Last season, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, many felt Georgia was on the cusp of something big: an SEC Championship, a spot in the playoffs, or maybe even a seat at the table of those conversations.
However, the reality was Georgia had a young team, with depth issues, acclimating a new head coach and two new coordinators.
Those factors alone called for long odds in the championship department.
That said, this is the year we should all be paying closer attention to what happens in Georgia’s football program: after one full recruiting cycle, a couple coaching adjustments, the return of some key players, and a tweak to the way the offense is run.
All of that adds up to what should be a significant year of progress for Georgia.
Said Smart, at yesterday’s presser once the bowl game was in the books, that was the end of Year One in his mind.
“It’s over in the coaches’ eyes. We try to make it that way for the players …From the approach of where were we, where are we going and how are we going to get there, that’s the steps that we started in the offseason. Whether it’s gaining weight for you, losing weight for you, better conditioning for you, kicking it further for you, kicking it higher for you, we have meetings with each player so they know where they’re headed.” (Kipp Adams, Dawgs247)
All of the above points to what was said by many last year (once the rose-colored lenses were officially removed): year one was an attempt to assess what was already in the cupboard, what needed to be replaced or added, and learning how to maximize the potential of those tasked with being on the field.
Further, it was about the coaching staff gelling as a cohesive unit, and figuring out how to work together–it cannot and should not be discounted that Smart had to learn how to run a program for the talent first time.
Once the season ended, and recruiting was in the books, the focus shifted to building on 2016’s knowledge, and redirecting their collective energy towards making the changes needed to grow and progress.
While I’m not expecting a championship in year two, I am expecting a team that will be better equipped to contend for one–particularly if the offensive line comes together in a competitive manner.
Given the landscape of the SEC East, anything is certainly possible and it would not surprise me to see Georgia do a better job of flexing its muscles this year.
What say you?