There isn’t a program in the country going into the 2022 season without a few questions. Whether this program has the best National Championship odds or is a little further down the list, a few things need to come together for it to win it all. ESPN’s Bill Connelly attempted to list the list teams in terms of how many “ifs” it would take to make the program a legitimate title contender this season. Teams at the top would have fewer demands. Of the 20 teams Caesars had given odds of +10,000 or better, Connelly grouped them by their “ifs” ranging from two ifs to five ifs. Three programs made it into the two-if category, with Georgia receiving and being one of the third-best odds at +400.
Not surprisingly, both question marks for Georgia relate to the new-time record 15 players the Dawgs just picked in the 2022 NFL Draft, starting with those from their historically strong defense, which saw all three defenders taken in the first round.
If… a reloaded front seven is as good as we assume. Five first-round players, including three linemen. Another three starters were later selected in the draft. Not only did Georgia lose many contributors to last season’s top-flight defense; it absolutely lost Stars.
Are there any more reserves? Probably. After all, the Bulldogs have ranked first in defensive SP+ three years in a row. They’ve replaced stars before, and they still have certain things like tackle Jalen Carter and linebackers Nolan Smith and Robert Bel. But any defensive regression would force the quarterback Stetson Bennett IV and the offense of carrying more weight and possibly destroying last year’s perfect balance. It’s fair to assume Georgia will have a Top D again, but it’s not a given until we see it.
Connely also notes that while Georgia has plenty of talent on its offensive line, it’s staying as young as possible Warren McClendon enters fall camp as a fourth-year player who has established himself as a starter.
When… a fairly inexperienced offensive line holds up. I think I should doubt Bennett again, just for old times’ sake. I have done it a lot. But when you play 10 perfect minutes to wrap up the national title game and end the year third in Total QBR, you deserve the benefit of the doubt.
But even a strong QB needs a strong offensive line, and while the line held up last year with freshmen grabbing 1,500+ snaps, their top two players were (Justin Schaffer and Jamaree Salyer) are away. Two-Deep will be overloaded with freshmen and sophomores.
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