamic in the passing game. Bowers and top outside receiver Ladd McConkey are mismatch problems for most defenses, and Georgia can chew up the yardage on the ground with the best of them. Sedrick Van Pran is the best center in college football, so it’s not just about the talent that is on the edges of the offense.

Offense: What could go wrong
Georgia has several talented players on the roster at tight end behind Bowers, but they don’t have a left tackle masquerading as a second tight end in Darnell Washington anymore. Bowers’ effectiveness doesn’t necessarily depend on a great cross-field option at tight end, but having one wouldn’t hurt. The bigger issues by far are at offensive tackle, where Georgia will be breaking in two new starters, and under center, where Beck beat out Brock Vandagriff for the job but didn’t exactly wow anyone. Most concerning of all? Elite offensive coordinator Todd Monken is gone to the NFL, replaced by Mike Bobo, whose playcalling is decidedly less imaginative.

Defense: What could go right
This unit is stocked with veterans at all three levels, and should be especially stout up the middle with a deep defensive tackle rotation and a pair of inside linebackers that have proven they can get the job done. Georgia led the nation in rushing defense in 2022, and most of the players responsible for that domination are still on the roster. Georgia has cracked the code on updating the Nick Saban defensive model for the 2020s, which may explain Saban’s own move to rehire Kevin Steele in Tuscaloosa. Right now, the Bulldogs are the defensive standard-bearers for the conference, especially up front.

Defense: What could go wrong
The middle of the defense is solid but the edges need work. Pass rush was erratic at times last year and Georgia is replacing some of its outside talent. This extends to the defensive backfield, where two of the three cornerbacks will be new starters. And lost in the shuffle that followed the Bulldogs’ repeat championship win in 2022 was the fact Georgia was very, very pedestrian in pass defense.

One-sentence summary: Until beaten, this is the team to watch – and not just in the SEC.
Georgia has earned the right to rest on its reputation a bit. While there are some meaningful holes to fill on both sides of the ball, every team is replacing at least someone, and Georgia has handled transition better than most. Like Alabama, Georgia has passed the point of even considering “rebuilding years.” The Bulldogs won’t lose in the regular season and will probably cruise to a third straight title.

Next: 2. Tennessee Volunteers

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