Sizing up the Gators’ opponents: Scouting Georgia

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart kicks off day two of SEC Media Days in the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta Tuesday, July 17, 2018. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]


The game: Oct. 27 in Jacksonville, 3:30 p.m.

Last year’s result: Sony Michel had touchdown runs of 74 and 45 yards to lead the Bulldogs to a 42-7 rout of the Gators. UF quarterbacks Malik Zaire and Feleipe Franks combined to throw for only 66 yards. UGA was so strong on the ground that true freshman quarterback Jake Fromm attempted only seven passes.

Key players returning: QB Jake Fromm (2,615 yards passing last season), WR Terry Godwin (38 receptions, 639, six TDs last season), CB Deandre Baker, RB D’Andre Swift (618 yards rushing last season) and kicker Rodrigo Blankenship.

Key losses: RB Nick Chubb, RB Sony Michel, LB Roquan Smith, OT Isaiah Wynn and WR Javon Wims.

Scouting the offense: Losing two running backs (Chubb and Michel) who combined for 2,572 yards rushing and 31 touchdowns last season seems huge, but the ’Dogs are set to reload with a trio of talented backs. D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield flashed their big-time ability last season. But the next elite UGA back could be true freshman Zamir White, the nation’s No. 1 running back coming out of high school. The next elite UGA quarterback has already arrived. That would be Jake Fromm, who is coming off a remarkable true freshman season. With Chubb and Michel gone, he’ll be asked to do more in the passing game, which shouldn’t be a problem based on how he well responded when he needed to throw in 2017. He has a standout go-to wide receiver in Terry Godwin and a playmaking tight end in Isaac Nauta. The Bulldogs have three starters back on the line.

Scouting the defense: With the UGA losing six starters from last year’s defense, including All-American linebacker Roquan Smith, the perception is the Bulldogs could be vulnerable early in the season while some younger players are still emerging. The ’Dogs are led by senior end Jonathan Ledbetter and senior cornerback Deandre Baker, one of the nation’s best cover corners. Coach Kirby Smart has recruited well and the Bulldogs are talented across the board, but a lot of the talent is young and unproven.

Scouting the special teams: The ’Dogs have one of the country’s best field-goal kickers in junior Rodrigo Blankenship, who was good on 20 of 23 attempts last season. He made a 51-yard field goal in overtime against Alabama in the national championship game. Punting is a question mark. Freshman Jake Camarda and sophomore Marshall Long will compete for the starting role. UGA has a dangerous return man in Mecole Hardman.


 “You should feel privilege to have pressure to win games, to have expectations. Everybody is talking about the expectations. Last year at this time, they were talking about the same expectations for the University of Georgia. I went back and reviewed my notes for this event, and it was the same thing. Georgia is expected to do this, to win the East, to win championships.” — Kirby Smart



  1. Georgia, Georgia, Georgia. How good is Georgia? Are they great? Are they the best that’s ever been?

    This is actually the game that may hold the surprise that Dan Mullen and staff actually know what they’re doing, armchair quarterbacks notwithstanding. Florida 25 – Georgia 23.

    • Bababooey. Bama loses its three best players every year. Georgia and Smart are clearly building that kind of quality depth where great players one year are easily replaced by another great player the following year, as Florida did from 2005 to 2009. Smart is clearly following the same pattern of roster building that Saban followed at Bama. Florida and Mullen need to start doing the same if Florida is to remain an annual contender for the East title. Unfortunately, Mullen and Florida are lagging behind both Bama and Georgia right now concerning recruiting top and elite recruits. But I think this season will turn that problem back to the positive for the 2020 Florida recruiting class. And I think and hope Mullen and staff will close well this year. Fingers crossed.

      • I am just not ready to put UGA in the same class as Bama. Bama’s been doing it for a decade. UGA for 1 year.

        Far as recent recruiting, when your program is been horrid for 8 yrs, as this one has been, it doesn’t get fixed overnight.

        • Bababooey. The offense has been horrid, but the team has won two out of the last three SEC East titles. And it is Florida. Recruiting, if your organization is set up correctly and everyone on staff is doing their job effectively, should not be a major challenge at Florida. The challenge should always be winning championships, not doing better in recruiting. No excuse for not recruiting well at Florida if you are a coach at Florida. Period.

    • I think you need to rephrase that to UGA lost 21 of the last 28 games against Florida. This UGA is the greatest team on earth and Smart is the second coming of Saban hype all offseason is getting old. I can’t wait for the season to start, that’s for sure!

  2. Look, our coach either quit or was fired or whatever right before last year’s game, its hard to look at that and say it was a fair indicator of where both programs are. they have a decent qb which does matter, but in the end, they are Georgia. they will lose close or lose big, but they aren’t going to win anything that matters. maybe they will beat us this year, but it wont be long before we have another win streak. they can argue this smart guy is the next vince dooley, but you have to prove it, and last year had a lot of fluky things. I know the newspaper is all excited about their backup qbs all having 5 stars in some rating service, but I seem to remember the seattle seahawks winning a super bowl without a single player the newspaper had over 3 stars, so lets cool it with the assumption that the newspapers rating of how an 18 year old might turn out is the absolute take it to the bank prediction to bet your house on. In fact, I think I might have better odds betting the opposite.

    • That’s exactly right, winning the preseason doesn’t guarantee winning the regular season. You actually have to coach and develop all the talent, something we have yet to see Smart do. Larry Coker won a national championship with the previous coaches players and then fell apart. Hell even Mac won 19 games with Muschamp’s players. I’m actually kind’ve confused by Robbie’s statement that Fromm responded really well when he needed to throw. The only games he really needed to throw were Auburn 1 and Bama and we all know how those games turned out. He may wind up being an elite QB, but no one really knows how he’s going to respond with the pressure squarely on his shoulders. I also know it’s not hard to complete passes when all 11 guys on defense are completely focused on stopping the run. That won’t be the case this season and he’s going to be required to do a lot more. Swift is a great RB, but he certainly won’t be able to account for all the production Chubb and Michel accounted for, and again everything beyond him is a big question mark and only great on paper at this point. People definitely need to slow their roll on Smart till he proves it with his own players.

  3. Under The Old Ball Coach and Meyer, Florida “expected” to beat Georgia–and did. We got spoiled. Then Florida got some average coaches and average recruiting classes and it showed, especially on offense. I look at the rosters of many Big 10, Big 12, ACC and even other SEC schools and see kids from Florida on there. Why are they no longer coming to Florida? I have no correct answer, just opinion. Anyone have some specifics? Always appreciate an opinion on Florida football.

    • It’s simple, produce on the field and they’ll produce in recruiting. It’s no different than what’s going on in professional sports. Players want to go where they have the best shot at winning rings immediately. Personally if I’m coming out of high school and want to win championships, I wouldn’t be looking at UF right now. It’s pretty safe to say if you see the offense jump up into double digit rankings or higher and they win 8-10 games this season, the recruiting will take off.

      • It doesn’t happen any other way, Joe. Which has been said over and over again, but I guess there’s some magic pixie dust that supposed to be flying out of Dan Mullen’s butt that makes 5* players want to come to Florida. I’m getting tired of saying it too — but if you build it, they will come.

      • No doubt Joe…Especially if you are a skill receiver…why would you have considered them? I love the Gators, my school as much as the rest…but it’s not exciting on offense and we have somehow forgotten that we are a program that scared teams with SPEED. Meyer knew this…but Champ and Mac tried to be Bama Jr. We aren’t them…and kicked their asses for years being who we are. We score points and smother you on defense when we are good.

        We have to show improvement on offense and I believe we will.

  4. UGa will be undefeated come December. They will again smoke the gators 38 – 10. So glad UF’s first HC choice chose Nebraska. That Frost guy would have been dangerous in Gainesville. Mullen scares me none. Runs a quirky offense that Smart has been dominating for a decade. The new D coordinator (Grantham) is a joke! UF with only two 5* athletes on the team. Roster is depleted. They will play fairly well in September, but will begin to fade in October (just like last year). They will, however, improve in 2018 to a record of 7 wins and 5 losses. Hello Music City Bowl!

  5. Wally Butts.
    1. Stricklin has already stated that he could not move forward after he interviewed Frost because Frost would not agree to hire assistants with a lot of SEC experience in both coaching and recruiting and insisted on bringing most of his staff with him from UCF. As a result, no offer was ever made to Frost.
    2. I am sure you meant Alabama dominated Mississippi State, right? And name me a team that Alabama has not dominated over the last decade or so. And I do not recall Smart ever being the head coach at Alabama. And for the record, Mullen’s Mississippi State teams were 1 – 1 vs. the team Smart now coaches, with Smart beating MSU last year. But that was Mississippi State, not Florida.
    3. Mullen runs an offense that won two national titles at Florida, put Mississippi State at number one in the country for the first time in history, and is the same quirky offense that Ohio State runs up there in Columbus.
    4. That new DC at Florida is getting paid over one million dollars to be “a joke”.
    5. Florida has four, five-star recruits on their roster. Jefferson, Clayton, Grimes, and Slaton. And 30 4-star recruits. And please, tell me again that Toney, Zuinga, Polite, and Reese are not elite SEC football players. They were all 3-star recruits. Zuinga is a freak of a defensive end. Reese is preseason all-SEC at ILB, and Polite is an elite player as well. Wow what a “depleted” roster that is.
    5. Finally, as a Georgia fan, you certainly are very familiar with the Music City Bowl, as well as the Belk Bowl.

    • 1. You can continue to believe that if you want. Stricklin had to say something that sounded good after hiring his third choice, Cousin Eddy.
      2. Of course I’m referring to Alabama. Smart ran that D for the past 6 or 7 years. It is becoming quite obvious that he had become the lead recruiter there as well. And, I don’t think i would be dissing MSU as a UF fan. The gators don’t fare too well against the cow bells.
      3. Urban had a lot to do with that offense. Don’t know that i would say Eddy ran that offense. But, benefit of the doubt, I’ll agree he ran it with the likes of Hernandez & Co and all the other fine student/athletes on that team.
      4. That’s UFs fault for over paying 3rd and Grantham. You’ll find out soon enough.
      5. 2 consensus according to 247 sports, but why split hairs. Oh those players are elite, I agree. UF is just simply not where it should be according to UF standards.
      6. Yes, we are familiar with the Music City Bowl and the Belk Bowl. But then again, UGa is Top 5 in number of bowl wins over college football history. Never had 2 losing seasons out of 5 though, and don’t believe we’ve ever lost to Georgia Southern.

  6. wally butts- it is so sad when someone gets on these blogs and proves their ignorance. UGA has a 1 game win streak in JAX… and you’re poking out your chest. You think stars matter in this game ? you know how many times matt stafford beat fla ? once… aj green? zero… you know how many times treon harris threw a pass to beat UGA in 2014? he tried 4 passes and won by 20+… gators racked up 400 yards rushing … four hun-dred…. paper means nothing… pre-season means nothing … see you halloween weekend, and bring your 5 stars with you…btw, Grantham was once on UGA’s sidelines, but you probably dont remember that… too busy counting stars i’m sure ….

  7. Robbie, Georgia did not rout the Gators. The Gator offense conceded the game and actually appeared to be the Dawgs friend rather than foe. If UF’s offense cranks up this fall, the Gator defense won’t become gassed. Prediction: Georgia will find UF will come to play, and if Franks gains confidence this fall, lookout!!!

  8. I’m afraid Franks will not improve over last year. However, if he is able to run the offense efficiently, then the Gators will be surprising several teams this season. It will be extremely satisfying to see Florida stomp the Bulldogs.